October 27, 2012

Cinnamon Rose Bread

Our local church congregation had a fall activity this weekend and one of the activities was a competition for best chili, bread, salsa and jello. Not having a lot of time, I searched the web for a unique looking bread since bread is my major weakness in the kitchen. I came across this recipe for Rose Bread and was so impressed with the presentation that I thought for sure I'd never be able to make it. But, after looking at the instructions, the intimidation factor decreased and I thought I would give it a try. As amazing as this bread looks, what is more amazing is that it is super easy (as evidenced by the fact that I pulled it off). The steps don't take long at all - the time is all in the dough rising and baking. The recipe below yields 6-8 servings.

1. Though I used the cinnamon butter filling, there are so many variations online that use other ingredients like Pesto or Nutella or fruit filling.
2. I added the glaze, wanting to give it a nicer shine. It is optional.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil + 1 Tbs
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/4 cup warm water

4 Tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar

1. Grease bottom and sides of 10" spring form cake pan
2. Place flour, egg, yeast, sugar, salt and 1/4 cup oil in a bowl and mix until well combined

3. Add vinegar to warm water, stir, then add to the other ingredients

4. Knead until elastic and not sticky
5. Place 1 Tbs oil in a bowl, then place dough in the bowl and ensure it is well coated

6. Cover for one hour or until nearly doubled

7. On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll dough into a large rectangle, about 12" x 24"

8. Brush butter over entire surface

1. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl
2. Sprinkle evenly over the butter on the rolled out dough

1. Starting with the longest side, gently roll the dough into a long roll

2. Ensure that the seam is tight and on the bottom

3. With a sharp knife, cut the roll lengthwise into 2 halves

4. Gently turn the halves so that the layers are facing up

5. Lay one half on top of the other in an X shape

6. Carefully cross one half repeatedly until it forms a rope, then pinch the ends together

7. Repeat with the other half

8. Roll the long braid together sideways into a circle

9. Tuck the end of the rope under the wreath
10. Place carefully on the bottom of your spring form pan and cover with a towel for 30 minutes

11. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F
12. Bake for 10 minutes then lower to 350F and cook for an additional 30 minutes
13. Remove wreath to a wire rack to cool

1. In small saucepan, mix together water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat for one minute
2. Remove from heat and brush over cooling wreath

October 24, 2012

Chicken Marsala

One of my favorite chicken dishes is chicken marsala which combines sweet marsala wine with mushrooms, garlic and onion on top of a thinly pounded chicken breast. I have found that the quality of the marsala sauce at restaurants varies greatly in terms of texture, sweetness and number of mushrooms. So, I found several  recipes and combined them into one that that contains my favorite elements - a nice hearty, thick, sweet sauce with plenty of mushrooms. The recipe below yields 4 servings. Enjoy!

1. The sauce shouldn't be made too far ahead or it will thicken too much. The sauce takes 10-15 minutes so try to time it to be ready right when the chicken is done.
2. I used a combination of white and shiitake mushrooms but you can use whatever you prefer.
3. If you don't have any beef stock, you can make it yourself using beef bouillon cubes in water. It did the job just fine.

4 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness and cooked (in a pan or on a grill)
3 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 Tbs garlic, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbs flour
3/4 cup Marsala wine
1 1/4 cups beef stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Add olive oil to a saucepan and heat on medium-high.
2. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook down until tender.

3. Stir in flour and cook for one minute.

4. Add Marsala until pan is deglazed.

5. Add beef stock and cook until thick and flavors are blended.

6. Serve on top of chicken breasts.

October 17, 2012

Hand Rolled Lasagna with Garlic and Herbed Béchamel

Since cooking became a serious hobby for me over the last 3 years, I realized recently that I had never made a lasagna. Rather than find a recipe online, I decided to create one from scratch using some of my favorite ingredients - ground beef, ricotta, asiago, mozzarella, provolone, oregano, parsley, garlic and of course homemade noodles. I'm also not a huge fan of red sauces so I made a béchamel sauce and added garlic, herbs and cheese to give it just the right consistency and added a topping with several of the same ingredients. I was so hungry while I made this as the aroma filled the kitchen. I think it turned out great and is definitely what I will make again the next time I have a craving for lasagna. Total prep and cooking time was about 2 hours so it's best to do some of the prep ahead. The recipe below yields about 10 servings. Enjoy!

1. For whatever reason, I always seem to forget that if you leave milk boiling unattended, especially while you're typing on your blog, it will boil over the pot and cause a huge mess. I wouldn't recommend this as you can see from one of the pictures below.
2. Many of the components can be made ahead of time such as the noodles, the béchamel sauce and the topping. I wouldn't suggest, however, making the whole thing in advance.
3. When layering the lasagna noodles, don't overlap. Instead, you may have to cut some pieces to make them fit. You may have a few pieces left over when you're all done.
4. This lasagna tastes amazing the next day (or later the same night in my case).

Lasagna Noodles
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp olive oil
Dash of salt

Meat and Ricotta
1.5 lbs ground beef
15 oz Ricotta
Salt and Pepper to taste

Herbed Béchamel
1/2 stick butter
1 Tbs garlic
4 Tbs flour
8 cups milk, warmed
2 cups grated mozzarella, provolone and asiago, mixed
1 Tbs Parsley
1 Tbs Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Tbs minced garlic
2 Tbs Oregano
2 Tbs Parsley

Lasagna Noodles
1. Add flour to small bowl and create a hole in the middle of the flour
2. Add eggs inside the hole
3. Add olive oil and salt

4. Using a fork, gently combine together
5. Remove from the bowl and knead until ball shape is formed

6. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes
7. Roll pasta out into lasagna sized sheets, either by hand or using a pasta roller

8. Place a sheet in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute

9. Remove and pat dry on paper towel
10. Repeat with remaining sheets

Meat and Ricotta
1. Cook ground beef in skillet or sauce pan, then drain
2. Add 15 oz ricotta and mix together

3. Add salt and pepper, then set aside

Herbed Béchamel
1. Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat
2. Add garlic and let simmer for 2-3 minutes

3. Add flour and whisk together for 3 minutes

4. Add milk, herbs, salt and pepper

5. Whisk together until boiling
6. Add cheese mix, then lower heat, stirring occasionally until ready to use

1. Mix together garlic, Oregano and Parsley in a small bowl, then set aside

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Grease bottom of 9x12 inch baking dish
3. Pour in 3/4 cup béchamel sauce

4. Add one layer of noodles

5. Add Meat and Ricotta Mixture

6. Add 1/2 cup cheese mix

7. Repeat three more times
8. For the final layer add 3/4 cup béchamel sauce and any extra cheese
8. Cover with aluminum and place on a baking rack in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes
9. Remove aluminum, increase heat to 500 and cook for 6-8 more minutes until top cheese layer bubbles

10. Sprinkle with Garlic, Parsley and Oregano topping

11. Let sit for 10 minutes then serve