It was a tough week last week… mostly at work, since lately I am consumed by it. The house is in full disorder, the doggy needs grooming, I need to be paying bills and making arrangements for an upcoming vacation (SOO ready for it!). And I have one of those magical things that some people call a to-do list… when I check one thing out of it, five more things appear! How the heck does that happen?!?!?
Friday night, I came home with blood rushing through my veins, a red face and clenched jaw. Yes, sometimes work does that to you. Everybody has been there, once or twice—possibly per week. There are different ways that people react to stress and find different ways to deal with it… Let’s not discuss the “reacting” part, but my options to deal with it are normally pretty tame.
- Take a walk with Tarchin (who would give his paw for a fast walk at any time of the day!)
- Eat as much Nutella as I can, straight from the jar
- Drink as much wine as I can, straight from the bottle
- Cook something that reminds me of home to calm me down
Well, I wish I could say I did all of the above. But… I did not take a walk with Tarchin! Although he does not care whether it is zero or a hundred degrees outside, I do! I love my 78-degree house! I love my Nutella and wine… and I love my grandma’s little bread rolls that are stuffed with ground beef… So first, I started unloading all my mental and emotional baggage from the workday onto my husband, Jay, as I was taking Nutella out of the pantry… as I was talking and eating at the same time, he showed me the wine bottle as if that would cure anything! Well, I really did not have anything to lose, I already had a bad headache… so why not! Bring it on!!
Then, Jay suggested that since cooking calms me down, I should focus on that and just think about what I would post this week. Let’s just assume he did not have any hidden agenda involving what he will eat for dinner or lunch the next day, he just wants what is best for me! Which is calm and quiet… Right, honey??…
Then I started thinking about those little bread rolls, and I realized I want those little rolls!! I called my grandma to ask for the details. Yes, it was late here in the US, meaning it was already 3 am in Turkey. But it is Ramadan, and they were up for sahur which is the time people eat before they start their fast. (before sunrise, that is) And she explained everything step by step, and I kept saying, “yeah, hmm..yeah, yeah, hmmm”.. I guess that did not really satisfy her so when she was done, she said “Ok, now you repeat all the steps back to me to see if you got everything!” FYI: I remembered everything even after chocolate overdose!
Anyway… this dough turned out to be a little bit messier than I thought. After I made the dough with milk, water and flour, I waited for a couple of hours until it doubled in size. Then, worked one stick of melted and cooled unsalted butter into that dough by kneading. That took some work! This is where it gets messy. I thought at one point the dough was going to end up in the trash bin because it did not look like it was coming together. 10 more minutes of kneading and lo and behold! It worked!! So, don’t give up if you ever want to make this.
So, I worked my workplace issues during that long kneading… I cursed, cried, broke down once, made peace with everything, decided to take a Vow of Silence in the office and be all Buddha about it! Then I made little rolls, stuffed them with ground beef and let them go for a 2nd rise in the pizza pan I have (I have cooked everything in that deep dish pizza pan but pizza!) while sipping chamomile tea.
Then, I brushed an egg yolk all over them, and put the pan in the preheated 400-degree oven. Cooked for 40 minutes or it is all golden brown both on the surface and on the bottom.
Eventually, this amount of dough yields 16 stuffed small breads. My grandma and her long time friend Ruziye always use ground beef as filling. Next time, I will be a little bit more adventurous and try different fillings – cheese, veggies like sauted leeks or eggplant. Here is the recipe, the long time favorite of our family:- literally translated - Little Breads! :) (Grandma, you can go to sleep now, I am done with baking them.)
Stuffed Bread Rolls
- 2.2 lbs unbleached all purpose flour (This equates to 1 kg of flour)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick melted, cooled unsalted butter
- 1 egg yolk
Filling: For the filling, mix the ingredients below.
- ~1 lb ground beef
- 1 medium size onion(grated)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
1. Make the dough with proofed yeast, milk , flour, salt and enough water (start with 1 cup and add gradually until the right consistency) until it is the consistency of an earlobe. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
2. Let it rise at a warm location for a couple of hours, until it doubles in size.
3. Melt and cool 1 stick of butter , then knead it into the dough until the butter is well integrated. (you might need to sprinkle the dough with flour from time to time to make it easy to work with it.)
4. After all the butter is gone (into the dough, that is), divide the dough up into 16 equal size portions.
5. Flatten each of them, put ~2 heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle, cover and make a smooth ball.
6. Place them in a well greased pan, half an inch apart. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for another hour.
7. Brush egg yolk over them, cook for approximately 45 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven. This might change depending on the type of pan and your oven. If the bottom is not light golden brown, continue cooking.