Posts Tagged 'Side Dishes'



Tabbouleh Salad

Whether I’m having company or not, there’s just something in me that wants to do as much meal work as possible ahead of time.  If the work is done and the mess is already cleaned up, there’s little to do besides eat and relax when dinnertime rolls around, right?  That’s one of the reason I love tabbouleh as a dinner side…  It actually tastes better the longer it sits in the refrigerator (to a certain extent, of course!).  Plus, the cooking part is almost non-existant.  If you can chop vegetables and boil water, you have all the skills you need to throw this one together.

The original recipe makes 8 cups (!), which is way too much tabbouleh for just Dr. O and me, so I cut the recipe in half.

To start, I combined 3/4 cup of uncooked bulgur and 3/4 cup of boiling water in a large bowl.  I covered it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I diced 3/4 cup of English cucumber and 1/2 cup of tomato and chopped 1/2 cup of fresh parsley and 2 tablespoons of scallions.  In a small bowl, I combined 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 4 minced garlic cloves (from the jar, yes, I’m lazy).

When the bulgur’s 30 minutes were up, I stirred in the vegetables and lemon-oil mixture, covered the salad, and stashed it in the refrigerator.  I chilled mine for about 8 hours before serving it; make sure you give it at least an hour in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend.

Tabbouleh Salad

I can’t say this is my absolute favorite tabbouleh salad recipe (that would be Ina Garten’s, at least at this point) but this recipe has two things on hers: lots of garlic (love it!) and a much lower calorie count.  This recipe is originally from the October 2005 issue of Cooking Light, so I’m sure it’s meant to be a lighter alternative to traditional tabbouleh.  It’s definitely fresh, which makes it perfect for spring and summer; I just love the cucumber and tomato.  The slightly chewy, nutty bulgur adds a hearty element too.  In terms of flavor, I would make two small changes: I would increase the lemon juice (probably by 1 tablespoon for the half recipe) and I would increase the salt (by just a pinch).  As always, taste and adjust your seasonings before serving!

TIPS: I used Bob’s Red Mill bulgur to make the salad.  I was initially concerned about only letting the bulgur stand for 30 minutes because the package said 60 minutes. However, the package didn’t say anything about covering the bulgur while it stood. I think the act of covering it trapped that heat and moisture and sped up the process.

Recipe link: Tabbouleh Salad

White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

This all started with the second batch of slow cooker pork I’ve made in one week’s time.

See, I’m trying to come up with some solid taco meat that I can make ahead in the slow cooker for my fiesta next month.  Last week, I made Everyday Food‘s Spicy Pulled Pork, which is good enough that I’ll probably write it up soon.  It was way too saucy to be taco meat, though.  Yesterday, I made a batch of carnitas in my slow cooker using a recipe from AllRecipes.com.  The meat was really tender and moist, but it didn’t taste like much (despite a spice rub and a chicken broth bath). Needless to say, Dr. O and I have been eating massive quantities of Mexican-style pork, and it’s getting a bit old.

So tonight I’m deviating from the menu plan – rebel, rebel! – and spicing up the leftovers.  With a little barbecue sauce and a skillet, the carnitas will become pulled pork sandwiches.  I wanted some kind of barbecue-style salad to go on the side to round things out, and I just happened to have everything for Everyday Food‘s White Bean-and-Tomato Salad.  I hate to do too much work on leftovers night, so thankfully, the salad only took 5 minutes to throw together.

In a large bowl, I combined 1 (19-ounce) can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), 1 pint of quartered cherry tomatoes, 4 scallions (thinly sliced), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  The recipe says to season with salt and pepper but doesn’t specify quantities; I used about 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  I tossed everything together and stashed it in the refrigerator until dinnertime.  (The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead.)  That’s it!

White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

Despite the use of canned beans, this salad tastes really fresh.  The acid from the tomatoes and the lemon juice really brightens things up, and the scallions add a bit of zip.  I love the texture play between the beans and the fresh tomatoes as well. This salad would be right at home on any barbecue buffet or in any picnic basket; I anticipate using this recipe over and over again this summer.

TIPS:  This is definitely one of those recipes that will be horribly bland if you don’t season it correctly.  Start with my recommended seasonings (or a bit less); you can always add more.  Always, always, always taste food and adjust seasonings to your liking before serving!  🙂

Update 4/18/10: I’ve found that seasonings typically fade a bit when I refrigerate salads, and this one was no exception.  After tasting it, I stirred in another pinch of salt before it hit the dinner table.

