Buttermilk-Caramelized Onion Pull-Apart Rolls

December 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Since moving into our new house three months ago I have had a love-hate relationship with our oven. It’s a GE Profile Advantium—and it’s a convection oven. Not the typical convection, either. It’s one of those fancy convection ovens—the kind that can also be a microwave, a proofing space for dough, and a toaster. The interior is about the size of a toaster, too. I can list the issues I am having with it—such as the fact that the constantly turning carousel means I can’t use my half-sheet baking pans, or that the oven maxes out at 450F—but I’m going to stop there for now.

Let me hold off on the hate and talk about the love. The love part comes in the baking. The whole convection process, the constantly turning carousel—it makes for a nicely finished baked product. Pies, cookies, breads, rolls—they’ve never been better, quite honestly. And that’s why I haven’t thrown the oven out of our new triple-paned, German-engineered, energy-efficient windows.

My latest baking success is a recipe I spied in a Martha Stewart Living magazine about seven years ago—Buttermilk-Caramelized Onion Pull-Apart Rolls. I made them once, taped the recipe into my little book of “must keep these” recipes, and never made them again until last week. Oh boy, they’re good.

A few notes: There is yeast involved, but don’t let it scare you; you might want to cut down the amount of onions a bit.

11 tbs unsalted butter, softened, plus 3 tbs melted
1/4 oz. active dry yeast
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs warm water, about 105F
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 lbs (or slightly less) sweet onions, thinly sliced

1. Directions say to butter a 9-inch cake pan with about 1 tbs of the butter. I used a 9-inch pie plate – two, actually – but use anything you think will hold the rounds of dough. Also butter a large bowl and set that aside.
2. Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl and let it sit a bit while it becomes foamy, about 5 min. Give it a good stir to dissolve. Add in the buttermilk and egg.
3. While the yeast mixture is sitting, combine flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt in the bowl of an electric mixer using a dough hook. It’ll form a well naturally. Pour the buttermilk-yeast mixture into that well and mix to combine – you may need to stop it and scrape the sides down. Add in 6 tbs softened butter (I’ve added non-softened butter and it was fine). Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes. A soft, sticky dough will form.
4. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface, then sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the top and get a bunch on your hands, too. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes—gently. It’s gonna stick to your fingers if you knead too vigorously, so be gentle and flour your fingers often. The dough will begin to feel seductively soft and light—it’s the best part of the job. After 5 minutes, place the dough in the buttered bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it’s roughly doubled in bulk. If it doesn’t exactly double, that’s ok.
5. The recipe says to caramelize onions in 4 tbs butter, but I use olive oil to do the job. Heat the oil or butter in a large pan over medium-high. Add the onions, sprinkle in a bit of salt (I would add 1 tsp) and stir to coat—grabbing the onions with tongs and flipping them over as you would a steak on the grill is the best way I have found to do this. Do this intermittently for 5 minutes, until the onions start to look translucent, then turn heat way down to medium low, and let them cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes until they are golden brown. Take off heat. If I were you, I would put them in a sieve over a bowl and let the onions drip off their liquid.
5. Meanwhile, the dough…punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface again—make sure you have plenty of room. Use a rolling pin to form a dough rectangle about 17 in x 10 in. NOTE: the important thing here isn’t the dimensions, it’s keeping the dough relatively of even thickness throughout. Brush the rectangle with 3 tbs melted butter and spread those caramelized onions evenly over the surface. Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a log and press the seam to seal it.

Spread caramelized onions evenly over the dough's surface.

Spread caramelized onions evenly over the dough’s surface.

6. Next, cut the log into about 12 even segments. It’s harder than you think, because you’ll squish the roll into ovals—kinda scary. And then the onions pop out of the ends a bit. Don’t worry about it – it’s gonna happen. Just slice and don’t worry. Put these slices cut-size up in the buttered pan. Directions say to brush with another 2 tbs of melted butter, but really, there’s no need for that unless you want them to look browned. Cover the slices with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm space for about 50 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake the rolls for until they are golden. 35 minutes is perfect. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and unmold the rolls. Serve warm.
buttermillk-caramelized onion pull-apart rolls

I made these to serve with a bean stew, and pulling apart the rolls and dunking bits into the stew was awesome. The onions make the roll moist, which is super. I’ve since made these rolls and spread the dough not with onions but with roasted garlic and rosemary. These weren’t as moist but just as tasty, and you could really get a sense of the roll’s airy texture. This recipe is certainly not disappearing for another seven years.

Cocktail: Cucumber Cape Codder

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m not a cocktail maker. And I’m certainly not a cocktail drinker. When I do drink them, it gets sloppy fast if there is more than one. I’m the girl in the corner with the beer or wine—that’s typically a much better option for me.

Cucumber Cape Codder

Cucumber Cape Codder

Someone who does love her cocktails is Martha Stewart. And when I say Martha, I mean the corporate entity that is Martha (I’m not privy to Martha’s personal drinking habits, sorry). Martha will, on occasion, publish some very tasty cocktail suggestions. There’s one that Jennifer and I have actually named The Martha Stewart—it’s a tequila, ruby red grapefruit and lime juice concoction that’s too delicious. Then there was the coconut margarita from years back—way delicious.

Our latest Martha Stewart cocktail discovery is the Cucumber Cape Codder. Cucumber and cranberries—not a combination you’d see even on the Thanksgiving table, but it’s one that certainly works in a cocktail glass.

Cucumbers have that “refreshing” quality, hence why ladies put them on their eyelids while sipping cucumber water in spas. But let the cucumber simmer in a simple syrup and add ice and vodka — well, that’s real refreshment.

Let’s not ignore the fact that this cocktail is damned beautiful, too. Just look at it!

