Thursday, November 27, 2008

Orange Rolls and The Bestest Salad Ever

Allow me to introduce you to orange rolls, my family's traditional Thanksgiving roll. We had them every Thanksgiving, but I don't recall ever having them at any other time of the year, so now I strongly associate them with Turkey day. Orange rolls and salad are the only Thanksgiving foods I actually enjoy (literally), so it's always a pleasure to make them and connect with my family traditions, and then to eat them in between reluctant bites of stuffing and mashed potatoes.

They're a yeasted roll, and in general they're not any more difficult than most breads or rolls...except when it comes to shaping them into knots. My very own hubby, a willing dishes-doer, salad-assembler, general sous-chef, and, might I add, brilliant PhD candidate, was bested by the orange rolls today.

"Steady, lad, keep 'er steady..."

"Nooooooooo! I've lost another one!"

Any guesses as to which one he helped with? Bless his heart, he didn't even mind when I re-did his rolls and sent him back to tackle the dishes. THAT'S the sign of a good hubby. By the way, this is what the knotted dough should look like:

And this is my orange roll army, all dressed up and ready to go.

I also made a truly amazing salad for Thanksgiving. I usually make a fennel-pomegranate salad, but this year I wanted to shake it up a little. So I grilled the fennel and added grilled persimmons and chopped hazelnuts. The dressing had orange juice, hazelnut oil, and a bit of garlic and mustard in addition to the usual vinegar and oil, and it was fabulous. It emulsified beautifully into a thick, flavorful sauce that I would have happily eaten plain.

I know Thanksgiving is over, but there's no rule that says you can't enjoy orange rolls and scrumptious salad the rest of the year! Read on for the recipes.

Orange Rolls (makes 3 dozen)
Ingredients for rolls:

1.5 cup milk, scalded
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup [1 square] butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
grated rind of 1 orange
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5-6 cups AP flour
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

Ingredients for glaze:

2 tbsp butter, softened
About 1 lb powdered sugar
A few tbsp orange juice concentrate
light corn syrup (optional)


Place butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl, pour hot milk on top and stir. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm (about 105 degrees). Add the yeast and let it dissolve and bubble, about 10 minutes. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients, adjusting flour as necessary. Turn out onto floured cutting board and knead into a ball. (At this point, my dough is always sticky, but I find that if I add enough flour to smooth it out, they're too dry at the end. So a sticky dough is fine). Place in a large greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 2 hrs with regular yeast.

To form rolls: Punch down risen dough. Flour hands well, pinch off a large walnut-sized piece of dough, roll into a "snake" about 6 inches long, and tie into a knot. (Rolls can also be made into regular balls, knots are just traditional in my family.) Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and let rise until doubled, about 45 min-1 hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

Mix all the glaze ingredients together with an electric mixer, adjusting the sugar and orange juice to preference: the glaze should be thin enough to spoon but not as thin as water. Drizzle completely over the rolls while they are still warm.

Persimmon, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad with Hazelnut Dressing

For the salad:

Spinach or baby greens
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 large bulb fennel (stalk can be discarded)
2 large, firm Fuyu persimmons
1/4 cup roasted, skinned hazelnuts
Goat cheese (optional--I didn't have any and wished I did!)

For the dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp hazelnut oil
2-3 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsp concentrated orange juice
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic
salt and pepper
Squirt of honey (optional)


Preheat a grill. Core the pomegranates. Slice the fennel bulb and the pomegranates into rounds 1/4" thick. (If anyone can tell me the best way to slice fennel, please speak up!) Toss them with olive oil and sprinkle the fennel with salt and pepper. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are soft and have grill marks. Remove from the grill and cut into manageable-sized pieces. Toss with greens, pomegranate seeds, and nuts.

To make the dressing, blend all ingredients using a mixer or immersion mixer, until emulsified. Adjust vinegar, juice, and honey to taste. Toss with salad immediately before serving.


  1. Your rolls look perfect!!! And your hubbie gets an A for effort :)

  2. I'm sure even the strangly shaped roll your hubby did was as delicious as his perfectly knotted cousins! Very coloful salad and the dressing sounds amazing!

  3. The rolls looks so good! We just made some orange rolls too. I will have to try out your recipe next time!!

  4. I LOVE the idea. It is good stuff really like it! Thanks for sharing with us.