Recipe link: White Bean-and-Tomato Salad

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I mentioned earlier this week that I would write about making Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pot Roast and Creamy Mashed Potatoes, so it’s time to make good on that promise.  I’ll start with the pot roast, since I hate to be anticlimactic.  Honestly, it was pretty disappointing.  It wasn’t bad, but after hours of blissing out to the intoxicating smell of rosemary cooking in beef broth, I was expecting something spectacular.  The fattier slices of meat were pretty tender (forget about the dry side of the roast!) and the veggies were reasonably tasty, but the fantastic smells just didn’t translate into a fantastic meal.  Meh.

Thankfully, though, the mashed potatoes saved the meal.  They were amazing.  I can think of fourteen caloric reasons why this is true (12 tablespoons of butter, 1 package of cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of half-and-half), but you know what?  They can be made ahead and they’re abso-freakin’-lutely delicious, so they work for me.

As always, PW is going to give you way more step-by-step photo instruction than I can muster, so I’ll let her tell you how to make them.  Here’s a shot of my finished product, though (along with the sad, sad pot roast):

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The potatoes were creamy, flavorful perfection, really.  I couldn’t bring myself to put the extra pats of butter on top before baking, but they didn’t need it.  I did have to go four rounds with the seasoning to get the flavor I wanted (probably because I used unsalted butter instead of salted butter to start with), but they were worth the effort.  If you make sure your potatoes are fully cooked, use the recommended quantities of other ingredients, and keep salting and peppering until they taste good to you, you can’t go wrong.  I’m adding this recipe to my entertaining arsenal, and I look forward to having these potatoes on my plate again soon.  Mmmmmm.

TIPS:  I made my potatoes ahead and reheated them; they were not completely heated through at the end of the recommended 30 minutes at 350°F.  Christopher and I got warm potatoes; poor Dr. O got left out in the cold and had to have a date with the microwave.  Next time, either I’ll give them some time to come to room temperature before I put them in, or I’ll warm them for an extra 5 – 10 minutes.

Recipe link: Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

Whew.

After hosting book club last week (Kielbasa Black Bean Chili and White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce!), making sugar cookies for my sorority alumnae group’s white elephant party, making appetizers for my gourmet club, and hosting my mom at my house for a week (including a Runza lesson), I’ve been doing an awful lot of cooking and not a lot of blogging.  I’m sneaking this hour between starting a new batch of cookies for a party tomorrow and going to the store for a brunch I’m having on Sunday.  Does anyone out there know if you can teach a cat (or a husband) to cook?

Anyway, I’m ready to talk bacon, cheese, and the gooey goodness that is Pioneer Woman.  My friend Katie chose her recipes as the theme for gourmet club this month, so I did a bit of experimenting before the big day.  My primary goal (as it almost always is) was to find ridiculously appetizing food that could be made ahead.  Her Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits fit the bill.  Here’s how I made them:

First, I fried up 10 slices of thick-cut bacon, drained it on paper towels, and chopped it into small pieces.  (Crumble it if you want; I was in a chopping mood.)  I drained off most of the bacon fat and then sautéed 1 cup of finely diced onion in the same skillet until browned (about 5 – 7 minutes over medium heat).  I transferred the onions to a plate to cool.

With the cooked ingredients ready to go, I sifted together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of table salt.  Using a pastry cutter, I cut in 1/4 cup of Crisco until everything was combined.  (The mixture should look a bit like coarse meal.)

In a large bowl, I whisked together 10 tablespoons of whole milk, 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1 egg.  I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, along with the bacon, onions, and 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.  (PW is normally about fresh-grated cheese, but she says the cornstarch coating in packaged grated cheese can help suspend the cheese in this batter.  I used packaged cheese.)  I stirred the mixture gently to combine.

The original recipe calls for full-size muffins, but I thought mini muffins were more appropriate as appetizers.  I greased my 24-cup mini muffin pan with butter and then used my cookie scoop to portion out the dough.  (With slightly heaping scoops, there was about a muffin’s worth of dough left over.)  I baked the muffins for 20 minutes at 375F and cooled them in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Since mine wouldn’t be served until later in the day, I cooled them completely and transferred them to an airtight container.  If you’re ready to eat, though, serve them warm!

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

This is just another one of those recipes where it’s practically impossible for the results to be bad because only delicious things went into the batter.  (Cheese?  Bacon?  Sautéed onions?  Heaven.)  Initially, I was actually pretty worried that these wouldn’t work as a make-ahead appetizer because PW made them sound through-the-roof delicious when they’re warm.  I enjoyed them warm (of course!), but I almost felt like I could taste the bacon and cheese better when they were room temperature.  Texturally, they were slightly crusty on the outside and fantastically moist on the inside.  Mmmm.

