Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Culinary Adventures

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we're going to my brother's house. I was asked to bring rolls. I kept offering desserts or something a wee bit more challenging to make, but they're having the event catered and it pretty much includes everything. In fact, I think they just mentioned the rolls to humor me because they knew I'd cry if I wasn't allowed to cook or bake something for the event.

So I thought I'd at least try a new recipe. I looked through the "Christmas breads" sections of the first cookbook I picked off the shelf and it mentioned a Swedish Christmas wreath. I hopped online to find a picture of a Swedish Christmas wreath and found someone's blog about a Swedish Christmas, but no pictures of a bread-like wreath. I kept googling and soon came up with someone else's blog about St. Lucia bread -- made with saffron. That sounded like fun, so I googled around some more but all the recipes were in metric measurements. I couldn't grok that. What to do? What to do?

So I called Manitoba. Instead of converting my measurements, she offered her OWN favorite roll recipe. Zweibach. I thought that was funny because here in the states, Zweibach is synonymous with "inedible teething biscuits that form quick-drying concrete after contact with baby drool." I didn't mention that just in case that was offensive.

She sent me the recipe. I dutifully followed it. But back in that first recipe book there was also a recipe for Chinese meat rolls and that looked promising for dinner because I had beef in the crockpot and no real idea about what I was going to do with it. It was some strange part of the cow I'd never cooked before and despite my best efforts to cut it off, there was still a TON of fat left in it. So I strained the broth and put that in the fridge so I could skim the fat off the top and freeze the broth. I painstakingly separated the good beef from the ick that was left, gave the dogs the half-dozen bones left over (they were thrilled), and threw away all the remaining ick.

But now what to do with the beef? What ever portion of the cow this was, it wasn't the tastiest.

So I made the Chinese meat rolls dough. Then I made the Mennonite Zweibach (which is about 1 and a half cups of sugar from being butter cookies) dough. Then I made the St. Lucia saffron dough. And let it all rise.

Now it's 9 pm and so far we've . . .

* finished the Chinese meat rolls. This was a surprise success. Completely contrary to typical form, the boys launched right into the strange new food without pause and gobbled it down crying, "More! More!" I ate mine but found the beef mixture dry. That would have been less likely if I'd followed the directions as written -- the meat is normally put in the steamed rolls raw and then cooks as the rolls steam. But even so I was thrilled to discover that the roll part of it was absolutely perfect and if I can just find a good pork pot-sticker recipe, I'll be able to make steamed dumplings.

* finished the Mennonite Zweibach. Now, THIS was funny. I was told to roll the balls into something between a plum and a peach. I did that, but closer to the peach than the plum. Maybe big peaches. Then to put a walnut sized top on. I think I did that. Or maybe they were more like really small plums? I then let them rise for 40 minutes (and rise they did) and then put them in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. When the timer went off at 25 minutes I checked them and it was clear that they'd been plotting to take over the kitchen just before dying from heat. They were huge, they'd spread OFF the enormous large baking stove, and they smelled great. I gave them five more minutes and then pulled the shelf out of the oven. I had to gently pull each roll from the big roll hive that had formed and place them on the cooling rack. I couldn't lift the stone out otherwise because there were no exposed edges.

I'm now waiting for the baking stone to cool before I give the saffron bread a shot.

Hey, you know what was cool? One of the other couples from church called tonight at 8:30 to see if we had plans for Thanksgiving Day! They were going to invite us over to play. A wee bit late in the planning department, but I thought it was awfully kind (and in any 0ther year, the sort of thing we might do).

Alright, time to get the kids in bed. Big day tomorrow, and there's still St. Lucia bread to bake. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I wish you all full bellies, fast traffic, and fun with your friends and relatives.


Anonymous said...

ROFLOL! I hope the Zweibach turned out to be large but tasty. My kids hate half the batch last night.

It's a funny thing about the name - the ones you're thinking of get their name because they're 'twice baked', but I think the Mennonite buns mean more like 'two bake' because they're a double bun.

I always make mine bigger than Oma. I'm starting to wonder if I need to put a pingpong ball on an apricot to get a traditional size.

Possibly interesting side note: on Sunday's there is a tradition of having a cold meal since you're not supposed to labour. Well, a big part of our family's 'Faspa' meal is Zwiebach and cold Mennonite farmer sausage. Big yum!


Anonymous said...

Zweibach rolls; think Princess Leia as played by Crystal Gayle.
They were/are quite tasty.