Pan Buns for Fifty!

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I awoke last night to the sound of rain pummeling the roof. It was a welcome sound as we south shore Nova Scotians in Shelburne County have been experiencing drought conditions recently. It’s still raining, mid-morning as I write. Some folks in town have been without water since the end of June. Glenn and I are lucky to still have water in our well, but it is getting low.

We’ve been invited out for a Thanksgiving potluck dinner this evening and my plans to make a large Grilled Veggie Salad have been foiled by current weather conditions.  It’s most definitely not a day for firing up the BBQ. So I’ve been thumbing through my ragged old notebook (filled with recipes and clippings collected over time) trying to decide what to make for Georg and Harry’s gathering.

I’ve finally decided on a recipe given to me at least 25 years ago by a dear friend from my Yukon days, Heather Alton. Perhaps this recipe, Buns for Fifty, was passed along from grandmother, to mom, to daughter … or; maybe it originally came out of an old, self-published church cookbook. It kind of has that feel to it.

Ingredients

  • 6 C lukewarm water
  • 1 T sugar
  • 4 T baking yeast
  • ½ C white sugar
  • 1 C softened butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 C unbleached white flour
  • 4 – 6 additional cups of unbleached white flour

Preparation

  1. Dissolve 1 T of sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside for a few minutes until the yeast gets soft and bubbly.
  2. Combine the soft butter and ½ C of white sugar and beat, using a hand mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time while continuing to beat using the mixer on a low setting. Pour in the yeast/water mixture and add 6 cups of flour, one cup at a time, while continuing to mix.
  3. Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time mixing by hand until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface sprinkled with flour and knead for 15 – 20 minutes, adding flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Oil a large bread bowl and place the dough inside the bowl, rolling it around until it is lightly coated with the oil. Cover with a clean tea towel and place in a warm draft-free place to rise, until double in bulk (about 1 ½ hrs). I place my bread bowl in the oven with the internal oven light turned on. The heat from the light bulb makes the oven a perfect warm and draft-free spot for rising bread dough.
  4. Punch down the dough and divide it into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a rope about 3 inches thick. Cut each rope into 10 equal sized chunks and form these chunks of dough into round, bun shaped balls. Line cookie pans or round cake pans with parchment paper and place dough balls on the pans so they are close but not touching. Brush the tops of the buns with melted butter and let rise for 25 minutes.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350 F and bake the buns on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown on top.

Yield: 60 dinner sized pan buns

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Grilled Vegetable Salad for Thanksgiving

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If your oven space is at a premium while preparing your thanksgiving feast, why not employ your BBQ? This recipe for grilled veggie salad can be made quickly and bonus … you can prepare it in advance.  In fact the whole thing tastes better when it has had the opportunity to marinate in the fridge for half a day. So, throw the veggies on the BBQ right after you get the turkey in the oven or even before!

I am providing a list of ingredients for the salad I made but really; just use what you have on hand. The amounts you use will depend on how many people are joining you for the giving of thanks.

The recipe that follows will make a nice side-dish for six.

Ingredients

ingredients for the salad …

  • 1 ear of corn, shucked
  • 1 medium sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 purple onion, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 red pepper, seeded & cut into thirds
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded & cut into thirds
  • 12 spears of asparagus, woody part of stems removed
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, cut in half, washed and patted dry
  • 1/3 C olive oil

ingredients for the vinaigrette …

  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pushed through a press
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ C oil

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Preparation

  1. Pre-heat your BBQ to medium-high for about 15 minutes with the lid down while you prep your vegetables.
  2. Place all the veggies, except the romaine lettuce in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil (hold 1 T of the oil in reserve) over-top. Gently toss the vegetables so they all get evenly coated with the oil.
  3. Lift the lid of the BBQ and spread the veggies around on the lower grill rack. Using long-handled tongs, flip them over and move them around so all sides of each vegetable gets cooked evenly. Some vegetables will grill faster than others so keep a close eye on them all, removing each from the heat when done.
  4. Brush the romaine halves with the reserved oil and place, flat side down on the lower rack of the BBQ. Grill for a few minutes until nicely charred. Remove and set aside to cool with the other vegetables.
  5. When cool enough to handle slice the grilled corn kernels from the cob and place them in a bowl large enough to handle all of the salad ingredients. Cut the remaining veggies into chunks, except the romaine, and transfer to the same bowl.
  6. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the Dijon mustard, minced garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Trickle the oil into these ingredients in a slow, steady stream while continuing to vigorously whisk it altogether. This action works to emulsify the oil into the rest of the ingredients, creating perfectly blended vinaigrette.
  7. Use half of the vinaigrette on this salad, reserving the rest for another day.
  8. Cover and refigerate until feasting time.
  9. Cut the charred romaine into chunks and toss into the salad right before serving.

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