Wednesday, 09 December 2015 16:16

A few favourite things to warm you up

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How easily half a Monday is spent trudging in and out of shops in the mall. Easy, too, for money to disappear, replaced by hand-dipped chocolates and syrup bottles from Summerland Sweets, stuffed into store bags that dangle from my fingers like miniature hangman’s nooses.

It doesn’t take long, either, for those winter boots and woolies, that seemed so necessary when venturing out into the day, to become burdens, leading to heated nerves and impulsive purchases. Soon followed by a powerful yearning to belly up to the cinnamon bun counter, order a whole pan, and a single plastic fork.
I’ve settled, instead, for an Eggnog Latté, but the cinnamon buns are nearby. And they call to me.
Thankfully, now that I’m carrying a paper cup, I’m all but incapacitated.
Christmas shopping would be so much more fun if everyone on my list loved to cook.
It’s a fantasy only, but in it, I shop my favourite gourmet store, sharing with loved ones the joys of a few of my favourite things.
There’s the brie baker, to go with recipes for spicy almonds or blueberry relish. Olive wood cooking utensils for souping and saucing. Jars of fancy salts for every purpose.
Or the set of stainless ring moulds that are the new favourite item in my utensils drawer.
After too many years spent looking for just the right sized circle for everything from cream cookies to perogies, cutting with inverted cups and lids from vitamin bottles. I made a special trip for these little marvels. I’d do it again for someone who’d love them.
An enameled, cast iron Dutch oven is another newcomer to our kitchen. In it, we’ve made everything from tagines to curries, short ribs, chicken stew, roast beef, and pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches on Grey Cup Sunday.
A Dutch oven is an heirloom gift, worth a lifetime of braises.
This year’s crop of cookbooks and food memoirs also make for happy unwrapping.
Amy Jo Ehman’s Prairie Feast, a writer’s journey home for dinner is my pick for food foragers. While Habeeb Salloum’s Bison Delights is for meat eaters with a sense of adventure.
Those, however, are my own fantasy gifts, and I already have them.
Meanwhile, back on my actual Christmas list, I may not have anyone who wants to receive a brulée torch, but I do have family and friends who like cinnamon buns, and often volunteer to help with leftovers from this column.
I still need to go back to the mall, but first I need to figure out how to gift wrap something sticky.
Brioche Sticky Buns
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 pound butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Set aside in a warm place, 10 minutes, until creamy.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, whisk together flour and sugar. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add yeast mixture and eggs to flour. Mix on low until liquids are completely incorporated; 3 minutes.
With mixer on high, add butter, several pieces at a time. When all the butter is added, knead for 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a very large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll out to 15x20-inches.
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
Spread sour cream over surface of dough, leaving a boarder of 1/2-inch. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle over sour cream. Roll up lengthwise.
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
1/2 pound butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup golden corn syrup
Cream together butter and sugar. Add syrups and beat until well combined. Spread mixture into the bottom and sides of two 8x11x2-inch glass baking dishes. Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Arrange into pans.
Bake, with a cookie sheet below to catch drips, at 350F for 40-45 minutes, until deep golden. Serve warm.

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