Almost two months since my last blog post. What have I been doing this Summer? Slacking off? Cooking nothing? Living off rice and beans? Not exactly. My little garden has taken some of my time. Who would have thought 200 sqft could be so much work? But Luigi and I have also been cooking up a little something of our own. A little something that has zapped most my energy this Summer and had me spending more time on the couch than in the kitchen.
Yep there is a bun in the oven, and the timer is set to go off March 1st, 2013. Luigi and I are really excited to finally share the news. That’s probably been the hardest part for me so far (oh yeah, and the no deli meat, soft cheeses, and raw fish thing). The first trimester hasn’t been that bad, I haven’t been very sick; however, the combination of the 100 degree days we have had in Reno this Summer and my job which keeps me on my feet 35 hours a week in a hot kitchen, makes me less than excited to step foot in the kitchen when I get home. Thankfully with our CSA delivery every two weeks, and all the fresh vegetables coming out of the garden, I don’t have to make many trips to the store. We have eaten a lot of salads, stirfrys, and paninis. I have also been craving a lot of cheese, so I have worked that into many of the dishes.
I have been wanting to post pictures of the garden for a couple weeks now, but I thought I would wait until we were into the height of Summer. Well, I think we have reached that point. I now have an over-abundance of veggies and need to start giving them away because I am becoming sick of kale and coming up with new ideas for summer squash! This year we planted radishes, watermelon radishes, beets (red, golden, and chioggia), peppers (bell, california, and some small sweet variety I don’t know the name of), squash (yellow, ronde de nice, and hubbard), christmas beans, snow peas, eggplant, ground cherries, lemon cucumbers, paris carrots, onions, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lettuce (spinach, rosa, and kale), basil, thai basil, cilantro, tarragon, tomatillos, and tomatoes (pineapple, cherokee purple, aunt ruby german green, green zebra, and mortgage lifter). I know that seems like a ton of stuff, but we weren’t sure what we would be able to grow in our new garden since it is our first summer at this house. We did have some flops. We still haven’t seen any brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or tomatillos. We also got a late start on the garden, so we didn’t get much lettuce except for the kale. It grows like a frickin’ weed! I have also had better luck this year with my tomatoes. I have never had the time to start seedlings indoors in the Spring. When perusing Craigslist one day though, I found an ad from a family that lives just a couple blocks away selling seedlings for just $1-$3! The little girl was raising money to go to a private school. Pretty awesome.
I have finally gotten some energy back this past week, and have had more motivation to cook at home again. I thought the perfect recipe for this post would be one for buns (my friends would have expected no less from me when announcing my pregnancy). I could have just gone with a simple roll, but I decided on brioche. Brioche is a french bread that has a ridiculous amount of butter and eggs in it. It is delicious on it’s own, or as a base for cinnamon, almonds, or chocolate rolls. I stuck with a pretty classic recipe though since I was bringing them to a work potluck to be served with ribs and potato salad. I used a Williams Sonoma recipe, and the only issue I had was that the dough was so sticky that my Cusinart had trouble “kneading” it, so I added a little extra flour which I think made the rolls a little drier than they should be. The next morning though when I heated one in the microwave and slathered it was a little plugra butter (yeah I splurged on the fancy french butter) and my homemade kumquat marmalade, it melted in my mouth. The one thing I don’t like about baking is the patience it takes to wait for the dough to rise and then the time it takes the bread to bake and cool before you can eat it. The one nice thing about making individual sized brioche buns is that they bake in a much shorter time, just 15 minutes and cool just as fast. I wish I could say the same about my own “bun,” but I guess I’ll just have to learn how to be patient and wait out the next 6 months!
From Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
Yield 18 rolls
*You probably could make this recipe by hand, but I wouldn’t attempt it. The dough is so sticky I can only imagine the mess your would have on your hands (literally).
2 Packages (5 tsp) Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105F-115F)
8 large eggs at room temperature
3 TBSP Sugar
4 cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Unsalted Butter at room temperature – cut into bits
1 egg for egg wash (beaten)
Coarse grain Salt or grey sea salt for garnish
- Using a 5 qt stand mixer (cuisinart), dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let the yeast stand for 5 minutes or so until the mixture is foamy.
- Add the 8 eggs and sugar to the yeast and use the whisk attachment to blend everything together. Remove the whisk and switch attachments to the dough hook. Add the flour and the salt, and turn the mixer to low. Allow the dough to “knead” for about 5-7 minutes. At this point my dough was really sticky so I added a little more flour to help bring it together.
- Add the soft butter and turn the mixer to medium. Allow to knead another 5-10 minutes or until the dough looks fully incorporated. Using a pastry scraper, scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Heavily butter 18 cupcake molds. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn out to a well-floured surface. Cut the dough into 18 equal pieces and then cut each piece into another 3 pieces (so you should have 54 small pieces). Roll each piece into a small ball and place 3 balls into each cupcake mold. Repeat this for all 18 cupcake molds.
- Cover the cupcake molds with a dry kitchen towel and place the tray into a warm draft-free place. Allow the dough to double in size (this should take about 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes). Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
- Uncover the cupcake molds, and brush on the beaten egg wash. Sprinkle on the coarse sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is nice and golden. You can insert a toothpick, and if it comes out clean, they are done.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Then turn out the rolls onto a rack and let cool completely before serving (if you try to eat them while they are hot, they might still be doughy).