Although I think it worked really well to make them ahead, they’re definitely best the day they’re made.  After spending the night in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they lose that yummy crispness on the outside.  If you want to make them ahead AND serve them warm, I’d recommend wrapping them in foil and heating them in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes at 300F when you’re ready to eat.

TIPS:  If you try this recipe, I would strongly recommend reviewing Pioneer Woman’s step-by-step instructions before you attempt the printable recipe.  I’m sure it was an accidental omission, but the printable recipe doesn’t say a word about sautéing the onions.  Somehow, I don’t think raw onion in the batter would taste quite as good. 😉

Recipe link: Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

Italian Chopped Salad

I know this is totally abnormal and not a very “foodie” thing to admit, but I’ve had a love-hate relationship with salad my whole life.  I just wasn’t a kid who enjoyed vegetables (regardless of how drenched they were in cheese sauce or Dorothy Lynch dressing), and lettuce was at the bottom of my list.  I can’t put my finger on the source of the dislike, except that maybe I came to equate “salad” with “iceberg lettuce.”  Iceberg lettuce has its place, but I think it’s better as an edible garnish on a plate of Mexican food than it is as a base for a great salad.

As an adult who now loves vegetables, my relationship with salad has improved.  Where I get into trouble now is that I just can’t think of it as a meal.  I’ve tried to have a salad with protein and dressing on the side as a restaurant meal when the healthy menu options are lacking, but an hour later, my body is wondering when the real meal is coming.  It’s just never satisfying enough.

I made a salad last night, though, that was incredibly delicious and filling: Italian Chopped Salad from the Colorado Classique cookbook.  (Side note: I love this cookbook so much that I bought it for my mom for Christmas.  We’re going to cook through it together!)  The salad is a terrific combination of hearty, flavorful ingredients like roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes, sliced meats, cheese, and pine nuts.  The base is romaine (great crunch!) and it’s topped with homemade balsamic dressing.  I made the salad to go with a batch of Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding Soup, but I was so satiated after the salad that I hardly had room for the next course.  Give this one a try as a lunch or dinner salad, or serve smaller portions as a salad course.

Since the recipe isn’t available online, I’ve written it up below.  First, though, I’ll give you a list of my deviations:

  • I toasted the pine nuts for 5 minutes on a baking sheet at 350F instead of toasting them on the stove.
  • I’m not a huge fan of Gorgonzola cheese, so I used Fontina instead.
  • I didn’t use my food processor to make the dressing.  I just combined all the ingredients in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and shook the heck out of them.  If you use this method, be sure to shake the dressing well right before serving the salad since the ingredients will separate as they sit.

Full disclosure: I took this photo of the salad before I dressed it.  Nothing ruins a food photo faster than brown liquid!

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad
Serves 6
Prep: Less than 30 minutes | Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 – 2 red bell peppers
1 pound finely julienned romaine lettuce and field greens
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup red grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon capers, drained
10 thin slices Soppressata hard salami, sliced in strips
10 thin slices prosciutto ham, sliced in strips

Method:
In a blender or food processor, blend vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.  With the motor running, slowly add oil and blend until smooth.  Set dressing aside.

To prepare salad, toast pine nuts in a pan until lightly browned; cool.  Char bell peppers over an open flame or under a broiler until blackened on all sides.  Transfer peppers to large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand 15 minutes.  Peel and seed peppers and cut into strips to yield 1/2 cup.

Just before serving, toss pine nuts and roasted peppers with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives, capers, salami, and ham in a large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat.

Source: Colorado Classique

TIPS: Go to the deli counter and have them slice some prosciutto for this recipe.  (Make sure you get the prosciutto di Parma if they have it.  It’s pricey by the pound, but you don’t need much and it’s totally worth it.)  I was in a hurry at the grocery store and decided to try the packaged stuff  for the first time.  It’s gross!

Broccoli and Gruyère Gratin

I most certainly love my green veggies, but doesn’t a healthy helping of cheese (almost) always sweeten the deal?

I made today’s recipe – Broccoli and Gruyère Gratin from the November 2009 issue of Real Simple – for the first time over Thanksgiving.  Since it serves a crowd, can be made up to a day ahead, and is absolutely delicious, though, it’s perfect for entertaining in any situation.

