Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Aromatherapy - Cloverleaf Rolls with Honey Lavender Shallot Butter Glaze

Cloverleaf Roll

When it comes to baking under the broiler of the summer sun, timing is everything. As I groused in a recent post, I have not been terribly motivated to spend much time in the kitchen lately, but I did want to participate in Lisa and Jacqueline's Bread Edition of No Croutons Required. After endless research for breads which would leaven through grilling or frying on the stovetop (crumpets, bannocks, and poori among the rare few), I began scouring for recipes that required a very short duration in the oven. Fifteen minutes, I rationalized, was tolerable, but only on the condition that I bake very early in the day when the indoor temperature is at its lowest and least claustrophobic. And fifteen minutes wound up just enough time to fill the flat with the layered aromas of yeast, freshly harvested lavender, and minced shallots poached in butter. Now, if only they will last longer than fifteen minutes when served.

Cloverleaf Rolls with Honey Lavender Shallot Butter Glaze - From the Fleishmann's recipe, followed to the letter with the exception of my own glaze:

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
2 generous teaspoons dried lavender flowers, crushed
2 tablespoons honey*
Sea salt

Method

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add minced shallot and poach in butter for no longer than 1 minute. Do not let it brown. Remove from heat. Whisk in lavender and honey. Brush on rolls right before baking. Scatter sea salt lightly on top of glaze. It will adhere well.

*(I used a beautiful New Zealand Manuka which dear Lisa had sent to me; I also have a French Alpine honey from Alex, another friend, which I will be posting about in the near future. Special honeys call for special recipes.)

Preparation Tips

- Start the dough the night before. This recipe is unique in that it rises unattended in the refrigerator for up to twenty-four hours and does not require kneading. In the morning, the dough is cut and rolled into balls before assembly and a final, warm rising. Cloverleaf rolls are miniature monkey breads.

- Grease your hands lightly with cooking spray before rolling the dough balls. They will shape more easily and smoothly.

Cloverleaf Rolls

Suggested Pairings with Soups (per Lisa's request)

- Chilled soups that do not already have bread in them (such as gazpacho); light cream soups or bisques (tomato, squash, celery, artichoke); clear broths with a few fresh fava beans, mushrooms, or garlic scapes.

Lisa, who is hosting for July, will be posting her round-up shortly. Do drop by to have a look and say hello. I thank her for permitting a late recipe from me.

I'm also sending this post over to:

YeastSpotting!, the weekly yeast-baking event created by Susan of Wild Yeast; and

Bake-Off, Champa's weekly all-baked-goods event, featured on Versatile Vegetarian Cooking.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging # 242 - The Round-Up

The classic, the creative, and the just plain quirky - they are all here. I've lost count of the number of times I have hosted Weekend Herb Blogging over the last three-plus years, but whether I am organizing, participating, or just plain oogling, this long-running event never fails to impress me with recipes that tempt the taste buds and inspire the imagination. Thanks to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once for carrying the torch, and to all of you for fanning the flame.

I have arranged the recipes alphabetically by featured or dominant ingredient. If you've spotted any errors or omissions, please let me know, and I'll make the changes post-haste.

Huan of Eat.Read.Live is hosting the current WHB # 243. Have a wonderful week, everyone!

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Joanne - Eats Well with Others
New York, U.S.A.

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BASIL

Pesto
Stacey - Fessenden Farmstead
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

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BLOOD ORANGES

Semolina Cakes with Blood Orange Syrup
Haalo - Cook Almost Anything at Least Once
Melbourne, Australia

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CASSAVA


CHERRIES

Five Spice Chicken with Pickled Cherries
Joanne - Eats Well with Others
New York, U.S.A.

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CHERRY TOMATOES

Penne Pasta with Sungold Cherry Tomato Sauce
Stash - The Spamwise Chronicles
New York, U.S.A.

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LAMB'S QUARTERS

Laurie - Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.A.

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LEMONS

Valsorda, Garda Lake, Italy

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LILY BULBS

Tigerfish - Teczape - An Escape to Food
California, U.S.A.

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LOVAGE

(Carrot and Zucchini Soup with Lovage)
Simona - Briciole
Northern California, U.S.A.

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MIXED GREENS

Enchiladas Verdes
Claire - Chez Cayenne
Houston, Texas, U.S.A.

