Raspberry Rolls with Limoncello Glaze

Along with things like regular haircuts and lengthy hot showers, while on our trip I missed my KitchenAid mixer. Is it possible to make scrumptious things without one? Of course, but for banging out sticky doughs, the KitchenAid is tops.

KitchenAid, Raspberry Rolls, Propane Kitchen I named my trusty mixer Janet. I know, I know, it’s ridiculous to name your appliances. It started as a joke and just stuck. In any case, before our trip she got a pretty regular workout with butter and flour. Janet is still in storage, so I was fortunate to put my mom’s mixer to good use when I visited.

These luscious, sticky rolls elicited a lot of ooohs and ahhhs and yums on Father’s Day. The dough is slightly sweet, balanced with a tangy raspberry filling. For an extra festive kick, I topped them with a glaze made with limoncello. I found this through the excellent Joy the Baker, who posts seasonal recipes and cooking tips paired with beautifully styled photos. Her blog always makes me hungry.

Don’t let the length of the recipe discourage you; these actually came together quite easily. Let your mixer – whatever it’s called – do the hard kneading work.

Raspberry Rolls with Limoncello Glaze, Propane Kitchen

Raspberry Rolls with Limoncello Glaze

makes 12 rolls

adapted from Joy the Baker

For the Dough:

1 C milk (I used 2 percent)

2/3 C sugar

1 1/2 Tbs active dry yeast

1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted buttered, softened to room temperature

2 large eggs

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp salt

4 1/4 C all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 C for kneading, plus more for sprinkling the counter

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cardamom

For the Filling:

1 1/2 C  fresh raspberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)

1/3 C sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp cornstarch

1/4 C (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, browned and slightly cooled

For the Glaze:

1 C powdered sugar

1 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs limoncello

To make the dough:

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk to about 95 degrees. Pour the warm milk into the bow of an electric stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes. The yeast will foam and bubble. That’s how you know it’s alive. After frothy, add the butter, eggs, lemon zest, and sea salt to the yeast mixture.  Whisk together flour and spices. Add to liquids. Beat on low speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and replace the paddle with a dough hook. Beat dough with the dough hook on medium speed for about 10 minutes.

Dust a clean counter with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the work surface. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of flour and knead for about 2 minutes. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.

Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and place in a slightly warm place to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. [Alternate: let dough rise overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before proceeding in the morning.]

While dough rises, grease a 9×13-inch pan with butter. Set aside.

To make the filling:

In a medium bowl toss together raspberries, sugar, lemon zest, and cornstarch. Crush the raspberries just slightly as you stir. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter until it is browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool slightly.

To assemble the rolls:

When the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a floured work surface and gently knead for 1 minute. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a roughly 10×20-inch rectangle.

Spread the butter over the dough. Spread the filling over the dough. Raspberries will be scattered across the dough.

Working quickly, tightly roll up the dough into a 20-inch long log.  Cut the log into quarters, then cut each quarter into 3 pieces. (This part will make a huge mess; my kitchen counter looked like a crime scene. A DELICIOUS crime scene.) Carefully and quickly lift the rolls into the prepared pan. The rolls will release juice into the bottom if the pan. That’s fine! Cover pan with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour, until puffed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

To make the glaze:

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and limoncello. Drizzle glaze over cooled rolls and serve. Rolls are best served the day they are made but will last up to 3 days well wrapped at room temperature.

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Eagle Point, OR

Before I met Patrick, I lived alone for many years. I was accustom to my own company. I filled my spare time with books and baking and strolls to the market and simply putzing around the house. Friends, too, of course, but I relished coming home to my little apartment at the end of a night out or holing up every once in a while. Now I’m out of that habit. For the first time since before we kicked off the trip, I was absolutely alone for more than 24 hours over the weekend. I’m chicken-sitting, and Patrick is visiting his family. It’s been lovely and strange to be surrounded by so much quiet, to not have to collaborate on the day’s plans.

snap peas, gardenin

It’s not lonesome.

I read a huge stack of foodie magazines. I pulled weeds. I took a morning hike. I made dinner out of half an avocado and a handful of fresh garden peas, all sprinkled with olive oil and sea salt. Peaceful.

fresh eggs, organic eggs, beautiful eggs

But, I find I talk to myself. And to the chickens.