To make a full recipe, I started by roughly chopping 12 cups of broccoli.  (The recipe suggests this is two large bunches, but I ended up getting just over 2 cups from each smallish bunch I was able to buy at my grocery store.  I chose to use just the tops since I didn’t feel like peeling the stems, but feel free to use the stems if you like.)  I have a pasta pot with a steamer basket, so I put an inch of water in the pot, brought it to a simmer, put the steamer basket of broccoli in the pot, and then covered the pot with its lid.  (A regular steamer basket that sits inside a pot will do just fine, too; if you use this method, go with 1/2 inch of water instead of a full inch.)  I steamed the broccoli until it was just tender (4 minutes) and then transferred it to a large bowl.

Next, I made the cheese sauce.  In a medium saucepan, I melted 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter over medium heat.  I added 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and cooked it, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Switching from a spoon to a whisk, I whisked in 2 cups of whole milk and simmered the mixture until it was slightly thickened (4 minutes for a full recipe; about 2 minutes and 30 seconds for a half recipe).  Although the recipe didn’t specifically say to do this, I whisked my sauce constantly to prevent the bottom from burning and a skin from forming on the top.  Once the sauce had thickened, I removed it from the heat and stirred in 1 cup of grated Gruyère cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper.

I tossed the cheese sauce with the broccoli and transferred the mixture to a shallow 3-quart baking dish.  I sprinkled the broccoli with another cup of grated Gruyère and baked it at 375F until it was bubbling and golden brown (40 minutes).  I let the dish stand 10 minutes before serving.

Broccoli and Gruyere Gratin

As a child who loved broccoli drizzled with Cheez Whiz (the things my parents would do to get us to eat vegetables!), I’m seriously digging this grown-up, sophisticated version of broccoli with cheese.  The broccoli becomes tender but not the least bit mushy, and I love the cheesy crust on top.  The dish is fairly saucy if you eat it after the 10 minutes of standing time; I think it sat for almost 30 minutes before we ate it on Thanksgiving and the sauce thickened considerably.  I liked it both ways.

This time, I served the gratin with panko-crusted chicken cutlets and Chardonnay (perfect winter meal!) for just the two of us, but I’ll definitely use this recipe for Christmas entertaining or fall/winter dinner parties.  Anything that can be made ahead with results this delicious gets filed as a “keeper.”

TIPS:  I would strongly suggest having all the cheese sauce ingredients measured and ready to go before you start cooking.  That way, you can just toss and pour them in without having to stop stirring or whisking.

Also, if you haven’t worked with Gruyère yet, you may be interested to know (1) it’s a bit pricey, and (2) it’s pungent.  In other words, you’ll pay a bit more than you’re used to in order to bring home a pretty stinky cheese.  It mellows considerably when baked, though, and it really is delicious.  If you don’t like Gruyère, try substituting Swiss or cheddar cheese.

Recipe link: Broccoli and Gruyère Gratin

Thanksgiving Menu

Hello, everyone!  I’ve survived the crazy, wonderful birthday weekend of one of my dearest friends, and now it’s time to go into Thanksgiving overdrive.  Dr. O and I are staying here in Colorado for the holiday; this is the first time we’ve spent Thanksgiving without either of our immediate families.  Luckily, though, I have extended family here in the Denver area and we’re able to celebrate with them.  My cousin is hosting, and she and I are splitting the cooking duties right down the middle.  Here’s a list of my meal contributions:

Cranberry-Grape Compote
Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli and Gruyere Gratin
Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart
Caramel Apple Pie
Sugar Cookies (for the little ones)

My cousin is handling the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, and probably anything else that will please a trio of adorable little girls.

I haven’t actually made everything on my list before; the Broccoli and Gruyere Gratin and Caramel Apple Pie recipes are new to me.  I’m hoping to try them for dinner tonight, though, since I’m so into practicing recipes before I serve them for big occasions.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to post them before the big day.

What are you serving for Turkey Day?  I’d love to hear about your plans and any favorite recipes!

Seven-Layer Salad

Does anyone else have a Costco cookbook problem?  I should just avoid the book section altogether, really, but the pull is always there.  I’ve gotten better at checking cookbooks out from the library to give them a spin, but it always seems like cookbooks at Costco are such a good deal.  (Sigh.)  Inevitably, my cookbook collection grows.

Anyway, my most recent Costco cookbook acquisition is the Cooking Light‘s Cook Smart Eat Well cookbook.  I usually don’t buy cookbooks that are collections of recipes that were already published in a magazine, but my Cooking Light subscription is pretty new still.  I’ve missed a lot.  And I know I could find most of the recipes online, but I just really like having a book in my hands instead of piles of printed recipes.

As I was flipping through the pages of my new book, I spotted the Creamy Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese recipe.  It looked really yummy and much healthier than most homemade mac and cheese, so I decided to give it a go.  One thing that I really like about Cooking Light is that they often give suggestions for rounding out your menu; one of the suggested accompaniments for the pasta was Seven-Layer Salad, which looked ridiculously easy and chock-full of tasty ingredients.

Long story short: We loved the salad and the macaroni and cheese was just OK.  I didn’t really care for the Dijon and Worcestershire flavors in the sauce (I wanted to taste cheese), and the pasta congealed way too quickly.  As a mac and cheese connoisseur, I suppose I should realize that it’s a rare “healthy” version that can stand up to gourmet versions, but you never know until you try, right?

Back to the salad: It tastes great, it’s colorful, there’s plenty of dressing (thanks to a great sour cream trick!), and I think kids would like it.  Plus, it only takes 10 minutes to put together, although you can assemble it up to a day ahead, cover it, and stash it in the refrigerator if you want.  Here’s how I made it.

In a large bowl, I layered 6 cups of torn iceberg lettuce, 1 (15-ounce) can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed), 2 cups of diced tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes), 1 cup of diced cucumbers, and 1 cup of julienne-cut carrots.  In a separate small bowl, I combined 1/2 cup of reduced-fat sour cream with 1/2 cup of light ranch dressing.  I spread the sour cream mixture over the carrot layer and then topped it with 1/2 cup (2 ounces) of shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese.

That’s it!

Seven-Layer Salad

This certainly isn’t a gourmet salad with a complex flavor profile, but it was really good.  You get some crunch from the romaine, cucumbers, and carrots, and I love the addition of beans for protein.  Mixing the sour cream and ranch together really stretches the dressing without adding a ton of calories; for someone who is normally a “fork dipper” when it comes to dressing, being able to enjoy a bit more was a nice change.  Plus, since this isn’t a tossed salad, you really can make it ahead (or enjoy leftovers the next day) without worrying about things getting soggy.  This was especially nice for Dr. O and me because the full recipe salad is HUGE; next time I’ll cut things in half if it’s just the two of us.

TIPS:  The recipe actually called for fat-free sour cream, but I refuse to use fat-free versions of ingredients that really should have some fat in them.  I find that the texture and flavor are usually off with the fat-free options, so it’s not worth it in my book.

Recipe link: Seven-Layer Salad

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

I’m a bit disappointed that I missed posting yesterday in accordance with my anniversary commitment, but I’ve been completely consumed by The Sickness.  I felt like I got hit by a truck yesterday, and I think I spent approximately 30 minutes of the entire day upright with my eyes open.  Yuck.

I was actually supposed to have a dinner party tonight, but I had to cancel it because of my illness.  (I know I wouldn’t want someone with flu-like symptoms preparing my food, never mind that I couldn’t work up the energy to go to the grocery store.  I’m also not talking at this point because my throat hurts so bad.  Wah, wah.)  I did spend the earlier part of my week experimenting with a few recipes I intended to use for the dinner party, though, including Martha Stewart’s No-Knead Dinner Rolls.

Back in 2006, there was all this hullabaloo about “no-knead bread.”  (Mark Bittman then created some residual hullabaloo in 2008 with his Faster No-Knead Bread recipe.)  Apparently, some people hate kneading bread so much that it’s the one thing stopping them from making it.  I actually love kneading bread; I think it’s therapeutic (and a good mini workout).  When I was looking for dinner roll recipes (kneading allowed) earlier this week, though, most had a yield much greater than what I needed and they weren’t easily halved.  (While it is possible to reduce recipes that call for only one egg, I can’t say that I enjoy weighing and dividing one; I never feel like I get a good white-to-yolk ratio.)  The No-Knead Dinner Roll recipe, though, had quantities that were easily reduced.  The half-yield was still a bit too much (9 rolls), but I couldn’t deal with the waste that making two or three dozen rolls would create.  Plus, they’re super easy, which is always a plus.

Note: The ingredient quantities mentioned below are for a half recipe; click on the recipe link at the end of the post for the original amounts.

First, I put 1 cup of warm (105F to 115F) water in a large bowl.  I sprinkled it with 1 packet (1/4 ounce) of active dry yeast and let the mixture stand until it was foamy (about 5 minutes).