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MUSHROOMS

Mushroom and Blue Cheese Galette
Marisa - The Creative Pot
South Africa

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PURSLANE


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea - Weekend Herb Blogging #242

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea

Break out the bubbly, the bubble tea bubbly, I mean. This is my first post in I don't know how long - the early days of July? It's been so hatefully hot and humid that I have rarely been in the kitchen. Neither eating nor cooking have much appeal to me. I know. You will tell me to just suck it up. Well, I have. I sucked several up, actually, from a sweating-cold glass as tall as a skyscraper. Giant tapioca pearls taste like nothing, but chew like nothing else. If you like gummy bears, you will find this refreshing Asian concoction of stunningly sweet, fruity milk tea addictive. And even if you can't ferret out the funky wide straws which make you look like you've just survived the golden ticket tour of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, a long-handled spoon works just fine for excavating every last sticky black marble. Who said bottom feeding is beneath one's dignity?

Black Tapioca Pearls

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea - My own recipe

Makes 2 large glasses, approximately 16 ounces each.

Ingredients

1/2 cup large dried black tapioca pearls*
Water to cook tapioca pearls

Sugar Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1 cup very strongly brewed Formosa Oolong tea, chilled
1 cup peach nectar, chilled
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, chilled (You can also use condensed, sweetened milk; if so, you will not need additional sugar.)
Additional castor sugar or sugar syrup to taste
2 cups ice cubes

Method

In a medium-to-large saucepan, heat to boiling enough water to deeply cover tapioca pearls. (As big as they are, they will expand to 2-3 times their original size. Consult the cooking directions on your specific package, which vary by brand. I used one labeled "Ready in 5 Minutes," but it took 3o minutes. Some brands may take longer. As a general rule, the longer it is cooked, the softer the centers will be. Overcooking, however, will turn it into gelatinous mush. These directions are for the brand I used.)

Pour tapioca into boiling water. They will drop to the bottom of saucepan. Stir briefly to prevent sticking. Cover saucepan and boil for exactly 5 minutes. During this time, prepare the sugar syrup by combining sugar and water is a small saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar is fully dissolved (also 5 minutes). Remove from heat and reserve, keeping it warm.

Return to the tapioca. Turn the heat off and peak inside the saucepan. Tapioca should be floating on the surface. If not, stir gently to dislodge it from the bottom and sides of saucepan. Cover the saucepan again and let the pearls continue to cook in the stored heat of the water for 25 minutes. Do not turn the heat back on. The additional 25 minutes are necessary whether they are floating or need to be lifted.

In meantime, pour all other ingredients and ice into blender or cocktail shaker. Before you agitate, return to the tapoica pearls, draining them in a large mesh strainer. Pour them into the saucepan that holds the warm sugar syrup, insuring they are fully covered with it. If using a blender, its highest speed will grind the ice until fine, smooth, and loose granules form. Divide tapioca into two tall glasses, adding some sugar syrup with each spoonful. Pour the blended mixture on top of tapioca in each glass. Though they will settle in time, the bubbles on top of the drink create a fanciful mantle of foam to suspend the thick straw in. If the foam is too thin, return just the liquid contents to blender, adding another 1/3 cup almond milk before whipping the mixture on the highest setting. Again pour into glasses. Taste for additional sugar. Though bubble tea is traditionally very sweet, you can incrementally add just enough sugar to suit you, either by stirring in small amounts of caster sugar or the sugar syrup that held the tapioca. I find that a generous amount of sugar intensified all the subtle and unique flavors of peach, oolong, and almond milk. Leftovers may be saved in the refrigerator. Since the pearls become hard when cold, they can be scooped into a small saucepan of hot water to restore their softness and elasticity.

* Dried black tapioca pearls are available online or in Chinese and Thai grocers, and can occasionally be found in other Asian retailers. Cassava root, from which this is made, is naturally white. Bubble tea tapioca is often colored for novelty.

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea
Since tapioca is made from cassava, a highly versatile vegetable that much of the world relies on for their daily diet, this is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging #242. I have the pleasure of hosting this week and expect to have the round-up online on Monday, July 19. There is still time for those who are interested in joining. Full details can be found over at Cook Almost Anything at Least Once, the home of Haalo, mistress of WHB. Thanks to Haalo for the offering me another stint as host, and thanks to all who have already sent me your great recipes.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Fine Mess - Mesir Wat (Ethiopian Lentil Stew) with Silver Dollar Injera

