Monday, April 25, 2011

Not Your Grandma's Cinnamon Buns

Let me start out by saying, Paul and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this month.  For 30 years I've listened to Paul reminisce about his Grandma Mescher's cinnamon buns.  I'd venture to say that these "sacred" cinnamon buns have not touched his lips in over 45 years, yet their memory remains strong.  Years ago I asked my mother-in-law if she had the sacred recipe, but unfortunately, she did not.  Every cinnamon bun that crosses his path is held in comparison to the esteemed Grandma's Mescher's cinnamon buns.  For as long as I've known Paul, he has been on a quest to find the perfect cinnamon bun. He has never found one that measured up, but he has enjoyed the journey. I've made several attempts to satisfy Paul's memory for cinnamon buns, but they have been nothing more than a valiant effort.

The other day I was thumbing through some old issues of Fine Cooking magazine, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Fastest Cinnamon Buns.  I was intrigued.  The author claimed that these cinnamon buns can be whipped up in less than an hour.  Really?  Obviously if they were "fast" they could not be made with yeast.  I was anticipating they would be a biscuit in disguise.  Cinnamon buns usually require a huge commitment of time which is why I tend not to go there.  It really doesn't make sense to me to spend so much time making something that you really shouldn't be eating anyway.  I kind of have my own formula worked out in my head.  It's my "time commitment food value ratio, which I divided by my taste and appeal ratio".  Anyway, I'm also leery of recipes with the word fastest in the title.  Nevertheless I kept reading.  What really intrigued me was the presence of buttermilk and cottage cheese in the recipe.
Those two ingredients could potentially result in a light and moist cinnamon bun and not turn out like a biscuit.  It was worth a try.  Heck, it was just an hour's commitment.

It was true.  These buns can be whipped up in less than an hour.  It was amazing.  When Paul walked into the kitchen in the morning, his nose was desperately sniffing the air.  Poor thing, between his allergies and his broken nose, his olfactory senses are shot.  "I know you are baking something" he said, "but my nose isn't working."  As I cracked the oven door, a smile came over his face like a child on Christmas morning.

These buns did not disappoint.  They were fragrant, light, gooey, tender, moist, and most of all delicious.  When all was said and done, Paul was a happy camper.  A definite two thumbs up!  No, they were not his Grandma's cinnamon buns.  I've decided that those buns only live in his memory.  And I wonder, after all this time, does he really remember how they tasted?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hoisin Glazed Salmon with Wasabi Cream

I'm always looking for new ways to prepare salmon.  Several years ago I had a memorable salmon dish at Blue Stone in Ithaca, New York.  It lingered in my mind for a long time.  The salmon was roasted with a hoisin glaze, and had a kick of heat to offset the sweetness of the hoisin.   A while back, when I was visiting Matthew in Florida, he requested that I make salmon for dinner one evening.  I decided to recreate that memorable salmon I had eaten in Ithaca.  At the time, it never occurred to me to check the restaurant's website to see if they had a menu where I could gather more clues and figure out what was in that great dish.  I was flying by the seat of my pants and I was at the mercy of my memory.  As it turned out, my final product was a hit, not exactly the same as the Blue Stone, but what the heck, why does it have to be the same?  I guess you could say it was Blue Stone inspired, but definitely my own creation.

Hoisin Glazed Salmon with Wasabi Cream
Serves 2
Preheat broiler to high 
  • 2 Salmon fillets (skin removed) figure 4 - 6 ounces per person
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 heaping tablespoons hoisin sauce - don't level
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove finely mined garlic
  • a pinch red pepper flakes
Wasabi cream:
  • 2 teaspoons wasabi powder mixed with a few drops water or 2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Preheat oven to broil. Line baking sheet with foil.
Mix glaze ingredients in a microwavable mixing bowl or cup.

Mix wasabi cream ingredients together in small dish and set aside.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper both sides. Place on baking sheet. With a spoon*, drizzle glaze onto the salmon and using a brush, cover the surface with glaze.

Broil for 3-4 minutes.
Take out of oven and gently turn over. Again, drizzle glaze onto the other side of salmon, brush glaze to cover.
Return to broiler for approximately 4-5 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillets.
Microwave remaining glaze about 30 seconds until hot and gooey.
Place salmon on a bed of rice. Drizzle glaze over top and drizzle with wasabi cream. Serve with stir fried vegetables.

* Do not put brush directly into the glaze. Use a clean spoon because any leftover glaze will be added after the salmon has finished cooking.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We Love Our Madeleines

I didn't start my love affair with madeleines until a few years ago.  Well, it's not a love affair, but I really am quite fond of them.   I don't know how or why I became enamored with them, I just did.   Ten years ago, Costco or Entenmann's didn't make them, at least not to my knowledge.  I think I saw the pans at Williams Sonoma, and fell in love with those delicate shell pans.  When I was a little girl, I loved story time.  One of my favorite books that our school librarian, Mrs. Connelly, would read to my class was Madeline, written by Ludwig Bemelmans.   "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.  In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed.  They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad. They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline."  Seriously, I think my memory of this book made me delve into the world of madeleines.  Madeleines too, are usually baked twelve to a pan and in two straight lines and they are French....interesting.
I started out with one pan, and quickly realized that two pans are better than one.  Most recipes yield 24 madeleines.  The first recipe I tried was a Barefoot Contessa, coconut madeleine recipe.  It was a big, big hit with the family.  I tried many others - chocolate madeleines, orange madeleines, chocolate dipped madeleines, vanilla infused madeleines, almond madeleines and lemon madeleines.  To this day, the coconut madeleines remain the favorite with the family.  Personally, I adore these lemony lovelies by David Lebovitz.  If you LOVE lemon, by all means, try them.  If you are like the rest of my cocoNUTTY family, I think you will enjoy these.