How to Use this Blog

This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sticky Buns

It's the morning after Thanksgiving and everybody is Turkey Comatose and you've cooked everything with any kind of Wow factor.  Try this.  It's Ina Garten's recipe.  Her stuff always works.

Of course, you don't have a package of puff pastry in your freezer.  You were looking for an excuse to go to Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving, weren't you? I'm sure there will be no one in the grocery department.

Whenever you make this, it is a surefire winner.  I've never known it to fail or fail to please.  Ina uses raisins in her recipe but I don't like raisins so I don't have them here.  If you want, use them in place or in addition to the pecans.

Notice the ingredients are two parts:  one step is putting stuff in the muffins tins and also putting filling on the pastry. This is a real sugar overload.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces

1 package (17.3-ounces/ 2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins …. Or not.....or chopped pecans!!!  :)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2-inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Be careful - they're hot! Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Getting ready for the holidays

It’s time.  In the next five or six weeks you will be cooking your fool head off.  You will cook things you only cook on holidays and eat more than you eat any other time of the year.  Consequently, you will gain weight that you will marvel over and say, “I didn’t think I ate THAT much.”  And you will begin planning to do it all the following year, only better and more elaborate.

My mother-in-law was about the only one I’ve seen succeed at this game.  After extended deliberation she pared down the meal to the only things absolutely necessary to the meal and we had only turkey, dressing, gravy, rolls and I think maybe a salad, just to make it all healthy.  And we STILL rolled away from the table feeling much too full.

I have no answer on the healthy eating part.  You can tell that by looking at me.  I do, however, have lots to say about the getting ready part.

This is your magic weekend.  The calm before the storm, so to speak.  It would be a good time to clean out the fridge.  You could make a game out of it.  Wager someone how old the oldest expiration date will be.  I just threw out applesauce that expired in 2010.  You should also check your spices.  It’s cold and rainy today in Texas and I understand all through the rest of the country, as well.  It’s not like you have anything better to do.

You will need to buy new sage and/or poultry seasoning.  Definitely get a new box of baking powder. And yeast. These things all have expiration dates and if you only bake at the holidays your current supply is out of date.  Do this now before the store runs out of sage. I have seen it happen. There is nothing more pathetic than trying to find sage at the Seven Eleven the night before Thanksgiving. (clue: They don’t sell sage there. However, they probably DO sell beer and you’re gonna need a lot of it if you try to put dressing without sage on your table.)

I have noticed that cake mixes don’t yield as much cake as a few years ago.  I don’t know when they slipped in this change but I noticed a year ago that a two-layer cake isn’t as tall as it used to be. You could mix up two boxes and bake three layers.  You’ll get a slightly bigger cake than usual but it’s all a matter of whether you want to look limp and feeble or hale and hearty for the holidays.

The alternative is to make it from scratch.  I may try this but it has emerged that our family is a PIE family, not a cake family.  So, I may not even fool with it.

I have most of the classic recipes here on the blog index.  From How to Cook a Turkey to a new cranberry relish recipe I love.  I’m not sure if I put a sweet potato pie recipe here.  I got into BIG trouble one year trying to foist off Sweet Potato pie as a Pumpkin pie.  I think I permanently lost Elizabeth’s trust over that one. LET ME JUST SAY……..I Don’t think you can tell the difference and you’re not inviting Elizabeth over for dinner, anyway.

Remember my favorite tip:  In cold weather you can use your outside BBQ grill as a second refrigerator.  Just as long as it has a heavy cover, that is. And watch for the afternoon temperature…it might get higher than your ice box.

You can tell I’m old because I just used the word “ice box.”

 Have a GREAT Thanksgiving/Hanukah/Christmas!