Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Sticky Buns

This will be a fairly short post. Why? Because Sweet Potato Sticky Buns don't really need a lot of conversation. Maybe I'm not the first to think of them, but dang these are good. There's even a hint of orange in there. I like these. Bunches. A good finale to my 2012 sweet potato series, no?

Sweet Potato Sticky Buns
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
4-4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1 teaspoon sweet dough flavoring or vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, butter, sugar, and grated orange peel. Heat until the temperature is just 110-115 degrees F. (bathwater warm). If the temperature is too warm, let it cool for a few minutes.

Put the warm milk mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and stir. Let it rest for about five minutes or until it becomes foamy. Add two cups of the flour, the eggs, sweet potato, sweet dough flavoring or vanilla, and salt. Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat for about 4 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough (alternately, use the dough hook on the mixer and knead for 5 minutes). Continue to knead for about 6 to 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place into a buttered bowl, turning once to grease the dough's surface. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour or until doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled in size, gently deflate and let it rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling by mixing the brown sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Keep the melted butter in a separate bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine the all of the topping ingredients except the pecans. Heat over medium heat until just melted. Spread into a 9X13 baking pan and top with the pecans. Set aside.

Roll out the dough into a 9X12 inch rectangle. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over the top. Starting from the long end, roll up the dough like a jelly roll, pinching the seams to seal. Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 rolls. Place the rolls over the topping mixture in the pan, cover loosely, and let rise for 20-25 minutes (if desired, refrigerate the dough overnight after placing the rolls in the pan). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.; bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. A few minutes before taking the rolls out of the oven, line a sheet pan with non-stick foil. Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately, but carefully, invert them over the prepared sheet pan. Serve warm.

Can you blame me for having this for dinner?

Sweet on Weck...A Sweet Potato Patty on a Kimmelweck Roll

.......with Spicy Ketchup and onions.

Some of you may recall that I was lucky enough to go to The Taste of  the NFL in Indianapolis the night before the Superbowl. While there, I was able to sample some really great food. One item that caught my attention was called Beef on "Weck"...basically a sliced beef sandwich on a Kimmelweck roll. Believe me, I didn't know what it was, either. It took at least 6 times of my asking someone, before it sunk in. The Kimmelweck roll (also spelled "Kummelweck") is a Kaiser roll that is topped with a mixture of course salt and caraway seeds. While the beef on this sandwich was tasty, the roll is what really grabbed my attention. The Kimmelweck roll was the first thing I googled when I got home.

As much as I love sliced beef, I wanted to make something with these rolls that even my vegetarian family could eat, and since I'm deep into sweet potatoes at the moment, why not use those, too? So, at the risk of receiving the stink eye from the good folk in Buffalo, New York (home of Beef on Weck), may I present to you.....Sweet on Weck!

Sweet on Weck

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 bag (14 oz) frozen bell peppers and onions, preferably fire-roasted
1 cup frozen corn (again, I'm partial to the fire-roasted variety)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach leaves
1 large sweet potato, baked and skinned*
1 (15.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup crushed hot and spicy cheese crackers
1 cup panko bread crumbs
6 Kimmelweck rolls (easy recipe follows)

*Bake the sweet potato at 400 degrees F. for about an hour, or until soft.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the frozen peppers/onions, corn and garlic; stir with a wooden spoon and cook until the vegetables are heated through, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Put aside a few spinach leaves for each sandwich and add the rest to the pan. Cook until the spinach leaves are wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mash together the cooked sweet potato and the cannellini beans. With a wooden spoon, stir in the pepper/onion mixture, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder, mixing until combined. Stir in the egg, cracker crumbs, and panko crumbs.

To form the patties, line a custard cup with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang, and fill nearly to the top with the sweet potato mixture. Carefully pull the sweet potato mixture out of the custard cup and fold the plastic wrap over the top to form into a patty. Repeat until 6 patties are formed, leaving wrapped in the plastic until ready to cook (you may freeze the patties at this point).

Once they're wrapped, you can pop them in the freezer or make them right away.

Add a tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat over medium high heat. Unwrap 2-3 sweet potato patties and carefully add to the heated skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and fry for about 5 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Repeat for the remaining burgers, adding additional oil to the skillet, if needed. 

For an easy, easy way to make a Kimmelweck roll, simply purchase some good quality Kaiser rolls at your favorite bakery or supermarket. Then, use this method: (adapted from Bobby Flay)

Mix together 1 tablespoon caraway seeds and 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt; set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 1/4 cup warm water and stir into the boiling water. Cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and cool until room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of each Kaiser roll with the thickened cornstarch. Sprinkle desired amount of salt and caraway seed on each roll. Bake for 4 minutes or until the topping has dried.

