Sunday, July 24, 2011

Caprese Pasta Salad

I love a nice Caprese Salad. Slices of tomato, slices of mozzarella, chiffonaded basil and a nice light balsamic vinaigrette or even just a sprinking of good olive oil. So I was looking for a more summery version, something a little lighter and a bit different.

So I tried to turn a Caprese into a pasta salad and it worked well. I used Rotini pasta because I like the surface area for holding the vinaigrette.

  • 1 lbs of cooked rotini (curly pasta)
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 oz mozzarella
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • While the rotini is cooking, seed the tomatoes and rough chop them
  • Dice the mozzarella into small pieces
  • Chiffonade the basil (Roll up the leaves as a group and thinly slice into ribbons)
  • Zest the lemon into a mixing bowl, then squeeze the juice into the bowl.
  • While whisking, slowly add about 1/2 - 2/3 a cup of olive oil into the lemon juice/zest to make your dressing. It's a nice light lemon vinaigrette, and not too much so it's never overdressed.
  • Drain and cool the pasta. It doesn't have to be cold, just not boiling hot. I don't like to melt the cheese.
  • Poor the pasta right over the tomatoes, add the cheese and basil, then stir together while adding about 1/2 of the dressing.
  • Key step here . . . TASTE it. You might need a little salt, you might need to add more dressing. only you can make that determination, so don't be afraid! One piece of advice, if you are going to keep it overnight, save any dressing you don't add right away.
  • You can serve immediately, which is how I prefer it. It can keep in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
If you are going to keep it overnight, I suggest draining any liquid the next day. The tomatoes may lose a lot of liquid. Then taste and add some more dressing if needed.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Parker House Cinnamon Rolls

I took Alton Brown's Parker House Roll Recipe and turned it into Cinnamon Rolls and it worked perfectly! My wife smacked me on the back of the head and told me not to make them again -- which tells me they were successful.

  • 8 oz light brown sugar
  • 1 tbs of melted unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tbs of cinnamon
  • 3 oz of softened cream cheese
  • 5 oz of powdered sugar
  • 3 tbs of milk
The Rolls:
  • OK, so make the dough exactly how you do the Parker House Rolls and do the first rise. During the rise - mix up the filling ingredients.
  • Get out a 12x9x3 inch pan and spray with cooking spray.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and roll out to a rectangle, about 16 by 10 inches.
  • Spread the filling over the dough evenly, leave the bottom half-inch of so uncovered. This will aid in sealing it when you roll it up.
  • Starting from the top, roll the dough into a log. Seal the bottom edge with a bit of pressure.
  • Cut into 12 equal pieces and place on their side in the pan. Spread out into a 3 x 4 layout, leaving space for rising around and between each rolls.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for about 45 minutes. They should nearly double in size. They will rise a little more in the oven. Mine ended up rising above the edge of the pan after cooking.
  • Melt 1 tbs of unsalted butter right at the end of the final rise.
  • Just before putting the rolls in the oven, brush with the butter on the top for browning.
  • Pre-heat the oven at 400F.
  • Cook the rolls for about 14 min, turning the pan at the halfway point. You might need more or less time depending on your oven.
  • While it's cooking, mix the frosting ingredients together. I find adding the sugar slowly to the milk/cream cheese works well.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes or so then frost and enjoy!