Hamburger or Hot Dog Rolls

IMG_7838
This recipe, originally from here, was very simple and made nice soft rolls. I tried both hamburger and hot dog roll shapes and they also worked great for some chicken sandwiches. I’ve made them with only white AP flour, and also with part whole wheat, and both were delicious. They also freeze well, so definitely give them a try!

Ingredients (makes 10 hamburger rolls or 16 hot dog rolls)
360mL (1-1/2 cups) warm water
3/4 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
4 cups (520g) all-purpose flour (can substitute part whole wheat)

Instructions
Combine water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix well.

Add the remaining 2 cups of flour a little at a time until the dough is firm enough to knead. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth.

Place in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until double in size. Then punch down the dough and shape into rolls.

For hamburger rolls, use about 85g (3oz) of dough and roll into a sphere. Then press down on the baking sheet to flatten them slightly. Allow about 5cm / 2 inches of space in between so they don’t touch when they rise and bake.

For hot dog rolls, use 55g (2 oz) of dough and roll into a log shape. Place on the baking sheet, closer together than the hamburger rolls (about an inch apart). (They may seem small, but don’t forget they’ll rise quite a bit.)

Let the rolls rise again for about an hour.

Bake at 200C / 400F for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Advertisements

Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_7834I know there are lots of chocolate chip cookies out there, but this is my go-to recipe. I prefer cookies that are chewy in the middle, and maybe a bit crispy on the edges. This recipe is quick, easy, and consistently good. For those living in Japan, you can replace chocolate chips with chopped up chocolate bars.

Ingredients
150g (11 tbsp) butter
½ cup white sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2/3 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat for three to four minutes (batter may be dry). Add chocolate chips.

Scoop dough out in 1-tablespoon balls. Place 2 inches (5cm) apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 8-11 minutes. Don’t overbake!

Note: You can freeze the 1-tablespoon balls unbaked and then bake them straight from the freezer later. Just add a minute or two on the baking time.

Greens with Goma-ae

gomaaeIn Japanese, goma means ‘sesame’, and it is commonly used in all kind of cooking. This recipe is for a dressing called goma-ae which is sweet and salty, made with sesame, sugar, and soy sauce. It is great on all kinds of veggies, especially greens. In the picture above, I used shungiku, or chrysanthemum greens, but it’s also great on spinach, komatsuna, or other similar vegetables. It makes a great side dish. I especially like the contrast when eaten with something spicy.

Ingredients
1 handful green vegetables of your choice (shungiku, komatsuna, spinach, etc.)
1 tbsp ground sesame seeds*
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp water

*In Japan, you can buy sesame seeds already ground, but if you do it yourself with a mortar and pestle, the flavor is fresher. Either way is fine!

Instructions

Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Also prepare a bowl of ice water.

When the water boils, put the greens in and let them blanch for 60 seconds. Then pull them out and immediately put them into the ice water to stop the cooking.

Mix the sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, and water in a small bowl.

Remove the greens from the water and squeeze out the excess moisture. If the pieces are large, you can cut the bundle of greens in half or thirds. Mix the greens with the sauce and serve.

Swedish Bread

swedish breadI love baking bread in the winter. It makes the whole house seem warmer and cozier, and warm homemade bread is one of my favorite things to eat. This is an old recipe that my Mom and I used to make when I was younger, and I hadn’t made in many years until this Christmas. It’s got egg, milk, and sugar in it, which make the dough rich and sweet, and it tastes like almonds. You can make regular loaves, or braid them like I did in the picture above if you want to be fancy!

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)
½ cup (113g) melted butter or margarine
⅔ cup (133g) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
405 mL (2-1/4 cups) hot milk
2-1/4 tsp dry yeast
¼ cup (60mL) warm water
1 egg, well beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
7 cups (910g) white flour (approximately)

Optional: 1 egg yolk, 1/4 cup almonds (for topping)

Instructions
Mix the butter, sugar, salt, and hot milk in a large bowl and let cool to lukewarm. Stir the yeast into the warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.

Add the dissolved yeast, egg, almond extract, and 3 cups (390g) of the flour to the milk mixture and mix vigorously. Add 3 more cups (390g) of flour and mix well.

Turn out onto a slightly floured board, knead for a minute or two, and let rest for 10 minutes. Adding the remaining flour only if the dough is too sticky, resume kneading until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk. Punch down, knead for a minute or two, and shape into two loaves. Place in two buttered 9×5 inch loaf pans, cover, and let rise until double in bulk again. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks.