To serve, simple top the bottom of the Kimmelweck roll with a few spinach leaves, add the sweet potato patty and top with some spicy ketchup (simply stir together 1/2 cup chili sauce with a few drops of Sriracha sauce), and some raw onions. Oh, and don't forget the top part of the roll--my favorite!! :)

Remember--it isn't required to use marshmallows and sweet potatoes in the same sentence. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Orange and Yogurt Glazed Sweet Potato Rolls

In my continuing sweet potato journey, I present to you my Orange and Yogurt Glazed Sweet Potato Rolls. These were interesting, as I truly invented these as I went along. Oh, I've made sweet potato dough before, and I based the rolls on the Orange Glazed Sweet Potato Breakfast Braid that I made for the Midwest Living Magazine's Best of the Midwest contest. But, I wanted these to be a little different, something easy to put together for a brunch or, in my case, a treat for my co-workers.

What's great about adding sweet potatoes to a yeast dough, is that it not only adds flavor, but it adds some moisture, and it surely adds a beautiful color. Of course I wanted to add a little spice to the mix, so there's cardamom and ginger, but the flavor that I think goes best with sweet potatoes is orange---so I started by putting some grated orange peel into the dough, and I finished it with a glaze made up of the rest of the orange. Not being one to leave well enough alone, I threw some vanilla yogurt into the glaze, as well, and I'm so glad I did....yum!

How easy is this? Just divvy up the dough into 24 balls and put them into buttered cupcake pans. I let mine sit in the fridge overnight--then I just baked them in the morning for fresh, warm rolls.

Orange and Yogurt Glazed Sweet Potato Rolls
Printable Recipe

1 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
4- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter, granulated sugar, and orange peel until the butter is almost melted and the milk is 110-115 degrees F. (bathwater warm to the touch).

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, salt, ginger, cardamom, and sweet potato. Add the warm milk mixture and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping down the side of the bowl. Turn the speed to medium and continue to beat for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Form the dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl, turning once. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size; about 1 hour.

Gently deflate the dough, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease 24 muffin cups and set aside.

Divide the dough into 24 pieces; shape into balls. Place one ball into each prepared muffin cup. Cover loosely with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes (if preparing ahead of time, refrigerate the dough overnight and allow the rolls to rise for about one hour before baking). Bake at 350 degrees F. for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden. Invert the rolls onto a wire rack and cool slightly. Place the rolls on a serving plate and spoon the glaze over them. Serve warm.

Orange and Yogurt Glaze:

1 orange, peeled and sectioned
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 (6 oz) container vanilla yogurt
2-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a blender, combine the orange sections, orange peel, and vanilla. Cover and blend until nearly smooth. Blend in the yogurt. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup of the orange mixture* with 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Stir in enough of the remaining powdered sugar until glaze is of spooning consistency.

* Refrigerate the remaining orange mixture or blend in some additional fruit and use as a smoothie.

 I wouldn't tell anyone if you spread some of that leftover orange yogurt on the top, but at least use a little butter.

I think this will make a good entry into the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission's "No More Mallows!" recipe contest, don't you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Warm Quinoa and Veggie Salad with Savannah Citrus Vinaigrette....Celebrating 100 years with the Girl Scouts

Can you spot the cookies?

 One hundred years ago, on March 12, 1912, Juliette Gorden Low brought 18 girls together in Savannah Georgia and formed the Girl Scouts. Today, the Girl Scouts USA has 3.2 million current members and is even more relevant in its mission to "build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place."

To celebrate this momentous anniversary, the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, hosted the Great Girl Gathering at the Mall of America ...and what a gathering it was! Over 140 thousand girls eventually descended on the mall, and judging from the bodies spilling out of the doors, I think most of them were there on the day I was there.

The Great Girl Gathering was a weekend filled with activities and events for all of the visiting girls. It was a girl extravaganza, if you will. And what did all of this have to do with me? Well, I had the honor of being one of three "chefs" to compete in the Iron Cookie competition---I had to create an appetizer and an entree using Girl Scout cookies!

The crowd was a little intimidating for the first 10 seconds....

....but once we got started, it was just a lot of fun!

Me, N.M. Kelby, Marjorie Johnson, and Betsy Chan.

My worthy opponents in this competition were N.M. Kelby, author of the current best-selling novel White Truffles in Winter, and Anne Barlow, owner and chief bottle washer at Luna's Liquid Lava Lounge. The judges were Chef Marcy Alfonsi, culinary instructor at St. Paul College, Kyla, a Girl Scout who sold over 3,000 (!) boxes of Girl Scout Cookies last year, and Marjorie Johnson, Minnesota's own Blue Ribbon Celebrity. Betsy Chan, my good friend and fellow Pillsbury BakeOff alum, was the brains behind the whole project, spending weeks and weeks finalizing all of the details.

In the end, N.M. Kelby came out the champ with her Savannah Chicken and Do Si Do Pasta. Her $500 prize went to the Girl Scout Troop of her can see her recipes on her blog, At Escoffier's Table.

Anne Barlow and I won $150 each, Anne's in cookies to the Troops overseas, and mine to a Girl Scout troop in Crystal, MN....each of us came out winners!

