SUBWAY ROLLS: Homemade Bread Is So Worth It!

subway rolls textI admit that I may be a little obsessive about making things from scratch. I make my own tortillas, pasta, yogurt, desserts, and most breads. The reason? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a firm believer in “you are what you eat”.

Take a look at the ingredients list of any prepared food and you’ll notice all kinds of unpronounceable words that would seem right at home in a chemistry lab. I don’t want that stuff in my or my family’s body. So I cook.

Learning to do anything new takes time. But the more you do it, the faster and easier it becomes, especially if you have the right tools. You also have to plan. Time needs to be allowed for hands-off cooking such as the 12 hours it takes for yogurt to develop, the simmering time for a stew, or the rise-time for yeast doughs.

Preparing a yeast dough only takes a few minutes – which includes the knead time…IF you have a food processor. If you don’t, it takes about 10 minutes (and more work). (New food processors can be expensive. Check out thrift stores – they’re a bargain there!) I know you can buy a package of 6 subway rolls in the supermarket for cheap, but there’s something very satisfying, as well as healthy, about baking your own bread. Give it a try!

SUBWAY ROLLS – makes 6

  • 1½ cups water
  • 2¼ tsp dry yeast (any kind)
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • about 2 T milk (any kind)
  • about 1/4 cup topping blend of your choice (dried minced onion, hard cheese such as Parmesan, garlic powder, poppy seed, sesame seeds)

Heat 1½ cups water between 100º F – 104º F. Stir in the yeast and let proof for 5 minutes.

Into the workbowl of your food processor, put 3 cups flour, the sugar, and the salt. Turn on machine, the slowly drizzle in the proofed water through the pour tube. Add extra flour 1 T at a time, as needed, to get the dough to pull away from the sides but not be a hard ball. When you’re happy with the look of the dough, run the processor another 30-45 seconds more to knead.moo shu10 Empty dough into a greased bowl, flipping dough to grease both sides. subway rolls4Cover and place in a warm area to rise – about 1 hour. subway rolls5Pour dough onto floured board and cut into 6 pieces. Shape into a 2″ x 5″ rectangle and place on a parchment lined (or greased) cookie sheet. Cover with tea towel and let rise while you preheat the oven to 425º Fahrenheit – this will take about 1/2 hour. (If you have a portable oven thermometer, use it! Internal oven thermometers are often wrong.) subway rolls6While dough is rising, mix together your topping blend. (I like to use 2 T Parmesan, 2 T dried minced onion flakes, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp salt.) subway rolls7When oven is hot, one by one, gently brush milk onto top of dough then sprinkle on topping. Lightly press down on topping to make it stick. subway rolls1Bake at 425º F about 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. You’ll notice significant rise to the rolls after a few minutes. When golden brown, remove from oven to a wire rack. subway rolls2Let cool before slicing.

 

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LEMON BUNDT CAKE – Bursting With Flavor!

lemon cake1 TEXTWhen it comes to lemon desserts, I want to know I’m eating lemon! No faint hint of flavor for me – bring it on!!!

This LEMON BUNDT CAKE gets raves from everyone who eats it. It’s has a tender crumb, which is unusual for lemon cakes. Where bakers go wrong is they tend to add more lemon juice to increase the bang for their buck. But all that does to cakes and quick breads is make them mushy. Yuck! Yes, one needs some lemon juice for the liquid and flavor, but the biggest lemony taste comes from the zest (the very outer skin).

NOTE:  As Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that zest can be frozen. So if you’re only using the juice from a lemon (or any citrus), go ahead and zest it (do this before juicing), then freeze those little flavor jewels for future use.

ADDITIONAL QUEEN OF FREEZE NOTE:  Cake freezes extremely well, so don’t be daunted by the size of a bundt cake. If it’s too much to finish off in a few days, simply cut it into hunks and freeze.

LEMON BUNDT CAKE

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 3 T lemon zest
  • 3 T + 2 T lemon juice, divided
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 18 T butter, soft
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T milk or buttermilk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit. 

