Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dark Chocolate Toffee Crisps

It happened to me again. I am going all old school on you. Really one of classier moments and creations.

Remember these? Well I have gone above and beyond. These, my friends, are beyond better.

Someone said teenage mutant ninja turtles and then I heard a conversation about what those awkward young hosts of outdated Nickelodeon shows we used to veg out to are doing now, Neil Patrick Harris was the topic of debate late one night. High brow conversations.

Then I spotted a box of saltine crackers in the cuppboard. Hell broke loose in the kitchen because of crackers. This happens sometimes.

I used to sit down and eat sleeves of saltine crackers and watch hours tv. Real story. Saltine crackers remind me of Nickelodeon and my childhood.

Flash back.

Call it a corn syrup flash back of sorts. That is all I had - I was 10! There is probably research to back up my case that HFCS causes these sorts of ridiculous behaviors.

Next thing I knew I was in the kitchen

making the perfect

- in the over the top sort of way -

snack for the next hour that I was about to lose watching Doug, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, and Guts.

Totally guilty pleasure. You have to give in.

Up Town shopping center in Richland, WA. Home of the Bombers. Classy place.

For lots of you in this wind ravaged, dust bucket, treeless high dessert of Washington that we live in, it is your Friday and are the recipients of this batch of goodness. It is your much deserved long weekend. Call it my treat to another week down and one step closer to keeping us from nuclear contamination. Keep up the good work....

Dark Chocolate Toffee Crisps

Adapted from another flash back

Use your imagination. Omit the toffee chips and top the melted chocolate with almonds or coconut...

  • 1 sleeve (40 saltines in a package) saltine crackers
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 package (326 grams) dark chocolate chips
  • 1 package (326 grams) toffee chips
Optional toppings:
  • 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds (lightly toasted)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Line an 11×15 inch rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. Evenly distribute the crackers in a single layer over the parchment paper.

Mix butter and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir for 5 minutes while boiling on low.

Immediately pour  the butter/sugar mixture over the crackers, spreading evenly. Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top; let stand for 5 minutes, then spread melted chips evenly over all. Cool completely (I tossed mine in the freezer). Heat the toffee chips until smooth (microwave in 30 second bursts) and smooth over hardened chocolate. Cool completely.

Cut or break toffee into pieces.

Store in an airtight container. I liked mine best cold from the fridge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rye Bread

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.
  - Frank Tibolt

The days are getting longer.

Small miracles.

My windows are pushed wide open, the curtains flapping in the breeze. The trees are budding with intention of providing shade in the looming summer months and fruit to sustain our hungry appetites.

Shedding layers, getting climbing gear organized, my bikes will soon be dialed.

I am making plans with J. and we are planning with friends. Our wheels will soon be in full motion, smiles from ear to ear, sun on our shoulders and a fresh breeze on our face.

As the weather improves, the sun becomes a daily occurrence, I find pleasure in the outdoors and spend less time in the kitchen. I still crave healthy food, maybe more in the sunny months, to fuel our adventures.

Wanting to make the most of the days outside while still having nourishing food from our kitchen takes planning and resourcefulness. The healthier we eat, the more energy we have for the outdoors and life in general.

I like to bound from place to place.  I like to have reserves of energy, I need to keep up with my other half and climb half as well as my friend Azusa. I want to be the best person I can while I walk this Earth. I want to be out front and always ready for the next lap. I need good food and I get really hungry after an active day.

This bread is over cooked. It should be a deep chestnut color.
What do I make? Bake? What will this finicky little appetite find satisfaction in?

Bread. Fresh baked bread.

No knead style of bread has little work involved and relies on relatively inactive time. Mix, set aside, bake. With a little forethought, J. and I will come home to fresh bread for quick sandwiches or soup.

No Knead Rye Bread

Source: My Bread, Jim Lahey
Yield: 1 10 inch round loaf
2 1/4 cups (300g) bread flour
3/4 cup (100g) rye flour
1 1/3 cups (300g) cool water
1/2 teaspoon (2g) yeast
1¼ teaspoon (8g) salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra rye flour (for dusting)

Two medium mixing bowls
4 to 5 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)
Wooden Spoon or spatula (optional)
Plastic wrap
Two or three cotton dish towels (not terrycloth)

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 to 18 hours, until doubled, at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).

Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 475°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned but not burnt. Remove loaf with pot holders and cool on a wire rack.

Shared with: Bread Baking Day #38

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maori Style Bread

There are days where I am ten feet tall. There are weeks where I only want to wear a mini skirt and rock some heels while strutting everything I have.

Sometimes I have great hair that curls perfectly and shines golden hues in the sun. Someone once told me that my hair looks like wheat fields.

Those are the days, the days that make it all worth while.

Other days take effort.

There are other times when everything I touch falls on the floor, spilling its contents in one million directions or shatters into twenty bazillion shards of lethal glass.

My dog runs off to far away lands.

I can wear the same pair of black leggings for days on end with the frumpiest flats I can dig out of my closet.

My hair is often ignored, dry, there is grow out, dirt, frizz and general lack of control.

But I can pretend that I wear the perfect shade of lipstick that is always perfectly applied, I dress to the nines every morning by 6 am and life just seems to roll smoothly. I never over eat and there is always wine left in the bottle. I will always be a size 4. Always.

Sometimes my bread comes out of the oven in perfect condition, worthy of note and makes it into our meals. Other times I try and sabotage the bread every step of the way. Every. Step. Not intentionally, maybe I just need a challenge from the greater bread goddess. Whatever.

This dough almost went in the trash before it made it to the oven.  It made it to the oven, kicking and screaming.

This bread was doomed from the get go when I neglected to peel the potatoes. I honestly don't peel potatoes, we hardly even eat them but when they do grace our tables I make sure they are young and have very thin edible skin. I wasn't about to give them the time of day they deserved. Actually, you can hardly notice skins (fibre my friends, thank me in the morning...). Honestly I don't know where I went wrong, I measured to the gram, but somewhere along the line my dough was way too wet and I was unsure if I really should add at least another cup of flour. I should have. Also never put the rising dough over the exhaust of the oven while it is on. It may be warm, a little too warm...... Blah blah blah.

I made it this far - the bread was going into the oven. Surprisingly, the bread puffed and became a beautiful golden color. The cooled and sliced bread was incredibly moist, a perfect candidate for a sandwich or just a schmear of salted butter.

Rewena paraoa (Maori bread)
makes one large loaf

"Rewena is the Maori term for the fermented potato mixture used as a raising agent to make this effect it's a type of sourdough. It's difficult to find the exact history of this bread, but it has been suggested that a flat unleavened bread was made with ground-up bullrush plant and water, baked over hot rocks. Traditionally, rewena is baked for large gatherings and the loaf is simply torn apart for sharing amongst friends and family. I have added a little fresh rosemary for flavour because this bread has little salt and can be bland. Stencilling the iconic New Zealand silver fern onto the loaf by dusting with flour and baking gives this loaf a truly New Zealand identity. This rewena needs to be made two to three days ahead."

100 g potato, peeled and thinly sliced
165 ml water
extra water
165 g strong bread flour
1 tsp liquid honey

400 g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
20 g liquid honey
1/4 tsp instant active dried yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
150 ml water
330 g rewena, as above
additional flour, for dusting
4— 5 ice cubes, for creating steam in the oven

To prepare the rewena, place the potato and water into a saucepan and then boil until the potato is soft, leave the lid off. Mash the cooked potato in the water and add extra water until you have 250 g in total. Put into a bowl and cool until lukewarm. If the mashed potatoes are too hot, it will cook the starch in the flour. Mix in the flour and honey to make a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until the dough ferments. After one day you'll see a few bubbles on the surface, after two days a lot. You can use it after two days or up to three, if you'll leave it longer it'll be over its strongest point.

To make the dough, put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon, combine to form a soft dough mass. (You may need to adjust with a little more flour or water.) Knead the dough in the spiral mixer for 8 -10 minutes (starting on speed 1 or 2, halfway on speed 3) until the dough (almost) clears the sides and the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place. Once the dough has almost doubled in size (this will take approximately 1 hour), tip the dough onto the bench dusted with flour and gently knock it back by folding it onto itself three to four times. Return the dough to the lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for a further 30 minutes in a warm place.

Fold the dough to form a large rectangle. This doesn't need to be exact, just as long as it's tight and compact. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to prove for approximately 60-120 minutes, depending on room temperature.

