Friday, April 29, 2011

Turkey and Roasted Pear Panini

Here it is, my contribution to National Grilled Cheese Month!

The idea for this recipe was not an original one of mine, but I was definitely intrigued when my “mom” came back from Portland, Oregon telling tales of this delicious sandwich she had! Of course, if you know me, you know that once I get an idea in my head, it’s pretty well stuck there until I do something about it!!
Apparently, the sandwich that mom had had used canned pears, which might be good, but I just had to go with someone different and unique! I found this recipe for roasted pears, but I didn’t necessarily want those same flavors in my sandwich so changed it a little bit. When I started thinking about this sandwich and went about concocting it in my head, I really was quite methodical about the entire process… What flavor did I want the turkey to have? Was I going to use canned pears, like the original? What kind of cheese would taste best? What about the bread? Should I only have pears and turkey in it? I suppose I could have asked more questions about the original sandwich… But what’s the fun in that?!
While at the grocery store, I happened to see one of my favorite lunchmeats in the deli case and I knew that that’s what I wanted. It’s a honey maple turkey breast, so it’s slightly sweet, but it’s very good. (If you can’t find honey maple turkey, plain honey roasted turkey will be just fine.) Especially with some honey mustard! So, that was added to the sandwich in my head… Okay, so I had the meat and the mustard figured out, but then my mind was wondering what cheese would be best. I didn’t want anything too strong, because I didn’t want it to overpower the slightly sweet flavor of the turkey and the taste of the pear, so my choices were limited to just a few. And then it came to me… One of my favorite cheeses… Muenster!! And it melts extremely well, so that was a bonus! With all of the sweet flavors going on in the sandwich, I thought it might be a good idea to add something to help balance it out, and that’s where the spinach and cranberry compote come in.
So, I had most of my sandwich figured out, but was still contemplating what kind of bread to use and how I wanted to approach the pear aspect of it… I ended up deciding to use my favorite potato bread, because I use it in a few of my other sandwiches and it’s nice and mild, so it doesn’t overpower any of the other flavors going on. While I do generally eat whole wheat bread, I find that the flavor becomes stronger when toasted and it masks some of the less prominent flavors with it. When it came to the pears, I kept tossing around the idea in my head that it might be really tasty to roast them in the oven to help bring out more of the pear’s natural sweetness and flavor. Once I had that stuck in my head, I knew that’s what I was going to do… But, I didn’t just want a plain old roasted pear either! So, I typed “Roasted Pears” into Google to see what other people might have to say about the subject. Most of what I found wasn’t even close to what I wanted, but then I found the one I decided to use as a basic idea. I went from there, and the rest is history! ;-)

Printable Recipe

1 ripe but firm Bartlett pear
1 Tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. cinnamon
4 slices potato bread, recommended Arnold
Butter or margarine
Honey mustard, recommended Grey Poupon
Spicy Cranberry Compote
6 oz. shaved honey maple turkey breast
4 slices Muenster cheese
Couple handfuls fresh baby spinach

To make the roasted pears: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix the honey and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Prepare the pear by cutting it in half lengthwise and scooping out the core and seeds. Place the halved pear halves, cut side down, on a work surface. Starting ½ inch from the stem and leaving the pear half intact at the stem end, cut each lengthwise into scant ⅓- to ½-inch-wide slices. Press the pear gently to fan it into slices; drizzle the pears with the honey and cinnamon mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. Remove the stems from each pear and separate each pear half into equal parts so that they will fit well on the sandwiches.
For the sandwiches: Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter or margarine; spread the other side of two slices with a small amount of honey mustard and the other two with the spicy cranberry compote. In order to create a uniform sandwich that holds together well, layer half of the meat on two of the honey mustard sides of the bread, followed by 1 slice of cheese. Arrange some of the spinach on top of the cheese slices, followed by all of the pears divided between the two, then some more spinach, the last of the cheese, and the remaining turkey; top with the other slices of bread, spicy cranberry compote side in. Place the sandwiches, buttered sides out, in a panini press or George Foreman and grill until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Makes 2 sandwiches

