Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are well prepared for the holiday feast, whether you are hosting the meal, bringing a dish to someone else’s home, traveling many miles to celebrate with family, or keeping it low key with a small group. I’m putting up a BONUS TRACK of the Indiana Home Cooks podcast with a cooking demo featuring my mom, Barbara Mercer. She and I teamed up last Thanksgiving and stirred together our family’s traditional Fluffy Yeast Rolls. Have a listen to find out just how easily the dough comes together–no kneading required! And the recipe is below. Happy baking, and here’s wishing you and yours abundant Thanksgiving blessings.
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See more pictures and information on the Fluffy Yeast Roll recipe here.
Fluffy Yeast Rolls
From the kitchen of Barbara Mercer, from Margaret Balder
Makes 18 rolls
Dissolve 1 pkg. active dry yeast in 3 T. lukewarm water in a small bowl or measuring cup. While that is dissolving, whisk together the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:
1/2 C. (one stick) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. salt
1 C. lukewarm water
1/4 C. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
Add yeast mixture and whisk again. To this mixture, add 3 C. all-purpose flour. Mix with electric mixer until fairly smooth. Stir in 1 C. flour by hand. (Total of 4 cups of flour) Dough will be sticky. DO NOT KNEAD. Leave dough in bowl, cover with a plate or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Three hours before baking:
Remove dough from refrigerator. It should’ve doubled overnight. Grease muffin pans for 18 rolls. Melt 1/4 C. butter.
Punch down dough and pull off pieces of dough roughly the size of large walnuts and shape into balls (2 dough balls for each roll). Dip each ball into melted butter before placing in pan. Cover rolls with tea towels and let rise until double. Bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.* After baking, while still hot and in the pans, brush tops with more melted butter. Serve warm.
*If using dark baking pans, reduce oven temp to 425 degrees.
If your idea of barbecue is some form of shredded pork swimming in a thick syrupy sauce ladled onto a bun, then I’d like to suggest you make your way to West Point, Indiana. That’s the home of Eddie Joe’s Icehouse, where barbecue means SMOKING MEAT–beef brisket, pork butt, ribs, chicken, sausage, etc. On the latest episode of the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast, I visit Eddie Joe’s and talk to owner Lee Stanish about barbecue–from his early days with his first smoker, which he built from scratch, to how he grew that hobby into a thriving business. Click the “play” button above to hear it.
Enjoy this little departure from all the Thanksgiving talk on all the food channels, websites, and podcasts. With Thanksgiving in mind however, I took a cue from Lee and made my first attempt at smoking a whole turkey breast on my Big Green Egg smoker. It turned out quite well. My second turkey smoke with be this weekend in preparation of the big day on November 22. I heard someone say “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better.” I’m always trying to get better at smoking meat, and building my relationship with the Big Green Egg. We are still in the “dating” phase, as Lee explains in the podcast.
I’ll post my progress on Instagram @indianahomecooks, so keep an eye on that. Please follow me there and on Facebook. I would love to hear from you. Happy Thanksgiving!
Note: If you have signed up to receive my blog posts in your email inbox (thanks for doing that), you may not get a version that includes the handy “play” button allowing you listen to the podcast. That is unfortunate, but not difficult to remedy. Simply click the title of the blog article you are reading in your inbox and you will go straight to the blog and have easy access to listen to the podcast. And keep in mind, you can always subscribe to the Indiana Home Cooks podcast on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. That goes for everyone–not just email subscribers! Thanks and cheers!!
After a full day working on the podcast recently, I looked up and saw it was 5:00, and I hadn’t done the first thing to get dinner on. All day I had in the back of my mind I would grill salmon, so I knew I should get a couple of filets out of the freezer to thaw. But I never even got that far. And in the meantime, the weather turned breezy and rainy, so grilling was not an attractive option.
My husband and I were hosting a gathering of about dozen people the following night and my plan was to bake homemade pizzas for that group. I had a pound of Italian sausage in the refrigerator, a portion of which I would use for pizza. So why not kill two birds with one stone and cook the entire pound, reserve some for pizza night, and use the rest in…something….for dinner this night. But what would that something be?