To prepare the bundt pan, melt 1 T butter and mix in 1 T flour to make a paste.lemon cake11 Using a pastry brush, paint the interior of the pan, getting deep into the crevasses. (I’m going to be buying a new bundt pan soon!)lemon cake12In a small bowl, combine the zest with 3 T lemon juice. Let set 15 minutes.lemon cake10 Combine the 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. bundt2In an electric mixer, cream together the 18 T butter and granulated sugar. Beat on medium/high for 3 minutes. (Don’t short-change this.)lemon cake14 In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs and yolk.lemon cake13 Pour approximately half of the eggs into the butter/sugar, and beat until just incorporated. Pour in the rest of the eggs and beat in. lemon cake6Combine the buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon zest/lemon juice. lemon cake5On low speed, beat approximately 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter just until incorporated. Add in 1/2 of the liquid mixture and beat in. Beat in 1/2 of the flour mixture, then the remaining liquid. Finally, beat in the last of the flour mix. Don’t overmix – beat until flour has been incorporated and no loose flour shows. lemon cake7Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. (I cover the hole to prevent spillage – just be sure to remove it before baking – I speak from experience.) Smooth batter.lemon cake8Bake about 45 minutes at 350º F. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let set in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. lemon cake9While cake is still in the pan, make the glaze. To make glaze, sift powdered sugar to remove lumps. Stir the sugar with 1 T milk or buttermilk, and 2 T lemon juice. You want the glaze to pour, but not so thin it runs off the cake. Adjust thickness of glaze by adding more sugar to thicken or more lemon juice to thin out.

Run a rounded knife around edge of cake and flip onto a rack. Flip again so it’s right side up. Pour half of the glaze on hot cake. Let set for 1 hour. Pour on remaining glaze. You can see in the photo that the first glaze is clearer than the second due to the heat of the cake. Let set at least another hour before serving.lemon cake 4

 

MAPLE/NUT GRANOLA – Super Easy!!!

granola textWhy spend a lot of money on store-bought granola when you can make it yourself? You won’t believe how easy it is! Plus you can fine-tune it to suit yourself.

Paired with plain yogurt (homemade, of course!), it’s a great way to start the day or subdue those mid-afternoon hunger pangs.

Note: This recipe makes 11 cups. If you don’t want to make this much, use a smaller rimmed cookie sheet – the granola should be a certain thickness when baked or it tends to burn around the edges.

Additional Note: This recipe calls for a total of 2 cups nuts. I prefer half almonds, half pecans. Substitute, if you prefer.

MAPLE/NUT GRANOLA – makes about 11 cups

  • 1 cup slivered almonds chopped
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (the real thing, NOT Log Cabin, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4½ cups (13½ oz) old-fashioned oats (NOT the quick cooking kind)
  • optional: 2 cups dried fruit, such raisins, cranberries, apricots

Preheat oven to 325º Fahrenheit. 

Lightly toast the almonds and pecans to bring out their flavor. I do this in my toasteroven. If you don’t have one, use your regular oven. Make sure to keep an eye on them wherever they are so they don’t burn!!!granola7 In a very large bowl, mix together the maple syrup, brown sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, and salt.granola6 Blend in the oats and toasted nuts. granola5Pour onto a parchment paper lined rimmed 16½” x 12″ (inside measure) baking sheet. Spread out and, using a flat implement (such as a potato masher or measuring cup), firmly press down granola evenly. I like to start in the center and work my way to the sides so that the edges aren’t too thin, or they’ll over-bake. granola4Bake in the upper third of the 325º F oven until medium browned – about 32-45 minutes. (Mine take 32 minutes.) granola3Remove from oven and let cool 1 hour on baking sheet. Break apart and add in dried fruit, if using (I never do).granola2 Store in airtight container.

IRISH BROWN SODA BREAD – Slainte!!!

irish brown soda bread text2Saints be praised, St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, sure.

Of course, traditional corned beef and cabbage is off the table for vegetarians – although, I do have an imitation version of a Reuben Sandwich. Not to worry, there are still plenty of good eats to be enjoyed!

Irish Brown Soda Bread is one of them. We generally see recipes for white Irish Soda Bread, but I find the brown soda bread is a more hearty, flavorful choice. Out of necessity at the time of the Irish famine, soda bread was widely made since it was cheap, filling, and easy.

My Irish mammy always made sure we wore green for St. Patrick’s Day. So, of course, that’s what I’ll be wearing when I bake my next loaf of IRISH BROWN SODA BREAD.

Note:  I’ve given the amounts for the flours in both ounces and cups. Weighing flour is much more accurate, but if you don’t have a scale, use measuring cups.

Additional Note:  The wheat bran and wheat germ in this recipe are making up for the lack of them in American (and perhaps other countries, as well) whole wheat flour. The Irish wheatmeal flour has more bits in it, making for a more flavorful loaf. If you have access to the Irish wheatmeal flour, then use 14-1/2 oz (3-1/4 cups) wheatmeal and skip the wheat bran and germ. The other ingredients should stay the same.