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spicy Cranberry Compote

The base for this recipe comes from the first food blog I ever started following, Closet Cooking. Kevin is a brilliant cook and is always concocting something yummy looking in his tiny kitchen in Canada! He is truly an inspiration!
I came upon his recipe for Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce while looking for something to go with my contribution to National Grilled Cheese Month. I’ve been working on the sandwiches for a couple weeks now, using the canned jellied cranberry sauce initially. Sadly, the stuff melted and mostly oozed out of the sandwich before we could even eat them, so I needed to find a different way to incorporate the cranberries into my sandwiches. Yes, I probably could have just left the cranberry element out, but the rest of the flavors are sweet so I wanted something to cut through some of the sweetness…
While I was intrigued by Kevin’s concoction, I didn’t have any jalapeños on hand and didn’t exactly feel inclined to run to the store just for them, so had to come up with something different. I also didn’t want to include any alcohol in mine, since these were sandwiches for a lunch, so I omitted that. There were only a few other small changes that I made, but the end result turned out to be quite delicious!

Printable Recipe

½ c. orange juice
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 c. cranberries, picked clean
½ tsp. lemon juice

Mix the orange juice, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a medium sauce pan; and the cranberries and stir to combine. Simmer the mixture until the cranberries burst, stirring from time to time, about 10 minutes. Add the lime juice and remove from heat. Serve warm on top of meat. Allow the mixture to cool and store in the refrigerator. Makes approximately 2 cups

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mixed Greens and Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

I came across this recipe recently, and I knew right away that I would be making it. I’ve been working on my contribution for National Grilled Cheese Month, and have been looking for something light and fruity to go with my sandwich. I had previously served it with a couple of different kinds of soup, but none of the soups ever seemed to taste right with the sandwich. I could have gone with a fruit soup, I suppose, but I didn’t really want to go that route…
What I loved about the recipe is that it’s very similar to one that I’ve made many times before. For several years, I’ve really enjoyed spinach salads with fresh fruit, but had never added the apples or pears. Since the pears are in my sandwich, I thought it would be a nice compliment to add those, instead of all apples, and then I had a bunch of other fresh fruit in the refrigerator so added that as well. One of the things I did change, though, was the dressing. I really like poppy seed dressing, and it goes so well with the fruit that I just knew I had to use that for this salad!
For the dressing, I used a recipe from the Taste of Home website as my base and adjusted it to suit my own tastes. I’m not a fan of anything overly sweet so I didn't use very much sugar, and I thought that any more than what I had already added of the oil would make the dressing taste too greasy and heavy. When making the dressing, you’re trying to achieve an emulsion, so you want to make sure to add only a small drizzle of oil at a time while whisking constantly. If you have any leftover dressing, feel free to cover and refrigerate it. I was using mine the next day, so I just left it sitting out on the counter overnight, as there is really nothing in it that would cause it to spoil. If you'd prefer, you can use a pre-made poppy seed dressing, but I would encourage you to at least try this... It's really not difficult to make, it tastes incredibly light and fresh (especially since you can control how much of every ingredient to add, like the oil), and there are no artificial colors, preservative, and other junk in it!
Overall, I think this is really a great salad! If you’re looking for a very light lunch or dinner, you could simply add some cooked chicken breast and perhaps a couple shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese to make it more substantial. And, just like pretty much everything else, if you don’t like something in it, take it out. If you don’t have something, or would prefer something else, change it.

Printable Recipe

1 (5 oz.) bag Spring Mix lettuce
1 (6 oz.) bag baby spinach
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 ripe pear, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
1 Gala apple, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
½ pint strawberries, quartered
2 c. fresh pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces
1 c. mandarin oranges, drained
3 kiwis, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
2 oz. sliced almonds
1 (6oz.) bag dried cranberries

Poppy Seed Dressing:
½ c. sugar
⅓ c. cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. canola oil

Make the poppy seed dressing: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard, poppy seeds, and salt. Slowly add oil, whisking briskly. Cover until serving.
Mix the lettuce and spinach to combine well. Arrange the fruit and onion on top of the lettuce mixture; sprinkle with the sliced almonds and dried cranberries. Serve drizzled with poppy seed dressing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cream of Mushroom Soup

