Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Morning Sticky Buns

It didn't take me long after seeing a pin for "Fastest Cinnamon Rolls" someone posted on Pinterest, to try them for myself.  The recipe was originally from Fine Cooking, then adapted by Don't Forget Delicious, then pinned by Jane Wang.  Now that you know where it came from, wait until you see where it is going.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Super Size Cinnamon Roll recipe and find the dough really easy to work with, but it takes a little planning since it does take some time to proof.  When I saw this yeast-free recipe, it seemed like a perfect dough to whip together this morning.  Only, I didn't want to betray my usual cinnamon roll recipe, so I opted to use the dough and make pecan sticky buns instead.  I had a few bobbles in the kitchen so the recipe wasn't as easy to put together as it should have been and the rolls probably didn't have the texture they should, but they were still delicious!  It's saying a lot when you can screw up a recipe and still want to eat the whole batch.

The recipe called for buttermilk, which I pretty much never have in the house unless I know I am going to use it for something.  I do however always have milk and lemons.  So instead of buttermilk, I made a little "sour milk" by combining lemon juice and milk and letting it sit for a few minutes.  The recipe calls for 9 oz. flour, which should be about 2 cups.  Maybe it was because I was going back and forth between putting the dough together and tending to my 3-month-old daughter, but I forgot to zero out the scale when I was measuring the flour.  I only ended up putting about a cup and a quarter or so of flour into the mixture.  I think this made the dough a little more difficult to work with and made the end product a little too soft.  I should have known, but the recipe said the dough would be soft, so I just went with it.  I realized later what I had done.  The rolls themselves were tender, but were just a little doughy in the centers.  I bet if I had used the correct amount of flour, the rolls would have seemed a little less gooey in the end.  The dough comes together really quickly in the food processor and since they don't have to proof, you can make the rolls and have them eaten in under an hour.

I surfed around the web to find different combinations to make the "sticky" part of these buns, ultimately settling on one from Simply Recipes that included honey and light corn syrup.  I love using honey in anything I can.  My spatial reasoning not being what it should at 7:00am, I poured the mixture into a 9x13 pan as the recipe stated, but then realized I only had enough rolls made to fill a 9x9 square pan.  So, I scraped the caramely-pecany filling out of one pan and into the other.  In the end, it was just a little too much "sticky" in the buns.  I should have halved (have halved? sounds funny, doesn't it?) the topping recipe.  So, if you're going to try this recipe, do as I say and not as I do.

Sunday Morning Sticky Buns (printable recipe)

3/4 c. whole milk ricotta
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
9 oz. flour (just shy of 2 c.)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. plus 2 T. firmly packed brown sugar
2 T. unsalted butter
1 1/2 T. honey
1/2 T. light corn syrup
3/4 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a 9" square baking dish by coating it with cooking spray.  Combine lemon juice and milk in a glass measuring cup and let sit a couple of minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine ricotta, milk mixture, sugar, melted butter and vanilla.  Process until smooth (about 10 seconds).  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Pulse the mixture until the dough starts to clump together.  The dough will be soft and moist.  Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed it with floured hands until smooth.  It should only take 4 or 5 kneads.  Roll the dough out until it is about a 12 x 15 inch rectangle.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving a half inch border on one of the long edges.  Sprinkle the buttered area with the cinnamon sugar, then roll the dough tightly and evenly starting from the buttered long edge.  Slice the roll into pieces about 1 3/4 inches wide (I got eight).

Place the brown sugar, butter, honey and light corn syrup in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter and sugar are melted and well combined.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Top with chopped pecans, then top with the rolls.  I did two rows of three on the sides and then two in the middle.

Bake until golden brown, about 22 minutes.  Immediately turn the rolls out onto a plate or serving platter.  Let cool slightly, then serve warm. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

The Brookfield Farmer's Market opened the first Saturday of May and I have gone a couple of times this year...not as many times as I would have liked, but when you have a newborn in the house, things don't always go according to your plans.  The first couple times I went, there wasn't a whole lot available in terms of produce, and not all of the usual vendors were present.  It was just a little too early in the season, so it was mostly onions, radishes, rhubarb and some asparagus, along with a lot of potted plants and herbs (and of course, the tomato guy with a wide array of hydroponically grown deliciousness).

When I made my way to the market this morning, I was very pleased to see a lot more produce available than when I last went.  In addition to beautiful plants, I noticed lots of garlic, lettuces, swiss chard, purple and white onions, leeks, turnips, beets, kohlrabi and more.  I was ecstatic to see several vendors with strawberries, sugar snap peas and spinach, so I picked those up in addition to some bread from my favorite bakery, tomatoes (of course) and a mixture of lettuces.  I didn't go too crazy, but what I did buy was great.

Once I had all of the items in my bag, I couldn't get the thought of making a strawberry spinach salad out of my head.  Now, I know I am not the first person to make strawberry spinach salad, it is a classic.  It just hit the spot so much, I couldn't help but share.  The only "twist" I would say I made was to add a few sugar snap peas to the mix.  I popped the peas out of the pods and then snacked on the pods.  The peas were probably the sweetest I have ever tasted.  I think I'll go back next week and get double the amount.  There is a pea, mint and Parmesan crostini recipe from Bon Appetit that I have been dying to try.

Back to the salad.  Who can resist eating a salad that almost tastes like a dessert?  Vitamin rich spinach and sugar snap peas topped with sweet strawberries and a homemade poppy seed dressing, this salad just tastes like a summer treat.  My version is below, which goes great on a summer dinner table, or as a lunch with a little bit of grilled chicken (see my Balsamic Grilled Chicken post that will be coming up soon).  The recipe could serve two to four, depending on who's eating and whether it is a side or more of a main dish.  To be truthful, I can't claim the poppy dressing recipe as my own.  I had it on a romaine, pear and apple salad my cousin made, and she got the recipe from someone else, who probably got it from someone else and so on.   It was perfect on the spinach salad.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing (printable recipe)

4 c. fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
1 c. fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 c. fresh sugar snap peas, shelled
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. poppy seeds
2 1/2 T. lemon juice (approx. 1 lemon)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/3 c. vegetable oil

Combine spinach, strawberries and peas in a large bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients in a mason jar, put on the lid and shake it up.  Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss.  Save remaining dressing or add it the salad as you feel necessary.  I'm a less-is-more kind of person.  Enjoy!