Thursday, December 23, 2010

Recreating the Ham & Cheese Roll

There used to be a Vivace Cafe right next to Seattle Central Community College. When I was going to school there I pretty much lived at Vivace, not to mention spending an obscene portion my hard earned money on mochas and ham and cheese rolls. But damn, those ham and cheese rolls were the best thing to ever be served in a coffee shop, ever. They were not ham and cheese croissants, they were more bready than croissanty (thus the name ham and cheese roll). Anyway, I've been wanting to make my own ever since Vivace stopped selling them, and I've finally gotten around to it!

Here is the inspiration in it's native habitat (it's the thing on the plate behind the coffee):

I started out following Julia Child's recipe for plain-old white sandwich bread, and to my surprise my old yeast was still vibrantly alive! As the dough rose I sliced up a Skagit River Valley Ranch Ham Nugget and some Golden Glen Creamery Cheddar.

I rolled out the dough to about a 1/4inch thick and sprinkled the ham and cheese on top...

...and then rolled it up and sealed it shut with a bit of egg.

Then I just cut it into individual "rolls" and let those rise before baking them.


These were fantastic at room temperature, but even better heated up in a saute-pan with a little bit of bacon grease!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Proper Pasta

Throughout my culinary education one thing was continuously beaten into my head: Always cook pasta in a liberal amount of salted water! The water to pasta ratio should be as high as possible. Though recently cooking with my step-mom (who has an Italian heritage) shattered this pasta cooking concept. She cooked her pasta in as little liquid as possible, and not just water, she uses stock! It's so simple, and so brilliant. The pasta takes on the flavor of the stock, turning it into a meal of it's own, and not just another starchy vehicle for other foods. Also, I haven't observed any adverse effects of cooking pasta in a minimal amount of liquid -I've actually been trying to cook pasta in exactly enough liquid, so there's hardly any left in the pan by the time it's done cooking. When I saw my step-mom do this for the first time, I mentioned it must be her Italian heritage, because it's an Italian tradition (in some regions, at least), to cook pasta in a minimal amount of water and use the water as the base for the pasta sauce. My step-mom had never heard of this, so it's clearly just in her blood to do awesome things with pasta. And now, a picture of pasta in stock!: