Apple and Honey and Marzipan Rolls

My concept of time right now is all thrown off, I’ve just gotten home from celebrating Hanukkah* (and I have the dreidels on my nails to show it), summer has decided to come back for a weird unwelcome encore (get away!!), and I spent all last week testing Christmas cookie recipes. And the tomatoes have finally decided to turn red. Have you ever had a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch followed by a piece of stollen for dessert? It’s so weird. I mean, ok, I can’t complain, it’s all good things except for the gross 80 degree heat but I am ready to truly immerse myself in the upcoming high holidays because I think Rosh Hashanah is my preferred new year out of the three new years that we do. I just feel like the fact that it happens at the beginning of the school year and the start of sweater weather makes it feel way more like the dawn of something exciting than the Gregorian New Year (which hasn’t really been fun since I was 22 and could drink a Red Bull and vodka together) and the Chinese New Year (which is delicious and great but January as a month is kinda a drag. And I’m too old to get envelopes of money now 🤷🏻‍♀️). 

*We just filmed the Hanukkah Cooking Championship for Food Network! It was a dream. I even got kinda emotional over the fact that there is actually going to be a Hanukkah show on Food Network!! The food was so delicious and the other people on it were the bee’s knees. Whether or not you celebrate Hanukkah, you guys are going to lurrrv this show. 

Speaking of celebrating Jewish holidays on the TV (!), this weekend is the Rosh Hashanah brunch episode of Girl Meets Farm! Both Stoopie and my silly Aunt Cathy came to town to film this episode and it was a blast. I cooked brisket with my mom, made a celery cocktail with Aunt Cathy, and introduced Bernie to her crazy family. The recipe I’m most excited about is these apple butter rolls, which look just like cinnamon rolls, but they’re better because they’re topped with honey marzipan frosting. If you’ve ever thought omg challah baking in the oven is the best smell evarrr, try filling little swirly rolls of challah with a very cinnamony apple butter and grated almond paste and, wow, your pumpkin spice candle didn’t stand a chance. And then they get topped with a frosting made of marzipan butter and honey which is thick, glossy, luxurious, parve, and perfect. So you’re checking all of the Rosh Hashanah boxes with these rolls: Round challah? Check. Apples? Check. Honey? Check. A make-ahead situation? Check check. And marzipan, because a few years back I started including marzipan with the apples and honey tradition since almonds go so well with both apples and honey, and it just decided to stick around. They are so soft and fluffy and decadent and good. Exactly the ticket for a sweet New Year!


Apple and Honey and Marzipan Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

ingredients

1 c (236ml) almond milk, warm (105-110ºf)

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp + 1/4 c (50g) sugar

4 1/2 c (585g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

a pinch of cardamom

2 large eggs

1/2 c (100g) flavorless oil

1/4 c (84g) honey

1 tsp vanilla

 

filling

3/4 c (204g) apple butter, store-bought or homemade

1 tsp cinnamon

6 oz (170g) almond paste, grated on the big holes of a box grater or finely chopped

Eggwash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water

 

frosting

1 1/2 c (192g) blanched almonds

1/4 c (84g) honey

Zest from 1/2 a lemon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp almond extract

6 tb (89ml) almond milk

Toasted sliced almonds, for topping

clues

Combine the milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar and swirl together. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy on top.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir the yeast mixture and the oil mixture into the dry mixture and then knead, either on a work surface or with the dough hook, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, 7-10 minutes. Place in an oil bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size. 

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and roll it out into a large 18” x 12” rectangle. Spread it with the apple butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and almond paste. Roll it up tightly the long way, and pinch the edges to seal. Cut into 12 rolls and place evenly spaced in a 9” x 13” baking dish (3 rows of 4). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or let rise at room temperature for another hour and then go directly to the baking step.

When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until puffy. Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Remove the plastic wrap and brush with the egg wash. Bake until the rolls are lightly browned; begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes. 

To make the frosting: Blend the almonds in a food processor, scraping the sides occasionally, until creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes. Add the honey, lemon zest, salt, and almond extract and continue to blend (it may clump together at this point up that’s ok) as you drizzle in the milk. Blend until creamy. This can be made the day before and stored in the fridge.

When the rolls come out of the oven, spread them with the frosting, sprinkle with the almonds and serve.


