Hospitality @ Home: Parker House Rolls & Grapefruit Curd

 

 

It was a rainy day in Los Angeles yesterday, perfect weather for a long cooking project. Parker House Rolls have been on my list for awhile, and considering their 3 hour prep time, it was a perfect fit.

I aggregated a couple recipes, but the one I hewed closest to came from Chowhound.  These were great with a roast chicken dinner, and equally delicious for breakfast this morning with a little grapefruit curd. The combination of the lightly sweet roll, savory butter, and creamy tartness of the grapefruit curd is so elegant and delicious with a cup of coffee or tea.

Rolls with Herb Butter
Just a kiss of grey salt

Herb Butter:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp dry sage
  • 1 tsp dry rosemary
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • tsp olive oil

Combine spices, salt, honey and olive oil in a microwave safe bowl. Zap the mixture in the microwave on medium power for 30 seconds. Mix in butter. cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Parker House Rolls Dough
ready for some butter

Parker House Rolls

(adapted from Chowhound)

  • 1/4 ounce (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 5 2/3 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into small pieces, plus more for the bowl and dish
  • Herb Butter (optional)
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a medium bowl; set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir lemon juice into milk and let sit for a couple minutes. Add honey, & milk mixture into yeast mixture; set aside.
  2. Stir together flour
    high roast chicken with potatoes and some greens are great companions to a dinner of Parker House rolls

    and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, make a well in the center, pour in yeast mixture, and mix on low speed until evenly incorporated, about 2 minutes.

  3. Increase mixer speed to medium low and add butter, a few pieces at a time, letting butter completely incorporate before adding more. Mix dough until smooth, elastic, and slightly soft, about 10 minutes total.
  4. Butter a large bowl, place dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter.
  5. Once dough has risen, divide in two equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece into a 12-by-10-inch rectangle, keeping the second piece covered with a towel.
  6. Cut the rolled rectangle of dough lengthwise into 5 strips. Cut each strip into 3 smaller rectangles. If using herb butter, spread 1/4 tsp of butter into each rectangle before folding the rectangle in half, and set aside. Repeat with remaining rectangles. Repeat entire process with second piece of dough.
  7. Arrange rolls seam-side down in the prepared pan, 6 across and 5 down. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the lower third.
  8. Once dough has risen, brush herb butter  (or regular butter) over top of rolls and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until bottom and tops of rolls are golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool 5 minutes, and serve.
Breakfast
Leftovers for Breakfast are my favorite

Grapefruit curd

  • 2 cups grapefruit juice (you can substitute any fruit juice, really)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks (I used the yolks I had left over from a batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbs butter
1. Put butter and vanilla in a bowl. Place mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.
2. Combine juice, sugar, yolks, and cornstarch in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk constantly until smooth. 3. Continue to whisk slowly as mixture thickens. Keep the mixture moving to prevent the eggs from cooking too quickly and clumping. After about 5-7 minutes, the mixture will become very thick, almost the consistency of creamy peanut butter.
4. Remove from heat, pass through the mesh strainer into the bowl with the butter and vanilla. Remove strainer and discard solids. whisk the curd in the bowl until vanilla and butter are incorporated.
5. pour into jars and cool, or cover the bowl with plastic wrap (pressing plastic wrap directly to the surface to prevent a skin from forming), and cool.

Marche Bacchus

I almost don’t want to write about this spot. I almost don’t want anyone else to know where it is, that it exists, or where to find it. It’s like when you first discover an incredible band. And in the beginning, you can go to a concert in a intimate little club and be right by the stage. Then suddenly everyone else in the world discovers that band, and as happy as you that they are succeeding, you also long for that time when everything was simpler…

Ah.

But here I go.

For my birthday dinner a week ago, The Gent whisked me away to a lovely little oasis in the desert of Vegas, a lovely, clever, well-appointed bistro called Marche Bacchus. It’s a waterfront bistro behind a wine shop, in the suburb of Summerlin. There is no strip, no slot machines, if it weren’t for the heat, you would never know you are in Vegas.