(optional) Cut a silver fern-leaf or Maori moko design stencil out of stiff paper. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough and place the stencil on the dough's surface (I sprayed the stencil with pan coating, otherwise it would have got stuck on the dough), then with a fine sieve filled with a little (white rye) flour, lightly dust flour over the stencil so you are left with a pattern on the loaf. Carefully remove the stencil. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, cut around the edge of stencilled pattern.

Preheat the oven to 220ÂșC with a baking tray or baking stone inside (the stone should really be hot!) and a small ovenproof dish on the bottom shelf. Place the loaf in the oven and quickly throw 4-5 ice cubes into the small ovenproof dish and close the oven door.

Bake for 10 minutes and then turn the tray around, reduce the oven temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is a dark golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

(adapted from: “Global Baker” – Dean Brettschneider)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sweet Surrender - Bread

Breakfast in bed.

A shell of sugar and cinnamon hides a soft and delicate crumb of steaming sweet soft bread. J has perfected cinnamon toast and this morning was ethereal brilliance.

Slowing sipping fresh ground hot coffee splashed with steamed milk and a touch of sweet from a spoon full of chocolate, our time free time together is deeply cherished and enjoyed slowly.

J sings as the peculator works its magic in the quit hours of the morning, stirring the coffee, milk and chocolate, quietly saying more decadence.

You need more decadence.

Breakfast in bed, total decadence.

Life is too short, sweet thoughts and memories should fill the air.

This bread will single handedly get you one step closer to sweet surrender.

Toasted with a smear of marmalade or slathered with butter then sprinkled with a cinnamon sugar mixture then broiled making perfect pieces of cinnamon toast heaven.

Crumbs everywhere.

This bread should be ate in bed, right before you need to wash the sheets. It s about as messy as bread can get and as close as you can get to eating a cake but calling it bread as you can get away with.

Go all the way, eat it in bed, I dare you.

Not only will you have the urge to spoil yourself with breakfast in bed, the bread will make you eat numerous pieces of toast covered in sweet jellies or jams at obscure hours through out the day, you can pretend you are eating cake for breakfast on a Monday morning. Grand, just grand.

Not So Sally Lunn Bread

Adapted from SmittenKitchen; Maida Heatter’s Cakes

I urge you to make this bread with nothing but a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon. Give the mixer a break. Strong arms are sexy. There is no kneading - just stirring!

Makes 1 9×5x3-inch loaf of bread

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

In a large bowl, mix the 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and dry yeast by hand.

In a saucepan, heat the buttermilk and butter together until the mixture is warm (105 to 110 degrees); don’t worry if this butter isn’t completely melted.

Gradually pour the warm ingredients into the dry mixture and stir vigorously by hand with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes.

Add the egg, yolk and another 1/2 cup flour and beat again for 3 by hand.

Add the last of the flour and beat or stir until smooth.

Scrape down bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Let rise for one hour or until doubled.

Meanwhile, butter and flour a 9×5x3-inch loaf pan.

Once the dough has doubled, scrape it into the prepared pan. Cover with buttered plastic wrap and let rise for a total of 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, however, remove the plastic and preheat your oven to 375°F.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out to a rack to cool.
Shared with:


Bread Baking Day #38


Friday, March 18, 2011

Burning Questions - TWO

Burning Questions Series - I ask, you answer, everyone enjoys.

Person: Shellie of the Weinhard Hotel in Dayton, Washington

As with all of us, Shellie has a wonderful story.  Shellie and her husband Gary own and operate the historic Weinhard Hotel. It is a gem tucked away for safe keeping in rural Dayton, Washington. If you find yourself in the area, stop in, say hi, stay the night, you will be in great hands.

Thank you Shellie for a glimpse into your life and a few more details about you and your lovely hotel.


If you were stuck in a moment which would you choose?

I had to really think about this one, because I have experienced some fantastic "moments" that have given me goosebumps or butterflies or both. But if I was going to be STUCK there, I would have to pick a lingering, beautiful moment. So, I choose this one: On vacation with Gary in Honduras, Jungle River Lodge, near Pico Bonito National Park. Morning. Sitting in the rustic, open air dining room, looking across giant boulders and the Rio Cangrejal at the fantastic jungle mountainside. One of the guests at the lodge is practicing yoga on one of the ginormous warm rocks, others are quietly enjoying their morning coffee, like me. Beautiful. Breath-giving. I could stay there forever.

Would you tell me a story from childhood?