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to make my own homemade cream of mushroom soup, but hadn’t really found anything which peaked my interest... Until this recipe! I came across Chef Dennis’ blog, More Than A Mount Full, a couple months ago, I think, while looking for something completely different. I can’t remember what I was looking for anymore, but when I found his recipe, I knew I had to try it…
I did change a few things from the original recipe (Shocking, right?!), but it was mostly just because I was going by what I could find and then I happened across some mushrooms that were on sale at my local market. The mushroom mélange wasn’t exactly on sale, but when I only spent $1.00 for each of the other packages of mushrooms, an extra couple of dollars didn’t seem so terrible to spend… Also, since I wasn’t using the dried and reconstituted mushrooms, I wanted another little bit of a flavor component, so I decided to add the garlic. I ended up using a lot more stock than was recommended, because my roux ended up being very thick with the entire 1 cup of flour. I would thin it out with the stock while cooking it, and then it would get really thick again, so I ended up using much more stock than was called for in the original! This is when I used the different kind of stock because I ran out of chicken stock... In this recipe, I decreased the amount of flour by half, and I think that that is more than sufficient. I also used fat free Half & Half in my soup, as I’m trying to be conscious of fat and calories consumption, but I think that it worked quite well as a substitute here.
What really makes this soup, in my opinion, is the little drizzle of truffle oil at the end! I have never had truffles before (since they are QUITE expensive), and I recently acquired a small bottle of truffle oil which I have to believe smells similar to the real thing. It’s really very pungent, and a little goes a long way! I only drizzled a tiny amount over the top of the mushrooms that I used for garnish and eventually stirred into the soup, but I could definitely taste the subtle difference in flavor from before to after adding it. If you’re fortunate enough to find truffle oil, be sure that the product you’re buying is actually infused with truffle and not just truffle essence. If you don’t have or can’t find truffle oil, of course, don’t worry about it…

Printable Recipe

¼ lb. (1 stick) butter
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms, quartered
6 oz. sliced shitake and mini bella mushroom mixture
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
½ c. flour
2 c. chicken stock, hot
2 c. beef stock, hot
2 c. Half and Half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish
Truffle oil, for drizzling

In a small stock pot melt the butter and add the diced onion; allow to sauté. After about 5 minutes, add in the minced garlic and sauté just until fragrant; add the quartered mushrooms and stir frequently, the mushrooms will suck up all the butter at first. After a few minutes, add the remaining mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to cook for about 10 minutes. When the liquid has reappeared, remove some of the quartered button mushrooms, add in the flour, and mix well. Turn down the heat and allow the mixture to cook for about 10 minutes.
Add in the hot chicken and beef stock, ½ cup at a time, mixing well after each addition; add in the Half and Half. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and the dried parsley; allow the soup to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve the soup garnished with the reserved sautéed mushrooms, a sprinkling of fresh parsley, and a very small drizzle of truffle oil.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Pork Chops

I made these pork chops after coming home from the store with a couple of them and no idea what to really do! I had seen a few recipes that called for marinating or brining the chops for a few hours, but it was already 8:00 at night and I didn’t want to wait that long. I’ve seen similar methods to this on cooking shows, so just went with my instincts and what I could remember from the shows to make these pork chops.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had my fair share of dry pork. In fact, these were the first pork chops I’ve eaten in at least 15 years! I had had more than one experience with dry pork, so I had resolved that I didn’t really care for it as a result. That was until I moved to De Pere… We have a really nice grocery store here, with a large selection of fresh meat products (including chicken, seafood, beef, and pork), and I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful-looking pork chops while making other selections. For many months, I hesitated in buying any of them, though. Finally, after him-hawing about them for a few days, I decided that I really should give them a shot again, especially considering how well I know that sometimes people have negative preconceived notions based on bad experiences. And I’m glad I did! These pork chops turned out moist and flavorful, not like the ones I remember at all. This time, I used a packaged barbecue sauce that I really like, but you may feel free to use your own favorite packaged or even homemade sauce.

