Deck the halls with boughs of holly… Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la. My cards are out, my tree is up and I’ve started my Christmas shopping. It even snowed last night…the holidays are here! And with the holidays here, you ‘ll likely be entertaining. Usually the idea of entertaining makes me want to hide in bed, but not since I’ve found this easy make ahead appetizer! Lemony White Beans -a simple appetizer that can up your entertaining game. Now hurry up and get out of your pajamas-you’ve got people coming over! …
We just celebrated my very favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but for me it wasn’t just the Thanksgiving dinner, but also all of the other meals that made the weekend so special. I hosted the Thanksgiving holiday at my cabin, and that meant that I also needed breakfast for a crowd. Apple French Toast Bake is one I’ve been making for a few years, and is both adult and kid approved. And the very best thing about it? Not only is it foolproof, but you make it ahead of time!…
One of the very first books I got when I first started cooking was Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. At the time, Nigella wasn’t yet a household name here in the U.S. I used to watch her first show, Nigella Bites, on Style Network (does that even exist anymore?!?). I loved the glimpses into London life and her quirky British sensibilities. She was unabashedly in love with food and it made me want to cook everything she did! One of my favorite recipes from those early days – one that I still make today – is for Molten Chocolate Babycakes. In the book, she refers to them as “the acceptable face of culinary cute” and I couldn’t agree more. They are however, also absolutely delicious….
Confession time: when a friend recently suggested making Cranberry Orange Rolls as a breakfast dish for our cabin weekend, I didn’t immediately jump at the idea. I mean, cranberries in January? I only seem to appreciate cranberries around Thanksgiving, and after that, well, I’m not usually thinking about those tart little fruits. We typically plan all of our meals for cabin weekends in advance, sharing recipes and making long lists of things we need for our cooking adventures. So a few days later when my friend texted to tell me she couldn’t find cranberries, I was secretly a little relieved. I was ready to hit up my recipe stash and find something I considered a more traditional winter staple – warm, doughy, and filled with cinnamon or maple, or even apples.
With my list in hand, I headed to my local co-op where, lo and behold, what did I find staring at me when I walked in? You guessed it, piles of fresh cranberries. Fresh organic cranberries. So I did what any good friend would do and I tucked away my old recipes and I bought those cranberries.
It turns out sometimes friends just know best, because after my first bite of these perfectly tart and sweet rolls, I knew I may have a new favorite breakfast dish. Traditional cinnamon rolls are great, but these jewel toned beauties are on a whole new level. The recipe, adapted from Deb Perelman’s amazing blog Smitten Kitchen, is a total keeper. Lesson number one: always trust your friends. Lesson number two: never count the cranberry out, it just may surprise you!
- 4 large egg yolks (we saved the whites for an egg bake we made the next day!)
- 1 large whole egg
- ¼ cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ¾ of the zest of one large orange (the other ¼ will be used for the filling)
- 3 and ¾ cups of all purpose flour
- 1 packet of instant (rapid rise) yeast
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- I cup light brown sugar
- ¼ of the zest of one large orange
- 1 and ½ Tablespoons of butter
- 3 and ½ Tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Place egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, buttermilk and ¾ of the orange zest of one large orange into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Whisk ingredients together until well combined.
- Add 2 cups of flour, yeast and salt to dough, stir until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook.
- Add remaining 1 and ¾ cups of flour and knead dough for 5-10 minutes.
- Scrape dough into a oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Allow to rise until doubled (approximately 2 and ½ hours).
- In a food processor, pulse the cranberries with the brown sugar and leftover orange zest (1/4 of total orange zest from large orange) until coarse. (you may need to scrape the sides of the food processor with a spatula until all of the cranberries are coarsely chopped).
- Melt the butter and set aside.
- Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured countertop until it is a 18 inch by 12 inch rectangle.
- Brush the dough with the melted butter.
- Spread the cranberry-brown sugar-orange zest mixture over the dough.
- Roll the dough into a long log, being careful to keep the cranberry mixture inside the dough.
- Cut the log into sections, halving the log until you have 12 even sections.
- Carefully arrange the sections in the baking dish, with even spacing between them.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place baking dish into refrigerator (to rise overnight).
- The next morning take rolls out of the refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake rolls until golden, approximately 30 minutes.
- Whisk the orange juice with the powdered sugar until smooth.
- Spread the icing over the warm buns.
- Serve and enjoy!
In the midst of the busy holiday season, I count on recipes that can be made ahead in a quiet morning or two, and pulled out of the freezer for a fresh baked treat on (what seems like) a moment’s notice. This year, in particular, I have been searching for sweet treats and found a great option in these Chocolate Hazelnut Scones from Zoe Nathan and the Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe in Santa Monica. The brilliance of the scones lies in the fact that the recipe requires the unbaked dough to be frozen and then baked, so you don’t even feel like you’re cheating by making it ahead. I made a batch last week and another this morning, froze them, and then wrapped each scone in plastic wrap. On Christmas morning, they’ll need a quick 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven and that’s it. Serve them with a generous amount of whipped cream (which I prefer sweetened with a small amount of powdered sugar and a tiny bit of vanilla bean paste).