Monthly Archives: May 2015

Another Seattle Trip

I made a quick trip to Seattle last weekend. The purpose was not a celebration or test new restaurants, but to visit a plant nursery. Swanson’s nursery carries an enormous selection of plants, and last summer I saw that they had plants that I was not able to find in Portland. So I told daughter Mindy that I would have to come back with the car (I had started to travel almost exclusively by train) and get plants this May. Between Mindy being busy and all, May was nearly gone by the time we were able to put a 4 day weekend together.

As for restaurants, we went to those that had always been our favorites; places like Fat Hen, Cactus, Skillet and Le Reve.

Before I left, I made a dozen Morning Buns to take to Mindy; they are her favorites, and I know how to make them consistently so I thought that would be a treat for her. She, however, out did me!! She had several cookie recipes that she wanted to try, and when I arrived, the last pan of cookies was just out of the oven and cooling. She had made a drop cookie, what I call a molded cookie, and a pan cookie.

The drop cookie started as a Browned Butter M&M Cookie, but she skipped the M&Ms and replaced them with chocolate chips. The author of that recipe suggested half M&Ms and half semi sweet chocolate chips because all M&Ms make the cookie too sweet.
Brown Butter chocolate chip

The molded cookie, which turned out to be my favorite, is called a Salted Caramel & Nutella Stuffed Double Chocolate Chip Cookie. In making it, a small amount of dough is flattened into a disk, and a cavity is pressed into it. Then the Nutella and caramel are placed in the indention. A second disk of dough is placed on top and sealed around the edges. Finally, coarse salt is sprinkled on the cookie before it is baked. Mmmm good!
Double Chocolate stuffed caramel and Nutella

The pan cookie is called Carmelitas. It has caramel, semi sweet chocolate chips, and rolled oats in the recipe. These were Mindy’s favorites (after Morning Buns).
carmelitas

Each morning when we got up, we went walking. For the last several months, Mindy has been walking around Green Lake, and she wanted to explore a couple other parks. So after a first morning of warming me up with a walk around Green Lake, we took the next two mornings to explore other parks. First was Carkeek park. This park has many trails, and is on the side of coastal mountains. After about an hour of hiking, we discovered that we had ascended over 450 feet. There were trail markers that pointed to ridges, but we thought we were doing well without going all the way up.

The second exploration was at Boeing Creek Park, which runs into Shoreview Park; I didn’t figure out when we were in one or the other. Again, there is plenty of elevation on the trails, and we decided that we ascended about 480 feet in our hour walk. I think Carkeek seems more wilderness, even though there is a play area and several picnic areas while Boeing Creek is more closely enclosed by civilization.

While we stopped at another nursery before going to Swanson’s, they did not have much selection. They did have some interesting Hosta, but not the other plants I wanted so I didn’t buy from them. Swanson’s had more than I wanted, and I had to stop myself from buying too much. I did end up with a new Hosta, a Helleborus, and a couple containers of Japanese Blood Grass.

Cloverleaf Rolls

rolls 008

Why Cloverleaf Rolls? For one thing, when you pull them apart each piece has some crust from the top, and some softer dough on the bottom. But then, too, they have more surface to put condiments on when you pull them apart; condiments like jelly, jam, preserves, honey and butter- and who doesn’t like to butter their rolls.

And then there are the possible toppings that you can bake onto the rolls. I chose plain, salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. I suspect that you might also have a favorite.

This recipe is also nice in that it is made over two days, so much of the work can be done ahead of time, and then only putting the rolls in the muffin cups and baking them is left for the second day; the days don’t even have to be consecutive. You can do the first part 2 or 3 days in advance if it helps make your party easier to schedule.

Cloverleaf Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 1 four-ounce packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • cooking spray
  • optional toppings, e.g. poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt

Directions

Day 1:

  • In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit until foamy- about 5 minutes.
  • Separate one egg; save the white for an egg wash, and the yolk will go into the dough with the other whole egg.
  • Add 1 cup of flour to the yeast mixture and, using the mixer, beat on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the salt, the whole egg and egg yolk, and the cooled melted butter; beat until combined.
  • Using a wooden spoon, add the other 2 1/2 cups of flour about a half cup at a time, and mix until it is all combined
  • Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and transfer the dough to it. Spray the top of the dough, loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight (or up to 2 days). The dough will double in size.

Day 2:

  • Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper, and divide it into 36 equal pieces (about 1 ounce each).
  • Coat 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray. Roll each dough piece into a smooth ball and place three balls in each muffin cup.
  • Coat the top of the filled cups with cooking spray, and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in size, 60-90 minutes.
  • Add a tablespoon of water to the reserved egg white, and paint the tops of each roll with this egg wash. If toppings are being used, sprinkle the topping on the rolls at this time.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls until puffed and golden- about 10-15 minutes.


rolls 007

And here are some thoughts from my experience with this recipe. When I first put it together, I had too much moisture, and the dough balls did not keep there individual positions, but seemed to meld together on top so there was one very big roll. I have reduced the moisture, and now the recipe gives excellent results. Note that this is a yeast dough, but there is no kneading of the dough- the recipe is very easy except for getting all of the flour into the dough.

I found that I need to turn the ball of dough while adding the last 2 1/2 cups of flour. Otherwise, the dry flour seems to slip under the dough ball and hide, and stay dry; it is not part of the dough needed to make the rolls. So be certain that the dough ball picks up all of the flour, and none of it hides at the bottom of the bowl.

When dividing the dough ball into 36 equal pieces, you might want to weigh the first couple pieces you separate off to calibrate your eye for doing the rest. I found that what worked best was to cut rows from the ball, each about 1 inch wide, and then cut the row into individual pieces about the same size. A rather dull knife works well; I used a bench scraper, or a regular table knife.

The first row will be weird since it is on the edge of the ball and both ends are very curved and it is hard to see the long straight row that will make multiple pieces; leave this first row until you have done the second row, then you can see how to pull the long thin tails of the first row into the size pieces you need.

Even so, if you do not come out with just 36 equal pieces, you will need to determine which pieces are too large or too small and adjust their size.