Since the weather outside had turned from grill-friendly to chilly-damp, I thought soup would be just the thing. The first soup of the fall! With Italian sausage as the base, I began thinking of what else I needed to make soup. Onions, celery, and carrots, of course. I had plenty of onions on hand, and just enough of the other two. There was half a carton of beef broth in the fridge that I needed to either use or freeze, so I grabbed that. Canned diced tomatoes–check. And something to bulk up the soup and make it more substantial and filling. I remembered the half pound of dry lentils in the cupboard and thought that would do the trick and not take too long to cook.
The idea is, this is soup, and soup can be a template for whatever meat, vegetables, beans/pasta/noodles, broth, and seasonings you like. If you don’t have Italian sausage on hand, but there’s a pound of ground beef in your freezer, use that, and bump up the seasonings. The great thing about Italian sausage it is highly seasoned and makes for a nice shortcut in soup. Ground beef or chicken as a base will require more imagination on seasonings, but go with what you like. Experiment and taste as you go. You can always add more herbs and seasonings but you can’t take them out!
Italian Sausage & Lentil Soup
Makes 6 servings
1/2 pound Italian sausage (sweet or hot)*
2 cups diced vegetables (equal parts onion, celery, and carrots)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 pound dry lentils OR 2 cans of beans—kidney, cannellini, red, or black (If using canned beans, rinse and drain before adding to soup)
Broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
1 tsp dried sage
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
If sausage is in links, slice through the casings and remove sausage to crumble and brown (medium to med-low heat) in a large soup pot. Once browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave fat rendered from sausage in the pot and return to med-low heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots, stir and let them begin cooking. After about a minute, put the lid on the pot and allow vegetables to sweat about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally, scraping up any bits of meat from the bottom of the pan. The sweating process will help loosen the stuck-on bits. You can also add a bit of the broth at this point if you need more liquid to do the job.
After vegetables have cooked about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes, lentils or canned beans, and the cooked sausage. Pour in enough broth to cover all ingredients by an inch or so. If you need to add water to bring up the level of liquid, that’s fine. Add the sage, stir gently, cover and cook on med-low until soup comes up to a simmer. Then reduce heat to low, TASTE, and add salt and pepper as desired. Allow to simmer about an hour. The lentils should cook through and even begin to break down a bit. Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread or corn bread.
*NOTE: Most Italian sausage comes in links. If you want larger chunks of sausage in the soup, cook the links, intact, and then slice them before returning to pot. And if you prefer a meatier soup, then by all means, use up to 1 pound of sausage.
My husband and I recently attended a concert performed by the Brubeck Brothers Jazz Quartet. It was swingin’ and be-bopin’ for sure. And it happened to be during the week I was putting together the newest podcast episode with my friend and guest Stephanie Hainje. Listening back to the interview, conducted over wine, caprese salad, and a fresh loaf of my sourdough bread, I realized that our discussion had the free-wheeling feel of a improvisational jazz jam session.
Well…that might be overstating it a tad….But we had a blast sharing our summer cooking experiences, tips, and ideas. It was our farewell to summer, and hello to fall. Enjoy the show (just hit the play button above) and here’s one of the recipes Stephanie is cooking this fall–Roasted Red Pepper Soup. It comes from houseofyumm.com.
You can see more of what Stephanie is cooking on her Instagram page @destinysdishes.
And speaking of fall soups, and improvisation, I performed a kitchen improv tonight for dinner. Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup. I’ll have the details soon, and a BONUS TRACK of the podcast to talk you through the recipe. Stay tuned!
Congratulations to David Thieme and Thieme & Wagner Bar, now brewing full-time their own family beer recipes! It’s a resurrection, of sorts, of the pre-Prohibition Thieme & Wagner Brewing Co. Great article in the Lafayette Journal & Courier on Sunday.
