Breakfast Honey Buns

This morning treat will scratch your itch for cinnamon rolls without any refined sugar. The dough itself is unsweetened, relying on a honey goo in the bottom of the pan to take it from yeasted bread to breakfast dessert. Do you tend to overindulge on sweets in December? This gives you a special treat to enjoy with your coffee that isn’t too much. (I may never make traditional cinnamon rolls again.)

I adapted this recipe from Baking With Less Sugar, a book that I’m really enjoying (and one that I featured in my recent gift guide.) I’ve tweaked the ingredients a bit and the timing – I always think it’s easier to do the prep the night before.

honey bunsBreakfast Honey Buns

Dough:

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. vegetable oil, olive oil, or coconut oil
1 c. warm water

Goo:

8 tbls. unsalted butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. cream or 1/3 c. half and half
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:

2 cups hazelnuts
6 tbls. soft unsalted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp. almond extract

  1. Combine the dry dough ingredients with the wet. Knead by machine or hand until the dough feels supple.
  2. Leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
  3. Make the goo by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low and whisking until homogeneous. (Yes, it will look pretty thin, but don’t worry, it’ll work out.) Set aside to cool.
  4. The filling is best prepared by pulsing all of the ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are your desired size, but you can definitely chop the nuts and incorporate the butter by hand.
  5. When the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle. Smear with filling, leaving about a 1/2 inch bare on one of the long sides. Roll up tightly and gently, sealing with the bare edge. Cut into 12 equal buns.
  6. Pour the goo into a 9×13 inch pan. Spread evenly and place the buns in the pan, keeping a space between each bun to allow for rising and baking.
  7. Seal with plastic wrap or lid and pop in the refrigerator.
  8. In the morning, uncover, and place in a cold oven. Set the temperature for 400F and allow the buns to come to temperature with the oven. Start your timer for 25 minutes when it hits 400F.
  9. Enjoy warm!

Notes:

  • To make and eat right away, increase the first rising time to 2 hours and, after forming the buns and placing them in the goo, let rise for another hour.
  • For our small family of three, I prepare the recipe using two square pans and freeze the second pan for a future weekend.
  • If you’re looking for a sweeter treat or more complete tips for making a roll, check out Cinnamon Rolls Your Way
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Slow Cooker Pork with Plum Jam

cold plum treeRemember those summer days when we were rolling in plums? The tree is cold and lonely now, but our shelves are WELL stocked with plum jam. Let’s just say, one can only eat so much toast. We wondered if there was a savory way we could use up some jam. An answer presented itself when we brought home From a Polish Country House Kitchen from the library. After salivating over many of the winter appropriate recipes in the book, we began to notice a pattern. Apparently there are a lot of plum trees in Poland and many of the dishes involve prunes. What thrifty people. Upon the book’s suggestion, we adapted a recipe to include plum jam and used the slow cooker instead of the oven to ease our schedule. I hope you’ll find this easy, tasty dish comforting for your winter evenings. The jam will give you a little sweet reminder of sunny days.

plum pork roastPolish Style Pork Roast with Plum Jam

2.5-3 pound pork arm roast (or a comparable piece of pork)
1 large clove garlic
2 tbls. dried marjoram
2 tbls. olive oil
4-8 ounces plum jam
coarse salt, pepper
1 1/2 c. water

  1. Rinse the pork, pat dry, and cut a deep pocket in the side of the roast.
  2. With a mortar and pestle, grind marjoram and garlic together to form a paste. (Alternatively, you can mince and mash with a fork.) In a small bowl, mix this paste with about 2 tbls. olive oil, 2 tsp. coarse salt, and many grinds of pepper.
  3. Rub this paste all over the meat and inside the pocket. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (Overnight would work just fine, too.)
  4. After the meat has rested, fill the pocket with jam. Tie it closed with butcher’s twine.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium high. Brown the roast on each side (even the ends) for about 1 1/2 minutes each side. Place the roast in the slow cooker and deglaze the pan with the water. Pour this and any scraped browned bits from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook at least 6 hours.

plum pork roast 2Note:

  • To make tying a little easier, lay your string out in rows on a plate. Then, place your roast on top of it. Bring strings together and tie.
  • We served it with cabbage, beans, and sweet potato one night and mashed potatoes the next. What a great, simple winter meal!

Breakfast Custards

IMG_0874Don’t we live in a beautiful place? We feel particularly grateful lately. The sun is out, the plum tree is in bloom, and the chickens are finally laying! We’re flush with eggs! Here we suddenly find ourselves in the sweet season of plenty. (We’re helped this time, by circumstances – our Heyday Egg subscription has overlapped with this onset of eggs from our own chickens.) Custards, puddings, pasta, and yes, even brioche have been happening in our kitchen lately.

Here’s a recipe that’s one of our favorites. Served to a neighbor recently, she labeled it “fancy,” but really it’s extremely simple. This custard is quick to make up, allows you enough time to shower while it’s baking in the oven, and, in our household, is child approved 100% of the time. We began with the recipe in The Breakfast Book and adapted it to our own taste. Hope that you enjoy it too! Here’s wishing you many eggs and a happy spring time!

