Monday, April 05, 2010

Themes and Variations and Dinner Rolls

Some spaces of time are for questions…others are for answers. There was a while, perhaps imperceptible, perhaps not, when many of the usual pastimes lost their sparkle. It wasn’t that I was depressed, just pausing, perhaps questioning the ways I had been spending time. Now I feel like I’m more in an answer part, but it includes some repeats of old songs, with variations.

Jazz players can jam together for hours, riffing, weaving their way around a tune, a rhythm; finding variations on the theme. This playfulness seems to be the essence of creativity. The willingness to try things brings a new perspective.

This week I took a good but simple roll and changed it with fresh herbs and a little whole wheat flour to something memorable.

Today when there were no fresh cherries for a recipe I made last year, I found dried cherries and soaked them in kirschwasser. The chocolate zucchini bread with cherries was different this way, but delicious. I took it to a musical afternoon and book release party so there are no photos. I can, however, show you the book cover I designed.

Don’t be afraid to play around with recipes yourself. Sometimes it will not work out, but you learn something from that, too. I had that experience this week, as well. Leftover Hollandaise sauce seemed to me to be a great starting place for making a drop cookie. I added sugar and almond meal, colored bits of the dough in Easter egg colors.

When the dough lumps hit the heat of the oven they melted down to discs. Perhaps I didn’t have the courage of my convictions and took them out of the oven too soon, but it is just as likely that I should have added egg white and/or flour to the batter. They did taste great but were flat and tore easily.

If I make Hollandaise again I’ll try another shot at Hollandaise cookies. Maybe I’ll create a good cookie next time, but I’m still glad I tried this time, even if the results didn’t match my aspirations.

Here is changed up recipe for the rolls I shared with Sparkle Plenty and Arcadia:

Herbed Pull Apart Dinner Rolls
based on a recipe from Amanda’s Cookin’
makes 12 rolls

1 package quick-acting active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup milk (105 – 115 degrees F)
3 to 3 ½ cups flour (I used 2 cups bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and about another ½ cup all-purpose flour)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup minced fresh mixed herbs – I used a combination of parsley, basil and rosemary with a bit of dry oregano and dry thyme)
1 tablespoon melted butter
coarse salt for the tops

Dissolve yeast in warm milk with sugar in electric mixer bowl. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir the flours together in another bowl or large mixing cup if you are using mixed flours.
Stir in 1 cup flour mixture, the oil and the salt into the milk/yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour until soft dough forms. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about 45 minutes.
Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Press down on dough to create a rectangle, roughly 8 inches by 10 inches in size. Spread half of the herb mixture over the dough, leaving edges free of the herbs.

Roll up jelly roll fashion, pinching the edges together. Fold in the ends. Press down on the dough to create another rectangle, roughly the same size. Spread the second half of the herb mixture over the dough in the same way, roll up and pinch to seal the same way, and then knead for a few minutes to distribute the herbs throughout the dough.

Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pinch off 1 inch balls of herbed dough and quickly roll in the palm of your hands. Put 3 balls into each muffin cup, repeating until all dough is used.

If baking right away, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. If not baking right away, brush with melted butter and refrigerate up to a few hours. When read to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle rolls with coarse salt if not already done.

Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Immediately remove from oven and from pan. Store loosely covered. Serve warm.


  1. The rolls look yummy, especially speckled with the herbs. Those cookies are so cool - certianly very festive

  2. It's always good to try out omething new. And as long as the cookies tasted good even better.

    Well done on the tried and true rolls.

  3. Those cookies are so cool. This is something new.

  4. Love the variation with the herbs!