The holidays of spring are nearly over, and I have been eyeing my bathroom scale with disbelief. My son and his family were in SoCal this past week because of a family situation that did not foster celebration. They’re back in the Bay Area with the plan to observe a family Seder last night. Carol invited us to her house for a feast on Sunday. And a feast it was! I spent several days making gravlax along with a Swedish dill-mustard sauce from a recipe of a dear, old-time friend. That, along with garlic crostini, deviled eggs (some stuffed with shrimp), and olives, made the appetizers for our Happy Hour on the patio while watching the sun go down over the ocean. Why wouldn’t you like Southern California?
But that was only a modest prelude to the meal that lay ahead. Here’s the menu:
- roasted leg of lamb
- stuffed mushrooms
- rice pilaf with currents and hazelnuts
- fresh green peas, snap peas, and watercress sprouts
- Moroccan carrots
Susan made two contributions to the meal. First she made a batch of rolls from her mother’s recipe. Over the years we had had them at many meals on the farm when there weren’t biscuits. They were always popular – and delicious. She also made coconut cupcakes at the request of one of the young folks. Then they decorated them with frosting, shredded coconut and nerds (I lost points when that was the only candy I could find at the store, but they actually turned out to be a positive addition to the final version.)
Carol has a very large collection of cookbooks, and she is always looking for different versions of common foods along with unusual foods. Over the years she has gradually brought her whole family out of the doldrums of eating only meat and potatoes. She also always puts her own twist on the recipe. I’m not sure of the source recipes of several of the dishes, but I know that the Moroccan carrots came from Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook (W.W. Norton and Co, New York, 2010) The dish is delicious, and Carol used a mix of various colors of carrot to create a stunning visual effect. The same thing was true with a dish of fresh green peas and snap peas. The recipe called for pea tendrils, but my son-in-law struck out looking for them in several stores, and the farmers’ market was closed for Easter. Carol, always innovative, substituted watercress sprouts. IMHO the substitution improved the dish.
Kevin had bought some special wine for the occasion, and I contributed a bottle of Klinker Brick old vine zinfandel from last year’s visit to Lodi.
Needless to say, it was a very special and memorable family evening.
Here’s the recipe for Mom Mom’s homemade rolls.
Mom Mom’s Homemade Rolls
- ½ cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/3 cups milk
- 1 package dry yeast
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- 2 eggs
- 6½ cups all-purpose flour
- Place sugar, shortening, and salt in a large bowl.
- Scald milk and pour over ingredients in bowl. Stir until mixed, and let cool.
- Dissolve yeast in water.
- Beat eggs lightly and add to yeast mixture. Then add these ingredients to the cooled milk mixture.
- Beat in the flour to form a smooth dough. Allow to rise until doubled (about 2 hours) or refrigerate for later use.
- Shape into rolls and place in greased muffin pans. Let rise again until doubled.
- Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until browned to your liking
Makes 36 medium rolls
Cook’s Note: The easiest shape is to cut out circles with a biscuit cutter and place them in the pans. You can make fancier shapes by rolling balls of dough between your palms; clover leaf rolls with three small balls dipped in melted butter and placed 3 to each cup; fan-tans with 5 or 6 layers of rolled-out dough separated with melted butter and cut into squares; Parker House with flattened balls of dough with an off-set crease cut across them, topped with melted butter, folded on the crease, and baked on a greased cookie sheet.