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Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Quintessential Classic

My family has made chelsea buns since the beginning of time.  Or at least since Noah landed.

Please don't tell me you've never had a chelsea bun.  Chelsea buns put those mass produced knock-offs at the mall to shame.

And for this, I have a recipe. And a download!

This link here will take you to the .pdf form of the cooking booklet.  My mother bought me my own copy a bazillion years ago, and it is now out of print.  But Fleischmann's has been so kind as to offer it in this format.  It also offers handy information for translating between Canadian and American recipes and the often confusing terminologies.  It also offers tips on making sure you have great buns. 

Don't worry if the link seems to be taking a while to work - the file is pretty large.

Now, on to the good part!

This is my original cookbook.  Was my original cookbook.  Many moons ago, E1 took it upon himself to disassemble it.  I could pretty easily get it rebound, but this has a more authentic, rustic, cheap-O feel to it.

This is the page we need.  It has been shown much love.  Some weirdos have named this recipe Cinnamon Nut Rolls.  They are obviously aware of their error, however, since they mention that others do call this bit of deliciousness by its proper name.

Today, I made a double batch, therefore necessitating two 9X13 pans.  I wonder - will the culinary world in North America ever go over to the dark metric side?  I doubt it.

These pans, too, have seen much love.

Here's the corn syrup you are going to need.  I did not buy it like this.  I did, however, crack the plastic bottles they now come in and end up having to put it in this.

About 1/4 cup of corn syrup in each pan.  Metal (or at least stove top safe) pans are a must.  I will show you why in a minute.

Then the brown sugar and butter.  It is important to keep the amount of corn syrup equal to the amount of brown sugar you put in the pan.  If the ratio gets too far off, you can end up with taffy on the top of your chelsea buns.  And, while tasty, it's really hard on your dental work.

Heat the ingredients slowly on the stove top.  Keep the heat low so the butter and sugar don't burn.  And be sure to use an oven mitt when holding onto the pan.  Heat transfers, you know.

Next, you'll need some oil, water, and honey.  Like this nifty, unique, and one of a kind bottle?  Wanna know how you can get your own?

Pour hot oil back into the bottle.  Then be sure to rush it out to a snow bank to keep oil from spewing all over your kitchen.

Them them all into a microwave safe measuring cup and pop them in the microwave.  Be sure not to get the mixture too hot, since that will kill the yeast.  If it does get too warm, pop in a couple ice cubes.  The small amount of extra water can be compensated for in the end product with a little more flour.  I'd recommend starting out with about a minute to nuke a single batch worth of liquids.

When you give the mixture a stir, you get pretty designs.  Awwww

Meanwhile, back at the mixer, whip together three cups of  flour, salt, and yeast.  With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the warm water.

Let the mixer do its thing for a few minutes.  Yes, waiting can be hard.

You will end up with something like this.  At first, it will be a little tough to the touch.  Don't worry, mine does that, too.  I don't know if it's supposed to, but it does.  Depending on the humidity, whether or not Mercury is in retrograde, and a host of other factors, you may or may not need to some or all of the last cup of flour.

Flour your rolling surface well.  This part probably also qualifies as arts and crafts time.

Let them get right into it.  Why not - you are going to have to clean the floor again anyways.

After letting the dough rest a few minutes, it will be considerably easier to work with.  Roll it out into something that vaguely resembles a rectangle.

On a warmer day, I would just use my fingers and smear butter all over the dough.  Spring has forgotten about us around here, so I melted the butter, poured it on, and let arts and crafts time continue.

Then the brown sugar.  This, too, usually needs a little manual manipulation.

Then the cinnamon.  Feel free to stand and inhale deeply at this point.  Ah, that's better.

Then roll up the dough.  Not the rim - there's no coffee or free doughnut to be had here, either.  Here, you are at a turning point.  If you want to make a few large buns, roll the whole way across and make one log.  If you'd rather have smaller buns (and who wouldn't, really), roll from both sides, meet in the middle, and separate the two logs with a knife to ensure you have even sized logs with which to make your buns.