My brother, Keith, is 18 months older than me. When we were little, he was my number one playmate. We would wander all over the farm and find things to entertain us. One of the outbuildings on the farm was called “the machine shed”. It had an enclosed room on one end of the building, and open garage type stalls along the side, so that farm equipment could be parked there. Sometimes we had these areas penned off for animals, or stacked with hay. One of the stalls was used for milking our cow, Josie. If my brother and I went into the room on the end, we could climb up the built-in shelves on the inside wall, and reach the rafters. From there, we could walk from rafter to rafter across the length of the building. This could provide hours of fun. There was a flatbed trailer near this building that we would climb onto and walk across, back and forth, making it teeter-totter on its axle. A great game to play was to walk to one end of the trailer, making it tip in that direction. Then just before it hit the ground, run to the other end, and see how many times we could go back and forth before the trailer touched the ground on either side. There was also a huge piece of left-over corrugated steel that was used for making “Quonset Huts”, or shelters for the pigs. This large piece of metal was lying in a cone shape, near the creek. My brother and I would climb up over the edge, being careful not to scrape our legs on the sharp metal, and then shimmy down to the center where we could echo and shout. It was like being inside of a humongous megaphone!

Other fun stuff to do with a brother on a farm:

1. Use a stick to stir the hot tar that’s patching the road in front of the house.
2. Examine dead frogs on the hot pavement.
3. Find abandoned periwinkle shells stuck to river rocks and peel them off.
4. Build a stick dam in the creek to fortify the swimming hole.
5. Make a miniature town out of scrap wood from the lumber mill.
6. Built a snow fort, hay fort or tree fort!
7. Hang a hammock in your tree fort, using a blanket and some rope.

What is your favorite item to bake for your guests?

Muffins! Since fruit baskets are provided for each guest, we always have left-over fruit. The kind of muffins I make depends on the type of fruit I have in abundance. I have a very adaptable recipe that works well with bananas, pears, apples, you name it! I have fun experimenting with this. I think my favorite so far is pumpkin-orange-pecan. YUM!

What flourishes on your rooftop garden and are you planting anything new this year?

Anything that likes a lot of SUN thrives on the rooftop garden. Cosmos, Honeysuckle, Salvia, Yellow Daisies, Wisteria... I keep a variety of things up there. It has kind of a random order to it, which I like.
This year, I planted ALIUM! They look like purple fireworks on sticks to me. I planted them for something tall around the gazing ball. I am SOOOO excited to see them when they come up. I think they are going to be fun and bea-U-tiful!

What provides comfort in your everyday?

There is a thing I call "The Delicious Sleepiness". It's that wonderful warm feeling that if I laid my head down RIGHT NOW I would have no trouble at all drifting off to sleep. It usually happens to me
around 2:00 in the afternoon. It makes me so happy. I love The Delicious Sleepiness. Sometimes, if I tell Gary that I am going to take a nap he will say, "Oh, you're going to bed! Shall I join you?" And I say, "NO! You are just trying to steal my nap!" because, If I don't cozy up and go to SLEEP when The Delicious Sleepiness hits, I will miss it altogether. This is definitely one of my everyday comforts.

Thanks again Shellie,  you are a wonderful lady!

The Weinhard Hotel
235 E. Main Street
Dayton WA, 99328
tel. 509.382.4032
fax 509.382.2640

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Drunk Chocolate Cupcakes

See folks, I have myself a lucky charm.

A red bearded, beer drinking, rowdy little powerhouse of an Irish man who has a mind that works faster than the speed of light and enough wit to make the average person a little squemish.

Add caption

My red beard cracks jokes as he rolls out of bed in the morning, loves our dog with complete abandon, has been at my side during some dark times and takes amazing care of me.

I love him with all my heart. He makes me smile.

And blush a bright shade of red in public....

So it makes perfect sence to talk about an Irish holiday, my husband and drunk chocolate cupcakes right? Yeah that is what I thought.

 How about drunk chocolate cupcakes...

 Now I have your attention... booze, chocolate, butter, sugar..... ga ga.....

A while back I made the 25 pound chocolate cake. 25 pounds = 1 cake. It was good, there were lots of calories, chocolate and porter beer in the batter. This cake could win a wrestling match and then feed the entire audience.

I decided beer in good in cake.

Life lesson.

