Thursday, August 13, 2009

Italian Rolls

This is a recipe from "A World of Breads," which is a mere 7 years younger than "Guide for the Jewish Homemaker."

"A World of Breads" is not my favorite cookbook. It's kind of vague and doesn't really give fabulous descriptions of things, which is problematic if you don't intrinsically know the difference between an Italian roll and a refrigerator roll. But another aunt wanted homemade bread for her birthday, and these aren't that time-consuming as far as homemade bread goes, so I put up with descriptions like "ZOMG THESE ROLLS ARE AWESOME. JUST MAKE THEM DUDE!" which don't sound like that at all, actually.

I've made these before, and always have half a million crises in the baking process, but they always seem to turn out okay. They're not the most interesting rolls ever (I guess that's why there's not a detailed description), but they're good and tend to hold up for a few days.

Italian Rolls

(I usually make half the recipe and get about 10 rolls out of it. The half-measurements are in parentheses.)

2 cups water (1 cup)
1/2 cup oil (1/4 cup - I always use vegetable oil)
1/4 cup sugar (4 tbps)
1 tbsp salt (1/2 tbsp)
1/3 cup water (~2 2/3 tbsp)
2 cakes yeast (I substitute active dry yeast. 1 cake = 1 package dry yeast.)
2 large eggs (1 egg)
6 cups flour (3 cups)

The recipe says to heat 2 cups water to boiling, and then pour over the oil, sugar, and salt. It doesn't really have to be boiling, just hot enough to dissolve the sugar and salt. Then you wait for it to cool down a bit.

Dissolve the yeast in 1/3 cup water (sometimes I also add a tiny bit of sugar to give the yeast an extra kick start if it's being blah). Add to the cooled mixture along with the eggs and half the flour. Stir until smooth. Add the rest of the flour and blend in.

Turn out onto a lightly floured breadboard (aka kitchen counter) and knead lightly.

This is where things started to go a bit wrong. I'd made these rolls before and remembered the dough being a little bit obnoxious, but I wound up with a giant sticky mess that wasn't remotely kneadable. I wound up adding about a cup and a half more flour, and quickly gave up on trying to knead it because it was just getting stickier and sticker. Also my aunt rang the doorbell in the middle of my kneading, and my hands were covered in sticky dough, and I had to figure out how to open the door with my forearms. It was pretty exciting. I didn't get any pictures of the dough at this stage, but here's the sticky mess that was left on my counter:

Shape into rolls (since the dough is so sticky, you have to kind of rip off pieces of dough, roll them between your hands, and let them plop kind of shapelessly onto a pan) and place them on a buttered cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled.


Mine didn't really rise after about an hour, so I just glazed them with an egg (at this point you can also make cuts in them so they look suave and artisanal, or put seeds on them, or other things like that), stuck them in the oven, and hoped for the best.

Bake in a 375* to 400* oven until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. It took about 25 minutes at 375*. Even with the super stickiness and lack of visible rising they came out pretty awesomely!


OMG a food blog! OMG blintzes!

Inspired by Julie & Julia and, I have decided to start a food blog. Here it is. It is rather foody and bloggy, as food blogs tend to be.

First recipe!


This isn't quite a family recipe, since it comes from the "Guide for the Jewish Homemaker" (which is a fantastic little book first published in 1959 that is mostly a book on how to be an awesome Jewish housewife with a chapter of recipes), but both the book and the crepe pan were my grandmother's so I suppose that makes it some sort of family tradition. My aunt wanted them for her birthday, so I was assigned the task of making them.

This is the book, which is held together by rubber bands:


3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water (or milk, but I always use water)
1 cup flour (it says to sift it, which I never do)

Beat the eggs, and then add the salt, water, and flour. It should look pretty much like thin pancake batter.

I make mine in a cast iron crepe pan, but I've also made them in a normal frying pan and it was totally fine.

Rub some oil into the pan with a paper towel (I think this could just be a cast iron thing. I don't know. This is just what I've always done). Spray it with cooking spray. The heat should be medium-ish.

This is the hardest part of blintz making: pour a small amount of the batter (the Guide for the Jewish Homemaker says about 2 tablespoons - I've never measured. Usually I wind up with a little less than half of a ladle-full.) into the pan while sort of tilting and rotating the pan. The point is to coat the entire bottom of it with batter and make a very thin crepe. This involves some wrist-rotating action. Also, something I have learned in my many years of making blintzes is that the first one is never pretty.

Cook the crepe on one side until it's... cooked but not crispy. I judge this by whether or not it will move if I shake the pan - if it moves, it's done. It also won't look wet any more. This doesn't take very long.

Slide the crepe, cooked side down, onto wax paper, and then make another one. I usually respray my pan about every other or every third crepe.

The recipe says it will make about 18 - I usually get around 15.

Here is a cooked crepe:


2 cups cottage cheese
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
tiny bit of sugar (maybe a teaspoon)

Mix it all together. The recipe says to drain the cottage cheese. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It doesn't make that much of a difference unless you're using extremely runny cottage cheese. It's also completely fine with low-fat, which is what I made them with today. (You can also fill them with other things, like various kinds of pie filling, but I'm not so much a fan of that.)

My recipe has the helpful direction of "place 1 heaping tablespoon of any of the prepared fillings on one end of a pancake and roll it up like a jelly roll." WTF is a jelly roll? I do not know. So here is a photo guide of how to fill and roll a blintz (also, the filling goes on the COOKED side):

And here is all of them:

I've only gotten them to look that consistently pretty with years and years of practice. They used to look like weird shapeless cheese-leaking blobs. So don't be sad if it's your first time making them and they look like crap.

Once they're all rolled, cook them in butter until they look yummy. Some people like them crispy, I like them just sort of vaguely cooked. Theoretically you can also bake them at 425*, but I don't know why you would want to do that when you could add butter to this lovely mix of carbs and cheese.

If you want leftovers, save some uncooked rolled blintzes. Otherwise they get kind of gross.


handfull of strawberries, sliced
tiny bit of water in the bottom of a pot
sprinkle of sugar

Cook that on low heat (otherwise it will boil over in a sticky strawberry-y mess) until the strawberries are mushy. Pour it over blintzes and eat them! OM NOM NOM.

You can also add sour cream like my mother, but she's a weirdo.