Like this.  Keep in mind this is a double batch.

Here they are sliced and all neatly arranged in the pan.  To make sure I end up with even-sized slices, I make an indent with my knife in the middle of my log, then keep splitting each side until I end up with a dozen or so buns.

Today's helpers kind of had their own plan, so I ended up with these left over.  What to do?

Stick'em in the pan, that's what.  I am not entering a competition at the local fair and Martha doesn't live here.  I promise you, they will taste the same.

Cover the whole kit and caboodle with a tea towel.  A clean one, please.  There's a reason the health unit doesn't want them used in places that serve food to the public.  Then put them somewhere warm to rise for about a half hour.  Due to the unseasonably chilly temperatures around here, our fireplace is still on.  Perfect.

And yes, those are singing Larry the Cable Guy and Princess birthday cards.

Time for clean up.  I'll start with this.

Then work on this.

The buns are done rising when they have pretty much filled the pan.  Under rising will give you a dense, groady bun that even the sticky topping won't make up for.  Over rising will give you a yeasty flavour and some overly large air pockets.

Oh shezam!  These look absolutely divine.

Because I made a double batch, and didn't quite get the dough divided evenly, this pan got a little overcrowded, hence the bustin' at the seams look.  Not to worry.  They will still win the competition for taste.

Invert a serving tray, or a regular size cookie sheet covered in foil over the baking pan and quickly flip the whole thing over.  Slowly pick up the baking pan from one corner, helping any buns that aren't co-operating onto the pan with the rest of his little friends.  Scrape any leftover goo back onto the buns and let the whole thing cool off.

If you can wait that long.

The recipe tells you to wait before turning the pan over.  I have no idea what they are talking about on that one.  Let the pan rest only a minute or two to ensure the goo stays with the buns and doesn't settle back down into the pan. 

Once they have cooled off, keep them tightly covered so they don't dry out. They are best served the same day, but you can serve them for the next day or two without fear.  A couple of seconds in the microwave doesn't hurt.  Not that they will last that long.

And there you have it.  These travel fantastically well.  They can also be made into regular cinnamon buns, minus the pan goo, and then iced.  The buns can be frozen before baking and rising.  Just bring them out and allow them to rise somewhere warm before baking. 1. 2.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hum Along Ifn' You Don't Know the Words

Ha ha.  Gotcha there, didn't I?  You thought I was actually going to sing for a minute?  Maybe post a video of me serenading you through your screen?  Ha!  Imagine how high the bill would be for fixing all those broken speakers.

Right now, as you are sighing with relief (and my high school English teacher is mortified at the slaughter of my native tongue), there is a splendiferous (Sorry Shep) container of hummus mellowing in my fridge.

Mellowing?  Yes, mellowing.  I'll explain why in a minute.

I consulted a recipe before marching out on this adventure.  Please note the use of the word 'consulted'.  In cooking, especially in cooking, I view recipes as suggestions more so than directions.  That and I am a first born. I inherently don't like being told what to do.

I found it in this book.  I bought it, years ago, from a bookman, and have consulted it regularly ever since.  What, you don't have a bookman?  You poor deprived thing.  Don't feel too bad.  I don't anymore either.  A bookman (or woman) leaves a variety of books in lunchrooms across this fair nation with an order form so you can buy his reduced price, generally out of print books.  Usually, they are a very good deal and offer tremendous variety.  And they're cheap. Oh, sorry, did I mention that already?  I found a more up to date copy of this in a bookstore Sydney, Australia last summer.  The funny terminology used is now fully understandable.  Its Aussie.  That, in fact, explains everything.

You start with a can of these.

Or a can of these.  It doesn't really matter which.  They're both the same.

Here, I will give you a brief glimpse into how my mind, and therefore my kitchen, works.  When I bring my canned goods home, I chicken scratch on the top a brief description of what's inside.  Redundant, one might think.  But not for me.  When I pull out my pantry drawer, I see the tops of my cans, not the sides.  By writing on the top, I can quickly and easily find what I'm looking for.  Or just as quickly and easily discover that I don't currently have what I thought I had and actually need to leave the house and go grocery shopping.  Ugh.