For Braided Bread: After the dough has risen for the first time, punch it down, knead for a minute or two, and divide it into six equal pieces. Stretch and roll each piece with your hands until you have six long rolls of uniform size. Make two braids with them, pinching the three piece of dough firmly together when you start braiding and again when you finish. Tuck each end underneath the loaf. Place on greased cookie sheets, cover, and allow to rise until double in size. Brush with 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water, and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Bake for only 25 to 30 minutes.

Caramel Hot Cocoa

caramel hot cocoaThis past weekend, the Tokyo area was hit by a “blizzard”. I put it in quotations because I grew up in the Northeast U.S., where 4 inches of snow is not even worth mentioning. But here in eastern Japan, snow is unusual – once or twice a year at most – and usually just a dusting. Anyway, all usual transportation stopped for a day or two, and everyone was finding alternate ways to get where they needed to go, and doing a lot of walking in the snow and slush in shoes that were not intended for that kind of use. It seems like everything has been cold and wet, and when I come home to my non-heated house, the first thing I want is hot cocoa. This caramel hot cocoa is my recent favorite – if you want it to taste more like “salted caramel”, you can add a little extra salt!

Ingredients (serves 1)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cream
1 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp vanilla
sprinkle of salt (or more to taste)

Instructions

Put the sugar in a dry saucepan over medium heat until it begins to melt. Let the sugar melt and caramelize into a brown liquid. Don’t stir – but you can swirl the pan a little if it doesn’t melt evenly. Don’t walk away – it happens very quickly and the caramel can burn in an instant.

When the sugar is melted and has turned a reddish-brown, turn off the heat and add the cream carefully. It may splatter a little bit. Immediately whisk or stir, but don’t worry if it hardens up on you.* Add the cocoa and mix it into the caramel.

Add the milk and turn the heat back on medium-low. Whisk until the milk heats up and begins to steam. Then add the vanilla and salt.

* If the caramel completely hardens, just add the milk first, turn the heat on, and the caramel will melt into the milk. Then you can add the cocoa powder afterwards.

Kinkan Kanro-ni

kinkan3Kinkan is the Japanese word for kumquat, and they are quite common in Japan. There’s a kumquat tree in my neighbor’s yard. In the supermarket, they are available, like most citrus, in the winter. I don’t think they’re very popular in the U.S., at least, not in the northeast. They’re bitter inside, but the skin is sweet. In this recipe, they are candied, and can then be used in a variety of ways. I chopped some up and put them in Christmas cookies this year.

Ingredients
350g (12 oz) kumquats
320mL (1-1/3 cups) water
1 cup sugar

Instructions

kinkanKumquats have seeds in them, and if you want to remove them, you can cut some vertical slits in the kumquats before boiling. If you don’t remove them, though, it’s no problem – you can either eat them along with the candied fruits, or remove them while cutting or eating them later.

kinkan2Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the kumquats and boil for 3 minutes, then drain. If desired, you can repeat the boiling process. After they are cooked, soak them in cold water for 5 minutes.

Place the 320mL/1-1/3 cups water and the 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. When the sugar dissolves, add the kumquats. Bring to a low simmer and cook until the syrup is almost gone, about 45 minutes.

The candied kumquats should be stored in the fridge. You can eat them plain, use them as a topping, or mix them into cookies or bread. I added them to biscotti.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

cranberry blissThese cookies are very Christmasy! Their color of red and white is really pretty, and the sweet white chocolate goes well with the tart cranberries. A cream cheese frosting is also really nice. This recipe makes a pretty large batch, so you can definitely halve it. The original recipe is from here.

Ingredients (about 4 dozen cookies)
Cookies:
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
227g (1 cup) butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips/chunks
1 cup dried cranberries

Frosting:
200g (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white chocolate chips/chunks, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Topping:
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate chips/chunks, melted

Instructions

Make the cookies: Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Fold in the white chocolate and cranberries.

Chill dough for 1 hour. Place rounded tablespoons on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 180C/350F for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden on the edges. Let cookies cool completely.

Make frosting: Beat together cream cheese and melted white chocolate. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. If it’s not thick enough, you can add additional powdered sugar.

Spread the frosting on the cool cookies. Sprinkle with the chopped cranberries and drizzle with the melted white chocolate.