IRISH BROWN SODA BREAD – makes 1 loaf

  • 9 oz (2 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 4½ oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ 1 oz (1 cup) wheat bran
  • 3/4 oz (1/4 cup) wheat germ
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

You can use an 8″ cast iron skillet (which I use) or 8″ cake pan. If you’re using a cast iron skillet, place it in the preheating oven to get it really hot. (Don’t do this with the cake pan.)

Into a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. irish brown soda bread4When the oven is preheated, remove skillet from oven and oil it. (Oil the cake pan, if you’re using that.)

Working quickly, stir  the buttermilk into the dry ingredients, mixing until flour is incorporated. irish brown soda bread5Pile the batter into the hot skillet, pushing it all the way into the corners but mounding the batter into a dome. (Only the bottom portion of the batter should touch the sides of the pan – this will create a higher loaf.)irish brown soda bread1 Slash top to make an ‘X’, 1/2″ deep and 5″ long.irish brown soda bread3 Bake in the preheated 375º F oven until interior temperature of the bread is 185º F – about 35-45 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, look for a golden brown top after 35 minutes.irish brown soda bread2 Remove hot loaf from skillet and cool at least an hour on a wire rack. Delicious with butter or jam.

 

CALDO VERDE: A Filling Soup To Warm You Up!

caldo verde textCaldo Verde is a hearty Portuguese soup that is very quick to prepare.  It can be made with or without sausage. (There are fabulous fake sausages available everywhere!)

Normally, when I use fake sausage, I prefer Morningstar’s Sausage Patties. But since chorizo is the sausage of choice in Caldo Verde, I used Morningstar’s Sausage Links.  Next time, I will try using the spiced patties.

CALDO VERDE – makes about 6 cups

  • optional:  6 oz imitation sausage (I used Morningstar)caldo verde8
  • 1/2 T + 1½ T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled & cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 lb collard greens
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

If using fake sausage, slice into 1/2″ pieces. Set aside.caldo verde11 In a large saucepot heat 1/2 T olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add in the onions, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Sauté 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent. caldo verde9Add in the potatoes and water. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then decrease heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender when pierced – about 8-10 minutes. caldo verde10While soup is cooking, cut up the collards. First, remove and discard the center stem. caldo verde4Then cut the greens into 1″ pieces. caldo verde5When potatoes are cooked, remove 1/2 cup of the solids and 1/2 cup of the liquid to a blender. Don’t blend yet.

Add the collard greens to the soup in the pot and cook another 8-10 minutes, until green are tender. caldo verde7Start the blender and slowly drizzle in the remaining 1½ T olive oil. When it’s all added, continue to blend for 1 minute. caldo verde2Pour into soup. Add in the sausage (if using), vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning, as needed. (I add another 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.)caldo verde3

VEGETARIAN MOO SHU: Do NOT Be Afraid!

moo shu textLet me say right off the bat, this is an EXTREMELY easy recipe. Honestly! Yes, it involves making those ultra thin pancakes that wrap the stir-fry, but I promise, you can do it!!!

As a devoted from-scratch cook, I’m always up for a new challenge. While I’ve been making flour tortillas for years, I was a little nervous about these thin moo shu pancakes. How can I roll them so thin and still be able to handle them with tearing? America’s Test Kitchen to the rescue! They came up with an ingenious method that truly works.

The filling can be altered to suit your taste – I used shiitake mushrooms, scrambled eggs, asparagus, and cabbage.

VEGETARIAN MOO SHU – makes 12

Pancakes

  • 7½ oz (or 1+2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1½ T sesame oil
  • 1 T vegetable oil

Mix flour and boiling water together in the food processor (or, by hand if you don’t own one) until smooth – about 30 seconds. Let dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes.moo shu10 On a well-floured board, roll dough into a 12″ log. moo shu11Slice into 12 pieces. moo shu12Using floured fingers, pat each piece into a 3″ disc. moo shu13Generously brush 6 of the discs with the sesame oil (you may have some left over).moo shu14 Place each dry disc on top of an oiled one, creating a kind of sandwich. moo shu15Roll each of these into a 6″-ish circle. (To save time and counter space, while one pancake sandwich is cooking, I’m rolling out the next – but this is pretty hectic.)moo shu16 Heat 1/2 tsp vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium/low. Place one dough circle in skillet and cook on medium/low for 1 minute. Flip and cook other side for 1 minute. moo shu17Remove to a tea towel to let cool a few seconds. Then, carefully split apart the pancakes. moo shu18Stack them, oiled side up. Carry on with the remaining circles. (You may not need to oil the pan with each new pancake, depending on the non-stick ability of your skillet – I put in a little vegetable oil every other one.) Keep warm in the wrapped tea towel until ready to use.moo shu19