These are bite size Black and Tans. I tried to make a Black and Tan beer in order to impress you while showing off my superb bartending skills. I decided to drink the evidence that revealed I am not a bartender and don't have mad layered drink making skills. If you are wondering what a Black and Tan beer should look like:
There you have it, I have better baking skills than beer layering technique so this is what my black and tan looks like, which is way cooler....

Drunken Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Dinner With Julie
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes (using 12 tin muffin tin)


1/2 cup brown butter
1 cup Guinness or other dark stout
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 and line cupcake tins.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the sugar and cocoa.

In a small saucepan, brown the butter; remove from heat, pour into a bowl containing sugar and cocoa, add the Guinness. Whisk until combined.

Whisk in the sour cream, eggs and vanilla.

Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt just until blended.

Divide the batter between paper-lined cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are springy to the touch.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

 Guinness frosting:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4-1/3 cup Guinness, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the butter, cream cheese, Guinness and the vanilla in a medium sized bowl, beat them together until they are light and fluffy.

Add the sugar gradually, beating until smooth.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Roll On - Brown Ale Rolls

When life gets crazy I make bread. When I need a break, marching into the kitchen to bake seems completely logical.

Thoughts are drowned out by the churn of my mixer, I let flour fill the air and slip into a zen state induced the labor of kneading, transcending into more peaceful mindsets as the bread rests, rises and works its yeasty magic. I pull hot bread from the oven and all hell breaks loose because I fall victim to fragrant hot steamy bread. It is simple and satisfying.

Life is crazy right now. Emotional. Unpredictable. Weird. I am confused by it all yet incredibly curious about the science behind these events and the levels of consumption of the human race that demand man to create energy by varying means. 

Earth and all of life is in a dynamic dance. We are surround by complexities that will for ever elude our knowledge.

I do not have answers for you or the world, other people have written powerful words that give me hope. I don't have answers for my own life which also feels a bit rocked and uncertain. My trials pail in comparison, for that I am incredibly grateful, I have more than I need, I am loved. No melt downs here.

Moving on to things that I can control and aspects of life I understand, food made with love and thoughtful ingredients is crucial to our well being. I bake because healthy food is important for everyone, fresh bread is one of the finer foods in life.

Food matters.

Pretty, shiny, sesame seed studded buns make me smile.

Spring brings hope. It is almost Spring, right?

I like beer and I love to cook with it, drink it, mix it into bread and drink what is left over. Did I mention, I love beer, I bet you do too.

I like to try different brews ranging from a light lager to an heavy thick stout or a sweet barley wine. When I see a new product at the store, I enthusiastically slip it into my cart and share it with J. The beer that is the shining star in this bread was one such purchase. We cracked it open, J had the idea of cutting the sweetness and adding some body to the fruity beer by mixing it with a porter. The man is brilliant. The rest of the bottle went into the bread, just like with the porter beer cocktail, the raspberry flavor is prevalent, fruity and distinct.

Oatmeal Ale Rolls

adapted very slightly from flour dusted, and girlchef . I used a fruit flavored ale, use any sweet ale you can get your hands on, a nice brown ale would be ideal.

makes 12-16 rolls

¼ c. warm water
12 fl.oz. Brown Ale 
¼ c. pure maple syrup, room temp.
1 egg, room temp., lightly beaten
2 Tbs. oil
½ tsp. fine sea salt
450 g. (~3 c.+ 1 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour + more as needed
180 g. (2 c.) rolled oats, measured and then ground fine
30 g. (3 Tbs.) vital wheat gluten
27 g. (¼ c.) wheat germ
7 g. (~2¼ tsp. / ¼ oz. / 1 packet) active dry yeast
1 egg white, beaten (optional for egg wash)
sesame seeds

Dissolve yeast in warm water (~110° F). Add ale. Using a wooden spoon (or in mixer bowl using dough hook attachment), stir in the oil, maple syrup, and egg. Add the ground oats, wheat germ, vital wheat gluten and salt. Gradually mix in flour to form a soft dough. If dough seems too sticky, add in more flour, ~1 Tbs. at a time.  Once dough is too difficult to stir (if making by hand), turn it out onto a floured work surface.  Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for ~1 hour or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down.

Turn out onto a floured work surface. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, divide dough into 12 equal portions (or 16 for smaller rolls).  Stretch surface of dough to bottom on all four sides, rotating a quarter turn as you go to form a ball, flouring your hands as necessary. Place each ball on a tray (or two) lined with a silpat or parchment, or that has been lightly greased. 

