Yeast Doughs: Cherry Almond Bread

There is a bakery in the San Diego area that sells the tastiest breakfast breads ever! They're filled with yummy goodness like lots of cinnamon sugar doused with butter, nuts and fruits.. and the dressing on top just drips with a sticky rich sugary glaze that is definitely finger licking good. But getting to San Diego on a weekly basis is pretty much out of the question for me with a busy family and schedule to keep so I knew I had to do the next best thing and replicate these breads in my own kitchen.

Success!! It really just came down to finding the right sweet yeast dough recipe and making the recipe my own from then on out with fillings, extracts and the jar of "love spice" that my husband brought back from Iowa a few years back on a business trip. :) I don't glaze them as much as the bakery does.. though my kids wish I would, but I make extra sugar glaze and have it in a separate dipping bowl for their desired taste.

Here I have pictured a cherry almond filled bread that was made by taking large chunks of the sweet dough and layering them with cinnamon sugar, almonds and cherry filling from a can. I really like buying the canned fruit filling because it's quick and there are some pretty good quality products out there.. plus they are available year round. But you could definitely make your own thickened fruit filling.. I have done a homemade apple filling that was very delicious, it just took longer.

For the sugar glaze I have my own little secret.. I add a few tablespoons of cream cheese to cut back on the sweetness but yet give it the yummy rich flavor we can't get enough of. If you need exact ingredient quantities for the cinnamon sugar and the glaze I'd be happy to help you with that.. just email me and I'll get it out to you as soon as possible.

Dough for Sweet Rolls and Breads

Dough Ingredients
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Dough Preparation
Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 21/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375˙.
Use either a loaf pan, or a ring pan. Grease lightly. Tear large chunks of dough and start layering them in the pan interchanging with cinnamon sugar, nuts of your choice and fruit filling. After pan is filled 3/4 of the way up, let rise covered in a draft free location for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes depending on your ovens heat. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't over brown. Take out and let rest. When it is cool enough to work with but still warm, drizzle your sugar glaze over the top.
Enjoy for breakfast or brunch!
Buon Appetitio..

Crepes & A Blackberry Wine Syrup

We love crepes in our home and make them often. I utilize crepes for many a preparation especially during the holiday season. From fruit filled crepes, luxurious lobster cream filled crepes to my families favorite Christmas tradition of Manicotti crepes, having this simple recipe on hand makes life so easy and quick when looking for a gourmet meal to impress our guests.

Here I have them paired with a simple and fresh strawberry and cream filling with the addition of a Blackberry Syrup. Below you will find my recipe for the syrup.. although I used Blackberry Wine here, you can make a syrup with any wine or liquid you prefer. Flavored wines make wonderful accents to savory dishes as well as desserts. Enjoy cooking with a variety of flavors, it makes your recipes unique to you!

Crepe Recipe

6 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan

Measure all ingredients into a blender jar; blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Blend for 15 seconds more. Cover and let sit for 1 hour to allow flour to absorb more of the liquids.

Blackberry Syrup

1 -1/2 cup Blackberry Wine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the wine, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low; cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid becomes syrupy and has reduced by about two-thirds.

Buon Appetito!

Thanksgiving Side Dishes:
Sage Roasted Red Potatoes
& Asparagus with Hollandasie

Sage Roasted Red Potatoes

2 pounds small red potatoes -- halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic -- unpeeled, root end removed

Preheat oven to 400°
In a bowl, toss potatoes with oil, sage, salt and pepper. Place cut-side down in roasting pan and cover pan with foil.

Roast covered for 30 minutes, toss and add garlic cloves. Return to oven and roast uncovered for 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and browned and garlic has softened. Squeeze garlic from skin before serving.

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Asparagus Preparation
Wash and trim your asparagus. Either by cutting them or you can use a vegetable peeler on the bottom inch to an inch and a half of the asparagus chute depending on the length of the asparagus. This takes off the fibrous strands that are not very palatable in my opinion.