Sparkles the Chicken, Speckled Sussex, Chickens.

heritage chickens

Zucchini & Parmesan Salad

Snow blanked the shady path on the way to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Our boots were sturdy, but still we could’ve used the extra security of hiking poles. Later, we stopped at the Continental Divide, and hiked through ear-numbing wind to 12, 875 feet. Snow-capped peaks stretched in every direction. I gasped, equal parts awe and elevation, I’m sure. We spent a few nights near Leadville, CO, at 10,152 the highest incorporated town in the US.

Colorado Rockies, Rocky Mountains, Continental Divide

Coming down out of the mountains we shed coats and sweaters when the warm air of the arid high plains came blowing through the windows. In Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, reached the bumpy way via Hwy 318, a tiny road that switches without warning from pavement to dirt at the CO/UT border, the sun bakes the sagebrush and the rocks are bright red as if collecting colors of the sunset. Damming the Green River formed the long lake there. From our site we watched boats zip around the expanse of water and smelled smoke from campfires made with fallen juniper branches. For the first time in weeks it was warm enough to eat outside.

zucchini parmesan salad

Zucchini & Parmesan Salad

1 small, thin zucchini (about 1 ½” in diameter)

Parmesan cheese

½ lemon

Olive Oil

Flat leaf parsley

Salt & Pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini lengthwise into long, thin ribbons. Shave thin pieces of parmesan, to taste. Aim for about ¼ the volume of the zucchini. Pile zucchini and parmesan in a bowl. Squeeze over lemon juice and drizzle olive oil. Toss. Add a handful of parsley, salt & pepper and toss again. Serve immediately. Serves two. Tastes better when prepared & eaten outdoors.

zucchini and parmesan salad

Devil’s Tower Steak Sandwiches

We’ve been on a sandwich kick. A gooey, oozy sandwich kick. A piled-high-and-hearty kick. In Philadelphia we tried two different cheese steaks, one at Sonny’s Famous Steaks and another at Dalessandro’s. Then in Chicago we stopped by Portillo’s and, on the advice of a trusted friend, ordered the Italian Beef, with, hot, add mozz, dipped. What we received was perfectly seasoned sliced beef topped with spicy-hot pickled peppers and melted cheese, all nestled in a crusty roll, then dipped – the whole thing dipped – into au jus. It was a succulent seven-napkin meal.

Out on our own, we found ourselves craving these hulking sandwiches. For an impromptu Minneapolis backyard get-together we made them with thick New York steaks from the butcher shop down the street. In our most recent version, we used London Broil. These are not traditional Philly or Chicago ‘wiches, so we named them Devil’s Tower Steak Sandwiches after the view from our window.

Devil's Tower, WY

steak sandwich, philly cheese steak

Devil’s Tower Steak Sandwiches

1 lb London Broil or steak of your choice, seasoned with salt & pepper

4 shallots, sliced

2 C sliced mushrooms

1 Tbs olive oil

1 green pepper, sliced

½ lb provolone or mozzarella

1 baguette or 4 hoagie rolls

Pepperoncini, to taste, if desired

Iceberg lettuce, shredded

1. Cook steak over grill or in a cast iron pan until rare. Thinly slice and set aside.

2. Slowly caramelize shallots over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are rich and brown, about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms to the pan and heat until they release their moisture. If they get a little brown, all the better. Add olive oil and peppers and cook until everything is tender. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove veggies from pan and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat bread. Cut baguette into 4 equal pieces and split.

3. Add meat to pan and divide into four separate piles.  Place slices of cheese on top of each pile. Add 2-3 Tbs of water to pan and cover, letting the cheese get gooey and melty.

4. Scoop the cheesy steak into each baguette or roll. Top with onion, pepper and mushroom mixture.  Add iceberg lettuce or pepperoncini, if desired. If there are any pan juices, pour them over the top of each sandwich. Devour.

London Broil, steak sandwich

steak sandwich

Penne with Kale, Walnuts, Chicken and Pesto

The houses here are hunched down in gullies or stand weather-beaten in brown fields, all with steeply pitched roofs that speak of long, harsh winters. We drove through our second snowstorm of the week – the spring I gushed about has not made it to New England. Icicles still adorn the roadways. State parks and campgrounds are closed, and finding campsites will be a challenge the next few days as we pass through the Adirondack Mountains. Last night we parked just off Vermont Hwy 125, with a view of the bridge that will take us across the southern end of Lake Champlain into New York State.

White Mountains, NH

Kale and walnuts are a new favorite combination. I recently made an easy side dish of steamed kale quickly sautéed with chopped walnuts, olive oil and garlic. This is another take on that idea. And, yes, adding more nuts and cheese to a pesto dish may sound like too much of a good thing…but it works.

Toasting Walnuts

Penne with Kale, Walnuts, Chicken and Pesto

½ lb dry penne pasta

1 large bunch kale, stemmed, chopped

½ C walnuts, chopped

1 Tbs olive oil

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 C chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2-3 big spoonfuls prepared pesto, to taste

½ C Parmesan or manchego, shredded

Cook pasta according to package directions. Stir in kale and let cook for the last 5 minutes. (Use more kale than you think you need! A big bunch cooks down to nothing.) Drain.

Meanwhile, heat walnuts, olive oil and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes until fragrant.  Set aside. Add chicken breasts, broth, lemon juice and garlic to pan. Cover and steam until cooked through. Shred chicken.

Toss together pasta, chicken and pesto. Top with walnuts and cheese.

Penne Kale Walnuts Chicken Pesto

Food & Farmers: Polyface Farms

A peek inside my freezer right now will reveal hints of delicious meals to come. Stacked next to my flour and cornmeal are packages of ground beef, cube steak and lots of pork. Last week, Patrick and I visited Polyface farm in the rolling hillsides near Staunton, Virginia, and met our meat.

Polyface Farm, organic pork, Joel Salatin

If you read Omnivore’s Dilemma or saw Food Inc. you’ll remember Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm as one of the most innovative beyond-organic farms in the country. Though the farm sells beef, pork, chicken and eggs, Salatin really considers himself a grass farmer, concerned with the health and biodiversity of his land.

Polyface Farm, Joel Salatin

Cows rotate through small sections of pasture, munching on a “salad bar” of diverse grasses and clovers and leaving behind natural fertilizer in the form of manure. A few days later, chickens roll through in mobile coops. They break apart the manure, gorging on grubs and picking at grasses and seeds. Pigs pitch in aerating the soil and turning straw bedding into fertile compost. The result? Rich, healthy soil and diverse pasture with no chemical inputs, PLUS pasture-fed beef PLUS eggs PLUS pork. That’s a lot of productivity from one piece of land. It’s the exact opposite of mono-crops or feedlots where cows stand around in barren, muddy fields.

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Baking Powder Drop Biscuits

Cooking in an RV leads to shortcuts. The counter is only 12”x12” so there’s not a lot of room to spread out, while a limited water supply means clean up needs to be simple. Drop biscuits are exactly the kind of short cut I like to make. Rolling out dough is  too messy for me these days; drop biscuits are quicker and just as delicious as the more proper rolled-and-cut kind.

Biscuit dough, Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

Tender buttery crisp biscuits are such a comforting food, and perfect in every situation.

Spilled soup? Sop it up with a biscuit.

Leftover ham? Put it on a biscuit.

Tired of cereal? Dollop some jelly on a biscuit & call it breakfast.

I can never decide whether I prefer them hot from the oven with a pat of butter, or cold and slathered with strawberry jam. Today, we had these for breakfast – Bacon Cheddar Biscuits with Scrambled Eggs, Swiss and Arugula. And they were goooood. What are your favorite biscuit toppings?

Bacon Cheddar Biscuit, breakfast, Biscuit Sandwich

Baking Powder Drop Biscuits

2 C flour

1 Tbs baking powder

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ C (1 stick) cold butter

1 cup milk

Heat oven to 425°

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and mix with a fork just until moistened. The dough should be sticky – add a few more drops of milk if needed.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

Variations

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits – Add 1 C grated sharp cheddar cheese, ½ C crumbled bacon and 1 Tsp thyme in with the flour.

Buttermilk Herb Biscuits – Add 1 Tsp thyme, ½ Tsp chives with the flour. Use Buttermilk instead of regular milk.