Cover and let rise in a warm place about an hour, or until doubled in size.  Preheat oven to 375° F during last 15 minutes of rising time.

For a glossy crust, brush tops with the beaten egg white and sesame seeds.  Slash them if you wish.
Bake rolls for ~25-30 minutes and loaves for ~35-40 minutes, or until they are deeply golden and cooked through.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Zesty Baked Onion Rings

I just spent the entire weekend watching hockey.

Sitting on the edge of my seat, enthusiastically cheering through out the last game of my cousin's high school hockey career, my voice raspy from hollering and my fingers raw and red from shaking my cow bell, I had an epiphany.

Honestly I had a few. Nothing new. Bright shiny objects... flashing lights....

This little ankle biter who I babysat through the better part of my teenage run is now going to college. He used to be half as tall as me and ask me if I would marry him. Seriously. Now he hovers above me, is the captain of his hockey team and is going off to play hockey on the other side of the country with girls lining up at his door. They will be lining up at his room if he doesn't have his hockey gear in there.

Words of advice from a lady to all hockey players:

Hockey has a funny smell.

Chicks will not dig it.

Get what I am wafting at you? You will have game on the ice but that is it. Don't store your gear in your dorm room. Enough said.

The other little *ahh haaaa* moment that I had was rather mind blowing, I love sports. I love the commitment, determination and passion that athletes of any age and ability posses. I am fascinated by people with natural finesse and grace, these gifted individuals make me want to work harder and challenge myself to become a better athlete.

The kiddo, my cousin, who was grown up into a fine young man, has been playing hockey since he started walking, or so it seems. By the end of the game I was ready to go find a pair of skates and take to the ice, the guys made tearing up the ice easy, fast and fun. I resisted the sudden impulse, knowing I would fall on my face and probably induce several unnecessary tears, breaks and most likely concussions.

I need another hobby like a hole in my head.

Instead of lacing up a pair of skates I did the reasonable thing, like eating onion rings and cleaning the grime off the wheels of my road bike, looked into the summer racing schedule and started to dream of being competitive again.

A little fire is lit inside me, the spark of determination ignited all the work I put in over the winter.

There was also a little heat from some Cajun spiced onion rings.

What is any sporting event whether one participates or spectates without some good grub. Sports and healthy appetites go hand in hand. Pub food, the real meal deal, fries, onion rings and burgers are crowd pleasers.

I love onion rings. The unique and distinct O shape, the crunch on the outside, tender sweet ribbons of onion perfectly cooked within a crusty shell has me hoarding piles of fried food.  Don't touch the rings. Sometimes sharing doesn't really work for me.

With the hopes of successfully racing my bike this summer, my onion ring fetish has taken to the oven rather than the hot oil. It works. I am not saying good bye to french fries and battered onion rings, they are going to taper a bit and enjoyed with a juicy burger after a long ride and not on daily basis.

I cannot resist temptation at times. When a girl wants onion rings, she wants onion rings.  Period. I baked them and I loved them. I got my cake and ate it too. Laugh.

Zesty Baked Onion Rings

Serves 2 hungry bike riders or hockey players*

*I am sure about the bike riders but not high school hockey players....

I used pre-seasoned bread crumbs from one of my favorite restaurant, The Rhododendron Cafe. The Cajun seasoning was perfect and made the onion rings a snap to whip together. You could season your own plain home made bread crumbs for extra credit with 2 teaspoons of your favorite Cajun seasoning or grab a can of seasoned bread crumbs at the grocer.

1 large sweet onion

1 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or use a silpat mat. 

Slice the onions into rings as large as you desire, then break them apart into rings. 

Put the flour in a bowl, the egg into a second, and the third is for the bread crumbs. 

Dip each onion ring into the flour, then egg and finally bread crumbs. 

Place them on the baking sheet and then repeat with the next ring. Ring after ring. You will work up an appetite. 

Bake them all for about 20 minutes or until crispy. 

J's Dipping Sauce 

This man of mine often surprises me with sage advice. This dip is a game changer. I don't really get that tickled for mayo until J throws a curve ball like this dipping sauce.

1/4 cup mayo

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tbs Dijon mustard

Mix. Dip ring or fry. Chow. Repeat.

Tastes even better washed down with beer.