In a saucepan blanch the asparagus in lightly salted boiling water for about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; do not overcook. Remove from heat and refresh under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

From Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

½ cup butter
3 beaten egg yolks
1 Tbp. water
1 Tbp. fresh squeezed lemon
1/8 tsp. salt
Dash cayenne pepper

1. Cut the butter into thirds and bring it to room temperature.

2. In the top of a double boiler, combine egg yolks, water, lemon juice, dash of cayenne pepper and salt. Add a piece of the butter. Place over boiling water (upper pan should not touch water). Cook, stirring rapidly with a whisk, until butter melts and sauce begins to thicken. Add the remaining butter, a piece at a time, stirring constantly until melted. Continue to cook and stir about 2 minutes more or until sauce thickens. Immediately remove from heat. If sauce is too thick or curdles, immediately whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons hot water. Serve with poached eggs. Makes 3/4 cup sauce (six, 2 tablespoon servings).

Arugula, Fig and Gorgonzola Pizza

Simple meals for lunch and dinner.. what can be more simple and satisfying than a pizza the way you like it! This simple recipe just entails layering sliced arugula greens on the dough, cover with a healthy portion of crumbled Gorgonzola and toss some fresh sliced figs in some olive oil and a lusciously thick balsamic vinegar and then spread them over the cheese. Bake in a pre-heated 400˙oven for 30 minutes until pizza dough has risen and golden on top and well browned on the bottom. Enjoy simple cooking while getting ready for the holidays... Buon Appetito!! :)

Pizza dough
6 ½ cups of all purpose flour
2 pkgs. Yeast or 5 tsp. active dry yeast from a jar
2 cups very warm water
1/8 cup white wine at room temperature
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Put warm water (80 to 110∞F) into a bowl. Add salt and yeast, mix and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Gradually add flour and olive oil and start mixing with a wooden spoon.
Place dough on floured surface and start kneading the dough with your hands.
Knead the dough until you have a smooth elastic ball. If your dough feels more like batter, it is too wet and you need to add flour bit by bit.

Coat the dough with olive oil, place it in a large bowl and cover it with kitchen wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for about an hour at room temperature, then push it down again so it deflates. Let it sit for about another hour. If you want to use it the next day, put it in a refrigerator.

Chicken, Fontina and Walnuts
Encased in Puff Pastry with a
Basil Cream Sauce

Foodbuzz is hosting a weekly collection of 9 convenient recipes your family will love called "Family Bites". From lunch to dinner, and healthy snacks in between, your family will find these recipes wonderful to have on hand for quick and easy preparations to satisfy your family. This week Foodbuzz is Featuring Dalla Mia Cucina. What was so fun about this challenge was the opportunity to use the Paul Newman's products to create some of these recipes like this Chicken recipe encased in Puff Pastry. The cream sauce base was made by starting with Newman's Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce. I was so pleased with the freshness and flavor of this product and I think you will be too.

Chicken, Fontina and Walnuts Encased in Puff Pastry
with a Basil Cream Sauce

These chicken puffs make a wonderful Luncheon entrée that will sure to please your guests!

Chicken, Fontina cheese, walnuts, puff pastry and Newman's Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 – 15 minutes
Servings: 5--7

2 Cups Chicken cooked and shredded
1 Sheet Puff Pastry (frozen is fine)
15 ~ 1/4 inch slices Fontina Cheese
3/4 Cups Chopped Walnuts
2 Cups Basil Cream Sauce (see below)
Egg Wash ~ 1 Egg yolk mixed with 3 Tbs. Milk

Cream Sauce
Newman's Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce
1/2 Cup Fresh Basil chiffonade

Cream Sauce Preparation
Preheat your oven to 400°
Heat in a pot the Newman's Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce.
Add the sliced basil chiffonade. Set sauce aside.

1. Dust your work surface with a light sprinkling of flour. Lay your Pastry dough on a work surface and lightly roll it out. You should be able to get 15 squares from your pastry by cutting them into 3 by 5 inch squares.
2. Place a spoon full of chicken on each square topped with some sauce, a piece of fontina cheese and a couple of walnuts. Moisten the edges with some of the egg wash.
3. Fold the dough up over the ingredients. Make sure your last edge has enough egg wash on it for a good seal.
4. Egg wash the tops of the puffs and place in 400° pre heated oven, bake for 12 - 15 minutes.
5. Pour some of the extra sauce in serving bowls.
Place 2 -3 chicken puff in each bowl and serve immediately. Enjoy!!

To see some more of my featured recipes, check out Foodbuzz' "Family Bites" link here.

Buon Appetito!