Walnut Biscuits – Increase sugar to 2 tsp. Add ¾ C chopped walnuts with the flour.

Drop biscuits

Montezuma, Costa Rica, Part II

This is not a blog worthy picture*. It’s blurry and grainy and a bit out of focus. But! Do you see that aqua streak in the water? That wave is glowing.

Let me say that again. The waves. Are glowing. Lit from within by a bloom of noctilucales, a kind of  bioluminescent dinoflagellates, bright as if each wave was threaded with LED lights. (This photo from Wikipedia is a much better example.) Montezuma really pulled out all the stops for us.

Even without the glowing waves, we would’ve been impressed with the food. The most outstanding was Playa de los Artistas, which nearly warrants a trip to Montezuma all on its own. Sitting directly on the beach at a table made from driftwood, we had wahoo tuna sashimi so fresh, so perfectly dressed in a light vinaigrette, so divine I have dreams about it.  Then came seafood lasagna in delicate pasta that somehow managed to be both rich and light and pork tenderloin so tender it didn’t even require a knife to cut. And that was just on our first visit. The menu changes daily to make the most of the day’s catch.

Playa de los Artistas, Montezuma, Costa Rica

At Puggo’s, half an eggplant was baked until it was nearly creamy on the inside, then topped with bubbly parmesan, served with a garlicky tomato salad. Fresh focaccia hot from their brick oven was the perfect accompaniment. We also tried “Cuban Cigars”, savory beef rolled in crispy phyllo dough, paired with lentils and hummus. Soda Naranjo, already mentioned last week, had excellent Tico food, from Casados (literally means things that are “married” on the plate – imagine beans, rice, chicken/fish/pork and salads) to Rice with Seafood and Rice with Chicken.

roasted eggplant, Puggo's, Montezuma, Costa Rica

We stayed at the Mariposario, a bright, modern B&B run by two welcoming brothers from Portland, OR. The breakfasts were the best of our entire trip, with French toast, omelets, or home fries greeting us each morning on the jungle-view veranda. Pineapple, watermelon and papaya, some of which are grown on site, tasted so much juicier than what we get here in the States they almost seemed like entirely different fruits.

The Mariposario’s on-site butterfly garden offers an up-close look at the famed Blue Morpho butterflies along with a dozen other species.  Plus, it’s a quick walk from the B&B to the top of the Montezuma waterfalls.

* There’s one more reason this blurry photo is so special…that beach is where we got engaged! Patrick popped the big question at sunset, and we celebrated with a memorable dinner at Playa de los Artistas. We’ve made a pact that we’ll visit again for our 5th wedding anniversary.

Classic Toffee

I don’t know about you, but the holidays just aren’t the holidays unless until I’m messing around with pounds of butter and sugar. Cooking a batch of this rich toffee makes me feel like one of Santa’s jolly elves.

Classic Toffee

1 C butter

1 C sugar

¼ C water

1 C chocolate chips

½ C chopped pecans

Sea Salt

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine butter, sugar and water. Cook over medium-low heat and stir stir stir until it reaches hard-crack stage (300°). This will take about 15 minutes.

Pour toffee onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Let set for a minute. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the warm toffee. Allow the chips to soften, then use an offset spatula (or the back of a large spoon) to spread the chocolate into an even layer. Sprinkle nuts over the chocolate. Add a dusting of sea salt.

Allow the toffee to cool completely. Break into pieces. Store in a hard-to-open container on a high shelf so you can’t mindlessly eat it all in a single sitting. Or, package and give away immediately. Don’t even bother trying some toffee with your morning coffee; I already tested that and it’s a terrible combination.

toffee recipe

Toffee Recipe

toffee recipe

Toffee recipe

Totally Flexible Farro Salad

Nutty, toothsome farro is one of my all-time favorite grains, and I love farro salads because they’re so versatile. I’ve been making a lot of these in the Minnie because they come together quickly and allow me to use whatever veggies I have on hand.

Following are some basic proportions to create a dish packed with flavor and texture. Tailor these ingredient suggestions to your personal taste. To create a heartier one-dish meal, I add a shredded chicken or a link of quality sausage.

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