Fun Hamburger Bun Recipe!

If you know me at all you know I love to bake bread.  If you don't know me, well I'll tell you, I love to bake bread!  Not just sandwich or artisan bread either.  I make my own English muffins.  Did you know one of the top brands actually sprays their muffins with antibiotics after they are baked as a preservative?  Who wants to eat that?

I also make my own hamburger buns.  This took a bit of trial and error.  I had a recipe that was decent but they were, to put it mildly, a hearty bun.  I really prefer a softer hamburger bun so I was thrilled when I found a great recipe for soft hamburger buns.  I've "perfected" this one now and it's a staple in our house.  Are these pretty or what?

They are delicious.  I don't just use them for hamburgers.  I'll heat them up in the oven and use them as a bread side for pasta and I've even been known to just butter them up and eat them that way.  I am a bread-a-holic.

So when Kim Ode from the Star Tribune posted a recipe for Dutch Crunch Buns in the Facebook group Baking 101, well I just had to try them didn't I? 

Here is a link to the recipe:
Dutch Crunch Buns

This recipe called for "instant potato flakes."  I can honestly say I have never used instant potato flakes before.  I'm not sure what the potato flakes add to the dough.  I didn't find much after a little Googling either (though I'll admit to just a little Googling).  If you know the answer I'd love to know!

The other unique thing to these buns is the rice flour "wash" that creates the unique crackled top that is really crunchy (and delicious as it turns out).  But I'll get to that.

The dough was pretty simple, mix all the ingredients, knead for just a couple minutes and you get this beautiful soft dough.

After a  couple hours in an oiled bowl the dough is ready to be shaped.  I made 12 buns out of the batch and they turned out the perfect size for hamburgers.  Typically I would put all 12 on the same pan.  I don't mind if mine touch.  But the recipe said to use two pans and the first time I make anything I follow the recipe.  Next time, one pan.

After another hour or so, I think I let them go an hour and a half, I had nicely risen buns.

The next step is to add the Dutch crunch coating.  This is a mixture of rice flour, water, oil, yeast, sugar and a little salt.  The coating is thick.  Per Kim it should be the consistency of frosting.  After it sits for about 15 minutes it puffs up a little too.

The directions say to apply the coating liberally, like you are "frosting a cinnamon roll" and to use either a brush or a spoon.  Since the coating was the consistency of frosting, I thought maybe an off-set spatula might be the way to go, but I tried the brush first.  Nope.  Didn't like how it pulled at the dough.  I didn't want my buns completely deflated!  The  off-set spatula seemed to work better for me.

Once they are all coated they get a little rest before going in the oven.

Because I had two pans they were rotated half way through baking.  This is what they looked like at the half way point.  Yay!  They were crackling!

After the allotted time in the oven they weren't all very brown so I gave them a couple more minutes.  I checked the temperature and they were 200F in the middle so they were baked and mostly browned (just not as pretty as the pictures in the recipe!).  The bottoms were done perfectly!

Of course we had to have burgers for dinner!  We only eat Butternut Woods Farms grass fed Highland beef at our house.  It's the best!  I topped mine with some three chili pepper Gouda from Roth and served it with a side of curried couscous and some asparagus we picked up just that morning at the St. Paul Farmer's Market.  Finished the asparagus with a dollop of wild ramp butter we picked up at The Golden Fig and dinner was served!  But enough about the fillings and the sides, how was the bun?  It was good!  It was really good.  There was a nice crunch on the top but the bun was very soft inside.  They tasted great too.  They were fun!

The crunch does only last the first day but we found them just as delicious the next day for breakfast, toasted with some eggs, ham and cheese!


Brussels Sprouts & Goat Cheese on Pizza? Oh yea!

I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while.  Dave and I love Brussels sprouts.  Very rarely does a week go by when we don't have them at least once.  Generally we roast them but I've been known to fry them and put them on a Caesar salad (thank you Alex Guarneschelli) or saute them with some bacon and onions then toss them with blue cheese.  So when I saw a recipe for Brussels sprouts with goat cheese on pizza, well it sounded pretty good to me.

