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Continuing to Dress Better

As promised, a follow up to my last post about DIY salad dressings. In the midst of winter, flavorful tomatoes are in short supply. Sun-dried tomatoes are a good way to bring tomato flavor into the depths of winter.

Here’s a creamy, flavorful dressing that goes beyond the basic vinaigrette, but is still quick and easy to make.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO FETA DRESSING
(makes 2 cups)

Equipment:
• Immersion (or “stick”) blender, food processor or blender.

Ingredients:IMG_5444
4 each Sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
2 cloves Garlic – roughly chopped
1 small Shallot – roughly chopped
2 Tblspns Capers (optional)
⅓ cup Water
¼ cup Basil Leaves
1 Tblspn Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
½ tspn Black Pepper
4 oz. Feta Cheese
2/3 cup Olive Oil

IMG_5457• Soak tomatoes in hot water for 15-20 minutes.
• If using immersion blender, place all ingredients except feta and oil, in a tall, clear cylindrical container or measuring cup. Blend until fairly smooth.
• Crumble feta and add to container.
• With blender running, slowly drizzle in oil.
• If consistency is too thick, blend in water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Other herbs, such as marjoram, dill, parsley or chives may be substituted for basil according to your taste. This dressing works well on a traditional greens-based salad, but its bold flavor also works well when mixed with blanched and chilled green beans, drained and rinsed garbanzo beans and chopped Kalamata olives (as pictured below). You can substitute other green veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers or even kale) for the green beans. And cooked grains (farro, wheat berries, barley) or any other type of canned beans can replace the garbanzos.

IMG_5475

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Whole Wheat-Sage Rolls

ImageI love baking bread. So I was excited when I was asked to bring rolls to Thanksgiving dinner. I knew that I would make plain white pillowy dinner rolls using that tried-and-true Basic Rolls recipe from Craig Clayborne’s The New York Times Cookbook, but thought it would be nice to have a whole wheat option, too. After pulling several recipes from various cookbooks and the net, I came up with this version. These rolls were even better the next day as a vehicle for leftover turkey!

1          Tblspn             Yeast

1 ¼      cup                  Water

¼         cup                  Butter

1          tspn                 Salt

2          Tblspns            Fresh Sage–chopped

¼         cup                  Honey or Maple Syrup

1          large                Egg

1 ½      cup                  Whole Wheat Flour

1 ½-2   cups                 All-Purpose Flour

Put water and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 45 seconds. The water should be just warm to the touch. In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except all-purpose flour. Add a cup of all-purpose flour and stir. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a well floured pastry board or clean counter top. Knead dough until smooth and elastic–6-8 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Let dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size–about an hour should do.

Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Divide dough in half, then divide each half into 8 equal pieces. If you have a kitchen scale, each piece should be about 2 ounces. Roll each piece on the board using a circular motion with your hand in a claw position. Use your palm and fingers to form a tight skin on each roll. If the rolls are slipping on the surface, use a dab of water to help them stick a little to form that tight skin.

Place rolls evenly apart in a lightly greased 8″ x 13″ brownie pan or quarter sheet pan. 15 rolls fit perfectly, so you decide what to do with that extra roll. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on the top. For even baking, turn the pan half way through cooking. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from pan to a wire rack to prevent the rolls from getting soggy on the bottom. If not serving immediately, put the rolls back in the pan, cover with foil and re-heat in a 350 oven for 5 minutes.

Hello world!

I thought I’d start a blog to unleash some of the recipes in my head and talk about some of the thoughts I have related to food and cooking. I’ll also attach some of my amateurish photos along the way.