January 8, 2011

easy as sunday morning

I love cinnamon rolls. One might even say I'm a cinnamon roll fanatic. Growing up, my mom ruined us by making home-made oatmeal cinnamon rolls with caramel icing for special occasions. They're amazing. Now, she makes them on Saturday mornings in her cafe. If I were a better person, I would make them for Jason on special occasions. Maybe someday. For now, I've come up with a great short-cut recipe for all of us under-achievers. 

All you need is some good quality pizza dough, a little brown sugar and cinnamon, and some pecans. I happened to have dough on hand from Trader Joe's. I suppose you could also use puff pastry, which would be nice and decadent. 

Easy Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
Serves 6
1 package of raw pizza dough
1/3 cup brown sugar (or more if you're feeling dangerous)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
cream cheese icing (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let the pizza dough rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. 

On a floured surface, roll the pizza dough out in a rectangle shape, about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans evenly over dough. Press ingredients lightly into dough with the heel of your hand.

Starting with one long edge, roll dough away from you until you have a fairly tight log. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into 6 even pieces. Place a few inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Spread icing over each roll.

Cream Cheese Icing:
1/2 package of cream cheese at room temperature
4 T butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1 T milk, or more as needed

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a medium sized bowl. Add the vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the milk to your desired consistency, being careful not to make the icing too thin. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls.

January 2, 2011

a new year

I prefer predictions over resolutions. I predict that Jason and I have a really exciting year ahead of us. And, since food is one of my favorite things to think about, here are my top 5 food predictions for 2011:

1. Boozy pies
In the December/January issue of Ready Made Magazine, I was fascinated by an article about a bakery in Brooklyn, Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Two sisters are taking old-fashioned pie making and turning it into something new by using liqueurs and spirits alongside fresh herbs. Genius, I say.

2. Creative gratins
My contribution to Christmas dinner this year was a rosemary-encrusted potato gratin. Since then, I've been noticing lots of recipes for creative gratins, like Food & Wine's squash gratin with poblanos and cream. I think we'll see lots more layered dishes that don't include a single potato.

3. Whoopie pies and sandwich cookies
Cupcakes are so 2009. All of a sudden, whoopie pies and sandwich cookies are everywhere. Apparently we still want cake and icing, just in a different form. Instead of red velvet cupcakes, try these little guys as a remedy for cupcake fatigue. 

4. Mad Men era cocktail parties
AMC's Mad Men has made a huge impact on pop culture. Whether you watch the show or not, you've probably heard of it. A new fascination with the late 50s/early 60s is causing a cocktail revival. Make an old-fashioned, whip up some deviled eggs, invite your friends over, and party Mad Men style. 

5. Home-made beer
It's as local as local gets: brewing your own beer at home. Even my little brother is doing it. We've already seen a lot of artisinal beer companies popping up in the past few years, and the natural progression is to home-crafted. I think beer is having a moment. 

On New Year's Eve, we celebrated at a beautiful cabin in the woods with some of my oldest, dearest friends. I made little lemon ricotta cookies as a remedy for too much rich holiday food. We ate, we drank, we laughed, a lot. It was perfect.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
a recipe by Giada Delaurentis

Cookie batter:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 15-oz container whole milk ricotta cheese
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or use my new favorite thing, a Silpat baking mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix until fully combined. Add the ricotta, lemon zest and juice. Stir in the dry ingredients. 

Using a medium ice cream scoop, spoon rounds of cookie dough about an inch apart onto the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cookies are set (not jiggly). Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. When cookies are mostly cool, spread a thin layer of glaze on each cookie. Enjoy.

Happy 2011!