Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I can't stop bageling

I'm making bagels, yet again!
My lab has lab meetings every Wednesday morning, and for a bunch of reasons, we haven't had one the past three weeks.  We're finally having one tomorrow, and even though it isn't my turn to present, I wanted to bring in food.  So what would be better to bring than bagels and cream cheese?!  I decided I'm going to make 1.5x the bagel recipe I've been using, and mix up some flavored cream cheese.

I'm going to try to make a variety of toppings, like I did last time, but I might have to try something different with the cinnamon sugar ones.  They tasted great, but the topping didn't hold up well - it cracked and mostly fell off.  I might try to incorporate some cinnamon sugar inside of the bagel rather than just on top, and maybe only sprinkle the cinnamon on top?  I also might use something like an egg wash to help adhere the toppings, but I'm afraid to do anything to mess with the recipe too much.  I'll probably make some cinnamon sugar, some sesame, some everything, and a bunch plain.

And then for flavored cream cheese - I will make some honey walnut raisin, some sundried tomato and herb, and keep some plain.

I'm pretty sure this will be the most gourmet lab meeting we've had!

Okay - so I made the bagels!  And it seems like everyone in lab loved them.  I made 18 and they were all gone within a few hours.  I decided against using an egg wash for the toppings, and just did it the same way as last time.  The cream cheeses were delicious, I especially liked the sundried tomato one.  I adapted the recipes here.  I have to say that I'm a big fan of the plain bagels.  I think they cook a little better, and they work well with anything you put on them.  This may be my new sandwich of the summer - putting good stuff on bagels!  I froze most of my last batch from a few days ago.  And they have been delicious so far with sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Homemade bubble tea!

I looove bubble tea.  In Delaware, there was a cute place called T-licious that had the best bubble tea.  St. Louis (where I was for undergrad) had a bunch of places that had it.  They even made it in the library cafe! (Although now that I think about it, the one they made was definitely not authentic bubble tea.  They used some kind of powdered mix, and now that I've made bubble tea, I have no idea why they did that.)  But I haven't found any places in Charlottesville yet that serve it.  Plus, any kind of drink like that is always overpriced.  So I was very excited when I found a recipe to make your own!
The recipe is very very simple.  I think next I want to try to make different flavors.  I figure I can do that with either different flavored teas, or adding an extract.  Maybe I can even infuse some flavor while boiling the tea?  Update: Using Torani syrup as a sweetener and a flavor works really well
Next time I'll actually follow the recipe and stir in the sweetener while it's still warm.  I forgot to do that this time, and had a hard time getting it to dissolve once it was cold.
I may have to start looking for the big black tapioca balls.  But in the meantime, the small pearls were very delicate and fun!

Recipe: Bubble Tea (from Food for Laughter)
10 cups water, divided
4 black tea bags (I used 2 English Breakfast Tea and 2 Chai Tea)
Sweetener, to taste
1/2 cup small tapioca pearls
4 cups milk

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the tea bags.  Let it steep until it reaches desired strength.  Stir in the sweetener, and chill in the fridge.  Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add the tapioca.  Stir it so nothing sticks to the bottom, and let it boil for 25 minutes.  Note: Make sure you have enough water, or add some water halfway through.  Also, stir every few minutes or so - some of mine stuck to the bottom.
Turn off the heat, cover, and let it sit for another 25 minutes.
Drain and rinse with warm water in a sieve.
Mix the chilled tea with the milk in a large pitcher.
For each serving, put a couple of spoonfuls of the tapioca in the bottom of the glass, fill up with the tea, stick in a straw and enjoy!

Bagels Again!

