Monday, August 2, 2010

I can't divorce myself from these velvety Slovakian crescent rolls

That's right, a history joke! A sort of forced history joke...

Anyway, did you know that in Slovakian (and, this recipe I found suggested, Latvian) tradition, midsummer is celebrated with, among other things, cumin cheese? I'm not sure what cumin cheese is, but I discovered a recipe that put it in crescent rolls, along with dill and garlic and all sorts of stuff. I decided crescent rolls sounded like a good idea generally but the specifics were a little odd (eating dill and cumin together? I'd type "insert offensive Slovak joke here," but instead I used Google in order to bring you this and, much more excitingly, this). Slovakia is just weird.

So I decided to pick and choose and ended up with crescent rolls filled with a blend of gouda, mashed roasted garlic, and dill, plus a little pepper. Before I baked them, I gave them a brush with some butter and sprinkled chopped chives on top. The recipe was 1. in metric and 2. not so procedurally specific, instructing, among other things, to put the oven on "medium heat," so I had to do some experimenting. Here's what I ended up with:

They were delicious. The roll part was pillowy, and there was just enough garlic to make a bold statement without overcoming the relatively delicate Gouda. I could absolutely see filling these with cheddar and red pepper, or enriching the dough with more sugar and maybe an egg and filling them with cinnamon sugar for a cinnamon roll that takes much less time than usual. We ate them with, naturally, salad. Once again, I will declare that you can never go wrong with salad, bread, and cheese.

Before I present you with the recipe, an elegy that some of you who regularly visit Facebook may have already seen: Mike's banh mi is no more. Mike's was the creme de la creme of banh mi in Boston's Chinatown. As a bonus, it was basically a food cart tucked inside a sketchy store! But instead, I had to content myself with (actually a really delicious) "vegetarian duck" banh mi from a lesser nook (now that I think of it, that vegetarian duck was really, really good). Mourn, Bostonians, mourn.

Crescent rolls
4 cups flour (I used all-purpose)
350 mL milk, warmed
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (this could probably be increased just a tad)
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (the equivalent of one package)

Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm milk and wait until the yeast gets foamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead and stretch until smooth. Let rise for one hour, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375. Divide the risen dough into 5 chunks and roll them gently until they are approximately spherical. Roll them out into a circle until they're... well, the recipe didn't tell me how thin to make them, and I'm horrible at estimating how thick things are, so let's just say roll them a little thicker than you'd roll a piecrust. Maybe 1/4 of an inch? Anyway, slice into wedges. Sprinkle or spread your desired filling either along all but the pointiest part or, for a more solid filling, just along the wide part of the wedge (which is what I did; in retrospect, sprinkling a little farther down might have helped hold the rolls together a bit). Roll them into a crescent shape, starting with the wide part and going inward (common sense, really). Brush with butter or an egg white (I used butter because butter is delicious, but egg white would be prettier, frankly), and sprinkle with something if you want. Bake until golden brown.

For the filling, I roasted six cloves of garlic and mashed them up with some dill and pepper and about two cups, maybe a bit more, of grated Gouda (grating soft cheeses: not fun).

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