In the United States, 9% of the total workforce finds employment in restaurants. In Vegas, the percentage must be three times that. It is this fact that creates the perfect recipe for Marche Bacchus. The wine shop in the front of the dining room is your wine list. You can stroll among the aisles, roll the bottles in your hands, debate with your dining partner about the pros and cons of this bottle or that one. Then decide to just compromise and get both.

You are not going to find any Kendall Jackson or Barefoot here. The collection is incredibly selective. And if you see the prices that restaurants pay for wine, like I do, then the prices are gob-smackingly competitive. As in “how the heck can they stay in business and charge $40 for a bottle of Jordan Cabernet, when most restaurants charge twice that?”
The Gent and I started with the Melka ‘CJ’ Cabernet. Then nabbed a bottle of Kistler Chardonnay after we ordered practically every seafood item on the menu, and thought we should have a white wine, too.  Two bottles of wine enjoyed between two people is a recipe for a lovely birthday dinner, but a terrible one for getting photographs in focus, so this post is slightly lacking in the latter.

Our server, Paul, was perfect. As much as I love LA, and I love my staff, there is nothing like being in the hands of a server who truly enjoys food, wine, and service. He was conversational when we had questions, knew the menu like a song, and was gracious when we came in close to the end of the night and bought two bottles. He knew he’d be there to close the place down with us.

The food was all thoughtfully prepared. We started with the cheese plate, which we usually do if there is one on the menu. Rather than just the usual brie, chevre, and humboldt fog, this one featured mimolette, something like an asiago, something goopy, something bleu…. it got fuzzy with all the wine and good company. But they were all tasty. If there is escargot on the menu, the Gent always bites, and I ordered the beet salad with smoked trout & apple to start. Entrees were Prince Edward Island mussels, and pan-roasted Idaho trout with a crab and roasted pepper salad. We couldn’t have possibly fit dessert in our stomachs, but Paul grabbed us a decadent flourless chocolate cake for my birthday.

I generally hate ‘closing the place down,’ but this time it was unavoidable. You can’t order two bottles of wine with dinner and not stay awhile.  We definitely left an appropriate tip.If you are in Vegas, and you love wine, you should definitely head to Marche Bacchus. But don’t ruin it for the rest of us. Be cool.

Restaurant 101: Valentine’s Day Tips

The Holidays with a capital H have passed, but Valentine’s Day is lurking around the corner– like a girl who’s high-maintenance-but-thinks-she’s-low-maintenance– just daring you to mess it up. Score high marks (for dinner, anyway), with these tips:
·      Book Now: Want that table at 8:00? Your best bet is to book sooner rather than later. You can always cancel, but you can never get it back.
·      Figure out your budget: You can have a great dinner out at any price, so pick a place you can afford. It’s more fun to go to a casual place and have the best things on the menu, rather than dine at the top your budget and pray your date doesn’t order a second glass of wine.
·      Expect a pre fixe menu: Many think it’s a way for restaurants to gouge you, but it helps the chef know how much to food to prepare, and makes sure you get your money’s worth on a special occasion.
Can’t stomach a pre fixe?  Find ethnic eateries or eat at the bar at a ‘classier’ joint—they usually offer a la carte.
·      For a ‘Quiet Table,’ book after 9:00pm: 8:00pm is the busiest time to dine on Valentine’s Day. Period. After 9:00, other tables are finishing, leaving you with a space that grows more intimate as you head toward dessert.
·      Be nice to the staff: You’ll stand out on a night when the hostess and bartenders are bombarded by “where the HELL is my table” and “this Riesling is COLD.”
·      Tip early: Not for the faint of heart, but if you’re serious about getting special treatment, excuse yourself from the table and find your server. Slip him a small token, $20 or so, and let him know that extra attentions showered on your date won’t go unnoticed when the bill comes.