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Holidays and Celebrations

July 02, 2012

Happy Blow Things Up Week, America!

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If it's the Fourth of July, it must be time for my traditional celebratory photo.

Marshmallow, meet the first amendment. First amendment, meet a marshmallow (homemade raspberry marshmallows with a layer of bittersweet chocolate in the middle, to be precise).

That thing in the background, btw, is my old military insignia, from when I swore to protect and defend the Constitution (of which the 1st amendment is perhaps my favorite part) from all enemies foreign and domestic. Nobody said a thing about protecting flags from flames and graham crackers.

Have a hppy and safe holiday, everyone!

November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Note to Parents

Thanksgiving preparation is in high gear across America this evening. Most of those people are also on twitter so my twitterstreams are full of people, many of whom are parents—mostly moms, but that's another rant—working to get the pies baked, clean house, cook some side dishes and do something with kale. (Seriously, every fourth tweet is "Sous-vided bacon-wrapped kale infused with baby, free-range...") I am getting hungry reading and knowing that there is turkey tomorrow isn't helping much at the moment.

But that's not why I am here. I want to talk to the parents...

I keep reading a variant of "Kids SUUUUCK! Can't get anything done. Crap! I'll wait until they go to bed."

What the hell, y'all?

You had children so they could participate in your family life, right? So let them.

When it comes to helping with party prep (and general household chores) I believe in No Child Left Behind, aka Being a Slavedriver. No wait, make that SLAVEDRIVER. It's a job title more parents should embrace from time to time. Your kids will thank you when they are all grown up and coping with the activities of daily living without undue vapors.

  • Tweens and older are treated like almostAdults when it comes to work.They are fairly independent, getting some directions to get started but no hovering like I might with a smaller child.
  • School-age kids are extremely helpful sous chefs. They can read recipes, gather and prep ingredients and do a lot of the actual cooking.Teach them to work with heat and blades safely and
  • Kids love to stir things. If all your stirrables are simmering away, give the toddler a bowl with a fistful of rice and dried beans and ask them to stir that.
  • Small kids can do a lot of stuff if you give them a nudge and a wee bit of direction. Get them to pick up toys and other clutter, collect dirty laundry, wash vegetables, shell beans, set the table, load/unload the dishwasher and a thousand other things.
  • Taster. This one is a double hit because your child is busy and happily eating (mostly) healthy treats. Do it right and you don't have to make them dinner tonight. Triple win!
  • If all else fails, give your monstrrr a stack of paper napkins and ask them to fold them in Thanksgiving shapes. Praise whatever they do.
  • Babies are tougher but I decided their job is to be adorable and provide toes to be nibbled. If you have a better job for them, please share it in comments.

How are the kids in your house helping? Give other parents a hand by sharing your secrets in comments.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

November 21, 2011

Rosemary Fan Dinner Roll Recipe ~ v.Simpler

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This is a slightly simpler, straight dough version of these Rosemary Fans. (Straight dough is mixed at one time, versus recipes using starters, etc.) If you have the time to do the original version, which requires an extra few hours for the starter to ripen. I encourage you to do so, the bread flavor is a bit richer, somehow more "grainy" in a good way. It's all those lovely enzymes and tasty bits...

Rosemary Fans

These rolls bloom in the oven into charming little fans, each with its own look. The bread dough is simple to make and shaping the rolls is quick, easy and (happily for small hands) not an exact science. You can substitute almost any other savory herb for rosemary, though fresh herbs really do work best for this.

Makes 12 large rolls

1 1/2 cups water (at body temperature)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups flour (bread flour is better, but all-purpose will work)
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon rosemary fresh, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)

  1. Put the water, yeast, whole wheat flour, three cups of the bread flour and the olive oil in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. (Use low speed on a stand mixer.) Sprinkle in the last cup of flour while mixing, stopping when the dough clears the bowl and stops absorbing flour. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Turn the dough out on a well-floured counter and sprinkle the salt on it. Knead the dough 5-10 minutes (stand mixer: 5-6 minutes on medium) until it is firm yet supple and smooth. (You may need to use a bit more flour on the counter.) Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. (Use the rising amount, not time, to determine if dough is ready for next step.)
  3. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on a lightly floured counter and flatten into a rectangle with your hands. Let the dough relax for a minute while you prepare a muffin tin by lightly coating each cup with olive oil.
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x18 rectangle. If the dough starts resisting and springing back, let it rest for a few minutes and then finish rolling. Brush the dough with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle liberally with chopped rosemary.
  5. Cut dough in half crosswise and lay one piece on top of the other. Cut that stack in half and stack the pieces to make one four-layer stack that's about 6x9 inches in size. Make three cuts crosswise and 4 lengthwise to give you 12 rolls about 1 ½ by 3 inches. It doesn't matters if the sides are uneven, it's what gives them their charm.
  6. Place in oiled muffin tins, one stack per cup with a short edge facing up. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. When the rolls have increased in size by about half that amount, turn on the oven to 425 to preheat.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in pans for 15 minutes and then gently turn them out onto a rack to finish cooling. Don't handle the rolls too roughly; they occasionally fall apart when warm.