Breakfast Custard

For four

1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. cream
4 eggs
2 tbls. maple syrup
dash of salt
unsalted butter, room temperature (for preparing ramekins)

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare four 1/2 c. ramekins by buttering the insides generously with your fingers. Set a tea pot of water on to boil.
  2. In a large measuring cup, whisk milk, cream, eggs, maple syrup, and salt together. (Or, alternatively, pulse with the immersion blender a few times.)
  3. Pour egg mixture into the buttered ramekins. Place ramekins in a 9 x 9 glass pan.
  4. Fill pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Serve in ramekin or unmolded onto plate.

first blue eggNotes:

  • This recipe easily reduces for two eaters (or even one.)
  • Adjust maple to your own taste. Maybe you like it sweeter?
  • Want to try a savory custard? (It’s a great way to sneak veggies past a sneaky eater, but you didn’t hear that from me.)
  • Of course, this is much better with a little Hitchcock bacon sprinkled on top.

Blanched Vegetable Salad with Basil Parsley Vinaigrette

parsley basil vinaigeretteGreen beans, new potatoes, fava beans, and basil are all ingredients that delight me when they begin to show up at the market. Living in the midwest, I used to feel that it was finally summer when I saw corn and tomatoes. Here in Washington, it’s the green beans that I wait for. And this year, at the beginning of this season, I discovered a new delight. Have you tried the parsley from Tani Creek? It’s like none other. You’ll want to add it to dishes as a main ingredient, not just a garnish, as it is often relegated. Adapted to our climate, this “awesome tasty” heirloom variety has a pedigree which you can read about on the farm’s website while you peruse their seeds for sale.

Here’s a spunky salad that features parsley prominently. (Feel free to substitute it for the basil entirely.) It does take a bit of time to prepare. Think of it as a potluck show off dish. Or, make a big bowl of it on Sunday and smugly take it for a hearty lunch all week.

Salad:
1 pound new potatoes
1 pound green beans
1/2 pound fava beans (That’s the weight for the beans after being removed from pod.)
6 slices crispy ham, optional (See note.)

  1. Put a medium sized pot of water on to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside.
  2. Wash and slice potatoes into about 1 1/2 inch pieces. (If very small, you may not need to cut the potatoes. Yum!)
  3. Add potatoes to boiling water. Salt. Cook for 25 minutes.
  4. While your potatoes are cooking, attend to your green beans. Take the ends off the green beans and cut into large bites, about 2 inches long.
  5. Prepare fava beans by removing large beans from pods.
  6. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove potatoes to ice water bath. When cold, remove potatoes and place on a dishtowel. Pat dry.
  7. In the same water, boil green beans for 2-3 minutes, tasting to see if they are the consistency you might like. Follow the same procedure as the potatoes – ice water, then towel.
  8. For this dish, boil fava beans for 2 minutes. After chilling, remove the skins.
  9. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette over. Add crispy ham, if using.

Vinaigrette:parsley basil vinaigerette
1/4 c. fresh parsley leaves, packed
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
3 tbls. champagne vinegar (or other gentle, white vinegar)
2 tsp. mustard
2 garlic scapes (or one large clove of garlic)
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
a few grinds of pepper

Add all ingredients to food processor and process until smooth.

Notes:

  • We always pick up a ration of Hitchcock Deli meat for the week – turkey, beef, ham, bacon. Occasionally we might be overzealous in our order and have a little leftover at the end of the week. Crispy ham is a remedy to this problem. Take ham that’s been in your fridge for awhile, crisp it up at 450F for 5-6 minutes and voila – a yummy crunch for pasta, eggs, or salad.
  • Feel free to play and add other seasonal veggies that you might prefer, of course.

 

Getting through the Dark Days: Two Potato Gratins

Always grateful for our boxes of storage potatoes, onions, and garlic from Laughing Crow Farms, winter is naturally the time to indulge in those ingredients. Betsey’s potato varieties are all tasty and different. I like to use the Alby’s Gold for gratins, the German Butterball for mashing, and the Red Bliss for roasting. (Of course this is just a matter of personal preference – they’re all interchangeable per your taste.)  As with any dish, when you start with really high quality, fresh ingredients, assembling even the simplest of recipes scan result in something wonderful. If you’re used to buying the ubiquitous grocery store varieties, choosing a few new potatoes from your local farmer will elevate your meal, even if it’s just a baked potato! Do get out, brave the elements, and explore the potatoes at your winter market.

hasselback gratin

Isn’t this a beautiful gratin presentation? When it’s dark and winter, who doesn’t want a dish of baked potatoes for dinner? Here are a few variations for you to work through.

Turning the potato slices on their sides creates a whole new look for this standard dish. Find the recipe here. I adapted it only by reducing the amounts and baking it in a 1/2 quart gratin dish (pictured). We found that this was just the right amount for a family of 3.gratin

For a similar look without all of the cheese and cream, I’ve also had success with this version.

And lastly, I will never shrug off my favorite recipe for scalloped potatoes. Give it a try using the ‘sideways’ potato technique.