Christmas Bolognese Pasta

If you know or you know of somebody that holds the true original recipe for bolognese sauce please report back in the comment section if you can. I’m really curious. A simple google search returned over 200,000 result and after checking the first 2 pages of results it was obvious everybody has their own idea of what an authentic bolognese ragu should be. There are obviously the usual suspects in the ingredients list which I tried to keep in mind but seriously, cooking by most common denominator ingredients is plain boring, at least to me. 

The absolutely required ingredients in bolognese ragu.

hmm…. meat? I think that’s mainly it. Which kind? well… in today’s world beef because it’s easier to find although historically veal is probably more proper. Pancetta can also be found in pretty much all the recipes I looked at. Then we have the aromatics like onion, celery and carrots. Carrots being fairly popular and onions being in pretty much all the recipes. Wine? hit or miss really. Milk? yep… another one that is popular but not standard. Garlic for sure. Nutmeg… yep. I think nutmeg is probably the only spice being added to this sauce in modern times. No bay leaves apparently. Pork? yep, it does appear but not consistently. Stock? yep… here and there although I should say.. if I can avoid it I will refrain from using stock unless absolutely necessary in a recipe.  

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Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

 

Cinnamon Rolls

I don’t eat a lot of baked stuff but I love baking stuff. And if I had to choose what my favorite baked thing is, cinnamon rolls would go at the top of my list, well above croissants or … don’t hate me.. donuts… Palmiers are my all time favorite along with french bread, but cinnamon rolls are a close and firm second place, or is it third? whatever.

So, I gathered my notes and took some pics and wrote this post on how to make cinnamon rolls. They’re extremely easy to make, you can make them in a couple of hours from start to end and you will be met by excited coworkers and a victorious entrance ceremony when you arrive at the office carrying a tray full of these. You might not get a raise but what’s more important than the smiles of well fed colleagues during morning hours? exactly, nothing.

Ingredients (makes 12-14 rolls):

Dough:

500g AP flour
80g sugar (plus extra for dusting pans)
3g kosher salt
250g whole milk
112g unsalted butter (1 stick)
8g active yeast (1 packet) + 1 Tbsp sugar
2 whole eggs

Filling:

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raising (you can mix in pecans, walnuts, dry apple slices, etc)
50g unsalted butter (1/2 a stick)
1 or 2 Tbsp water

Icing:

1 Cup confectioner’s sugar
1 or 2 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Here’s how:

1. Make the dough. Place milk in a bowl and heat up in the microwave until lukewarm. Add the sugar and dissolve. Add the yeast and beat until yeast is incorporated. Let stand until a good layer of foam forms above the milk. This usually takes from 30 mins to 1 hour (depends on the temperature of your place, lots of scientific factors, divine interventions and such) Using a stand mixer, and this is probably the only way to finish everything in 2 hours or so… get all the dry ingredients in, and mix them well using the dough hook attachment. Scrape the walls of the bowl with a silicon spatula and mix some more to make sure all the dry ingredients are well mixed. I actually beat the eggs in my blender, before using to ensure they get evenly distributed. Cut the butter into cubes or slices and make sure it isn’t frozen. Room temperature would be ideal. Anyways, add the butter, eggs and milk (with the yeast) and mix at slow speed for a good 30 minutes to 45. Seems excessive but trust me, developing gluten in the presence of so much fat requires time. And we want these rolls to be mega chewy. The first few minutes will usually look like everything is going wrong in that mixer bowl… but after 15.. it starts to look like dough. In 20 minutes, it’s a wonderful sight. By min 30-45, the dough should start to slap the walls of the bowl signaling that it’s pretty much ready. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Detach hook. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, a pot lid, plastic wrap.. whatever you have, but cover it. Allow to rest for an hour. It should double in size.. again, if your place is too cold, this might require longer… 2 hours.. or longer.

 

Cinnamon Rolls

 

 

2. Make the filling. Add all the ingredients into a pot over medium heat until a really thick dark and amazing syrup results. This will take about 10-15 mins of constant stirring. Don’t let the sugar burn, but a dark caramel is totally fine. If you don’t feel like doing this (which isn’t a standard in the cinnamon baking world) you can always just melt the butter and spread it over the rolled out dough and then sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and raisins evenly over it skipping the addition of water. Allow the syrup to come to room temperature before using. If too hot, you will kill the yeast and the rolls might end up a bit denser than they should.

3. Roll the dough and add the filling. This step really doesn’t need much explaining. Just try to roll the dough in the shape of a rectangle, the length should twice the height of it. The pictures can do a better job at explaining this.

Cinnamon Rolls

 

4. Bake away. Preheat the oven at 375F for about an hour. Meanwhile, get your other stuff ready. I use nonstick baking pans. If you don’t have one of those, then line a regular one with parchment paper. Sprinkle a layer of sugar over the pan. You can see in the pictures what I mean by this. Place the rolls on the pan spaced evenly leaving some room for expansion, just like in the picture. Bake for about 30 mins. I spray the oven with water, or splash some water on the bottom of it to release tons of steam. I do this 2/3 of the baking time into it. Helps with getting a more delicate crust on the rolls. Remove the rolls from the oven and allow to rest for a good half hour to an hour.

Cinnamon Rolls

 

Cinnamon Rolls

 

Cinnamon Rolls

 

Cinnamon Rolls

 

Cinnamon Rolls

 

Cinnamon Rolls

5. Make the Icing. While the rolls are baking. Add the sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Use the wire whip attachment. Add the milk. Beat until it looks like icing. Adjust the milk or the sugar amount until you get the right consistency. Should be fairly straight forward.

Cinnamon Rolls

6. Apply the icing. Yeah, do it.

 

Cinnamon Rolls

 

And that is basically it. Until next the next one!

 

Spice Blend Recipes : Garam Masala : Talk about amazing aromas

I have been cooking without too many spices for a long time. I tend to rely more on herbs and seasoning, salt, pepper, I could venture out and use some paprika, love saffron, but have never been big on turmeric or curry for example. The other day I was preparing a dish of south asian origin, a dish that featured pilaf and lamb (I will be posting this soon) and I came across this spice blend, garam masala, which you can get at the store or you can mix it yourself at home, which I really recommend to get the whole experience of toasting seeds, and smelling the amazing aromas. The flavor was wonderful as well. I’m more open to spices these days but still try to be careful not to use them in a way that they could cloud or overwhelm my dish or the person it. 

Gear:

Mortar or Spice blender (I use a tiny food processor that works miracles)

Ingredients:

3 Tb. coriander seeds
3 Tb. cumin seeds
4 tsp. peppercorns
2 pieces dried ginger
1 Tb. green cardamom pods
3 whole star anise
2 tsp. cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 whole (small) nutmeg

IMG_5045

Method:

01: place all the spices on a skillet and roast until fragrant 2 mins
02: pulverize spices in a spice blender
03: reserve

Makes plenty, store in a cool dark place or in the fridge, enjoy!!!!