Printable Recipe

2 (1” thick) boneless pork chops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
2 c. water

Preheat oven to 350°.
Prepare a non-coated sauté pan by heating a couple tablespoons of canola or extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops and add to the sauté pan when the oil starts to shimmer; sauté for 3 - 4 minutes per side to create a nice golden brown crust on both sides of the chop. (You want to be sure to wait until the oil is hot so that when you add the meat to the pan it sears the outsides, creating a nice golden brown crust. You should hear the sound of the meat searing as soon as you add it to the pan.)
When the pork chops have been browned on both sides, remove the sauté pan from the heat, spread a good amount of barbecue sauce over the top of each chop, pour the water over the chops, cover the pan with foil, and place it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the pork reaches a minimal internal temperature of 160° for medium-well done (170° for well done).
Remove the pork chops from the oven and set the oven to broil. Move the pork chops from the sauté pan and transfer to a broiler pan or foil-lined baking sheet; baste the pork chops with more barbecue sauce and place under the broiler until the sauce thickens slightly, turn chops over and baste and broil again. Remove pork chops from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Makes 2 servings

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oven-Roasted Sesame Broccoli

I know that some people don’t really care for broccoli, especially my best friend who went on a diet craze and basically only ate broccoli and chicken breasts, but I happen to think it’s delightful! Of course, that’s probably because I’ve never really been on a diet craze, so I wouldn’t know anything about eating too much of it… Hee hee hee! My problem with diets is that I can’t eat ANYTHING for more than a few days in a row before I’m ready for something else no matter how good it is, especially sandwiches. Variety is the spice of life! I suppose that means no cookie-cutter diets for me…

But, anyways, back to the broccoli!

I don’t know if any of you have caught on to this, but I’m really quite fond of roasted vegetables. Potatoes… Eggplant… Squash… Asparagus… (YUM!!) It’s all good when it’s roasted! Until now, though, I had never had roasted broccoli, despite hearing rave reviews. Generally, I’ve just always steamed it, because that’s fast and easy, especially when I’ve got so much other stuff going on. But, this is just as easy!
A lot of other recipes call for roasting the broccoli at a higher temperature, and I normally would have done that, but I was making pork chops for this particular dinner and was finishing them in the oven, so I didn’t want the oven to be real hot. I also didn’t want the broccoli to be cooked and waiting while I finished the pork chops, or vice versa, so I roasted the broccoli at the same temperature as what the pork chops’ finishing temperature was and cooked the broccoli a little longer than normal. It turned out wonderfully, and I think I’ve found my new favorite way to prepare broccoli!

Printable Recipe

1 lb. broccoli crowns, rinsed and drained
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
1 - 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the broccoli crowns into bite size pieces.
Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the pepper, salt, sesame seeds, and olive oil. Spread the broccoli on a foil-lined cookie sheet and place into the oven and roast just until the broccoli is tender and the edges have darkened slightly, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

I originally made these potatoes for a dinner with my “mom”, aunt, and sister after seeing them made on a cooking show, and I served them with marinated sesame crusted tuna steaks and roasted asparagus. When I made them the first time, I baked the potatoes, put them through my food mill, and used a wasabi powder that I have. While the potatoes were good, the texture and flavor wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for - they seemed to be drier potatoes, which I think was because of the wasabi powder in addition to being baked, and they weren’t EXACTLY what I wanted. So, I went about making them a little bit differently until I got the results I was looking for!
First and foremost, to get the best, creamy mashed potato texture without any lumps, I highly recommend getting yourself a potato ricer or food mill! You can find them at nearly any cooking store, they’re fairly inexpensive, and definitely worth the investment. (I have one of each!) I’ve never found anything else to give you the perfect consistency for mashed potatoes the way this little tool does. I’m not particularly fond of lumpy mashed potatoes, so there was no question that I needed one (or two) of these… ;-) The great thing about them is that you can use them for other things too, like making your own homemade baby food. The models I have of both the ricer and the food mill come with different plates which determine how fine you want your food, so it’s easy to go from baby’s first foods to chunkier versions when they’re ready for those stages.
Another thing that I like about this recipe, other than the wasabi (which I LOVE, especially with sushi), is that it can be made as healthy as you want it to be. I’ve made this with a very good-quality fat free sour cream (Morning Glory is excellent) as well as Greek yogurt, and I’ve made it with skim milk as well as heavy cream. You can make this recipe using very little wasabi or a lot of wasabi, depending on your own personal tastes. It’s entirely up to you to make it what you want! :-)

