Monday, March 29, 2010

PARMESAN DINNER ROLLS

I KNEAD ME SOME LOVE AND COMFORT


Seven months have past since my brother left us and I am still stunned. As his birthday approaches, thoughts of him rush through my brain, memories of a big brother always there, a childhood and more full of adventures, highlights of my life. Lately summer visits to our grandparents’ house in Albany have been swirling around in my head, memories of badminton in the tiny backyard among Grandpa’s rose bushes, having to sneak into the upstairs neighbors’ apartment, terrified of being caught yet goaded on by my brother, to rescue a birdie that had strayed onto their balcony; forbidden trips down into the dusty, cobweb-draped basement, sunlight barely filtering through grimy windows, boxes piled high, spilling their jumble of treasures out onto the dirt floor, unlabeled bottles filled with mystery lining the stone walls, ghosts waiting around each corner, the musty, damp odor with me still; sneaking armloads of marshmallows and candy bars, contraband goods, into the tiny bedroom we shared, daring and exhilarating in our boldness, knowing that we would have to eat them in the dark, a nighttime picnic, so the parents and grandparents wouldn’t see light seeping out through the crack under the door, but then, in our excitement, tripping – him or I it is hard to remember – and our sweet treasure flying, forbidden fruit rolling under the beds and into deep, dark corners and spending the rest of the night on our hands and knees searching for our loot. Barbecues at cousin Sandra’s, eating clams for the first time followed by popsicles of chocolate and cherry under the brilliant burst of 4th of July fireworks. Ice cream trucks and real New York bagels and lox. Memories filled with laughter, lots of laughter.


And life goes on. My baby is leaving home this week, spreading his wings and happily leaving the nest, flying off to New Orleans. I know he’ll be doing great work, volunteering to help rebuild neighborhoods destroyed by Katrina, but he’s still my baby and he’ll be too far away. What will I do? #1 son is still at home but will be no consolation, sentimentality not his strong suit where mom is concerned, and he is so involved with his own life: working, working, working, excelling at school, he has also started a company on the side and already has several clients, has become, at the ripe old age of 21, a powerhouse, a bundle of energy and JP and I are thankful that it has finally arrived!


All this hot on the heels of a milestone birthday that also has me quite stunned – How in the world did I get this old? What happened to all those years? - I have been trying to deal with so many life-changing events. Sometimes I feel down, sometimes I feel the weight of the bad things in life, the unfairness, the swiftness of time passing. But sometimes we have to push all that aside, wrap it up in a box and bury it deep in the ground, and reach for something else, something different and exciting or something reassuring and motivating. Changes in life can lead to changes in goals, changes in mindset, changes tout court. And that is where I am now, what I am working on. Trying to readjust my blog to adapt to my new goals, preparing for Food Blogger Connect in June where I will be speaking about my passion: writing.


Things have changed in my life, but there are some constants, certain things that I turn to again and again, those things that keep me grounded and give me comfort and succor in times of stress like a child’s favorite security blanket. Walks with JP, Marty dancing happily alongside us, dashing in and out between our legs. Eating homemade pizza with my men in front of a movie on TV, chick flick or horror movie or, better yet, some crazy wild guffaw-inducing comedy made only to entertain. And baking. Stirring, blending, whipping, kneading, the slow, constant movement, the physical force behind each stroke, each push and fold and turn, the silky, luxurious coolness of cake batter as it flows in ribbons from my whisk, or the satin smoothness of dough, voluptuous like flesh as I press my hands into the gorgeous heft of a mound of dough, the bite of the yeast as it tickles my nostrils, the earthy goodness of salty Parmesan cheese raining down through my fingers urging me to bring some up to my lips and taste. Yes, things of the earth, of the body, these things always center me and I can focus on my senses, each texture, each scent, the sounds around me, the birds outside, the silence of the house, the occasional sigh of a dog in his dreamless sleep. Kneading dough, watching as it silently rises before my eyes, I watch and see it even though it tries to sneak quietly unnoticed. I punch off a bit of the raw dough and taste the subtle bitterness of uncooked yeast mixed with the saltiness of the cheese like earth and sea. And all, once again, is calm.

What is your security blanket, that thing you turn to to calm the stress and relieve the tension, soothe away the tears?


I am sending these utterly gorgeous, flavorful rolls with their crunchy rich topping over to Rachel of Tangerine’s Kitchen who is this month’s host of Zorra’s Bread Baking Day. This month’s theme as chosen by Rachel is Bread Buns!


I am also sending this to Yeastspotting, our favorite weekly yeasty event created and hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.


