I’m getting my home ready to sell, and my real estate agent sent over a stager to guide me in making the place appeal to the home buying public. Hence, all the renovating that I’ve talked about over the last month or two (yes, all that work and disruption, just so I can move). Wallpaper has been stripped and walls repainted, flooring replaced and minor repairs done. I am now living in a shrine to beige. Apparently, beige sells. So be it, I told my agent I’d do whatever she said if that means a quick sale.
I can live with beige. What I’m having more trouble with is the decluttering part of the staging process. I knew I would have to put away my kids’ baby and graduation photos. I expected to have to get my basement storage room all neatly organized before listing the house. What I didn’t expect, however, was that I would need to remove the living room bookcase that holds all my cookbooks. Doesn’t everyone like cookbooks? I was shocked when the stager said I’d have to put away my KitchenAid mixer. I knew there’s too much stuff on the kitchen counters, but, hide my prized mixer? If you walked into a home with one of these on the counter, wouldn’t you want to put in an offer right away, knowing that this was a well-loved kitchen that had surely produced many tasty delights?
Apparently, my passion for cooking doesn’t mean a whole lot out there in the real estate market, although my agent did suggest it would be good for the place to smell like fresh bread or apple pie when it’s being shown. (I have a few olfactory tricks up my sleeve to make it seem like I’ve been baking, since I’m sure I’ll be too busy doing last-minute tidying to actually whip up a pie before each showing).
On Monday, I packed up all my cookbooks, after which I realized that the recipe for the fruit-stuffed pork roast I made over the holidays is in a book at the bottom of one of five boxes (but which one?). I was going to blog about that roast this week. Hmm, not sure I can remember it by heart, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to find it online. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until I’m all unpacked in my new home. I can always feature it as an Easter entrée.
To console myself for the gaping absence of my treasured cookbooks, I wanted to fill my topsy-turvy home with yeasty aromas and then bite into warm bread. So, I turned to my little yellow recipe box and pulled out the recipe for my favourite whole wheat crescent rolls. I knew I’d been making these for a long time, but was a little surprised to see that I’d found the recipe in a 1990 edition of Canadian Living magazine (if you’d like to believe that I subscribed to it as a teenager, who am I to protest?).
These rolls are a real treat. The crescent shape is elegant, and the filling offers the heat of pepper, the tang of the basil and the richness or the cheese or ham. Normally, they are made with parmesan cheese. I thought I would step it up a bit, and made one batch with slivers of prosciutto in place of cheese. Instead of spreading the rolled-out dough with butter, I used olive oil in which I’d warmed a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. The result was two different, but delicious choices.
This easy recipe is a good introduction to bread making for anyone interested in giving that a try. After kneading, the dough only rests for about 10 minutes before rolling, filling and shaping into crescents for the rising period. Start to finish, the whole process takes scarcely more than two hours. The beauty of the 30- to 40-minute rising period is that’s a perfect time to tidy the counters and then read food blogs while enjoying a cup of coffee.
When the rolls are ready, you can enjoy them warm from the oven with a bowl of piping hot soup. They’re highly transportable, and would be a great offering for a potluck. Believe me, people will be impressed and appreciative if you bring home-made bread!
Cheese (or Prosciutto) and Herb Crescent Rolls
Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine, April 1990
Crescent Roll Dough (makes two rounds)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 packet quick rising instant yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-1/4 cup milk (I substituted almond milk)
- 2 tbsp butter (I used olive oil)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Cheese or Prosciutto and Herb Filling (for one round)
- 2 tbsp softened butter (I used 1 tbsp olive oil infused with crushed garlic)
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese or 5 thin slices prosciutto, slivered
- 1 tsp dried basil
- freshly ground pepper, enough for the surface of the round
Egg Wash Topping
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp water
Combine the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Heat the milk and butter until hot (125 – 130°F – don’t overheat or it could kill the yeast). Stir into the flour along with the egg and beat well with a wooden spoon. Mix in enough of the remaining flour until the dough is not sticky. Knead for 10 minutes. (I’ll cover the technique in a future post, when someone is here to take some photos; my multitasking ability only goes so far.) You’ll know the dough is ready when it isn’t sticky any more and the surface wrinkles slightly when you push it away. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 2. Cover the second round while you roll out the first into a circle (more or less) that’s about 12″ in diameter (I made mine a little bigger). Spread the softened butter on the dough (or brush on the oil). Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over the surface and evenly distribute the dried basil and the grated parmesan or the slivered ham. Cut into 16 triangles for adorably tiny crescent rolls, or into 8 triangles for a heftier yet still ladylike roll. Roll up from the wide end and place on a baking sheet (lightly greased or covered with parchment paper), bending into a crescent shape. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Whisk the egg yolk and water together, then brush over the rolls. Cover with plastic wrap (and also a tea towel if it’s cool in the kitchen) and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Bake the rolls in a 400° over for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. It will take a few minutes longer if you make larger rolls. Another way to know they’re done is to tap them lightly with a knuckle; if they sound hollow, that’s a good sign.
Actually, the fact that you’ve taken the time to make these is a good sign to anyone who walks through your door. In fact, if my experience is anything to go by, they’ll be more than happy to shovel the snow from your driveway for the promise of a bowl of homemade soup and some warm rolls.