Days 103, 104 and 105, plus a trip home to Hawaii and Thanksgiving on the beach

29 Nov

The last two days prior to Thanksgiving break, I was on saucier, which meant doing short ribs and racks of lamb.  I don’t know what happened to me on Wednesday but I could not cook a rack of lamb to save my life.  What makes that ridiculous is that, generally, the one meat I’ve had the most experience cooking and I usually always get right – medium rare – without thinking about it is rack of lamb.  Guess my mind was elsewhere… like going home to Hawaii.

Thanksgiving Thursday in Hawaii was perfect. It was just Carnet and me on the beach for 6 hours. We brought snacks, then ate fresh opah and three kinds of poke: taco, ahi and salmon (yes, I know, salmon don’t live anywhere near Hawaii, my bad).   Carnet and I just needed to be.  And we were. And it was perfect.

Then, we had another great day on Friday.  The sunset at top is one of several pics Friday night at our favorite beach, Kaimana.  We would have sat there for hours, likely, if I hadn’t said I was hungry and mentioned a new Honolulu restaurant, SALT, I wanted to try.  They have their own charcutier, so I was anxious to try.  Honestly, I didn’t think the charcuterie was all that great, even compared to the charcuterie our class made with Chef Ryan in Level 4.  The pickles were all one note – and sweet. Problematic for me.  And, some of the charcuterie seemed “amateurish” as Carnet put it.  But, they did do a mean Neiman Ranch burger with tallegio and red onion marmalade and a dangerous “SALT martini”, an ingredient of which is my new favorite spirit as of 2 years ago – Elderflower.  And, it was a great pleasure to spend several hours with some of our best friends, Pete and Carol, and their daughter.  You know when it’s just easy?  It’s just easy to be with Pete and Carol, like you’ve known them in another life.

And, then, just when I thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, we had Thanksgiving on Saturday with Shannon and Fred and 12 others at their house.

We had dueling turkeys – one brined overnight, the other not -, two kinds of stuffing, creamy pearl onions, haricot verts with bacon and mushrooms, sweet potato casserole, garlic smashed potatoes, boozy cranberry sauce, pumpkin cheesecake, apple pie, a whole luxurious pupu plate full of smoked ahi appetizers with olives and stuffed piquillo peppers, pumpkin rolls (I baked!), and I can’t remember what else since we started the day with fresh squeezed orange juice mimosas.   Shannon and Fred are awesome. They never miss a chance to throw a raucous dinner party at their house in which inevitably there are exploding chestnuts (my bad), exploding corks breaking through ceiling lights (Sean’s bad), Carnet taking a nap at 8:00 p.m. on his favorite couch, and so many booze bottles that we temporarily broke the recycling container.   Fun doesn’t even begin to describe Thanksgiving Saturday. Thanks, S and F – you two are the bomb!  That night was also spectacular, even with a bit of rain. Check out the views from their house.

But, I digress.  The purpose of this blog is about food, so below is a pumpkin dinner roll recipe I have been making for years, but only once a year on Thanksgiving since I don’t have a lot of confidence in my baking skills.   If you try this recipe, please keep in mind that it might look as though it’s not going to “work”, meaning it will look way too sticky to rise or be anything but a mess.  But, persevere.  It will work.

Pumpkin roll recipe:


2, .25 oz. packages of dry, fast acting yeast

1/4 c. brown sugar

1  1/2 c. water (if it’s hotter than 110 degrees F, your yeast won’t work, so either use a thermometer or take warm tap water)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 c. melted unsalted butter, but not hot

1 tablespoon salt

8 cups flour, plus more for the work surface


1) Stir the 2 packages of active dry yeast into the 1 1/2 cups of warm water plus the brown sugar.  Make sure it bubbles; that is how you’ll know the yeast is working. The sugar will help activate the yeast.

2)  In another bowl, stir the pumpkin and butter until fully incorporated.  Then, add in the yeast/sugar/water mixture.

3) In a separate bowl, mix the salt and flour.  Then, slowly incorporate the dry mixture into the wet mixture until it forms a loose ball.  I use the term “ball” here loosely, as this dough is sticky.  You’ll want to work it a bit to develop the gluten and to make sure there is no flour left on the outside. If it’s too sticky, you can add a bit more flour, but if you add too much, your buns will not be as moist.

4) Put the dough ball in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place out of a drafty area and preferably somewhere slightly warm (not hot). Let it rise for about 30-45 minutes. It doesn’t need to double in size here, but it needs to rise some.

5) Then, working pretty quickly, tear off enough dough to form a 1 1/2 inch ball. You’ll need a bit of flour on a surface and on your hands to form it into a ball.  Continue to do this with all the dough. You’ll likely have around 25-30 rolls when completed.  Space them out on parchment paper covered cookie sheets and let rise until 1 1/2-2 times original size.  Again, it doesn’t need to absolutely double in size, but is should rise some.  The rest of the rising will occur in the oven when it’s hot and the bun steams.

6) Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 15-20 minutes, until the tops of the buns are golden. If you take them out early, the insides will be gooey, so don’t be tempted. Or, if you need to try, take one out and pull it apart and see how moist it is still inside.  If you want extra butteryness on the roll, during the last 5 minutes of baking, you can brush melted butter over the tops of the rolls.

Happy eating!

2 Responses to “Days 103, 104 and 105, plus a trip home to Hawaii and Thanksgiving on the beach”

  1. Lucinda Byers November 29, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    I have GOT to get to Hawaii. How could you stand to leave?!

  2. rachelogdie November 30, 2011 at 12:10 am #

    Yes you do! It is very hard to leave Hawaii, but we do plan to go back one day soon… hopefully in the next couple of years. Come and visit!

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