Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Buttermilk Fantails and a Product Review

I was so excited to see that this month's Gourmet Magazine had a spotlight on rolls. There is something so nice about a fresh baked single serving loaf of bread to go with your family meal.

In their article "Roll With It", they feature Crusty Cornstalk Rolls, Buttermilk Fantails, Parmesan Pull-Aparts, Rye Walnut Rolls, Cracked Wheat Topknots and Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs. I chose to make the fantails first because, well, look at them - they're so darned cute!

They remind me of Bob Blumer's hair-do. Hi Bob!

They are soft and buttery and pull apart to eat - they paired nicely with a soup and salad dinner.

Buttermilk Fantails - Gourmet Magazine, Feb 2009
Makes 1 dozen rolls
Active time: 45 min
Start to finish: 5 hr (includes rising)

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
1 tablespoon mild honey or sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
a muffin pan with 12 (1/3- to 1/2-cup) muffin cups

Butter muffin cups with 1 Tbsp melted butter.
Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.)
Mix flour, salt, buttermilk, and 6 Tbsp melted butter into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.
Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Roll out half of dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick; keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Brush dough with 1/2 Tbsp butter and cut into 6 equal strips. Stack strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup. Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Separate outer layers of each roll to fan outward. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills cups, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Bake rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush tops with remaining 2 Tbsp butter, then transfer rolls to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.
Cooks’ note: Rolls are best the day they’re made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.
What leftovers? You will eat all of them.
These fantails have been Yeastspotted!

A Canadian Product Review
I was recently given the opportunity to try some of Loblaws', our national grocer's, no name family foods. In keeping with the current economical trends (read: down) they are promoting their thriftier lines of foods.
"no name products, which are available at Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaw Great Food, Zerhs, Zehrs Great Food, Loblaw Superstore, Your Independent Grocer, nofrills, Fortinos and valu-mart, save shoppers 20% when compared to national brands. no name® now offers over 2600 products like meat lasagna, blueberry waffles and chicken wings."
For this product trial, I brought in an expert - my fifteen year old son. These are all his favourite kinds of food and, while I tend to make most food from scratch, he does eat a fair amount of frozen foods at his father's home.
We had one fun weekend sampling the no name foods, with the following results:

• no name® Original Roast Ground Coffee - to begin with, hubby and I are coffee snobs. We generally have espresso in the morning and don't even own a drip coffee maker. We tried this in the French press and thought it was fine for what it was. Not something that we would buy - but easily better than Maxwell House or Nabob or any of the other supermarket offerings.
• no name® String Cheese pack of 8 - My son thought the flavour was good - but that they didn't "string" as well as the others.
• no name® Frozen Meat Lasagna - Terrible, no vegetables and very little cheese. It smelled like those meat and noodle concoctions in a
• no name® Blueberry Waffles - He really liked these, thought that they were as good or better than Eggos. The blueberries were not very visible, but the taste was there.
• no name® Applesauce - Just like any other applesauce, good flavour, I was happy that there were no added sugars.
• no name® Boxed Mild Chicken Wings - The clear winner - we had these the last night of our tasting weekend and I brought out a bottle of Frank's Red Hot, just in case they were less than tasty. No need for the Frank's, they were very tasty with a good sauce. We were pleasantly surprised.

This was a good experience for the family - and when I talked to the kids about the comparative pricing between the no name brands and the regular shelf fare, they thought that the no name was the better choice. Except for the lasagna of course. That definitely needs work.