Filling

  • 8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 T Mirin sweet rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp fresh, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 T + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup scallions (about 6 scallions), sliced
  • 7 asparagus stalks, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 8 oz can bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks – see photo:hot & sour9
  • 3 cups Napa cabbage or bok choy, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (recipe below, or purchased)

In a bowl, combine the shiitakes and 1/2 cup water. Let soak while you prepare the rest. (You’ll be using some this flavored water in the moo shu.)moo shu2In a small saucepan, combine the Mirin and cornstarch, smooshing out any lumps. Add in the soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Set aside.

In a nonstick 12″ skillet, heat 1 T vegetable oil over high heat. Add in the scallions, asparagus, and bamboo shoots. Sauté on high for 2 minutes.moo shu7 Drain the mushrooms over a container.moo shu3 Add 1/3 cup of this mushroom water to the skillet, along with the cabbage and drained mushrooms. Cook on high for another 2 minutes.moo shu9 Pour all of the stir-fry mixture into a colander or sieve, discarding the drained liquid.

Put 1 tsp vegetable oil in the now-empty skillet and heat over medium/high. Lightly beat eggs, and cook them in skillet for about 20 seconds, until they’re cooked, but soft. (They’ll continue to cook when the hot vegetables are added.)moo shu5Add in the drained veggies and the teriyaki sauce. Blend together and heat through.

Place a spoonful of filling on a each pancake. Fold up pancake in half (like a taco), moo shu20 then fold in sides.moo shu21If you like, dip in plum or hoisin sauce as you eat.

Teriyaki Sauce – makes about 3/4 cup

  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T Mirin sweet wine vinegar (often in the Asian section of the market)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or 1/8 tsp dried, but fresh is best)
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Note:  You only need 1/4 cup of this recipe for the Moo Shu. Store remainder in refrigerator.

In a small saucepan with burner off, put cornstarch and sugar. Stir to blend. Add in Mirin and mix well, smashing any lumps. teriyake sauce1

Add in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Turn on burner to medium and stir while bringing to a boil. Turn down heat to keep a simmer. Continue cooking until thickened – about 4-5 minutes.teriyake sauce2

Roasted Butternut Squash With Hazelnuts – So Easy, So Yummy!

roasted butternut textI love roasted vegetables! Their flavor comes to life, enhanced by the sweet caramelization process. Add to that the slight crispiness. Yum!!!

This ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH recipe is very easy to prepare…but does take about an hour in the oven. So plan ahead. That time is hands off, so you can use it to prepare the rest of your meal…or, decompress from the day with a glass of wine.

Note: If you don’t like hazelnuts, try another nut such as almonds or pecans.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH HAZELNUTS

  • 2½ – 3 lbs butternut squash
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, skinned
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit.

Wash and dry whole squash. Place in microwave for 3 minutes. (Don’t worry, it won’t explode – this is just to soften it enough to make peeling easier and safer.) Flip and zap it for 30 more seconds. Place squash on a cutting board, taking care not to burn yourself. Cut off both ends and discard. Dissect the neck from the body (I know, this sounds ghoulish!) Standing these halves on end, remove the peel down to the deep orange color with a sharp knife. butternut risotto3Slice the body and neck in half lengthwise (yikes!) and remove seeds and fibres. Cut the four halves into 1/2″ pieces.roasted butternut2 Place pieces in a mixing bowl. Melt 2 T butter and pour over squash. Stir in the salt and pepper.roasted butternut3 Lay butternut squash pieces in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until bottoms are browned. Flip pieces and bake another 10-15 minutes, until well browned on both sides. roasted butternut6While squash is baking, coarsely chop hazelnuts. In a small skillet or saucepan, melt remaining 2 T butter. Add in chopped nuts and sauté over medium/high heat. Stirring constantly, cook until nuts are browned – about 2 minutes. (The butter will be bubbly at first.)roasted butternut4Remove from heat and stir in the 1 T water. Let cool a little, then add in the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. roasted butternut5When squash is cooked, place slices into a mixing bowl (I use the same one from before). Gently stir in the hazelnuts and butter. Sprinkle on chives. Serve while hot.