Welcome, More magazine readers!

Welcome to kitchenMage!

I was chuffed when More asked me to contribute a recipe to their Best-loved Christmas Recipes article. The Rosemary Fan recipe they posted is a simpler version of these Rosemary Fans — which uses a starter and has step-by-step photos if you find them helpful.

If this is your first time at kitchenMage, let me show you a few things you might find interesting:

Here are a few other recipes you might enjoy:

I hang out on twitter. Follow me there and join the fun.

November 19, 2011

8 Things You Can Do For Thanksgiving Dinner Right Now

If you are like many Americans, you are probably buried in Thanksgiving recipes and wondering why you bother to look at new dishes since the family will boycott if you don't make every traditional bit of dinner. Personally, I am a child when it comes to sweet potatoes (with marshmallows please) but I have never understood that green bean thing. What is up with that?

This weekend is a good time to check on some critical, and often overlooked, things so you have a chance to fix any problems you find before Thursday. You should actually get the dishes out and do this exercise; of course you think it all fits, I want you to know. Make notes as you go so you don't find yourself trying to remember what you figured out.

Continue reading "8 Things You Can Do For Thanksgiving Dinner Right Now" »

February 09, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Valentine's Day Cinnamon Roll

I Love Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you are either spending it with someone you love or finding a creative way to ignore it until the redPinkWhiteHeartsAndFlowers craziness is over. (This bread is a variant of Farmgirl's Oatmeal Toasting Bread, slightly corrupted, enriched with milk, eggs, brown sugar and spices.)

December 17, 2010

How to Shape Christmas Tree Bread

From the archives...

I really dislike posting a recipe I have only made once. What seems to be a simple bit of culinary magic one day may fizzle on second try. Even well-tested recipes can run into problems when moved from one region of the country to another: the moisture level of flour changes noticeably from a wet climate to a dry one, for example, and altitude screws with baking and boiling, not to mention your alcohol tolerance. (My brother-in-law who works as an EMT a mile up in the mountains tells great stories.)

There are, however, a few writers whose recipes I trust enough to go with a single pass at a recipe when I am short on time and I turned to one of them for the sweet roll dough I used for the tree. Modifications were made, of course: I zested an orange, toasted and ground cardamom, sprinkled in cinnamon, and tipped in a splash of vanilla; milk became buttermilk; sugar was reduced a little bit - there was a LOT of sugar. Ten minutes after I put it in the oven the house was filled with a heady mix of spices and I was regretting not putting an extra 'tasting' loaf in the oven. (After I took photos, I tore into a golden ball of dough; I can report the flavor lived up to its aroma-vertising.)

The crumb, sadly, did not. Dense and chewy, not tender and light. Totally wrong.

Continue reading "How to Shape Christmas Tree Bread" »

December 21, 2009

How-to Shape Christmas Tree Bread

I really dislike posting a recipe I have only made once. What seems to be a simple bit of culinary magic one day may fizzle on second try. Even well-tested recipes can run into problems when moved from one region of the country to another: the moisture level of flour changes noticeably from a wet climate to a dry one, for example, and altitude screws with baking and boiling, not to mention your alcohol tolerance. (My brother-in-law who works as an EMT a mile up in the mountains tells great stories.)

There are, however, a few writers whose recipes I trust enough to go with a single pass at a recipe when I am short on time and I turned to one of them for the sweet roll dough I used for the tree. Modifications were made, of course: I zested an orange, toasted and ground cardamom, sprinkled in cinnamon, and tipped in a splash of vanilla; milk became buttermilk; sugar was reduced a little bit - there was a LOT of sugar. Ten minutes after I put it in the oven the house was filled with a heady mix of spices and I was regretting not putting an extra 'tasting' loaf in the oven. (After I took photos, I tore into a golden ball of dough; I can report the flavor lived up to its aroma-vertising.)

The crumb, sadly, did not. Dense and chewy, not tender and light. Totally wrong.

Continue reading "How-to Shape Christmas Tree Bread" »

October 28, 2009

Halloween - The Whole Human: Head to Toe Eating

With apologies to Fergus Henderson.

Halloween approaches, bringing a seeming need to cook food that looks decidedly inedible. Web sites that usually have lovely pictures of tempting treats now drip with body parts, some of which drip with other things. Things we may do well not to look at too closely.

A trip around the web netted a body's worth of disgustingly realistic creations ready for the Halloween table. I give you the Whole Human:

Continue reading "Halloween - The Whole Human: Head to Toe Eating" »

December 25, 2007

Bûche de Noël: It's done!

buche de noel with candied rosemary sprigs

Well it isn't the world's best picture and I went for simple decorations, but here it is. A minimalist Bûche de Noël with candied rosemary sprigs. The weather report says there may be snow before it is served. But what do the weather folks know, they predicted mushrooms! Merry Christmas (if you do that) and Happy Tuesday (if you don't) - see you all in a day or so with the rest of the photos of the madness.

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