Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hamburger Buns

I made hamburger buns from scratch!! I can't believe it! I'm not a professed baker of breads but with the exorbitant costs here in Hawaii I thought I would give these a try. The best part is they turned out and tasted fabulous! 

Light Brioche Burger Buns

3 tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
2½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
For topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the butter.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes.  The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled. (*I live in a very warm climate and mine were large enough to bake after less than 30 minutes.)
Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Comme Ça via The New York Times

Mango Shortbread Bars

Living in Hawaii we're blessed to eat fresh tropical fruits. We've tried papaya milkshakes for breakfast and pineapple floats for dessert (fresh pineapple juice with pineapple ice cream). The other night I noticed our mangos were getting over ripe so I looked online for a fun recipe to make with them. This mango shortbread had a tasty crust (3 cubes of better be good!) and the mango flavor was nicely complimented by the nutmeg and cinnamon.

Mango Shortbread Bars


  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups sliced mango
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In large bowl, cream together butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Blend in 3 cups flour and press 1/2 of mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together mango, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined. Pour mango mixture over shortbread in pan. Sprinkle remaining shortbread mixture over mango mixture. Press down lightly.
  4. Bake 1 hour, until topping is golden brown. Let cool 15 minutes in dish before cutting into bars.


We love Italian food in our house. One of my favorite qualities of Italian cooking is the wide range of ingredients that most often are fail-proof. For instance, pizza is so versatile we love to experiment with toppings.

Our new favorite recipe that is bound to be an outlet in our food creativity is calzones. I found this recipe and I love the creaminess of the ricotta, the sausage is delicious and the dough surprisingly light and flavorful. I can't wait until next time I make this to add some mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and maybe cook it one or two with pepperoni per the kids' request.

Ricotta Calzones with Sausage
Taste and Tell's slight adaptation from The New Best Recipe

4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water

1 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces hot or sweet sausage
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing on tops
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt for sprinkling on tops

FOR THE DOUGH: In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt to combine. Attach the bowl, and with mixer running on medium-low speed with the dough hook, add the olive oil, then gradually add the water. Continue to mix until the mixture comes together and a soft, elastic dough is formed - about 10 minutes. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled - 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

FOR THE FILLING: In a medium bowl, stir together the cheeses, egg yolk, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Remove the casings from the sausage. Cook the sausage in a skillet, breaking it up into 1/2 inch pieces, until it is cooked through. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 10 seconds and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on the rack. Heat the oven to 500 degrees for AT LEAST 30 minutes. Divide the dough in half, and then divide each half into thirds, giving you 6 pieces of dough. Gently shape each piece into a ball and set on a piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 15 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.

Form the calzones by rolling each piece of dough into a 9-inch circle then placing 1/2 cup of the filling on half of the circle and topping with 1/6 of the sausage. Fold the top half of the dough over, leaving a 1/2 inch border uncovered. Lightly press the dough to seal it. Beginning at one end, place your index finger diagonally across the edge and gently pull the bottom layer of the dough over the tip of your finger. Repeat until the calzone is sealed.

With a very sharp paring knife or razor blade, cut 5 slits, about 1 1/2 inches long diagonally across the top of each calzone. Make sure not to cut completely through the calzone, but to just cut through the top layer.

Brush the top of each calzone with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until golden brown - about 11 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving. While the first batch is baking, prepare the second batch.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hawaiian Salad with Grilled Chicken

In honor of our recent move to the Hawaiian Islands I have this tasty and fresh salad recipe to share.

Tropical Salad

    * 1 head romaine lettuce, torn
    * 3 green onions, chopped
    * 6 slices of bacon, crumbled (I used 8 pre-cooked slices)
    * 1 can pineapple tidbits, drained and reserved for dressing
    * 1/2 cup macadamia pieces
    * 1/4 cup toasted coconut
    * 1/4 cup pineapple juice
    * 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
    * 1/4 cup olive oil
    * salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, onions, bacon, macadamias, coconut and pineapple.  In a container with a tight fitting lid, combine the other ingredients.  Shake to mix.  Pour over the salad right before serving.

We grilled up some chicken and served it with the salad.

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken

    * 6 boneless chicken breasts 
    * 2 cups pineapple juice
    * 2 T Worcestershire sauce
    * 2 T soy sauce
    * 2 T brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients, except the chicken.  Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate.  The longer the chicken marinates, the better.  Cook them on the grill.  (*Six chicken breasts makes a lot of chicken.  If you serve the chicken with the salad like we did I cooked fewer chicken breasts. Other times I've served the chicken over rice alongside the salad and that was tasty too.)
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