Yes, this was another Pinterest find.  Here is a link to the original recipe on the Love and Olive Oil blog site.

Goat Cheese & Brussels Sprout Skillet Pizza

First you make the pizza dough so don't think you're going to whip this up in 30 minutes, the dough does need an hour and a half or so to rise.  However... if you are like me and you have a tub of pizza dough in your refrigerator already (thank you Artisan Pizza & Flatbread in 5 Minutes a Day), I bet that would work just fine!  In fact, next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I'm going to use that dough.

I did make the dough this time.  I used my favorite basil infused olive oil from The Olive Grove Olive Oil Company both in the dough and on it.  The dough smelled so good!

I shaped the dough on my pizza peel before placing it in the skillet.  I love my Lodge cast iron skillet.  The edges are tall so I can do a lot more in it than I can in a regular frying pan.  The recipe said to add the tomatoes and cheese and then put the dough in the skillet.  I didn't want to make a mess so I put the dough in the skillet then added the tomatoes and cheese.

Into the oven this goes for a few minutes to get the cheese all melty.  Once the cheese melts, the Brussels sprouts, bacon and goat cheese are added.  If you read the recipe above, you'll note the recipe calls for pancetta.  I had bacon in the house so I used bacon.  I'm sure pancetta would be delicious as well.

Pop this back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so and out comes this beautiful dish!  I love the smell of roasting Brussels sprouts and I think when the leaves are toasted like this they are especially good.  They almost taste like popcorn!

The recipe said to wait 5 or 10 minutes before slicing and eating.  We could only wait 5, we were hungry!

This is delicious pizza.  The dough gets a nice crispy crust that stays crispy.  The first piece I ate was as crisp as the last (yes I ate more than one!).  There is great flavor in the dough as well, though I think for me that was partly because of the basil infused oil I used.  The tang of the goat cheese with the smoky of the bacon and the earthy Brussels sprouts was, in my opinion (and Dave's) a most excellent combination!

We'll definitely make this again... and again... and again... I bet I could even do it on the grill this summer!

The coolest rolling pin ever!

I'll admit it.  I'm a Pinterest addict.  And sometimes I find something really cool there.  This was one of those times.

I pinned this rolling pin thinking it was pretty neat but really had no intention of buying one.  Then a coworker, who loves to bake, retired.  Ah ha!  I could get her one and if it really worked, well then I'd get myself one.


The rolling pins come all the way from Warsaw Poland.  Zuzia Kozerska, the seller was great!  She answered my questions quickly and made my first rolling pin the day I ordered it  because she knew I had a short timeline (my coworker was retiring in two weeks).

The first rolling pin arrived in exactly two weeks, in perfect shape and it included a sample cookie!  I decided right there I wasn't going to wait to order one for me.

Two weeks later I had my rolling pin.  Even though I had a bunch of stuff I had to get done that evening I had to make cookies!  I started with a shortbread cookie mostly because that dough comes together really quickly and doesn't require chilling before use.

It took a couple of tries but I figured out you do have to apply some pressure to get a good emboss.  If you don't, the emboss will cook right out.  Zuzia suggested I make sure my oven is good and hot before baking the cookies too.

How cool are these?!  I love it!  There are now going to be some very special treats in my Christmas cookie boxes!

I've since ordered a third which will be a gift for a very special baker I know.  I can't let you know too much about it because he hasn't been given it yet and there is a minuscule chance he might read this.  I will say that I wanted it to be something very special.  Zuzia not only helped me pick out a great saying to put on the rolling pin, she even translated it into Polish for me!  I will try to remember to update this post after he gets his gift.  Hopefully that will be on June 7th!  (I may just have tipped my hand...)

Cook St. Paul

I can't believe my last post was on March 1st.  Where did April go?  I have six or seven topics all waiting for me to have the time to write.

Well, this weekend Dave and I ate at a new restaurant that has inspired me to get caught up.