Next, I added 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), and 3/4 teaspoon of table salt to the yeast-water mixture, whisking to combine.  I added 3 cups of all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), stirring with a wooden spoon until everything was incorporated and a sticky dough had formed.  Using a pastry brush, I brushed the top of the dough with more melted butter, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside until the dough had doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).

After the hour had passed, I turned the dough out onto my well-floured kitchen counter.  With floured hands, I rolled the dough into a thick log and cut it into 9 equal pieces.  (I cut the log into thirds, and then cut each third into thirds.)

To prepare for baking, I brushed an 8 x 8-inch pan with melted butter.  I used my hands to flatten each piece of dough individually, then folded the edges towards the center, pressing to secure, until a smooth ball formed.  I put the dough balls in the prepared baking pan (smooth side up), covered the pan loosely with plastic wrap, and let them rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).

Unbaked No-Knead Dinner Rolls

After the rolls had risen adequately, I removed the plastic wrap from the pan and baked them at 400F for 35 minutes.  The recipe said to tent the rolls if they were browning too quickly.  I tented them when I checked them at the 20-minute mark, but I probably would have tented them at the 15-minute mark if I had checked them sooner.  (The ended up a bit more brown that I would have liked.)  I pulled the rolls apart and served them warm.

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

Considering that this was just about the easiest bread recipe ever, the rolls were pretty good.  The “shell” was a bit firmer than I like and I already mentioned that they were a bit too brown, but the bread really was delicious.  Plus, I could take the credit for making them from scratch (with hardly any work, seriously) and the house smelled heavenly.  I think this recipe would be absolutely perfect for “beginner” bread makers; it’s pretty straightforward and hard to screw up, but the results are worthwhile.

TIP:  The recipe says you can skip the second rise and refrigerate the rolls for 4 hours or up to 1 day instead.  That way, you could make the dough and form the rolls the night before or the morning of, and then just move them directly from the refrigerator to the oven when you’re ready to bake them.

Recipe link: No-Knead Dinner Rolls

Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette

Whenever we would eat at the Parthenon, I looked forward to the Greek potato that would come with the souvlaki.  It was skinless, perfectly cooked, slightly lemony, and lightly coated in oil.  It wasn’t a nutritional masterpiece, but was it ever good.

When I shifted my Gourmet Club menu last month from moussaka to chicken, I figured that lemony Greek potatoes would nicely complement the chicken marinade and the salad dressing.  After much searching and reading of reviews, I settled on a Bobby Flay recipe: Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette.  The recipe wouldn’t produce the whole, skinless potatoes we enjoyed in Lincoln, but I was awfully excited about the shallots, garlic, and other delicious bits in the marinade.

Based on the recommendation of several reviewers, I made only a half recipe of the vinaigrette.  (How in the world could one pan of potatoes require 1 1/2 cups of olive oil?!?)  In a medium bowl, I whisked together 3/4 cup of olive oil (still a lot, I know!), 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1 medium shallot (chopped), 1 large garlic clove (chopped), 1/2 tablespoon of dried Greek oregano, and 1/2 tablespoon of fresh Italian parsley (chopped); I seasoned the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Next, I cut 3 pounds of well-scrubbed Russet potatoes lengthwise into 6 wedges each and placed them on a heavy, rimmed baking sheet.  (They just barely fit.)  The recipe doesn’t say to do this, but I generously seasoned the potato wedges with salt and pepper before I tossed them with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.  (During my trial run of the recipe, I thought the potatoes lacked flavor; seasoning at this point solved the problem.)  I poured 1/2 cup of chicken stock around the potatoes, skipped seasoning here since I did it earlier, and placed them in a 425F oven.  I baked the potatoes, turning them occasionally, until they were tender and golden brown (45 minutes).  To serve, I placed them on a platter and drizzled them with the remaining vinaigrette.

Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette

The potatoes were good and were a nice complement to the meal, though I have to admit they weren’t the star of the table.  They did get very tender, but I would have appreciated a hint of crispiness.  The vinaigrette didn’t really seem to get into the potatoes either, but the flavor was especially nice if you got a bite where the shallot and garlic really clung to the potato.  I would probably make these potatoes again because they were pretty convenient for entertaining.  My search for the ideal Greek potato recipe will continue, however.

TIPS:  If you do decide to give this recipe a whirl, don’t underestimate the importance of seasoning the potato wedges before you toss them with the vinaigrette.  Don’t rely on the vinaigrette to provide all of the flavor!

Recipe link: Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette




The Daring Kitchen

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