Printable Recipe

1 lb. russet potatoes, cut into uniform chunks
½ c. Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 - 2 tsp. prepared wasabi
2 - 4 Tbsp. cream, half & half, or milk
¼ c. minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the chunks of potatoes into a saucepan and cover with cold water; bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes fall apart when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes. While the potatoes are still hot, use a tongs to transfer them to a potato ricer or food mill and press the hot potato pieces back into the empty, warm saucepan. (Because we’re using a potato ricer/food mill, it’s not necessary to peel the potatoes before cooking them; when you rice potatoes, the skins don’t make it through the press.)
Once all of the potatoes have been riced, add the yogurt or sour cream, prepared wasabi, and cream and stir to combine. (Note: Add small amounts of the wasabi and the cream first and then continue adding more until you reach the desired flavor and consistency. You can always add more, but it’s usually more difficult or even impossible to take it back once it’s already in there! If your potatoes do get too runny, you can place them on a warm burner until the extra liquid evaporates.) Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, add the fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beer-Battered Fish Sandwich (Fish 'N Chips)

So, here’s the star of the dish I had researched and tweaked for almost a week… The fish! One of my favorite bloggers had posted his recipe for Fish (Sandwich) ‘N Chips a few weeks ago, and it just kept coming back to me. While I did like his recipes and ideas, of course I had some of my own. Therefore, the past week has been a quest in researching and then remaking recipes to suit my own ideas and wishes.
While Kevin at Closet Cooking uses eggs in his beer batter, I had never heard of such a thing and was confused as to why one would do this (not to question Kevin’s knowledge). So, I went to the man who knows everything… Alton Brown. After looking over his recipe, I actually decided that I liked the sound of it much better! So, I changed only a couple of things, the size of the fish pieces mainly, and that’s what I used for my fish sandwiches. Since it was St. Patrick’s day last week and I had Guinness in my refrigerator, that’s what I used in my batter, which is surprisingly more authentic to Fish ‘N Chips than I had originally thought. Apparently, the dish is just as much an Irish dish as an English one, so that means I still get to remain authentic in my recipe! Although, I’m fairly certain that the English and the Irish don’t put cayenne or Old Bay in their batter, but I’ll let that slide… ;-)
Funny story, on the day I was making this meal we had blizzard conditions here in De Pere, so I had the fireplace on and went about making my bread, mixing my mayonnaise, and preparing the broccoli slaw. Being that the measurements for the broccoli slaw ingredients are from an English recipe, everything is done using the metric system, so I got my digital scale ready and started going about my work. Then, halfway through measuring my ingredients, my scale died! And, wouldn’t you know, the darn battery is one of those crazy 9-volts that nobody has unless you have children, especially boys with remote control cars. Son of a biscuit!! Frantic, I asked every neighbor I know if they happened to have one, but no such luck… I scoured my apartment looking for ANYTHING that might have one of these batteries, including taking my smoke detector apart (which is wired), but couldn’t find anything! Finally, frustrated, I stuck the battery back in the scale in hopes that I could get it to work for the few remaining ingredients I needed to weigh. I got all of the ingredients out and ready, and turned on the scale. VOILA!! It worked! After I finished measuring all of my ingredients, it came to me… My bathroom scale has a 9-volt battery!! Even though I didn’t need it for my kitchen scale anymore, I took the battery out of the bathroom one and put it in there. Who needs to weigh themselves anyways?! It’s not like the thing ever tells me what I want it to! :-D

Printable Recipe

2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Couple dashes Old Bay Seasoning
8 oz. Guinness, cold
4 oz. water, cold
2 lb. cod fillets, cut into sandwich-sized pieces
Cornstarch, for dredging

Scali Sandwich Rolls
Fresh Herb Mayonnaise
Creamy Broccoli Slaw
Oven Fries

Heat the oven to 200°F and heat the oil in a deep fryer to 350°F.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Whisk in the beer and water until the batter is completely smooth and free of any lumps. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Note: The batter can be made up to 1 hour ahead of time.
Lightly dredge fish pieces in cornstarch. Working in small batches, dip the fish into batter and immerse into hot oil. When the batter is set, turn the pieces of fish over and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the fish on a roasting rack. Serve the fish on scali sandwich rolls with fresh herb mayonnaise, and serve with creamy broccoli slaw and oven fries.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Scali Sandwich Rolls