The restaurant is called Cook and it is on Payne on the east side of St. Paul, not far from Ward 6.  In fact it was Bob Parker at Ward 6 who recommended we go.  He told us the cinnamon rolls were fantastic. 

Yesterday morning we decided to try it.  Since our dogs refuse to let us sleep past 5:30AM on a weekend (yesterday they actually had us up at 5!) we got out early.  We arrived at Cook at 6:32.  We were greeted at the door by someone with the number 7 in his hand.  He said he was just going to change the sign to opening at 7 instead of 6:30.  We were welcome to go in and sit and wait but we decided we'd just hit Farmer's Market before breakfast rather than after.

Off to the St. Paul Farmer's Market we went!  It was opening weekend and while there weren't a lot more than the winter gang, we did find some goodies!

We got back to the restaurant at 7:02 and were greeted with a happy "you came back!" from our server, Amanda.  There was one other person in the place.  By the time we left, just a little after 8, it was packed.

Cook is tiny.  Smaller than Ward 6!  It's has a cute diner vibe with great old maps of St. Paul on the walls.

We'd been up since 5 and hadn't had coffee yet so first order of business was coffee!  Unfortunately my silly heart condition requires I drink decaf but Dave always gets the real thing.  The coffee was very good, none of that funny decaf after taste.  Amanda told us it was roasted locally in St. Paul at True Stone Coffee Roasters, which makes it that much better!

The coffee was served in these cool mugs, also locally sourced from Deneen Pottery in St. Paul.  Very cool.

On Bob's recommendation we started with the cinnamon roll.  It's huge.  It's warm.  It's slathered with glaze and it was delicious.  We weren't going to finish it.  We were going to be good and save the calories and the space in our stomachs for the rest of breakfast, and then all of a sudden, the plate was empty.  It was good!  Thanks for the tip Bob!

On to breakfast.  There was a lot on the menu that looked really good, Duroc bacon, in-house made sausage, French toast made on homemade bread and many more.  There were also some very interesting things like Korean Pancakes which are ground yellow beans mixed with sausage, spicy cabbage and bean sprouts.

Then item I couldn't resist was the Short Rib Eggs Benedict, homemade rolls topped with braised short ribs, lightly poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.  This was every bit as good as it sounds.  The homemade roll was perfectly toasted, crispy outside, soft inside.  The short ribs, let's just say my mouth is watering just thinking about them.  They were tender and flavorful, not too salty, delicious.  My eggs were poached just the way I like them, egg white fully cooked but a good runny center.  And then there was the hollandaise.  I will admit that most often when I get something with hollandaise I scrape it off.  It's either too lemony or too cloying or rich.  This was perfect.  Not overly lemony, didn't coat my mouth like some do, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dave, of course, went for steak and eggs, a seared sirloin, two eggs (scrambled for Dave of course), hash browns and toast.  Dave's steak was a good size and cooked to a perfect medium.  It, like my short ribs was tender and flavorful.  With his steak came his scrambled eggs, a good portion of hash browns and toast.  He couldn't finish it all!

I also have to mention that the service matched the food.  Amanda was attentive, keeping those coffee mugs and water glasses full as well as entertaining!

I can't wait to go back for lunch!  Will it be the mac and cheese with asiago and fontina with fresh basil and andouille sausage or maybe the spicy Korean burger, ground chuck with minced jalapenos, garlic and spices topped with house made Korean hot sauce, cheddar cheese and radish relish?  Oh but there is a walleye sandwich, Angry Planet Pale Ale battered fried walleye with creamy dill relish, lettuce and tomato or maybe a Monte Cristo?  Yes, we will definitely be back.

Check them out before everyone finds them and there's a line out the door, there will be a line out the door!  Right now they are open for breakfast and lunch but once they make it through the St. Paul red tape and secure a liquor license they will open up for dinners.

We are thrilled to have another fantastic, independent, local choice in the neighborhood!  I may not have to ever cook again. 

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