Sunday, March 31, 2024

Savory Rosemary-Cheddar Chelsea Buns

We had a friend over for Easter dinner and so I was able to use up some dough in my fridge that I had used for sweet Chelsea buns a bit ago. I didn't post about it because it was basically the same Paul Hollywood recipe that I had posted years ago as part of a Bread Baking Babes challenge.

This time the buns were going with a savory dinner...ham, sweet potatoes, salad, I chose to flavor and fill them with rosemary and cheddar, respectively.

This dough is easy to work with and so I kneaded in the chopped fresh rosemary, flattened the dough into a rectangle, added some soft butter and then sprinkled on the shredded sharp cheddar. Once that's done, you roll it up like a Swiss roll and cut into buns with dental floss or a sharp knife.

The buns take a little while to rise, covered with a damp tea towel or oiled plastic wrap, but when you bake them at 350 for 20-25 minutes, you are rewarded with beautiful rolls with melted cheddar in the middle, plus your kitchen smells like rolls and rosemary, which is hard to beat!

I'm not giving exact measurements for this, but I did take photos to give you the picture. The rosemary can be whatever amount you choose, but I used about 2 tablespoons, minced. There was probably about the same amount of butter and about a cup of cheddar shreds. The dough was half the recipe below.

If you want to go the extra mile, brush the tops of the buns before baking with a little milk or egg wash.

Bake and enjoy!

Happy Easter! 

Chelsea Bun Dough (use half for the savory buns as described above)

Based on recipe By:

Serving Size: 15



800 g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting (I used 400 g bread flour and 200 g white whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon salt
15 g sachet fast-acting yeast (about two packets of American dry yeast)
400 ml milk (I used same amount of soy creamer)
60 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing (I used same amount of non-dairy margarine)
2 free-range eggs


1. Place the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other side. 

2. Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted and the mixture is lukewarm. 

3. Pour into the flour mixture, add the eggs and stir thoroughly until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough. The dough will be sticky. 

4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead well for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Alternatively this can be done in a stand mixer using a dough hook. 

5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and leave to rise, covered with a damp tea towel, for one hour or until doubled in size. 

6. Check to see that dough has risen enough by poking with your finger. The poke should not fill up right away.

7. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in the minced fresh rosemary.  Roll out dough into a rectangle. 

8. Tack down the long side of the dough rectangle nearest to you by pressing it down onto the work surface with your thumb. Use a small offset spatula to make a thin layer all over with the non-dairy 'butter', leaving a 1" uncovered edge along the long edge. When you roll up the dough, roll from the opposite long edge. Then sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the dough leaving a 1" border. Roll the opposite long side of the dough towards you quite tightly, until the roll is complete and tight. Trim the ends to neaten. 

9. With a sharp knife, or crossed dental floss, cut into  thick rounds - about 1.5in. 

10. Line a very large baking tray (or use the grill tray from your oven) with baking parchment or oil. 

11. Arrange rolls on the prepared tray, cut side up. You want them to be close enough so that when they rise further and then bake; they will bake with their sides touching. They can then be pulled apart and you get a lovely soft edge. 

12. Cover loosely and let rise for 30 - 45 minutes. 

13. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

14. When the buns are ready, put them in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden-brown. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Easter Is Coming!

A number of years ago I posted on how to color Easter eggs the old fashioned way, using boiling water, vinegar and food coloring. It's how we did it when I was growing up and it still works well, especially if you don't have the time or money to spend on the coloring kits you buy at the store. I'm posting it again for this Easter, which will be here this Sunday! 

 This recipe is an easy one to do if you have food colors in your pantry. I used the liquid food colors, so I'm not sure if gel or paste or powdered ones would work for this recipe. I like the fact that you are using traditional food dyes that have been used for a long time rather than some fizzy tablets with who-knows-what chemicals in them. You can also boil onion skins and/or red onion skins, strain the liquid and add that to some vinegar for an even more natural dye.

Dad's Easter Eggs Bring to a boil in cold water as many dozens of eggs as you wish to color.

Once water has come to a boil, simmer for ten minutes. Turn off heat and cool, or turn into a colander and run cold water over until eggs are cool. (Dad used to add a little Borax -- ½ t. probably -- to the water before boiling. It takes some coating off the eggs for better coloring.)

Bring a tea kettle full of water to a boil. Set out one custard cup for each dye color. Place 1 T. cider vinegar into each custard cup. Add 3-4 drops food color to a cup for each color. Fill custard cups half way up with boiling water, and dye eggs. Spoon can be used to lift eggs out of dye bath. We used to write and draw on dry eggs with crayons or plain wax right before we put them into the dye bath.

