Wednesday, "hump day" or the start of the weekend (according to people living in Mexico), plus it's also St. Patrick's, which doesn't mean anything to me but I can remember when I was living in Chicago what a BIG deal it was.... tinting the rivers green even, it was crazy! It's also almost Spring Break time too and that brings me to other memories of working at the Marriott in Puerto Vallarta and worrying about kids throwing the mattresses out the window so they could "party" (it was more of a "bachannal" actually) around the pool and other more drastic events, but maybe due to the economy and Mexico's security bulletins, it might pare this down a nudge.
Holidays at this time don't really mean too much, but the change of seasons can be pretty momentous if you ask me. However, living in one of the least "natural" cities and counting on unnatural living environments would tend to affect us more here than say if we were living in a "greener" area known for organics and healthy lifestyles. Fresh produce? If you count on picked-green, refrigerated, sprayed, colored and NOT organic, I guess so.... but you do what you can with what you've got on hand, right? This is my mantra, for life and more importantly for cooking.
We all know the saying "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade", right? To me it might mean that after making lemonade I could also have Lemon Meringue Tart, Lemon curd, Hollandaise, Caper Sauce, Ceviche, etc. you get the point.... you know, some people stand in front of the open fridge and look at it like it's a tv or as if waiting for something to jump out and say Hi!, but when I look into the pantry or fridge all I see are possibilities for stuff to eat and it doesn't matter if all I've got are Ramen noodles.... you CAN make something pretty wonderful out of almost anything and while it might not be chocolate, it can be almost as satisfying.
So each new day is a new opportunity to screw up but on the flip side it's also a unique challenge to create a memorable day, so dust of the old cobwebs and let's go for a spin, shall we?
As you know if you've kept up with this blog, weekly special's around town affect my menu's, so this week several items were featured and having taken advantage of them I needed to use them. There was 10 lb bags of potatoes at 2 for 1 for .69! Two pineapples for .99, 7 lbs of bananas for .99, pork cushion meat at .67 a lb and chicken thighs and legs for .24 per lb. How could I not buy this? So now I've got some eclectic items to pull together and create some great family meals and I'll let you know as they come to me..... Last night we had Shepperd's Pie using some of the pork meat, topping it with mashed potatoes (I bought a lot of pork, divided up and froze in daily servings of about 1-2 lb packages), the chicken price was for a minimum of 10 lbs so I got that and again, divided it and froze.
I've also planned "guisados" featuring pork, Hot Italian Sausages (YUM!) and so many other meals that we will look forward to each new day's menu items. Great Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Spanish Frittata, Oven Fried Chicken, Mole, Enchiladas....... such a long list of possibilities.
There was also a special on flour and sugar - BINGO! Spells baking to me and I love baking! So right away I decided to make some Cinnamon Rolls....MMMMmmmmmm...... Love the aroma from these and love to eat them even more!!!!! But I didn't want just ordinary 'ol cinnamon rolls for us, no sir, I wanted big bomber cinnamon rolls that MAKE you want to eat them. (Hey, if you're going to sin, it's got to be worth the penance (or the calories) or else forget it).
Here's how to go making everybody's favorite Cinnamon Rolls.- Huge, tender, light and great!
Easy to make, straightforward and amazing......
3/4 cup whole milk , heated to 110 degrees (microwave about 30-40 sec)
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 large eggs , room temperature
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch (this makes them softer)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 tbl (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into 12 pieces and softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tbl ground cinnamon (or grind from whole)
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbl butter , softened
4 ounces cream cheese , softened
1 tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
For the dough: Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When the oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with foil, with some excess foil to hang over pan edges so you can use it as "handles". Grease foil and medium bowl. (I use non-stick spray).
Whisk milk and yeast until the yeast dissolves, then whisk in eggs. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add warm milk mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 min. Increase speed to medium and add butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 10 min. (if after mixing for 10 min the dough is still wet and sticky, add up to 1/4 cup flour (a tbl at a time) until the dough releases from the bowl.) Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the warmed oven. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 18 inch square, spread with butter, and sprinkle evenly with filling. You now have a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Starting with this edge, roll dough tightly, and then pinch lightly to seal seam and turn over so the seam is on the bottom, cut into 8 pieces (cut in half then half each piece and then half of these with a sharp knife with no teeth). Transfer pieces, cut-side up, to prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. When time is almost up, heat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar in medium bowl until smooth. You will let this rest on the table (don't refrigerate) and it will "loosen" while you wait. Take off the plastic wrap and bake buns until deep golden brown and filling is melted, 35 to 40 min.(start watching at 30 min depending on your oven). Transfer to wire rack and top buns with half of the glaze (it will soak some of it up); cool 30 min. Using foil "handles", lift buns from the pan and top with the last of the glaze.
NOTE: I don't have my Kitchenaid machine anymore so I kneaded these by hand, works great so don't worry, just work the dough until it's smooth and add flour as needed. Feel free to add, change or substitute as you like, I added raisins to the filling and some walnuts, but I change depending on what I've got and stray from the directions ALL the time. If you want smaller buns (really? smaller?) just cut the rolled dough into thinner slices but try this first then decide. I have also changed the glaze a lot by just using powder sugar, vanilla and some milk only; on other occasions I've also added some cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, I've also changed the milk for maple or agave sugar.... whatever you like, go ahead and try it.
To use some of the pineapple I got, here's an old fashioned "Pineapple Upside Down Cake" which we all enjoy. I'm also making Sweet and Sour Pork and my award winning Pineapple/Raisin/Carrot/Nut Cake..... (how about Pina Coladas? might be good, huh?)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
9 slices pineapple, fresh or from 14 oz can, drain the liquid if canned
9 maraschino cherries without stems, optional
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a pan, melt the butter in the oven, don't burn. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over the brown sugar. (you can also use chopped pineapple) Place cherry in the center of each pineapple slice if you like.
In a bowl, beat all the other ingredients until smooth 1-2 min, scraping the bowl constantly. Then beat on high speed 3 min, scraping bowl occasionally. If whisking by hand, just keep an eye on it. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
Bake 50 to 55 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm. Store cake loosely covered.
NOTE: Just got a large cast iron pan YAY! so I will be using it for many dishes. All kinds of cakes and breads turn out wonderfully in cast iron and I'm really looking forward to really breaking it in. It reminds me of my Boy Scout times so long ago.....
There you go, some new ideas from old recipes for you to try and share. I really hope you do and let me know how they turned out. If you've been following this blog you know that I don't use recipes and have to write them down as I'm making them so I can pass them on, and since I make so many changes as I go along, there's no set recipe for anything, but my best effort is always put forward so that anyone that reads these can make them on their own. I guess the main thing I want to say is that anyone can produce lovely food using whatever you have on hand and you don't need any fancy imported items either. All you need is to jump in and just do it. Cooking is very creative and everyone has their own "touch" so if you think your way would work, it probably would so go ahead and try, you might create something new and wonderful. Enjoy and talk soon.................