Since I couldn't make bagels when I was last home, I wanted to make a batch for myself.  And this time I had all of the necessary ingredients, like milk powder and yeast.  (Using yeast is probably "cheating" a little, but I'm not really pretending to be a sourdough expert here.)
And it was a success!  Only one small problem - I discovered after I had mixed up the dough that I used AP flour instead of bread flour!  That could explain why it took so long to get good gluten development.  I think they still turned out okay though.
This time I made some everything, some cinnamon sugar, some sesame seed, and some plain.  I ate a cinnamon sugar one this morning and it was delicious :)
I think I may have discovered what caused my troubles with rising last time.  At first I thought it was maybe since I used only sourdough starter, and no additional yeast.  And I thought that was confirmed when my first batch (shown below) turned out fine, with actual holes.  But then when I made a second batch just now, and had the same problems.  I think it may be related to how long the dough sits out before you boil the bagels.  This morning, I had the bagels sitting out for a while, while I was letting the water boil and the oven preheat.  When I made the second batch, I took the bagels out of the fridge right before boiling.  Maybe the bagels need some time to rest first?  The next time I make them, I'll test boil a few straight from the fridge and see if that is the problem.  And maybe I'll remember to use bread flour!

My 12 little dough balls

This time I made the holes bigger so I wouldn't have the same problem as last time

After being boiled

 A perfectly retained hole, post-baking!

These were sticky and sweet!

Dinner, with two visitors

When my friend Jess came over for dinner tonight, she probably had no idea what she was getting herself into!

So to give a little background first -
I moved into a new apartment 2 weeks ago.  The first thing I did when I got the keys was go over to clean the kitchen before moving everything in.  I noticed while cleaning out some of the drawers that there were small dark things, but I assumed they were dirt and didn't think much of it.  I immediately put some of my dry goods in one of the drawers.  What with being at home, and then being busy in the lab, I didn't open two of those drawers until today.  The first thing I noticed was that those small dark things had multiplied.  And then I immediately realized that they were mouse droppings.  That was confirmed when I saw that the bags/boxes had been chewed into.  After freaking out for about 20 minutes (and lifting everything out of the drawer using tongs, since I thought the mouse was still there), I went straight to Lowes and bought 10 mouse traps.  After Jess and I finished our dinner, we setup 7 of the traps with some peanut butter.  It looked like the mouse (or mice) was just living in that one drawer, so we put a few of the traps in there.  Literally 40 minutes later (I'm not even kidding, we hadn't even gotten through an episode of Gilmore Girls), we heard something from the kitchen.  I was so oblivious that it took me a good half minute to figure out what the noise was!  We ran into the kitchen, and first I checked the traps on the floor and under the sink.  I saved that drawer for last.  And of course, that was exactly where the mouse was.
The trap must have killed it immediately, since it didn't budge when I gingerly opened the drawer.  Now I don't know what to do with the mouse!  For the time being, I'm just letting it be.  I'm also afraid that there could have been more than just the one mouse, so I'm leaving the traps out tonight just in case.

But on a better note, I had a very nice evening with Jess!  We made roasted veggies and lemon risotto (she is the risotto queen).  I also made a batch of the ABi5 bread.  The risotto was great!  It's one of the recipes that I've had saved for a while, but hadn't gotten around to making yet.  Jess is a huge Giada fan, and she has made this recipe many times before.  We didn't do anything really to change it, besides swap veg broth for the chicken broth (for my vegetarian needs) and skip the mascarpone.  She said that she's made it with and without and didn't notice any difference.  Which works for me, since I really didn't want to buy an expensive tub of mascarpone for just 2 tbsp.  If you're looking for a simple risotto recipe that will go well with some strong sides, this is your recipe.  You can use more or less lemon, based on how much you like it.

Recipe: Lemon Risotto (from Giada)
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth/stock
1 tbsp butter
1 large shallot, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 lemon zested and juiced
s&p to taste

In a medium saucepan bring the broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer.  Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.
In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallot and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes (it took us a lot longer than that!)  Remove from the heat.  Stir in 2 tbsp of Parmesan, the lemon zest and juice, and the s&p.  Serve with the extra Parmesan.

Friday, June 25, 2010

CSN Review

I got contacted by CSN again!  Since I did a giveaway last time, I decided I wanted to try a review now.  Only one problem - I have no idea what I want!  I could get so many things - a comforter to fill my new duvet cover, artwork for the walls, a bathroom vanity....
Anyone have any suggestions??!!  And has anyone ordered anything from CSN before?

Unexpected use for sourdough

The very kind person who gave me the sourdough starter said that she had heard you could substitute the starter for buttermilk in some recipes.  I thought that this sounded too good to be true!  This would make a very easy way to use the starter, plus would make recipes using buttermilk more accessible.  Buttermilk isn't an ingredient that I have on hand usually, but I always have my starter!