Sesame Pretzels with Za’atar Mozzarella Sauce

We’ve done it, we’ve achieved peak coziness: Bernie and I live in our matching fuzzy fleeces, soothing whispery folk tunes play on repeat, and in between nap times we pick squash and apples from the garden. I never thought I could love the fall more, but of course now it’s one thousand million times better with a giggling Bern strapped on to me. I try not to think about the fact that in a few short years, this time of year will mean that it’s time for her to start school, but what I do love thinking about is all of the school supplies and the after school snacks that we’re going to enjoy. (I know, I’ve just made my first batch of baby food and I’m already thinking about after school snacks?! Listen, I already know her full Bat Mitzvah menu, ok? Just let me have this.) I’m just so excited because the snack time that I engaged in regularly after school growing up was probably my favorite meal of the day. I mean, I loved my little breakfast sandwiches that I would eat on the ride to school, and lunches in my frog lunchbox were always great especially when they involved baloney sandwiches, but nothing ever compared to sitting at the kitchen counter, feasting on snacks with a big glass of milk, and hanging out with my mom while D.W. got sassy at Arthur on the TV in the background. After school snack food was always the best food: dumplings, pizza pockets, miniature bagel dogs, cheese on toast, and the crown jewel, hot pretzels. I’d have the frozen kind that came with a packet of extra coarse salt and I’d microwave them with a slice of cheese that got bubbly around the edges. I was never patient enough to allow them to cool so that they wouldn’t burn my mouth, but they were delicious all the same (and nothing that a sip of cold milk wouldn’t fix). It was the best tastiest little break between school and marimba practice and I can’t wait to have that break with Bern.

So today I’ve got a new and improved version of my old fave, one that I’ll make as soon as Bernie starts school, and one that I make these days just to have around for noshing. It uses a kitchen hack that I love which is that you can make pretzels from pretty much any fluffy bread dough, store-bought or homemade. In a world where I am an octopus and can hold Bernie with one set of arms while kneading dough with the other set of arms, I would use challah with this. Challah pretzels forever. But these days I’ve been using store-bought bread dough which works like a charm. In a nod to Jerusalem bagels, these are oval shaped and covered in enough sesame seeds to make any basic dough a little bit more interesting. You can make a big batch of pretzels and keep them in the freezer and reheat them so that they’re hot and ready at a moments notice. And they get dipped in a creamy, rich, and surprisingly easy to make cheese sauce that’s topped with earthy za’atar and includes protein thanks to the real milk and cheese within. It’s soo good and filled with nutrients that will keep Bernie going through her after school orchestra rehearsal/dance class/hockey practice/horticulture club (?) etc. It’s just a simple milk-based sauce that comes together in a snap and then melts with mozzarella. I love mild mozzarella with a pop of za’atar but, yes, you can use any melty cheese that’s in your fridge!


Sesame Pretzels with Za’atar Mozzarella Sauce

Makes 8 pretzels 

Pretzel Ingredients

1 c (230g) baking soda

2 (11 oz) cans store bought french bread dough (or a batch of homemade yeasted bread dough, might I suggest challah dough!)

2 c (472g) water

Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water

Sesame seeds and flaky salt, for topping

Mozzarella Sauce Ingredients

2 tb unsalted butter

2 tb all-purpose flour

1 c (240g) whole milk

1 c (125g) shredded mozzarella

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Crushed red pepper or hot sauce, optional

2 tsp za’atar

Clues

First, bake the baking soda. Preheat the oven to 250ºf, spread the baking soda out in an 8” x 8” baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Let it cool and set it aside. This can be prepped ahead and stored in an airtight container for several weeks. (Even though the baked baking soda isn't as strong as lye, which is traditionally used for making pretzels, it could still potentially irritate your skin, so avoid touching it with bare hands once it's out of the oven.)

To form the pretzels, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350ºf. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and then roll into snakes, about 3/4-1” thick. Smoosh the ends together to form big ovals and transfer to the baking sheets, one inch apart. 

(If using homemade dough, complete the recipe through the first rising, shape into ovals as described above, place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and then give them their second rise.)

Make the baking soda bath: Add the water to the dish with the baking soda and whisk gently to dissolve the baking soda (it likely won’t all dissolve, a few baking soda chunks are totally ok as long as you remove any that stick to the dough). Using gloved hands, tongs, or a slotted spoon, and working in batches, immerse the pretzels into the mixture for 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate or pan lined with a paper towel and pat them dry and then place them back on the baking sheet. Brush with the egg wash, sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds and a few pinches of flaky salt, and bake until deep golden brown; begin checking at 16 minutes. Let cool slightly and then enjoy warm with cheese sauce! 

These freeze well! Let them cool fully and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a few months. Reheat in the microwave or thaw at room temp.

For the za’atar mozzarella sauce: In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for another minute. Add half of the milk and whisk until thickened and then add the other half, continuing to whisk until thickened. Add the mozzarella and whisk until melted. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and spicy stuff, if using. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with za’atar and serve. 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and then reheated in a saucepan or microwave. Stir in an extra splash of milk, if desired, to thin it out. 