Store in refrigerator in the cartons the eggs came in. Figure out how to use so-o-o-o many hard boiled eggs!

MOM’S NOTES: Dad loved to do the Easter eggs, just as he loved to prepare for Christmas. Sometimes he would use the fizzy tablets instead of food colors. Even when the children grew up, he would make colored hard boiled eggs with names on them for those who would be visiting at Easter.

If you prefer to have scrambled eggs and egg shells to dye, you can pierce a hole at either end of fresh eggs, blow the contents into a bowl, run some water through the empty shells to rinse them, then dye them in the dye bath like the eggs below. The eggs in the bowl can be turned into fine scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Sunny Birthday Tart

Sweetie is getting closer to a round-number birthday, but still isn't there as he celebrated his natal day this past weekend. Along with a breakfast celebration with our younger neighbors and a brunch on Sunday that included a corned beef meal for one of the group, he has been duly birthdayed. I think there may even have been an Irish Coffee in there somewhere.

He requested a lemon pie or tart, so I made him this fairly easy and very delicious one. You can create your own tart base from your favorite tart dough, but I was feeling lazy, so I just put a round of prepared pie dough from the refrigerator case at our local market (Pillsbury ReadyCrust) into the tart pan, folded the excess into the inside edge, pressed those two layers together against the sides and then blind baked it. That's about as easy as it gets.

The filling takes a bit longer because you have to separate eggs, grate lemon zest, juice lemons, and then mix those and a few other things (like extra virgin olive oil which gets whisked in last) together and cook until thickened and hot. The cooked filling goes into the tart crust and then the whole thing bakes at a lower temperature than the tart base cooked at...but only for a short time. 

They recommend cooling at room temperature on a cooling rack for 2 hours, but if you are running a bit behind, I think a short time in the fridge at the end...maybe after an hour on the counter...should work just as well and cut off about a half hour cooling time.

You can serve this with berries or whipped cream garnish, but it is so flavorful that you really don't need anything but a nice slice of this delicious tart. Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Lemon-Olive Oil Tart - "An Easy and Modern Lemon Tart"
From Cook's Illustrated magazine, March-April 2019

Crust   (I used a Pillsbury ReadyCrust round sheet of pie pastry instead and baked at 400 degrees F)
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons (2 1/4 oz.) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water

Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whish flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Add oil and water and stir until uniform dough forms.
Using your hands, crumble three-quarters of dough over bottom of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough to even the thickness in bottom of pan. Crumble remaining dough and scatter evenly around edge of pan. Press crumbled dough into fluted sided of pan. Press dough to even thickness. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is deep golden brown and firm to touch, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks (save whites for another use)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (3 lemons) (I used two Meyer lemons and one Eureka lemon)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Have all the ingredients ready and at room temperature. About 5 minutes before crust is finished baking, whisk sugar, flour, and salt in medium saucepan until combined. Whisk in eggs and egg yolks until no streaks of egg remain. Whisk in lemon zest and juice. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly and scraping corners of saucepan, until mixture thickens slightly and registers 160 degrees F, in 5-8 minutes.
Off heat, whisk in oil slowly, until incorporated. Strain curd through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl. Pour curd into warm tart shell.
Bake at 350 degrees F until filling is set and barely jiggles when pan is shaken, 8 - 12 minutes.
Let tart cool completely on wire rack, at least 2 hours.
Remove metal outer rim of tart pan. Slide thin metal spatula between tart and pan bottom to release the tart, then carefully slide tart onto serving platter.
Cut tart into wedges, wiping knife clean between cuts if necessary, and serve.
Leftover can be wrapped loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Sweetie's Pi Day Pie

Sweetie really enjoys pies and this year on Pi Day we were also remembering our beloved black lab Pi who left us in the fall. We still miss him, a lot, as you might expect since he was the best dog we've ever had...and that's difficult because we've been blessed with a number of great dogs. Here is a photo of our Pi dog when he was young:

Usually I would bake a sweet pie, but this year I went for a quiche...basically a savory cheese, veg and custard pie. We had it for dinner on March 14th and Sweetie had more today for lunch.

If you use pre-made pie crust dough for this, it all comes together fairly quickly. You can go with the filling ingredients I chose, or use your own mixture. This one had sweet breakfast sausage as the meat, and not a lot of that, so mostly the vegetables were the stars. Onions, mushrooms, potato and asparagus were also my fillings but I think if I made this again I would skip the potato. It made the pie so dense that it took longer to bake and there was less of the delicate creamy egg custard, too. There was too much custard because of all the filling, so some dripped off and cooked on the baking sheet I had under the pie and some drips got between the pie dough and the pie tin, so the crust stuck a bit. Note to self: use less solid filling to allow room for more custard filling.

