We're just back from our Thanksgiving dinner, down the road with friends. Our contribution was twofold. First, we brought asparagus to roast in the oven. As you can see, you just cut off the ends, and (if the spears are big and fat) use your veggie peeler to pare off a little of the hard skin on the end.
These were bagged for transport, but at home you'd lay them out on a cookie sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast at 425F for 10-15 minutes (If they're skinny, or you like asparagus crispier, leave them in for less time. If you like your asparagus soft, or if the spears are thick, leave them in longer.) It's easy and the result is very tasty.
Boiling or steaming asparagus makes no sense to me - the spears are all wet so anything you add (butter, sauce, salt) just slips off. They end up tasting like bare vegetable. This way, the olive oil on the spears helps the salt and pepper stick, so they taste yummy. You can add other things if you like, just make sure you use spices that won't burn. So no garlic or green herbs. You could add herbs after the tray comes out, and toss them with the spears before serving. As you can see in the picture, I line my tray with a silpat (silicone patty), which ensures no sticking.
Our other contribution was yeast rolls. I have never before made yeast rolls, and I rarely cook with yeast. Maybe that's why I found these a bit of a challenge.
Or maybe (just maybe) it was the fact that the recipe called for 3 cups of flour but the eventual product required more than 4. When you look into your mixer and instead of bread dough you see something that looks like cake batter - that's bad.
But I pulled it out in the end. These rolls proved why playing with yeast is not for the faint of heart, though. I started the mixture at 7:30am. The final product emerged from the oven at 1pm. Seriously.
Charles thought they were tasty, though. I've included the (corrected) recipe below, but it's a basic roll recipe.
I got the recipe (in its original form, and minus the snarky additions) here.
1. Put 4 cups of flour in your mixing bowl, add one teaspoon of salt. Be sure to use iodized salt, because kosher salt is less salty and will throw off the taste. Whisk it a bit to mix.
2. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk to 180F (I used a candy thermometer, but 180 is basically just beginning to boil - you're scalding the milk), then add 4 tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of sugar. Stir it up, then take it off the heat and let it cool to 115F (pretty warm. This took 5 minutes, maybe). Then add a packet of yeast, and set it aside for 10 minutes.
3. Add 3 more tablespoons of sugar to the yeast mix, stir, and then add the glop to the flour in your bowl. Add two large eggs.
4. Put the dough hook on your mixer, or else get ready for a workout and use your wooden spoon. Mix on medium (or stir vigorously while your arm muscles protest) for 5 or 10 minutes until you have a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Don't be precious about it - it doesn't *all* pull away. Some sticks.
5. Get out a big bowl. Pour in some olive oil, plop in your dough ball, roll it around to coat it in oil, and drape a towel over the top. Set a timer for 2 hours and walk away. Make yourself a martini. Yes, at 8am.
[If your kitchen is cold, you can put the bowl in your oven (turned off!) for the rising. The light in your oven will generate enough heat to keep things warm-ish]
6. When the timer goes off, come back, get out a cookie tray or a non-stick muffin tin. If your muffin tin is covered in rust chips, don't use it. Anyway, spray with PAM, wipe with oil, do something to make it greasy.
7. Divide your dough into 12 pieces. Do not divide it, miscount, and think 8 pieces are actually 12 pieces. That will be awkward later. Once divided, roll the dough around and make balls out of it. Put them on the greasy cookie sheet or in the greasy muffin tin.
8. Cover, let them sit for half an hour. Uncover. Let them sit another hour and a half.
9. Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes. I brushed them with melted butter after 8 minutes and put them back in, to enhance the browning of the tops.