Tuesday, March 08, 2011

It's just not funny anymore.

We awoke to almost 13 inches of new snow today, making it the second Monday in a row of no school, and third inclement weather day of the semester. You might think that I would revel in these unexpected days off, but it's wreaking havoc on my academic course schedules, and I fear that my Monday-Wednesday and Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes will NEVER get caught up from missing a whole week of classes! UGH!

However, the crazy, persistent winter has--as you may have noticed in recent posts--inspired a streak of marvelous soups and stews. The most recent of which started with a pound of 32 bean (and 8 vegetable) soup mix that I bought in the bulk food section at the Healthy Living Market in Burlington. The brand name is North Bay Trading Company and you can order online, or they'd probably have something similar at your local co-op. I didn't follow any particular recipe, but here was my general methodology for Ham and 32 Bean Soup:

In my large Dutch oven with some olive oil (two tablespoons or so), I sauteed some diced/sliced veggies--2 medium onions, 3 large stalks celery, 2 large carrots, a few hot peppers, two or three cloves of garlic, and about 8-10 large mushrooms. Then I added the bean mix in its soaking liquid (water to cover, soaked for two hours) and added a tablespoon each of vegetable soup base (Better Than Bouillon) and salted herbs (it's a Canadian thing--feel free to add a total of two tablespoons of soup base instead). I also added a teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

I brought this to the boil for five minutes, and turned it to simmer for two hours. I ended up adding two more cans of vegetable broth to the mix, as it thickened during cooking. Then I added a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and about a pound of diced ham, and simmered it for almost another hour. Good stuff!

To go with the soup, I made a batch of the most wonderful potato rolls! I ran across the recipe for crusty potato bread on Allrecipes, and I thought I might prefer rolls to bread. Several of the reviewers had reported that they had successful produced rolls with the dough, and also offered helpful recipe amendments which I also adopted. This were so easy and really lovely--they rose high and were airy in texture, despite my using some white whole wheat flour. I don't know why I don't make homemade bread more often, especially when I now have a perfect dough rising spot near the warm fire and no longer have to rely on home-rigged contraptions to get bread to rise! Even if you fear yeast doughs, I urge you to give this one a try...
Soft Potato Rolls
(adapted from Allrecipes)

3 cups all-purpose flour (I swapped out one cup white whole wheat)
3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups warm--not hot!--water (up to 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons instant yeast

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix all of the ingredients until they come together, then continue to knead with the hook for five minutes until a smooth ball forms (you may have to add a little extra water, a teaspoon at a time, to get the right consistency--there shouldn't be dry stuff at the bottom of the bowl). Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel, and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Divide into 12 equal portions and roll into smooth balls. Place in a 9x13 baking dish that has been coated with nonstick spray. Spray a piece of plastic wrap and cover the dish with that and the tea towel. Put the rolls back in a warm spot to rise until doubled.

Carefully brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes until deep golden brown on top.

1 comment:

Veronica said...

Yeah, seeing that snow reminds me why I enjoy living in Florida. However, when summer comes around I'll be cursing the oppressive humid heat. Those dishes look so tasty! I had to stop myself from licking the screen. (J/k, but it did run through my mind...)