Mesir Wat on Silver Dollar Injera

Though reminiscent of oatmeal in texture and eye appeal, mesir wat, the tempestuously spiced, yet nuanced, lentil stew which hails from Ethiopia, is far from the tame, comforting European porridge staple. It's chief ingredient, split red lentils, transform into a golden bowl of ridges and pockets glistening with niter kibbeh, a slowly simmered butter infused with cardamom pods and cinnamon stick, among other whole spices. Flecks of gritty berberé powder in a base of puréed aromatic allium balance the flavors, especially when mounded on injera, a sour teff-flour pancake which acts as an eating utensil in lieu of fork or spoon. Although injera is traditionally prepared as thin, large crepes, I have grilled them as small and sturdy as blini. However you eat them, expect to get your hands happily mussed up. And pass the cold beer, please.

Mesir Wat (Ethiopian Lentil Stew)

Mesir Wat with Silver Dollar Injera - Adapted from various recipe sources below. Recipes are arranged in order needed for preparation. It's best to grill injera right before serving, although leftovers reheated briefly in a microwave will restore them.

Injera (batter prepared 24 hours in advance) - Adapted from several Ethiopian Recipes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups teff flour (or buckwheat flour, a relative, if you cannot find teff)
1 teaspoon granulated active dry baker's yeast (make sure yeast is not beyond expiration date.)
2 cups warm water (110 - 115 degrees F), warm enough to activate yeast, but not too hot to kill it.
1/2 - 1 cup additional warm water

Method

Combine all ingredients in a large plastic bowl, beating until smooth with a wooden or plastic spoon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 24 hours. The batter will become thick and sludgy, with a distinctively yeasty-tangy odor. This is normal. Incrementally add enough additional water to create a moderately thin batter.

Heat a large, greased skillet over medium heat. Drop batter by tablespoon onto hot surface. Do not spread. Cook until tops of pancakes are dry and covered with small holes. Pancakes are ready when surface is fully dry to the touch. You can also flip them over to briefly brown on other side.

Niter Kibbeh – Adapted from whats4eats.com

Ingredients


4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled
4 green cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon fenugreek seed
1 small cinnamon stick
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced

Method

Melt butter with all ingredients in small saucepan over the lowest heat. Let simmer for at least ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Strain vegetables and spices from butter before use. I did not skim the foam during cooking; the simmer was so low, there was no burning. Leftover niter kibbeh can be refrigerated. It is excellent to fry eggs in.

Mesir Wat - Slightly adapted from what's4eats

Ingredients

1 pound split red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 large onion, grated over a bowl (It will turn into a very watery purée. You could also use a food processor.)
3 large garlic cloves, grated
1-inch knob fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons niter kibbeh (recipe above)
1 - 2 tablespoon berberé spice mixture (prepared or homemade)
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock or water (depending on vessel used and level of simmer, you may need up to 6 cups water; I did, using a 12-inch skillet.)
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
2 cups plain thick yogurt (optional for garnish and to soothe the fiery flavor, especially if use 2 tablespoons of berberé)

Method


In a large, heavy saucepan or skillet, melt niter kibbeh over low heat until thin (about 10 seconds). Stir in berberé and cook for 20 seconds. Stir in onion, garlic, and ginger root. Increase heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid has evaporated. Add lentils and stock/water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low to simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not leave unattended. Stew can burn and stick if liquid evaporates to rapidly. Check for consistent mushiness of lentils after 20 minutes. If some are even marginally hard, add another cup of stock/water, then simmer 10 more minutes. Check again for texture. Another cup of water and a final ten minutes of simmering may be necessary. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Salt, however little you use, is a necessary flavor enhancer; the spices really pop. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm while you grill the injera.

Finishing

Mound 2 tablespoons mesir wat on top of each pancake, or serve wat and pancakes separately in bowls or side-by-side on platter so diners can help themselves. Drizzle the communal serving bowl with about two tablespoons melted niter kibbeh.

Injera and Yogurt

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This latecomer recipe is for Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, who is pulling together the finishing touches for the June MLLA 24 round-up. Siri of Siri's Corner has the reins for the current MLLA 25 through July 31.

I am also sending this to the effervescent Joanne of Eats Well with Others, hosting her monthly Regional Recipes event. July is all about Ethiopia.

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Been There, Done That ~
Persian Pomegranate and Lentil Soup
Green Mango Dal
Injera

Other People's Eats ~
Mesir Wat from One Hot Stove
Coconut Buckwheat Injera from The Fresh Loaf
Ethiopian Lentil Stew from Saveur Magazine