Saturday, February 15, 2014

Birthday Dinner

Yesterday was Joey's birthday! Because his birthday happens to fall on the same day as a holiday endorsed by Hallmark, it has been a sad day for him in the past. Imagine having a girlfriend who wants to "move your birthday to a different day," just so she can get flowers and chocolate on a day that's supposed to be your special day, and then your birthday is just forgotten. Once he told me about all of this, I vowed to make February 14th his birthday only, with no focus AT ALL on cupid or sappy pink and red things. He usually finds a way to surprise me earlier in the week - I think our first year together, he managed to get me two bouquets of flowers, on his actual birthday. I may have yelled at him, so he bought me flowers the day before, last year. There may have been more yelling, so this year he got me flowers a full week before...with the excuse that they were really for turning in my paper to my committee.

Anyway, this is all my way of saying that I try my best to make the entire day (or weekend) about Joey, since he deserves it. This year he gave me a bunch of things that he wanted for his birthday dinner, and I tried my best to accomplish them.

The first was a steak. He started out by sending me this link for making the perfect steak, hint hint. He also wanted roasted garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and cauliflower, a mushroom and blue cheese sauce for the steak, dinner rolls, and some kind of dessert. At first he thought he wanted Smitten Kitchen's peanut butter and chocolate cake (one is his roommates made it for him last year and it was insane), but changed his mind to bread pudding, any kind, as long as it had chocolate. (That recipe is coming soon)

I followed the Buzzfeed article 100%, and he was really happy with the steak! He handled the mashed potatoes - we cut two large-ish russet potatoes into bite-sized pieces, boiled them until they were tender, and then mashed with some butter, almond milk, a touch of half and half, the roasted garlic, and salt and pepper of course. He also handled the green beans and cauliflower - he sauteed some spices in butter and oil, then added the veggies with soy sauce and water, and covered the pan to let them cook until tender.

While he was doing that, I also pulled together the mushroom sauce and the rolls. I just made up the sauce - I sliced ~1 lb of white and cremini mushrooms, and cooked in 1 tbsp of butter, with some salt and pepper. Once they started to get caramelized, I added another tbsp of butter, a sprinkle of flour, and ~1/3 cup of almond milk. I cooked until it thickened up, and then added ~1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese. I was afraid that I had added too much flour and that it was gluey, and while it did sort of look gluey, it did not taste it! It was delicious - Joey put it on top of his steak, and I put it on top of the mashed potatoes.

For the rolls, I actually have a real recipe for you to follow. They were delicious - really flavorful from the herbs, and super soft.

Herb Dinner Rolls
Adapted from Food Gal

1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup cool water
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp table salt
1 tbsp (each) of green onions (the top parts), rosemary, parsley and thyme
3 tbsp butter, melted and divided
1 egg
1 cup milk (use whatever milk you have on hand - I've used both unsweetened vanilla almond milk and unsweetened coconut almond milk)
3 1/4 cups bread flour

Sprinkle the yeast over the water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand 5 minutes. Using the dough hook attachment, mix together the sugar, salt, herbs, 2 tbsp melted butter, egg, and almond milk. Add to the yeast, stir to combine. Add flour gradually, with the mixer on low. Once the flour is mostly absorbed, turn up speed to medium, and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. If it sticks to the bottom, add more flour, 1 tbsp at a time.

Lightly spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Take out the dough and shape it into a ball, put it in the bowl and turn to coat with spray. Cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size. Punch down and divide into 12 pieces (mine were each 2.75 oz). Brush 1/2 tbsp of the melted butter on the sides and bottom of a 9x13 pan. Shape each of the pieces into a ball that is slightly flattened, and space out evenly in the pan. Brush with the remaining 1/2 tbsp of butter. Cover with a tea towel, and let rise 30-40 minutes in a warm place, until they have almost completely filled the pan. Toward the end of the rise, turn the oven to 350 F. If you are using your oven to let the rolls rise, wait until you've taken them out before you turn the oven on!

Bake 25-30 minutes, until deep golden brown and internal temperature registers at 190-200 F. Brush with more melted butter (if desired), and enjoy while warm!

Notes: These rolls were so good! Once baked and cooled, you can freeze and reheat - I would recommend first in the microwave, and then in the toaster. Use whatever herbs you have on hand - you could even add some cheese if you really wanted. Since you don't use any warm water, make sure to put the dough in a very warm place when they are rising - I turn the oven on for a minute or two, turn it back off, and then put the dough in the warmed oven, covered with a towel. I put the oven light on also, to keep it even warmer.
They also can be mostly prepped in advance - once the dough balls have been put in the pan, you can put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Then let them come to room temperature, covered, and let them rise until they have filled the pan. Cook as directed above.

This was my first time making rolls this way, and I loved how easily they pulled apart from each other!


...and after being cooked

The awesome pillowy rolls

Joey's full plate (green beans and cauliflower on the side)

My full plate (I made some roasted shrimp for myself)

Fluffy perfection