-yeh!

I’m so pleased to have partnered with milk life, on this recipe! Dairy milk always played a starring role in my favorite back to school moments! Bernie and I already obviously have a special bond when it comes to food (we just started introducing solids and she loves watching me cook!) – and I know as she gets older and goes to school, the role that food plays in how we connect together will only continue to grow.

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen.

Homemade Snickers

We had a very big weekend! Bernie had her first solid food!!! Our apple trees were ready for their first little harvest, so we zipped up in our matching green hoodies, I strapped her in her carrier, and together we walked outside and picked a basket of apples. Then we peeled them, chopped them into pieces, and simmered them with a little cinnamon as we sang that we like to Oat Oat Oat Opples and Banonos. The apples were still a little tart (I’m pretty sure they’re Gala apples but they don’t get that sweet until the first frost) so I added a chopped Honeycrisp to the mix. Once they got very soft, I pureed them with a stick blender and then poured them into her cute baby blocks. Then we fed the apple cores to the chickens!

We also made squash puree! Peeling a butternut squash with a five-month-old takes half a day but we did it and steamed some for Bernie food to stick in the freezer and used the rest for grownup supper.

I’m inspired by Bringing Up Bébé to try to serve Bernie the same foods that Eggboy and I eat, so on Monday night we sat down for supper and all ate apples! Apple squash hotdish for us, applesauce for Bernie. Sitting down to our first real family dinner was a dream come true. And, ok, Bernie’s reaction to the applesauce wasn’t exactly the same excited reaction that she had after slurping up grape flavored Tylenol back when she got her four-month shots, but she went back for a second bite! And almost a third. And then made a face that said you overdid it on the acidity, mommy, you’re chopped. I’m pretty sure the apples were just too tart for her. Oops. I think I’ll add another Honeycrisp next time. Anyway, it’s all just going to get better from here and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before she’s opining on my cake textures and soup seasoning! Wouldn’t it be funny if her first word was “moist.”

We have another very big weekend coming right up: Bernie’s TV debut along with the debut of season four of Girl Meets Farm on Sunday!! Not to give away any spoilers but the season premiere is hella cute. Because Bernie. And also because it features one of my new favorite dessert recipes, homemade Snickers!! Ugh they are so dangerously good and easy to make. Really surprisingly easy. When I think of Snickers bars, I think of nougat and caramel and when I think of nougat and caramel I think of candy thermometers and time-sensitive things and too many pots and then having to scrub too many pots of sticky stuff and it strikes fear! But it turns out that there’s a perfect hack for the nougat, which is marshmallow fluff. Marshmallow fluff + nut butter + sugar = Snickers nougat but better because you can use any nut or seed butter you want and you just mix it up in one bowl, no thermometer needed. And with the caramel thing, I’ve decided I’m probably only using store bought caramel from now until Bernie and any future younger siblings of hers go off to college. Another thing that’s fun with these is that you can change up the nuts, as long as they are salted and roasted since they need to balance out the sweetness of the nougat and caramel. Over the summer, my mom and I made tahini snickers with pistachios, almond butter snickers with macadamia nuts (that’s what’s pictured here), and the classic peanut butter with peanut scenario. It’s truly a Choose Your Own Adventure recipe. You could also theoretically use different types of chocolate with these but I’d recommend sticking with dark because, again, the nougat and caramel are indeed quite sweet. These little guys come together really quickly, they might be my new favorite no-bake dessert, and they keep really well in the fridge. So yeah, I can’t stress enough their element of danger because of how good they are, but if you learned anything from your halva bars, just keep them next to the carrots. Carrot, Snickers, carrot, Snickers, balance. 

Homemade Snickers:

Makes 16 Candy Bars

ingredients

3 c (720g) dark chocolate chips, divided

1 tb refined coconut oil, divided

½  c (128g) unsweetened nut or seed butter

2 c (192g) marshmallow fluff

3 c (360g) powdered sugar

2 tb whole milk or almond milk

3/4 c (84g) roasted salted nuts

11 oz (312g) caramels

2 tb heavy cream or almond milk

Flaky salt, for topping

clues

Spray the bottom and sides of an 8” x 8” square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper that hangs over the edge of the pan by an inch on two sides.  Add 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips and 1 ½ tsp of coconut oil to a glass bowl and place the bowl over a simmering pot of water. Stir the chocolate until it has melted completely, about 5 minutes.  Pour it into the pan and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly in a thin layer all over the bottom. Place in the freezer to set.