I got one of these, as a gift, shortly after we were married.  I don't use it that often.  When I do, however, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that my food prep time is shrunk by a factor of about a bazillion.

Just about everybody in the pool.  Leave the olive oil out to stream in later.  The gooey substance so artfully arranged where it shouldn't be is the tahini.  Tahini is a yummy sesame butter-type substance.  I would have almost eaten it with a spoon, it smelled so good.  Except I only bought enough at the bulk food store to make the hummus.  Bummer.

There is a bit of problem with the quantity of garlic shown here.  The writers of this book were probably assuming the readers would use normal, grocery store garlic.  My garlic comes from gram and papa's place. At gram and papa's place, elephant garlic is grown.  Can you say go big or go home?  In short, there is probably too much garlic in this for most people.  Hence the need to mellow out some in the fridge.

Stream in the olive oil while the machine is running, through the nifty contraption on the top, until you get a good consistency.  Then go crazy.  Here, we like olives.  And sundried tomatoes.  And if I ever get the patience to make them, caramelized onions.  Once the extras are in, a quick taste test and then a dash of sea salt to even things out.  **Please note:  I did not peel my chick peas.  We are not that crazy here.  Nor do I have that much spare time on my hands.  If I did, I would probably watch paint dry first.  After I had actually found the time to paint something.

Then scrape it into a bowl, slap on the lid and voila!  Hummus that will keep for a hundred years in the fridge.  Probably only about 50 on the counter.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taco Salad

This post is not about wild, new, or crazy ideas about what we served for supper here tonight.  It's taco salad.  That wheel was invented sometime back in 1992.  And it was a good one.

Probably explains why I put a tortilla baker on our wedding registry.  Why I was so sure we needed them in our little apartment, I am not sure.  But I am sure I was sure.  Does that make sense?

The tortilla bakers look like this.  I am equally sure they were manufactured by Baker's Secret.  A quick Google search now brings up Norpro as the manufacturer, but they look identical to me.  But who knows, my eyesight is pretty poor at my age.

Start out with the obvious - ground beef and taco seasoning.  I know, I know, I could go all Martha here and make my own seasoning and keep it in cute little jars with a matching scoop and artfully dish it out according to the amount of meat I am cooking with that day.  Or, I could buy the store brand lowered sodium taco seasoning packet and dump it on whatever size package of ground beef I happen to remember to thaw out the night before.

After a good fry up, I put the ground beef in a sieve strainer to rid it of the excess fat.  'Cause nobody likes oily lettuce.

The tortillas look like this when they come out of the baker.  They  have been in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  Definitely a different taste than the traditional fried taco bowls you generally find at restaurants, but probably much healthier.  I do spray the tortillas with cooking spray before popping them in the oven.  I find it gives them a nice crunch.

Be sure to employ child labour to put the lettuce in the bowls.

Lest there be any confusion, he does get to eat around here.  It's part of his wages.

The meat gets re-heated and then tossed onto the carefully shredded lettuce.

And then the cheese.  Never forget the cheese.  I heard a theory from Rachael Ray once that you can use less cheese if you use a stronger flavoured one.  I say just use the stronger flavoured one and still use more.  Feel free to test the theory out and get back to me.

Use up the last of the sliced tomato in your fridge.  Waste not, want not.  Just don't put it on my kids' salads.  There will be a melt down.

And, of course, the homemade pineapple salsa and Sealtest 14% sour cream.  Accept no substitutes.

What, still no homemade salsa at your house?  For shame.

Had I been to chiropractor earlier in the day and had my head on straight before I began making this meal extraordinaire, I would have saved out some taco seasoning to mix in with the sour cream.  But the appointment was after supper.  So I didn't.  Oh well.   Martha's job is filled anyways.

There you have it.  My kids even ate it, minus the tomato and salsa parts.  I guess there are some parts of the 90s that are worth revisiting 1. 2.
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