PARMESAN DINNER ROLLS
Based on a recipe found in The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

4 ½ tsps (13.8 g) instant dry yeast
½ cup (125 ml) warm water (body temperature)
1 tsp sugar
½ cup (60 g) flour
1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm milk
¼ cup/4 Tbs (60 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
1 large egg, beaten until well blended
4 to 5 cups (500 to 625 g) flour
7 oz (200 g) freshly and finely grated Parmesan cheese

Topping:
2 Tbs (30 g) butter, melted
¼ cup breadcrumbs, homemade is preferable!
¼ cup grated finely grated Parmesan (for this I used packaged which is finer)
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbs cold water (save that egg white for your macarons)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the instant dry yeast, the 1 tsp sugar and the ½ cup flour. Add the warm water and stir briefly with a fork just to make sure that all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Leave to activate, about 15 or 20 minutes until frothy and bubbly and it seems to have grown a bit.


Now add the lukewarm milk, the softened butter, the salt, sugar and beaten egg and stir just to combine. Now begin adding and stirring in the flour and the grated Parmesan until you have the cheese and 4 cups of the flour has been added and a dough is forming: all the dry ingredients are moistened and it is all starting to pull together into a ball. Add a bit more flour if it is too wet.

Scrape out onto a floured work surface and knead for 6 minutes or so, kneading in as much of the remaining cup of flour as necessary until you have a soft, smooth, elastic dough.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat in oil, and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. The dough will have risen though not doubled.


Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press down. Divide into 16 pieces for large dinner rolls, up to 32 pieces for small buns and gently shape into rounds. Lightly butter the bottom and side of a 9 x 13-inch (22 x 33 cm) baking pan and place the rolls in the pan leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) between the rolls. Cover once again with the plastic wrap and towel and let sit and rise for about 30 minutes until doubled. They will now be touching.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Gently heat and melt the butter for the topping. Blend the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan in a small bowl and stir in the melted butter until you have a crumble. Brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash then generously sprinkle the tops of the buns with the crumble, pressing the crumble on to stay.


Bake the rolls for 20 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the rolls and your oven. The rolls should be very puffed up and fluffy and the top should be a deep golden brown. If you think that the tops of the buns are browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil until they are done.


41 comments:

Ana Powell said...

Congratulations, another awesome recipe. Loved the topping
Beautiful photos x

Cathy said...

These rolls look so delicious, Jamie, I can almost smell their aroma as they bake. I think this recipe will be lovely for Easter brunch.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

It is good to cherish such memories...

those rolls look terribly tempting! The perfect item for a successful brunch!

Cheers,

Rosa

Tangled Noodle said...

So many things happening as life continues move along at a brisk (sometimes too brisk, it seems) pace. It's nice to have something to hold on and help us keep our balance. For you, it's family, baking and writing, for which I'm appreciative you share with us. For me, it's reading and taking a long walk with my dog.

However, making and eating these rolls could very well supplant those relaxing moments. Delicious! 8-)

Chef Chuck said...

Love the photos!! And the rolls as well, we can't go wrong with "Parmesan" Yumm, Thank You :)

Rachel said...

Memories to be treasured....

I did similar rolls for my entry..looking at the pictures, I can imagine how heavenly they must have tasted..

Thank you for sending this in for the event.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

These look absolutely fantastic, I love the photos showing them getting bigger.
Your boys sound like real successes, your brother must have been very proud of them.

tspegar said...

Love reading the family stories with the delicious recipes! What hearty yummy rolls!

JulieD said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. :(

These rolls look amazing and I definitely want to try them.

Fresh Local and Best said...

You are beautifully nostalgic soul. These are wonderful memories to hold tight.

Parmesan dinner rolls look terrific!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Beautiful recipe. They look so yummy. I hope you are able to find comfort while you are thinking of your brother. Sometimes food can be a comfort for me when I'm really down, but the best thing in the world when I am upset is a little cuddle with the hubbs.
*kisses* HH

Sippity Sup said...

Nobody paints nostalgia quite like you! Where do you find all those colors? GREG

Adele @ WillworkforBiltong said...

Jamie, I can only imagine how hard it is without your brother. Sending you some good thoughts across the pixels.

MaryMoh said...

Lovely family stories. Love these homemade buns.....always my favourite...mmm

Hilda said...

I'd love some of those with some really rustic authentic minestrone. I bet that would be perfect. You and your birthday and your baby leaving the nest and my baby is 1, so many things that happen so quickly. I don't even know how I got here. I like to bake sometimes to not think about anything other than the task at hand, but I bet you knew that. Or read, although having the time to read in peace is in extremely short supply at the moment. And taking photographs is also calming because I have to concentrate on it and nothing else. xoxo

Maria said...

