Holiday Baking Continued: Goat Cheese-Stuffed Wheat Buns!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)

Nolan, my sister, her husband, and I are taking a trip to New York tomorrow. It's a bus trip, 10 hours riding on a coach bus for the sake for 8 hours in the city. We're going because we used to do this when we were younger. We're doing this to reignite some old traditions that will, most likely, never fit into the mold of our lives now; but, god damnit if we don't try.

But this week, I've done a lot of baking. A lot of testing. A lot of trying to make the house warm with the oven on. A lot of convincing myself to keep moving forward, a direction I've always considered to be the better of the the two options available. And, to keep this post as short as possible so I can finish packing, here is a recipe I made this week. Goat cheese-stuffed buns, made with wheat and studded with walnuts. A little bit of the warmest flavors I could find in the fridge to stave off the cold from coming too close to our kitchen.

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Wheat Buns

Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 packet of Red Star platinum yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg + 1 white, both room temperature (use extra yolk for egg wash, see directions below)
  • 2 TB honey
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces goat cheese (I used Vermont Creamery’s Coupole, but any goat cheese will do)
  • Walnuts, if desired

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water, and butter until butter is completely melted. Stir to combine and transfer to your stand mixer’s bowl. Let stand until temperature reaches 110*F
  2. Add yeast and salt
  3. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbling
  4. While mixture is resting, sift together flours
  5. Turn on stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, and add your egg and honey
  6. With mixer still on, add your flour mixture, about a ½ cup at a time, until a shaggy dough forms (depending on your wheat flour used and altitude, you may require just a little less flour than this recipe calls for)
  7. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 6 minutes or until dough is springy to the touch
  8. Place in an oiled bowl and let rest for one hour at room temperature
  9. After your hour has elapsed, preheat oven to 400*F and grease a 9-inch pan thoroughly. Also, cut your goat cheese into 8 pieces or so
  10. Punch dough down and divide into 8 or 9 pieces
  11. Pat each piece of dough flat with the palms of your hands and place a piece of goat cheese in the center
  12. Form a ball with the dough, leaving the goat cheese in the center
  13. Place in your pan
  14. Repeat with remaining dough
  15. Now, whisk your extra yolk with a teaspoon of water to create your egg wash. Brush a bit on top of each dough ball
  16. Press a walnut in the center of each ball, if desired, as well
  17. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown
  18. Serve immediately for a melt, delicious warm bun. But, these can keep and be reheated for up to two days in an airtight container
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)

Thank you to Red Star Yeast for sponsoring this post. I believe in using quality products when it comes to baking and I am always confident my dough will rise beautifully with Red Star! Check out the active dry yeast I used for this recipe and others on their website, follow them on instagram and like their Facebook!

And while you're at it...like my Facebook and Instagram too!

The Farm's First Christmas!

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It's really beginning to feel like the holidays for me now. It never did before. In college, I felt that being home was a burden, a hazy one that either ended with me moping in my room, or texting my college friends with small details of how "annoying" my family was. In California, as I've talked about before, it never felt like Christmas, wearing shorts and driving the interstate to find fast food restaurants that would stay open for us. Or, some years, we split the burden--one of us would stay with the dogs while the other spent Christmas with family back in Pennsylvania. Lonely is all I remember for three years then.

I didn't keep up with the traditions; I never bothered to try. Maybe it was too painful, or maybe I just didn't really care that much. Those in-between years of settling and resettling, in rented houses and backyards that were too small, I never thought I had anything to celebrate. And, as always, I was wrong. And, as always, I'm learning.

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We moved into our house just after the holidays last year, so this is the first time we're really experiencing it all. The tree, the fir, the snow-packed dog paws that melt on the hardwood floors. Old ornaments from second-hand stores and our mothers' attics. Wooden ones, broken ones, ones that hang on paperclips instead of hooks. Things we've never done before, experiences that I've been wanting to create.

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And it was good. Rushed, but good. Haphazard, but good, to look back at a year of questions and answers and understand that sometimes the most fun we're going to have in a week is doing the mindless, repetitive tasks that we used to hate as kids.

And the same goes for cookies. It used to be a tradition, one that I seemed to forget about until I'm hungry for something sweet. But this year, as I shared with Modern Farmer, it's turned into something I love doing. Decorating, baking, cutting shapes and dipping them in coffee. I can't wait to give them out as gifts this year. And below this recipe is a special surprise for your pup as well!

 

 

 

 

Iced Sugar Cookies

Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg (of course, we used our girls' fresh eggs!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
2. Add egg and vanilla and mix together
3. Sift together dry ingredients and gently stir into your butter mixture
4. Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a disc. Wrap and chill for 1 hour
5. Preheat oven to 400*F
6. Roll out and cut dough into desired shapes (about 3/4 inch thickness worked best for me)
7. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are just browned

For decorating: Use dyed royal icing (my ratio is 1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar for each 1 egg white, plus a 1/4 teaspoon of water or so, mixed with your dyes) and a bit of patience for the decorating. I always remind myself that the more handmade it looks, the more love I put into it--so I never stress too much about perfection!
 

Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies
Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies
Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies

And here is an alternative for your best pal! Make these dog treats (recipe was shared here) and give them away to all your dog loving friends!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
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Curry Pumpkin Quiche (or, a practice on using up the most eggs and leftover ingredients)

The more work we put in, the more we are getting out of our farm. We are not owners of the acreage. We are not owners of the chickens. We are stewards only. Providers. Protectors. Housemaids, landscaper, and garbage man. We kill mice in traps and with the same hands pet a chicken while she's laying. Hoping to soothe. To say a small thank you for the work she's doing for us.