So how did I use cookies to make an entree? Just see for yourself:

Warm Quinoa and Veggie Salad with Savannah Citrus Vinaigrette

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups frozen sliced, tri-colored bell peppers
1 cup frozen sweet corn
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 medium orange
1/2 medium lemon
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pinch of salt
5 Savannah Smiles Girl Scout Cookies, finely crushed
1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the quinoa and the vegetable stock to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and the stock is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside. If making the quinoa ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the carrots and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the peppers, corn and sugar snap peas, and continue to cook until the onions and carrots are softened and the rest of the vegetables are heated through, about 5 minutes, reducing heat if necessary to avoid scorching.

While the vegetables are cooking, in a small bowl combine the remaining olive oil with the juice of one orange, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and the ground pepper. Whisk in the finely crushed cookies, stirring until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, if desired; set aside.

Add the quinoa to the vegetables and cook until just heated through. Stir in the vinaigrette. Arrange a handful of spinach leaves on a plate, top with a portion of the quinoa and garnish with orange and lemon slices. Serves 6.

Oh, yes. I made an appetizer with Girl Scout Cookies, too. For this I used the Dulce de Leche cookies....and bacon!

Sweet and Savory Endive Cookie Bites

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles
2 Dulce de Leche Girl Scout Cookies, coarsely crushed
2 slices crisp bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
16 endive leaves (about 2 heads) 

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, orange juice and honey. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture is reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, cookie crumbles, bacon and cranberries. Carefully fill each of the endive leaves with the cheese mixture. Drizzle the balsamic reduction evenly over the endive. Serve immediately.

Hands in the air as the clock runs out...

The girls line up for Marjorie's autograph. She is a rock star!!

Happy 100th Anniversary Girl Scouts of America!!

Photo Credits: Stephanie Chan and Cynthia Miller

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Madeleines with Chocolate-Orange Ganache

Once again I find myself in a sweet situation. Or should I say a "sweet potato" situation? It is, you see, time for the annual Blogger Sweet Potato Recipe Contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. Last year the theme of the contest was "healthy"...not such an easy task for me. I managed to squeak in a few recipes...Double Sweets and Beets Pizza, Sweet Potato Scones, and Sweet Potato Stuffed Dates. This year, the contest is calling itself the "No More Mallows" Recipe Contest...much more open, don't you think? I have decided that for my first recipe, I will channel my inner Proust. Let's make those sweet potatoes into the traditional French tea cake, the Madeleine. These are easier to make than you might think....

Sweet Potato Madeleines with Chocolate -Orange Ganache

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup mashed, cooled sweet potatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; grease a Madeleine pan with butter or spray with cooking spray.

Whisk together the cake flour and the baking powder; set aside

I just wrapped my sweet potato in foil and baked it for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

You only need 1/4 cup--store the rest away for another recipe. Or more of this one. :)

Freshly ground nutmeg is a new thing for me...I love it!

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until thick and golden, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and the butter and continue to beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the sweet potatoes, salt, nutmeg, orange zest and vanilla. Carefully fold in the flour/baking powder mixture, and stir until incorporated.

Fill each portion of the Madeleine pan about 3/4 full. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely on a wire rack.

When cooled, dip into warm Chocolate-Orange Ganache. Place on waxed paper and chill to set chocolate.

Aren't they pretty? Seriously, they are good enough to eat as is...but I wouldn't want you to miss the Chocolate-Orange Ganache.

Chocolate-Orange Ganache

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place the chocolate chips in a small bow.

Heat the cream, butter, and orange zest in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. 

I think Proust would approve, don't you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos...I've been making them for years. Way before they became popular. I suppose they've been popular in Southern California for some time, but it wasn't that long ago that I would get grimaces and yucks when I even mentioned them. I dunno...maybe they just sounded icky...but to me they were wonderful. I even entered a version them in the Pillsbury Bake-Off about six years ago. They didn't get me anywhere...maybe because the fish was encrusted with pecans. A little much, no? It made me happy that a Fish Taco was a category winner in the last Bake-Off.

I've simplified my Fish Tacos over the years. Now, I sometimes just grill the fish. Or, sometimes I coat the fish in panko bread crumbs and fry them in olive oil. On occasion, I'll top the fish with tomatoes and cheese. I prefer to use flour tortillas, but I have been known to change it up a little and use corn tortillas. But, I always, always top my tacos with shredded cabbage (from a bag...easy) and my green chile sauce.

It really is all about the sauce...

So, the fish part is easy. I generally use Tilapia, which has gotten some bad press, lately, but any mild, firm fish will due. Cod would work. Whatever you choose, just dip it in seasoned flour, then egg, and then dredge it in panko crumbs. Fry it in olive oil, over medium heat, for 3 minutes per side, or until it's flaky. Cut it into chunks and put it in a warm tortilla. Now top it with your favorite things...I really like avocado...and then top it with "the sauce".

The Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoon hot picante sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can (4.5 oz) green chiles,  drained

Just mix it all together and chill until needed.

Roll it all up in a tortilla

Don't want tortillas? Just throw some chips on the plate with your fish, and call it a day.

If you're really feeling rebellious, put it on a biscuit.

 What do you put on your Fish Tacos?

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