David Thieme was the guest on my second Indiana Home Cooks podcast episode last year. If you never heard it, or want to listen again, click the play button above. That episode, and all the others, are available for listening on demand at iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Stitcher (links at the top of the page), or wherever you get your podcasts. Please subscribe, and if you like what you hear, leave a review. It’s wonderful to hear from listeners. If you have a topic you would like to hear about, leave me comment right here on the blog, or in the podcast review section where you listen. Of course you can always comment on Facebook and Instagram, where you will find me @indianahomecooks. Thanks!
Here is a small sample of the memorabilia you’ll find on the walls of Thieme & Wagner Bar, 652 Main St., Lafayette, IN…
My daughter Christine and I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas, in May to visit friends and our old stomping grounds. (Read more about it in my previous post here.) On the new podcast episode, we are in the Manhattan kitchen of Karin Matta cooking up an indulgent cauliflower crust pizza.
Also in the new episode we hear more from Sharon Davis of the Home Baking Association. During our chat she mentions the King Arthur Flower website as a superb resource for home bakers. I agree. I have done a lot of sourdough baking recently and have used many tips and recipes from KAF.
See pictures of some of my sourdough baking and other dishes @indianahomecooks on Instagram.
Scroll down for pictures from our Kansas excursion
Karin’s Cauliflower Crust Pizza
1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp garlic salt
Shredded cheese (for topping)
Your choice of additional toppings (olives, meat, grilled onions, mushrooms, etc) – note that toppings need to be precooked (they will be reheated when you complete the broiling process below).
To “rice” the Cauliflower:
Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks.Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain.Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it.(If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese greater).Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (some microwaves are more powerful than others, so you may need to reduce this cooking time).There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself. – I suggest 4 minutes if only doing 1 cup.I generally shred the entire cauliflower and make a larger pizza (i.e. doubling all ingredients) or multiple pizzas crusts at one time and freeze extra pizza crusts for future use.
One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower.The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.We also use riced cauliflower as “rice” by heating it with butter and adding ground meat (or chicken) and additional vegetables for a “stir fry” type meal.
To Make the Pizza Crust:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.I use pizza stones and do not add any cooking spray or oils. Do NOT put the crust on tin foil as it is very difficult to separate it.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella.Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt; stir.Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9” round.Optional:Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes (start with less time).
Remove from oven.To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese.Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes).
Enjoy! (Karin’s notes in italics. Adapted from Your Lighter Side.)
One summer circle came to a close when Karin and Tori visited West Lafayette at the end of June for the wedding of our daughter Christine and Logan Hack. Christine, born and raised in Kansas, is happy to express her Sunflower State heritage.
Part of our busy summer included a road trip with my daughter Christine to Manhattan, Kansas, a place near and dear to our hearts. Our family started out in Manhattan, where my husband Jim and I met and where we raised our family until 2009, when we moved back to my home state of Indiana.
Manhattan (pop. 53,000) is in northeast Kansas, about 2 hours west of Kansas City. During our years there we made many trips across Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois on I-70. I had not been back to the Sunflower State since we moved nine years ago. Christine had flown back the summer she turned 16, but this was our first road trip back to “The Little Apple.”
The city has grown substantially since we left, but we were delighted to find Manhattan retains its friendly, welcoming, down-to-earth vibe, plus some fun places for food, drink, and shopping. It’s also the home of Kansas State University, and our family maintains a special fondness for the K-State Wildcats. Manhattan is worth a stop for anyone traveling across the Sunflower State.
One friend I caught up with in Manhattan is Sharon Davis. She is my guest on the latest Indiana Home Cooks podcast. (Listen here, or click the “play” button above.) Sharon is program director for the Home Baking Association, an organization that promotes and helps build skills in home baking for all ages. She and I go back to the days when our kids were students in the Manhattan Catholic Schools, and before that when I was still a radio professional, covering Kansas agriculture and Sharon was doing educational programming with HBA and the wheat and soybean groups in the state.
I’m so happy I could get together with Sharon. I should say, I’m happy her schedule permitted it! She is one busy lady, so I’m fortunate that during my couple of days in Manhattan she was able to work me into her schedule. We’ll hear more from Sharon in the next episode of Indiana Home Cooks. She will share some recipe ideas and thoughts on favorite things to bake. Watch for that soon. In the meantime, enjoy this episode with Sharon and me.