Meanwhile make the filling.  In a large bowl mix together the marshmallow fluff, nut or seed butter,  powdered sugar, and milk. Mix well until it becomes a soft dough-like consistency (this mixture is incredibly sticky and you may need to use your hands).  Remove the pan from the freezer, wet your finger tips and press the fluff filling down over the chocolate in an even layer. Sprinkle the nuts on top and press lightly into the fluff.  

Add the caramel and cream to a small sauce pot and cook over low heat, while stirring.  Cook until the caramels are melted, 5-8 minutes. Spread the caramel over the fluff and place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the remaining chocolate and coconut oil. Spread the chocolate over the top of the caramel and sprinkle with flaky salt. Place back in the refrigerator until chocolate is fully set and hardened, about an hour or up to overnight.

Using the parchment, pull the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Run a sharp knife until warm water and then cut 16 bars. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge. These should keep for a week or even longer, if they last that long.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

P.S. Don’t forget to tune in to Food Network this Sunday at 11a/10c for the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm! Here are some pics from this episode!

Summer of Bernie!

The summer is over! It’s quarter-zip fleece weather! But still acceptable birkenstock-with-no-socks temperature! The apples are getting their color, the sky is cloudy on the reg, wheat harvest is here, and two nights ago we ate PHO. This is my dreamscape. Good gosh geez I love being on the cusp of peak coziness sooo much, I can taste the pumpkin bread already. Bernie’s world is about to start smelling less like fresh basil and Eggboy sweat and more like cinnamon and brussels sprouts with spätzle and butter and it’s awesome. Ok but I didn’t want to zoom to the next season before documenting some of my favorite moments from this summer!

We went to the the county fair! Bernie met baby goats, baby chickens, mini ponies, and a 7-day-old alpaca! We danced to Eggboy’s big band concert and then I ate a big sausage which tasted exactly how fairs smell, smoky and meaty. And we drank a chocolate strawberry malt. A+ day.

We went on our first little family trip, to Bemidji! We stayed about two feet away from the lake in a tiny cabin with gigantic windows, so all of my nightmares about arriving at our destination to find that we had forgotten Bernie’s sound machine went out the window because we had nature's sound machine of the waves all night and it was the loveliest. During the days we hiked, ate pizza and spumoni, had wild rice in our pancakes, tried on Lester Nygaard hats, waved to Babe and Paul Bunyan, and picnic’ed on fancy cheese and ‘ndujia. It was a short but sweet trial vacation for the next time when we choose a destination that’s more than two hours away!

I went to LA for, like, a few hours because that’s all I could manage for a first trip away from Bern! It was for a little work trip and I got to get all dressed up and stand in front of a background while someone shot a fan at my hair. This is what that looked like! Thanks to Getty and Benjo for the left photo and to TV Guide and Maarten for the right photo!

Bernie met Bernbaum’s and all of our other Fargo faves, like India Palace and Twenty Below and Zandbroz and Sandy’s and Barnes and Noble. (Umm have you been the new Bernbaum’s?? It’s epic, get the black and white cookie.)

We had so many visitors! Sonja and Alex came for a pizza party, my bridesmaids came for a Girl Meets Farm episode, and Auntie Cathy even came and did her famous turkey impression :)

I forgot what TV looks like. Every time I turn it on, even just to have Savannah and Craig chatting in the background, Bernie cranes her head and only wants to look at it and not sing Baby Beluga so I stopped turning it on. What happens after they fall down the elevator in Stranger Things? Anything good?

Baby Beluga is always in my head. Always.

We went to The Lake! I don’t know what summer weekends are like where you live, but here everybody flocks to The Lake. The Lake refers to any number of lakes in the area and what I’m told from Eggboy is that the lake is a place where you eat potato chips and relax, either in the water or in a chair looking at the water. I didn’t get it when I first moved here because I thought, we already live in a very calm relaxing place and I already eat potato chips, why do I need to get more relaxed and eat more potato chips? But I’m slowly starting to get it, that’s where the weekend energy is and floating in a lake is fun and it’s acceptable to subsist on boloney on white bread (in addition to potato chips) at the lake. So even though we don’t have a Lake house we found the public access spot where we’re going to go from now on anytime we feel like chips. And next time Bernie will actually be able to go in the water!

I had my fifth summer at Unglued Camp!!! I only went for a quick second since you-know-who had bedtime and other you-know-who was harvesting but in that time we made fancy uncrustables, splatter painted cake, ate delicious ice cream sandwich sliders, and gossiped with all of my new and old fronds. Camp is the bessst.

We celebrated nephew Cliff’s first birthday! I made his cake and smash cake and wow making cakes these days takes serious nap time ninja moves but we did it and Cliff smashed it!!

We gardened, we looked at the baby in the mirror, we danced, and giggled!

Ok the end, craziest/best summer ever!! Welcome, fall!!!

-Yeh!