Love the topping on these rolls!

Barbara said...

Lovely buns Jamie. How nice to read your memories. I lost a brother (car crash) when we were both in our teens. I often wonder what he would have been like as an adult. Congrats on speaking at FBC10.Wish I could be there.

Sari said...

You must be so proud of your sons! And I assume it's not easy having your baby leaving the nest. I still remember how difficult it was for my mom when I moved out!
Those parmesan rolls look divine! This is the recipe I have to try!

ABowlOfMush said...

These rolls look too delicious for words! Love the topping!

Deeba PAB said...

Reading your post throws me into so many mixed emotions... so much happening all the time, and so difficult to cope./ I love how beautifully you can express your thoughts...me, not so! Time flies, and how. I love this bread, and knead me some love too hun! It's gorgeous!!

Joy said...

Hugs to you, lovely. I didn't even know you lost your dear brother less than a year ago. I hope you find solace today.

PS Those rolls are gorgeous. I bookmarked this for near-future use. :)

Memória said...

What a sad, touching story. I am glad your is going to help people out in New Orleans, too. These rolls look fabulous. Take care. Hugs.

Lien said...

So special that you let us all in on your memories, you have a lovely way of showing us a little from your heart.

These rolls look just perfect, that topping... heaven!

The Duo Dishes said...

Life is such an interesting turn of events--ups and downs. We can find comfort in the sad times though by remembering the good ones.

Su-yin said...

These rolls look gorgeous, definitely something I'm going to try making soon. And thanks for sharing your memories, you somehow manage to express yourself in the most eloquent way.

Amanda said...

Wow. These were GREAT! I love the cheese on the top - different than regular old dinner rolls. Thanks.

Junglefrog said...

Has it really been 7 months already? Unbelievable how time flies.. and it's a good thing you have all those lovely memories to fall back on. As I have said I love your writing and I would have LOVED to hear you speak about it at the foodblogger connect (not to mention finally meeting in person!) but it is not meant to be... In the meantime your parmesan rolls look beautiful!

Jamie said...

@Junglefrog - Thanks so much, Simone. And you make me feel so positive about my writing. And sorry about FBC but maybe it just will mean that we'll have to organize something else!

Mary said...

These are lovely, Jamie. I need a more interesting recipe for savory rolls and these will work nicely. Hugs to you as #2 son heads to New Orleans. We spend a lifetime readying them to leave, forgetting how hard it will be to let go when the moment comes. Blessings...Mary

Zoomie said...

I know a little of the angst you feel at time passing, life passing. Sounds like you have given your kids wings when you really wanted to give them anchors - what better can a Mom do for her children? Brava!

Cherine said...

Original and fabulous recipe!

Cristie said...

Life keeps moving, doesn't it, no matter if we're ready to move or not. Good luck with one less placemat at your table- it's strange when your kids start leaving home. But it is why you raise them in the first place- to be responsible adults, right?

Your buns are mouth wateringly wonderful.

karen said...

Your memories and reflections really touched me. I live far away from my hometown and especially around the holidays I remember places and family that were an important part of my holidays when I was growing up.....
As for the rolls, I usually do not try recipes with yeast but they do look so delicious that I am enticed to try!!
thanks for sharing and for a great recipe!!!!

Michelle said...

Your parmesan dinner rolls looks so good. I'm pretty sure I could make a meal with just the rolls!

Sophie said...

Hello Jamie,

Your parmesan dinner rolls look so tasty! Yummm,..

Happy Easter!

Sarah M. said...

You always have such beautiful, thought provoking posts. I will try to make the food bloggers connect, sounds like so much fun and would love to meet you. Happy Holidays

asiangrrl said...

Beautiful, bittersweet post, Jamie. Time really dose move swiftly, doesn't it? The rolls look simply delicious. Hugs and love to you.

Joanne said...

I am always looking for a new dinner roll and these look especially fluffy and delicious. Love the topping!

Lisa Michelle said...

Oh, Jamie..I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of your brother so prematurely. I can only imagine how much joy he gets from watching over you while you bake and cook..salivating, knowing how phenomenal everything tastes.

OK, I need to break out of the sentimentality and tell you what sexy buns you have..err made. I am freakin' drooling, Jamie! That crunchy parmesan crust is just out of this world and the photos literally beckon and tease me. I'm making these asap!

zorra said...

Oh, Jamie, I would like to have a roll or two right now! Please send them over. ;-)

Jennifer said...

Great and very complete recipe!

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