I-Don't-Like-Potatoes Potato Dango

A friend from the forest kindergarten the kids used to go to had a son who didn't like potatoes but her father grew a lot of them. She looked for a recipe that jazzed them up and modified their potato-ness and found a recipe for potato dango. Her son loves these. The first time I tried them, I was surprised by how chewy and tasty they were. She brought them to our  potluck event and they were not piping hot when served but were still exceptionally good and in fact were one of the first things gone at the buffet. This recipe makes about 10 pieces of potato dango (about 4 cm diameter). Double or triple the recipe as needed - you'll probably need to!

5 pieces small potatoes
2 T katakuriko or cornstarch (the more you put, the chewier they become)

2 T milk or soy milk
1 T mirin
2 T soy sauce
1 T sugar (optional)
Oil for pan frying

Mix the mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Peel the potatoes and boil them until soft enough for a fork to go through. Drain the water and pat dry. Mash the potatoes with a fork (I like to do it by hand). Add the katakuriko and the milk. Mix and mash well. Form them into round flat cakes about 4 cm in diameter and about 1 cm thick. Pan fry them in oil until slightly brown. When done, add the mirin-soy sauce-sugar mix and toss the potato dango in the sauce until nicely coated. Serve. 

Irreverent Cinnamon Rolls

The cinnamon rolls I knew were either make-your-teeth hurt sweet or too hard and dry (or sometimes, both!). I also used to think they were too difficult and cumbersome to make until I inherited my mother-in-law's autographed copy of Damn Good Food, recipes from Hell's Kitchen. Here's the introduction to the recipe:

"My dad hated small, hard caramel rolls, and he worked on this recipe for years until it was perfect. It's kind of an inovlved recipe, but he put a lot of time into it, so try not to fuck it up."

You have to love a recipe that's irreverent! I  found the odd cooking times quirky (i.e. 11 minutes rising time, 9 minutes simmering time, etc.). It turns out that making these rolls was not as difficult it looked and no, you don't have to follow the odd cooking times to the dot.  I have yet to try store-bought cinnamon rolls that are as good as these.

The original recipe pecan pieces cooked in butter and salt. As pecans are quite expensive, I usually make the rolls without them but for a real treat, sprinkle your rolls with pecan pieces before serving.

1¾ cups whole milk

⅓ cup honey
¼ cup vegetable shortening
1 package active dry yeast
1 extra-large egg
2 t salt
4-5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 T cinnamon
4 cups caramel sauce (see recipe below)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Heat milk, honey, and shortening in a saucepan until lukewarm. Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast over milk mixture. After yeast blooms, pour mixture into a big bowl. Add egg, salt and 2 cups of flour. Mix with a whisk. Add remaining flour as needed until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Take dough into a floured table and knead until smooth and elastic. Cut dough in half. Roll each portion into a ball and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise until double in size about 35 minutes. When risen, punch down and let rest again for 11 minutes more. 

Mix granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Roll out each portion into a rectangle ½ inch thick. Using half the melted butter, brush the top of each portion and sprinkle sugar mixture evenly. Roll into logs lengthwise, like a jelly rol. From logs, cut individual cinnamon rolls, 1½  to 1¾ inch thick.

Pour half the caramel sauce into a 2 x 10 x 14 inch pan. Arrange rolls in the pan, cover with a kitchen towel and allow to double in size. Remove towel and place the pan in the middle of the oven rack and backe 25-31 minutes in 350°F  or until golden brown. 

Remove the pan from the oven and brush the rolls with the remaining butter. Invert the pan, separate the rolls and serve by laddling the remaining caramel sauce over each roll.

Caramel Sauce
3 cups heavy cream
3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
Place cream and sugar in a saucepan and slowly heat to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer and stir until thick about 9 minutes.