Cucumber Cape Codder

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups grated English cucumber, plus thick slices for garnish
9 oz. vodka, chilled (isn’t it always chilled?)
12 oz. non-sweetened cranberry juice
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)

-Bring sugar and water to a boil. Turn down to simmer and stir until sugar dissolves.
-Remove from heat and stir in the grated cucumber. Let it cool.
-Once cool, strain through a fine sieve into a bowl or container, and discard the solids.
-Combine the cucumber syrup, vodka, cranberry and lime in a 2-qt. pitcher.
-To serve, pour over ice and cock that cucumber slice on the glass for a touch of fanciness.

I’m thinking Fridays might become Martha Stewart Cocktail Day. That’ll definitely be a good thing.

What’s your favorite fun cocktail, Martha Stewart or otherwise? Leave me a note below.

Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Martha, Martha, Martha … what where you thinking? Turning cookies into a cake? It’s this kind of thinking that made you rich and famous.

Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

Spotted in the July issue of Martha Stewart Living, I just knew this dessert—alternating layers of homemade chocolate chip cookies with a marscapone whipped cream—would make my recuperating friend very, very happy. Okay, okay, I admit it, it would make me very happy, too. But I needed an excuse … and a houseful of people to eat it. No better time than weekend visit to Provincetown, I say.

As I said, the cake is layers of cookies—seven layers, in fact—and whipped cream. As it sits in the fridge overnight, the cookies soften a bit, just enough, from the whipped cream surrounding them. By the next day, you can slice right through the cake with no trouble.



8 dozen 2 1/4-in. chocolate chip cookies (use your favorite recipe)

4 cups heavy cream

8 oz. marscapone cheese

2+ tbs. sugar

-Chill a mixing bowl (preferably from a standing mixer). Whip up the heavy cream, cheese and sugar on medium high speed at first. It takes a while to form soft peaks. When it does, taste for sweetness and add a bit more sugar if you wish. Continue whipping until the mixture stiffens. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assembly the “cake.” At least an hour.

-Arrange 5-7 cookies on a plate or cake stand. If you use a plate, make the surface as flat as possible.

-Scoop out a big dollop or two of the cream mixture and spread it over the first layer of cookies. Don’t make it too thick or you’ll run out before you build up your seven layers. And don’t make it too thin or there won’t be enough cream to soften the cookies.

-Continue stacking the layers of cookies and spreading cream. Put your structural engineer’s cap on and try to build it as sturdily as you can.

-Really, it doesn’t matter how many layers you make it. If you want leftover cookies, great – don’t add as many layers. Just make sure you end with a layer of cookies on top and about a heaping cup of cream. Pop the cream in the fridge.

Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

After sitting in the fridge overnight, the cookies are surprisingly easy to slice through.

-Cover the cake with plastic wrap. I lightly inserted a few toothpicks on top to make sure the wrap didn’t cling too much to the cake. Pop that in the fridge, too. Let it sit overnight.

-When you’re ready to serve, spread the last cup of cream over the top of the cake. Grate some chocolate shavings on top if you wanna get fancy.

This would be a fun cake for a kid’s birthday party. If you cover the cake completely with cream – sides, too – they’ll have no idea it’s filled with cookies. Surprise! Cookies! Cake! Whipped cream! You’ll be the hero.



Lacy Almond Cookies

April 18, 2011 § 4 Comments

I have a secret. One of my favorite cooking mags is Everyday Food. That small-sized Martha Stewart pub is packed with some simple, easily put together recipes. We’ve been getting it for a few years now and it’s one of those things that if I don’t read one or two or three issues in a row, I don’t really miss out on much. There’ll be something I can get out of it the next time.

For it being The Year of Ellen Baking, I haven’t really been baking all that much. Yes, I bake bread a LOT more than I mention here. And I am working my way through the Flour cookbook, although not that steadily. So when I saw the recipe for Lacy Almond-Orange Cookies in the April issue of Everyday Food, I decided to put that apron back on and give it a go. In fact, the cookies were in the oven by 7am today.

Lacy Almond-OrangeLemon Cookies

Lacy Almond Lemon Cookies

  • 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 3/4 tsp anise or fennel seed (I used fennel)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp course salt (like I use any other kind!)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbs grated orange zest. Um, where’d that orange go? It was here yesterday. Hence the lemon substitution in the header.

-Preheat oven to 375F with racks in middle. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

-It says to put almonds and fennel in food processor and pulse until coursely ground. I used my coffee grinder instead.

-Put mixture in small saucepan, add butter, sugar, honey and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. You may want to keep an eye on it or turn it down slightly. Mine started to burn a bit sooner than I expected it would. Stir to combine ingredients.

-Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and add flour and zest. This stuff is going to seize up on you fast, so work quickly to spoon teaspoonfuls of batter onto the parchment about 2.5 inches apart. It says the recipe makes 24 but I only got 18, so if you want 24, make the spoonfuls on the smaller side.

-Put in the oven for 4 minutes, take out and turn the sheet pans around and put back in for another 3-4 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the trays on wire racks.

I must never have had a lacy cookie like this before. Otherwise I would not have made these. They aren’t as crisp as I thought. Wait, that’s not true. I just ate another bit of a cookie. Maybe as they continue to sit they become more crisp. Okay, let me put it this way: As a cookie all by itself, I would never eat these. The lemon substitution was okay, but that’s not the problem. They are just too buttery. My face swells with fat just looking at them. Now, I could eat these as an accompaniment to ice cream. Oooh, yeah, that sounds good. But, these are not cookies I’d keep around and just munch on, which means I probably don’t need two dozen of them anyway. And, that also means I’m giving them to Jennifer to distribute to her work colleagues. I wonder if they freeze well … I’ll keep a couple in the freezer for the next time I have some ice cream. I’ll let you know.

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