It's been just less than a month since their egg laying has picked up. We average 8 a day. That's 2 dozen every couple of days. About 4 or 5 a week. And we give them away--to librarians and shopkeepers. To the mailman and our mothers. We try to sell them, but it's winter and we're lazy and don't want to take money out for change. Instead, we let the eggs pile up in cardboard boxes and give them away when someone comes over. And, fortunately, more people have been over lately than before.

But after Thanksgiving, in the month of December, between the bookends of the holidays, I know there will be leftovers. Half-used, half-assed ingredients that I bought for one dish and I'm left with a half can of something-or-other to use up. Nolan and I are more conscious of waste, or animals, of the environment. We try to buy what we need, and use up what we have. So, looking in the fridge, behind the soggy mushrooms that we forgot about and the gallon of iced tea neither of us remember buying, there was spinach, a can of pumpkin, and a pat of dough. A half dozen eggs and an hour to kill, I made a quiche, dotted with spinach and brightened with curry powder. A dish that fed us for three days.

Curry Pumpkin Quiche

Ingredients:

  • Dough for 10-inch pie crust
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/4 cup frozen (or fresh) spinach

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Roll out and shape dough into your pie pan, ensuring any tears are patched up (otherwise, filling will leak out)
  3. Whisk together all remaining ingredients
  4. Pour over uncooked pie crust
  5. Bake for 50 minutes or until center is firm, but slightly springy to the touch
Curry Pumpkin Quiche
Curry Pumpkin Quiche
Curry Pumpkin Quiche
Curry Pumpkin Quiche

A Little Chocolate Cake

The window I shoot from is in the kitchen. It overlooks the back yard - the fenced in portion of our acreage that houses the dogs, the garden, and a large holly tree. I watch Elsa eye squirrels from the frustrating fence line. I watch Murphy avoid mud puddles. I watch Milo, restless, trying to find anything to keep his mind busy, his teeth busy, his paws busy.

I look out this window and it's officially a year since we first looked at this house of ours. Time's flown and here we are. This morning I held Elsa for an hour, made coffee, cleaned up a mouse that had died in our barn. Washed my hands, ate a slice of cake. It's all there is on these kinds of Sundays; it's just one thing after the next, small pleasures that have kept me going throughout this year of guesswork and growing our own roots in soil we haven't touched for years and years and years.

Pumpkin Brownie Mini Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 TB espresso or strong coffee
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Liberally butter and line a 6-inch cake pan
  3. Whisk together all wet ingredients until a pale orange and fully incorporated
  4. Sift together all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and create a well in the center
  5. With a wooden spoon, slowly fold in wet ingredients
  6. Stir until just combined
  7. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top is slightly cracked and the sides pool away from the pan
  8. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely before removing from pan and decorating (for this, I had some leftover cream cheese frosting to use, but I think a chocolate ganache would be phenomenal here)

With its high oil content, this cake stays moist for about 4 days in a container - so enjoy during and after the weekend!

Pumpkin Brownie Mini Cake
Pumpkin Brownie Mini Cake
Pumpkin Brownie Mini Cake

Last of the Garden: French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Puddings

French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding

I am a reluctant gardner, not one for it. I am lazy, I don't like to try my hand at something like that too much. My father-in-law planted a bed of vegetables and each time something sprouted, I would watch it break free of the soil and then wilt a bit. I'd rip it off on my way to to visit the chickens. But it became a responsibility, one that meant we would sometimes walk out the bed and pick some lettuce for a salad for dinner. Or, other times, when the plastic fence would bend from a gust of wind, I would go outside and right the bamboo stick holding it all together.

It's become another part of our lives here. I wrote about that all before and not much has changed in the last 4 months since then. The chickens have grown, we are a little less in debt, but still the garden bed remained the same - sometimes full and sometimes empty.

I have never had a garden to tend, so I thought, when I saw all the green shoots wilt and die, that I would take the fence down for the winter and build the beds somewhere else for the spring. And so I did, keeping the fencing for another use around the farm, storing it in the musty tack room of the barn. Three days later, Elsa dug into the bed, fresh dirt and virgin digging ground probably felt good against her paws. 

On the fourth day, she began to stick her nose in the dirt, sneezing and gnawing at something I couldn't see. Elsa is a hitter, she pets you back. And the next day, I smelled the distinctly allium scent of onion. 

I had forgotten about these, so hidden underground from my eyes. I had forgotten to till the ground and check for anything left. And when I did, in my work clothes, hunched over a muddy bed, I discovered so many left behind. So many pristine, aromatic layers. For an hour I washed them all and the rest of the night I dreamed about what to make. 

And finally I decided on soup. Because it's November now and we need to stay warm.

French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding

French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding

This soup is simple. Really. And delicious. We ate it all in a day. For the Yorkshires, this was my first foray into them, but I loved dunking their airy, crispy bodies into the brothy soup. A little cheese wouldn't hurt this recipe one bit.

Ingredients for French Onion Soup:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 6 medium-sized onions, sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 6 cup quality beef broth
  • 2 cup quality chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs thyme (can wrap in cheese cloth for easy removal)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (may require more, depends on your broth)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for Yorkshire Pudding:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 TB canola oil

 

Directions for French Onion Soup:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter and cook onions on medium-high for ten minutes or until translucent and slightly browned on the edges
  2. Deglaze with wine. Simmer to reduce wine to a half cup
  3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes, removing lid after 20 minutes
  4. Remove thyme, serve immediately or store for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container 

Directions for Yorkshire Pudding:

  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, and salt until well-combined
  2. Allow to rest in fridge for 30 minutes
  3. While batter is resting, preheat oven to 400*F and grease a standard sized muffin tin with oil
  4. Place greased tin in oven to get hot 
  5. When batter is done resting, divide evenly into your hot, oiled in
  6. Bake around 15 minutes or until golden and puffed
  7. Eat immediately. They will deflate if left too long.
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding