A side of holiday cheer and the best bread ever | #kitchentherapy

I may have a bit of an obsession with YouTube videos. No, I don’t chase after most of the stuff that you’ll find on the trending page. In fact, there are really only two types of videos you’ll catch me watching when my mind needs a little vacation: cool dance moves and intriguing foods. It was Emmy, the perky “loves to try all sorts of foods” host who introduced me to my newest happy bread moment.

She also introduced me to itadakimasu, a Japanese word that means “I humbly receive.” Some folks use it like “bon appetit!” or “buen provecho!” Others liken it to a blessing said over a meal. The pronunciation is ee-tah-dah-kee-mahs, said very quickly and with a lot of joy.

Japanese milk bread is worthy of so much itadakimasu. 

It’s soft and tender and buttery, with a flavor a bit like Hawaiian rolls.  Bless.

It was part of the happiness of our special Easter lunch, served with other amazing sides and a ham our neighbors baked and brought with them (I need to get the recipe, because Stacy knows how to cook a great ham). If you visit CasaRock, I will make Japanese milk bread for you, and we will devour it and not be ashamed.

I’ll also make these scalloped Hasselback potatoes, because nothing says love like potatoes and cheese and cream and herbs. And such. Again, bless.

I’d love to know what sides you prepare when friends come over for a special meal, or what bread recipes you enjoy making. Comment or send a message my way. Yes, I will humbly receive.

Itadakimasu, friends. This is #kitchentherapy.

Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes

Serves 8 to 10

  • 6 oz. finely shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz. finely shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. packed fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 4 lb. russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and place on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the cheeses, cream, garlic, and rosemary. Set aside.

Slice potatoes in thin, even slices (around ¼” in width), and place in the bowl with the cream mixture. Toss gently until every slice is well-coated. Arrange the slices in the baking dish, sides facing up, until the entire dish is tightly packed. Pour any remaining cream mixture over the potatoes.

Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for one hour. Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown. Let stand at least 15 minutes before enjoying!


Grilled Sunshine Salad

Serves 8

  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed (you may use sweet potato if you’d like)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • ¼ t. garlic salt
  • 1 peach, peeled and sliced (or in a pinch, use a bag of frozen sliced peaches)
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • ¼ t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 T. butter
  • 4 cups salad greens (I like a mixture of spinach and romaine)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ pistachios, shelled and sliced a bit
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

(for the dressing)

  • ¾ c. olive oil
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 1 T. honey

In a small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F. On a baking sheet, place squash that has been tossed with a little olive oil and garlic salt. Roast until tender with caramelization on the edges of the cubes. Remove from the baking sheet and let cool.

On a stovetop grill pan, lay peach slices flat, brush with a little butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook until golden brown and tender. If you don’t have a stovetop grill, you may roast the peaches or sauté them.

Put the lovely salad today by layering all the ingredients. Drizzle with the dressing, and savor the goodness!


Maple Herb Roasted Rainbows

Serves six

  • 1 to 2 pounds of rainbow carrots (you may use regular lovely orange ones too)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter
  • ¼ cup PURE maple syrup
  • 1 T. orange juice
  • 2 t. freshly chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Peel and cut carrots in half, lengthwise. You may also use baby carrots. Toss the carrots with the olive oil and a little salt and pepper, place in a shallow baking dish, and roast until carrots are tender (around 30 minutes). While carrots are roasting, melt butter in a saucepan, add maple syrup and rosemary, and let simmer on low heat until flavors are blended. When carrots are done, drizzle the glaze over the carrots and toss to coat them. Enjoy!


Grown-Up Ambrosia

Serves 6

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz. sour cream
  • 1 t. vanilla (you know I’m going to say Mexican vanilla, because…)
  • 3 cups mandarin orange segments
  • 3 cups pineapple, cored and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup toffee-glazed pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut, plus more for decoration

(Note: You can add 2 T. sugar to the cream cheese mixture if you’d like, though there is enough sugar in the fruit to more than compensate).

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla in a bowl until creamy. Add fruit, 1 cup coconut, and 1/2 cup pecans, and toss gently until well-covered. Place in a serving bowl and top with the remaining pecans and coconut. Chill for at least two hours and serve!


Japanese Milk Bread! (Hokkaido)

(makes one amazing loaf, recipe inspired by King Arthur and Emmy)

TANGZHONG

  1. 3 tablespoons water
  2. 3 tablespoons whole milk
  3. 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  4. 1/2 cup whole milk
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

DOUGH

  • 2-1/2 cups organic unbleached bread flour
  • 2 T. nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 T.  instant yeast (1 packet)

First, make the tangzhong. Combine the first three ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Place the saucepan over low heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it’s thick (about 3 to 5 minutes). You’ll know it’s ready when the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool slightly (about 5 minutes).

Carefully and slowly whisk in the remaining milk, then add the butter and blend. In a small bowl, whisk egg until fluffy, and slowly add to the tangzhong, whisking thoroughly. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Pour in the tangzhong, mix and then knead until a smooth, elastic dough forms. Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest and rise in a lightly greased bowl for 90 minutes. It may not double in size, but it will definitely rise well. Gently the dough from the bowl, divide it into four equal pieces, and shape each piece into a ball. Take each ball and press gently into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle into itself (like you’re folding a letter), rotate the dough ¼, and roll out slightly into a larger rectangle. Roll that rectangle up like a swiss roll, and place it seam side down into a greased loaf pan. Repeat with the other three balls of dough. When you’re done, you should have a lovely loaf pan filled with four bread rolls.

Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it’s peeking out over the top of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the rolls with milk or egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water), and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Remove the bread from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and eating with reckless abandon.

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About Ronne Rock

YOU ARE GOD'S HAND-CRAFTED DESIGN. AND I WANT TO CELEBRATE YOU.

We're in this together, and I am for you. I secure road signs with a hammer of hope, and clear the debris so they can be seen. I am your encourager. I walk and keep walking. Cheer and keep cheering. I invest, dive deep, and cherish most the stories being written in the lives of women who believe restoration is a reality on earth as it is in heaven. God holds the pen in those stories, “That one - I hold her. And that one - she is My delight. And that one - never snatched away.”  I am a mouthpiece of celebration for women. Redemption is our song. You can find even more encouragement in  "For You, Love" the prayer journals that invite you to respond, and in Everbloom, a collection of stories from the Redbud Writers Guild. I'm currently writing One Woman Can Change the World, set to publish late spring 2020 (Revell). I'm honored to be represented by Credo Communications.

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