If you are planning this for dinner, do remember to start a little early since you need to blind bake the crust and let it cool a bit before putting in the fillings.

Spring Quiche with Asparagus and Swiss Cheese  and Mushrooms and Onion
Serves 4 - 6

1 9-inch pie shell, blind baked at 425 degrees F for 10-12 minutes (see notes)
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Swiss cheese, cut into ¼ inch dice
1/2 baked potato, peeled, thinly sliced
2 small, cooked Breakfast Sausage patties, each cut into 6-8 pieces 
3 eggs (or equivalent egg substitute)
1 ½ cups evaporated milk or light cream or 1 1/4 cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
dash pepper
Dash nutmeg
3-4 spears asparagus, tough bottoms trimmed off and sliced in half through the length of the spear
4 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small skillet, sauté the onion  in the olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the sliced mushrooms, stir and cover. Turn heat to low and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the bottom of the pie shell with the sautéed onion-mushroom mixture and Swiss cheese, distributing evenly. Top with the sliced potato. Sprinkle sausage pieces evenly over that. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the milk and beat with a fork to combine, add the salt, thyme, pepper and nutmeg and beat with a fork or whisk to combine.

Arrange the half asparagus spears in a nice pattern on top of the onions, mushrooms, potatoes, sausage and cheese in the pie shell. 

Pour the egg/milk mixture over the ingredients in the pie shell. Place in the preheated oven and bake 30-45 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. I find that setting on a parchment-lined small baking sheet is a good idea in case some of the filling spills over. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

Note: Use your favorite one crust pie dough, rolled for a 9-inch pie pan, or a package of pre-made dough like Pillsbury ReadyCrust (you'll have one pack of dough ready for another pie) at room temperature. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie pan, crimp the edge, put in baking parchment and weigh with pie weights or beans, then bake for 10-12 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes, remove the pie weights/beans and let pie shell, now blind baked, cool for another 10 minutes before adding the filling ingredients.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Our Favorite Chili

 Memory plays a role in a lot of food preferences and this chili is no different. I think I started making chili this way...or close to this way...when I first started living with Sweetie. When you are a working Mom, you find a way to plan dinner meals that can be made ahead and reheated or started in the morning in a Crock Pot or Instant Pot using the slow cooker feature. You also learn how to put something together in 30 minutes or less, but that's for another post.

I prefer to make this chili on a day when I have some time, even though it goes together in about 30 minutes. That way I can turn the heat to simmer and let it cook for a while and become thicker. If it is also made a day or two in advance, I know that it will taste even better reheated because that seems to be one of the great things about cooking with onions...dishes taste better if allowed to sit in the fridge a day or so before eating.

I like to use ground turkey for this, but you can use any ground meat you prefer...or leave out the meat altogether. It goes together really quickly because you are using a packet of seasonings, canned tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes and their juice, and canned kidney and canned black beans. If you have the time you can dice some onion and sauté it before cooking the ground meat but it's fine without it if you are in a hurry or can't be bothered. After all, this is meant to be a quick and easy dish!

Easy Chili
Elle's recipe

1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 pound ground turkey (or beef if preferred)
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 packet chili mix
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can cooked black beans, drained
1 15 oz. can cooked kidney beans, drained

In a large pan sauté the onion in the neutral oil with a wooden spoon until onion is translucent. Remove onions to a plate and wipe the pan of onion residue.

In the same pan, wiped, sauté the ground turkey, breaking it up into chunks and small pieces as you stir and cook it, until turkey is no longer pink. Some pieces will be browned. Return the onions to the pan.

To the turkey mixture, add as much of the chili mix packet as you like. I usually go with half the packet, but some folks like it hotter or spicier. Stir to combine and continue to sauté another minute, stirring.

Add the can of diced tomatoes and juice to the pan and stir and scrape with the wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Stir them into the mixture. Add the cans of tomato sauce, black beans and kidney beans. Stir to combine.

Turn heat to lowest setting and simmer, stirring occasionally to keep bottom from scorching, for another 15-20 minutes, until chili is the thickness you prefer. If you have time, let cool and then chill in the refrigerator, covered, overnight, then reheat. If you don't have that time, serve chili piping hot with any toppings you desire...or just as is which is my favorite way.

Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.