Who’s to judge?
Today, I decided to try other people’s recipes. I’m not a very good recipe follower. I usually add a dash of this and leave out a smidgen of that to meet my tastes. That’s what makes cooking reality shows so fascinating to me. We all have different tastes based on what we have been introduced to in life. Who’s to judge?
I posted a comment earlier this week on Facebook, asking people: “What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?” Some responses included oxtail, alligator, turtle, pigs’ ears and snails. I’ve tried a couple of those dishes and can add silkworms to the list. While stationed in Korea, they sold the toasted insects out of push carts and kids chewed on them like roasted peanuts. I gave it a shot, but haven’t yet learned to appreciate the delicacy of dirt, I guess. The same is true for foie gras. I’ve tried it on numerous occasions, hoping that I just haven’t had it prepared the right way yet. While it’s tolerable, it’s not a dish I crave or would lick off a plate, as some have suggested.
So as I judge the recipes I followed today, take it with a grain of salt (pun intended). You may love the original versions. We all have different tastes. As cooks, we just have to learn to adapt to please our palettes.
My first venture was a Guinness Corned Beef by SteamyKitchen.com. Steamy Kitchen has great looking recipes, and the site’s founder gives useful tips for food bloggers. I thought this would make a perfect St. Patrick’s Day dish, especially because I love Guinness. I prepared the dish as instructed; however, I mistakenly used too large of a pot, so I went with 3 bottles of Guinness instead of 2. I also didn’t have bacon fat on hand, so I used oil (the suggested alternative). The meat cooked perfectly; very tender and easy to slice. The veggies also had the right consistency. But to my dismay, the flavors didn’t wow me. When I tasted the cabbage from the pot, I looked back at the recipe and realized it never called for salt or pepper. In fact, the only spice used was a tablespoon of pickling spice early on. If I had it to do all over again, I would use the bacon fat instead of oil, and I would double the pickling spice, add salt, pepper, Tony’s, a ¼ cup of vinegar and maybe some Worcestershire sauce. By experimenting with this recipe, I have learned a nice technique and will now be able to match it to my tastes.
The second recipe was a suggestion from a friend: monkeymom’s Heavenly Oatmeal Molasses Rolls. As usual, I used 20 grams of fresh cake yeast instead of a packet of dry yeast. I proofed it as she recommended and followed the rest of her steps. Unless you go to her photo slideshow, you don’t realize that you are supposed to use a stand mixer with a dough hook, but as a bread lover, I figured that out. I weighed my ingredients, so I could follow the recipe exactly when I make it again. The title was spot on. These were heavenly. The molasses adds another dimension to them, yet you can still taste the subtle hint of yeast, and despite the complexity, they are still light and tender. I’ve revised the recipe slightly below to include measurements and the techniques I followed. Thank you monkeymom for sharing your success.
- 20 grams fresh cake yeast
- ¼ cup lukewarm water
- 1 stick butter cut into cubes
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 60 grams rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 275 grams flour
- 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter for brushing tops of rolls
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until bubbly.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a small saucepan, scald milk then pour it over the butter. When the butter has melted, add brown sugar, oats, molasses and salt. Blend thoroughly and cool to lukewarm. Add the egg and mix well.
Pour the dissolved yeast into the oat mixture and blend on low speed. Then mix in the flour. Start slow and then increase the speed to 6 and mix for 8 minutes. The dough will be sticky. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours. It can sit overnight as well.
Turn the chilled dough out onto a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 9-12 balls, depending on the size you prefer. Shape the balls into rolls. Place seam-side down in a well-buttered 9 inch round pan. Brush all over with 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with a little of the rolled oats. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place, about two hours.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until rolls are nicely browned and sound hollow when you tap their tops. Brush generously with more melted butter.