When it snows like this- ALL I really want to do is make soup and bread.
Today was one of those days when I wandered around a bit- doing this and that. I’d start on one thing and then walk away and start something else, only to abandon that and move on. It ends up being kind of cyclical- I come back to the first task and do a little more until distracted and move on.
I know- not organized or effective.
So- I started the bread at around 11 AM- cleaned out a closet- came back and kneaded the dough- oiled the bowl and covered it and then pulled out the gingerbread cookies I hadn’t decorated yet. I wandered upstairs, got dressed (gasp- it was about noon by then) and brought down a load of clothes to wash. Sat the basket next to the basement door, melted some white chocolate in the microwave and rooted around in the freezer for the cake balls I had frozen last Friday. I painted the gingerbread apple centers with white chocolate and finished decorating another dozen or so cookies. Then I added more discs to my bowl and melted some more white chocolate. While the microwave was doing the actual heating- I punched down my dough, and then ran the dirty clothes downstairs and started a wash. (Plus I washed my hair.)
Now about 1:30- I decided to have some lunch- I made a grilled peanut butter and bacon sandwich and an apple- then started dipping the cake pops into the melted white chocolate and decorated the tops with red jimmies and a cinnamon imperial. ( the cake pops were made from Frank’s b-day cake- carrot with cream cheese frosting)
This cake- so the white chocolate and cinnamon of the little red hots will be perfect!
When I finished those, I packaged them back up for the freezer and started the soup. Cauliflower soup with ham and cheese.
list of ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped ham
3/4 cup chopped carrots
I TBS. olive oil
I head cauliflower
5 cups chicken stock ( or 4 cans broth)
Ragu double cheddar cheese sauce-
(or make a white sauce and melt 1 cup shredded
strong cheddar cheese into it.)
1/2 bag of fine noodles
Sautee first four ingredients until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes on med-low heat.
Separate flowerettes of Cauliflower – you will end up with about 6 cups of small pieces.
(Separate by hand- DON’T chop-cutting tender vegetables with a knife seals the edges and
keeps the flavors from intermingling.)
Add cauliflower to sauteed base and pour 5 cups of chicken broth into pan
and allow to simmer about 45 minutes until tender.
When cauliflower is fork-tender, either make a white sauce and melt cheddar cheese into it or
add jar of double cheddar sauce.
In a medium pan, boil fine noodles for 1/2 of cooking time- then add to pot of soup.
I use these cooking cylinders I found at the thrift store- they work with boiling water
and never overcook pasta.
Add to soup pot and continue to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until all the ingredients meet and
marry in the pot!
Hah! It is about 4:00 and I’ve baked nothing as yet.
BUT- I still have that dough I made much earlier raising quietly. I really punched it down and it is slowly raising – so now- soup simmering-
I grab the bowl and make Knotty Italian Rolls.
These are my all -time favorite rolls to go with soup.
5 to 6 cups of bred flour
5 TBS of EVOO- the higher quality the better the flavor. I use one that is greenish in color .
2 1/2 cups warm water (Not too Hot- but warm enough to give baby a bath!)
2 TBS yeast
1 TBS salt
3-4 TBS sesame seeds
egg white (for wash- to keep the seeds attached and to give rolls a shine!)
Mix together water and yeast and proof. ( You can add a half teaspoon of sugar to feed the yeast and it will proof faster. Proofing means to add water to the yeast and set aside for several minutes to allow the yeast to grow. If it doesn’t start foaming within this time- then discard and try again- your water was either too hot and killed the yeast or too cold and never started it going- or your yeast is VERY old- check the expiration date!)
In a large bowl, mix together the salt and flour and make a well in the center of your flour. Pour yeast water into the well, add olive oil and mix well with large spoon. If it is too wet, add some flour. If it is too dry, add some warm water. It should come together in a lump or ball- roll the dough around the inside of your bowl to clean off the sides a bit, flour the counter and dump the lump onto the counter top.
Clean as much as you can from the bowl, then flour your hands and start kneading. Knead for about 10 minutes- your heart should be pounding slightly and your arms should be tired- and the dough should be feeling smooth and elastic. Put about 1TBS of EVOO in your bowl- You don’t have to wash it- but you should have done a better job of cleaning out the dough- and roll the dough around the inside to cover with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and tea towel and allow to raise 1 1/2 hours- then punch it down and let it raise another hour or so. This makes the yeast work and the gluten strands are formed with the second raising.
When it has raised the second time and leaves a small indentation when you poke it, you can start shaping your rolls.
It should look like this .
Take a small handful and start rolling it into a long snakey shape with your hands. It needs to be about 12 inches long.
Because you are going to fold it in half. Don’t put it back on the counter- I was my own photographer for this session and had to put it down to take the picture- but you want to keep it in your hands. Because the next step… involves twisting the strip and pulling it through the hole at the top (it helps if you are ambidextrous- but this is not necessary)-
pull it through TWICE and then secure the bottom of the twist to the top by pinching it. It should end up looking like this- a knotty roll!
( To answer the perennial question of “But why is it so naughty? ” Anyone who actually makes these rolls already knows the answer- it is difficult to make them take their intended shape. Practice, practice ,practice.)
If you can’t get them into this shape Then just twist them, put on a little egg wash, shake some sesame seeds on top of that and allow them to raise another 30 minutes and them bake in a 375 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until a light golden brown.
So , you can decide if you want rolls or twists- either way- they are delicious! Enjoy!!
OK- those were made, set to raise and baked by 7:00 for dinner. So I did end up baking. It was just a convoluted day- a lot like this post.
Here’s one final picture of the rolls- I’m not calling it a crumb shot because these have a texture that is stretchy and chewy and crunchy- just like the very best Italian bread.