You might be surprised to know, this is my first time making homemade bread. I’ve always felt a little intimidated about it before, because it’s such a long process… Mixing the yeast with “just right” warm water, mixing that with flour and other stuff to make a dough, letting it rise, punching the dough down and kneading it, letting it rise again, punching it down and kneading it again until just the right texture, blah blah blah. Talk about a daunting task! Not to mention time-consuming. So, imagine my delight when I came across one that didn’t require all of that junk!
I should probably start out by telling how I came across this bread, being that it has a kind of strange name and I had never heard of it before. Unlike most other recipes, I didn’t come across this while looking for another recipe of some sort online. I was actually at Wal-Mart with a friend, and I happened to notice the braided rolls while looking for something to go with my fish sandwiches that I’ve been planning to make. I had never heard of scali before, so I Googled it on my phone while still at the store and found that it’s not a well-known kind of bread around my area in Wisconsin. It’s more local to the Boston area, where some people of Italian decent settled and made the bread popular. It’s a mild, slightly nutty bread with a “crumb” (as it is called) that is perfect for sandwiches and such. While I could have purchased the bread from the bakery there, I declined as I was more than a little disappointed in the fact that they omitted the sesame seeds, which are characteristic of this bread. Being that I love sesame seeds, AND bread, I was intrigued and therefore set about learning what I could about the bread - which is when I found out how incredibly easy it is to make.
The basic recipe for this bread called for one large loaf or 12 small hamburger-sized rolls. However, I wanted slightly larger ones as I am planning to make my own fish sandwiches, which means that they’re not going to be the perfect little square crap things you buy in a box, and so will need more bread for the sandwich part. I adjusted the measurement part of the recipe thusly, and also added the egg wash and sesame seeds after proofing, but otherwise the recipe is the exact same. When it comes to bread, I’m not sure that it’s something you should mess around with too much… Well, I’m not going to anyways, being a very amateur bread maker! The only thing that I did do differently was how I went about making my rolls... I had asked a few questions on different blogs about how to go about braiding the rolls, whether it would be best to separate the pieces of dough for each roll and braid them separately or has a larger loaf. I was told that, being an amateur bread maker, I should stick with the larger loaf and cut it into separate rolls because that would be easiest and only really talented bread makers should attempt to braid individual loavees. I guess now I should probably tell you (even though it might be obvious) that I have never braided bread before either! And all I have to say about the advice I was given... Whatever!! I tried doing what they said and making one big loaf, but right away I was having difficulties getting the bread to cooperate and stay a uniform size while trying to braid and all of that mess. So, finally, I stopped messing around with that, cut the pieces smaller, and braided each roll separately. It was MUCH easier and the rolls turned out looking more uniform and pretty! After all, it's all about the aesthetics!! ;-)

Printable Recipe

1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
⅓ - ½ c. cool water, to make a stiff dough ball
Pinch of instant yeast

All of the starter
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
2 tsp. instant yeast
⅔ c. lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large egg white beaten
1 Tbsp. cold water
½ c. sesame seeds

To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients together, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight. Note: This is a dry, stiff starter. If it's too dry to come together, it may be that you measure your flour differently, or that you're in a particularly dry climate. Dribble in sufficient water to make the dough come together, and proceed with the recipe as directed.
To make the dough: Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough. This will take about 7 minutes at medium speed in a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook… Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large (8-cup) measure; cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, till it's just about doubled in bulk.
To make the rolls: Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into six equal pieces; then, divide those six pieces into 3 equal portions. Shape each portion into a rough log, and let the logs rest, covered with a towel, for about 10 minutes. This gives the gluten in the dough a chance to relax, which in turn will make the logs easier to roll. Or so I've read... Working on a lightly greased surface, take three of the logs and roll each into a thin rope. Grab one end of each rope, and squeeze the ends together firmly. Braid the ropes, tucking the ends under to make a neat braided loaf. Repeat with the remaining logs. The resulting loaves will be about 6" long.
Place the rolls on a large, parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet, spacing them approximately 2” apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise until very puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush each roll with the egg white/water, and sprinkle heavily with the sesame seeds, rolling the tops of the rolls gently in the seeds to pick up as many as possible. Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack. Yield: 6 rolls