Well she was right!  When I was home, I decided that it was necessary to revive the starter I gave my parents (that they hadn't touched since the last time I was home).  I brought the necessary ingredients to make bagels, but that became unnecessary when my dad made a trip to Panera and got a dozen and a half.  I looked at some of my favorite sourdough blogs, but most recipes involved ingredients that my parents didn't have, and that I didn't think to bring home.  Then I found a recipe for sourdough scones!  Wild Yeast had the perfect recipe - we had all of the necessary ingredients (except I substituted AP flour for the white whole wheat and oat flours).  We even had a scale at home - I gave my parents a really cheap dinky one I used to use before I got the digital scale.  The fact that the scones turned out well shows how versatile the recipe must be, since I know most of the measurements were not exact!  And we didn't have a food processor, so I mixed everything by hand, cutting in the butter with two knives.

So if you have a sourdough starter and don't know what to do with it, this is a really simple recipe to start with.  Besides feeding it 8-12 hours before starting, it requires much less time than most sourdough recipes.  And who doesn't like scones??
Oh, and the "small scones" were pretty darn big!

Recipe: Cranberry Oat Sourdough Scones (from Wild Yeast)
50 g dried cranberries
87 g white whole wheat flour (can use AP)
40 g oat flour (can use AP, or grind oats into a fine powder)
17 g nonfat milk powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp baking soda
5/8 tsp salt
50 g sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional - I didn't use it because we didn't have any lemons)
1 stick cold unsalted butter
40 g rolled oats
340 g mature 100% hydration sourdough starter
milk and coarse sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cover the cranberries with warm water and soak for 10 minutes, then drain well.
In a large bowl, mix the flour(s), milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and lemon zest (if using).  Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and cut in using a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few larger pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.
Mix in the oats and drained cranberries lightly.
Add the sourdough starter and mix quickly and lightly, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated into it.  The dough will be wet and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter and pat into a rectangle about 5x9 inches for larger scones, or about 4x11 inches for smaller scones (what I did).
With a dough cutter (or a metal spatula), cut the dough into two rectangles (three for small scones, what I did), and each of those, on the diagonals, into four pieces.
Place the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Revisiting Old Favorites

In the past week or two I've remade some of my favorite recipes.  Three, to be exact (besides the ones I already mentioned).  One turned out great, as usual.  One turned out a little different, but still good.  And one just didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.

First - the cinnamon chip banana coffee cake.  I gave the recipe to my mom, and it's one of her favorite things to make.  Of course she always has me make it for her when I come home.  It turned out really well this time.  And unlike last time, I took pictures!  Doesn't it look yummy?

When my parents came in to help me move, I decided to make the flourless chocolate cake from Passover, for both of their birthdays.  It was good, but I made the mistake of overbeating the eggs.  This resulted in a meringue-like top, instead of a brownie-like top.  So if you are going to make this recipe, DON'T overbeat the eggs!  Once they start to increase in volume, stop!

For my mom's surprise party, I decided to make Ina's Outrageous Brownies in addition to the dozens of cookies.  I'm glad I had the cookies, since the brownies were a bit of a disappointment.  I made them exactly the same way I did before (at least I think I did), but this time they ended up really crumbly.  They still got the shiny flaky crust, so I thought I was in the clear.  I honestly don't know what happened.  This just means I'll have to make them again!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I have (well now make this had) two vanilla beans that I got for a really good price at World Market almost a year ago, and decided that I finally needed to use them!  Plus, I have an ice cream maker that had only been used that meant vanilla bean ice cream!  This was such an easy recipe to make - there were all of 6 ingredients.

The first time I made ice cream, the only actual problem I had was making a custard.  This time, the blog suggested cooking the custard directly over heat instead of in a double boiler, and I successfully got a thickened custard.  For a while I thought it was never going to thicken, and then suddenly it got really thick!  So just have patience and it will work out perfectly.

I didn't have vanilla sugar to use for this recipe, but I will the next time I make something vanilla-based!  I washed off the used vanilla bean and stuck it in a tupperware, covered with sugar.  Within a few days the sugar already had a great vanilla flavor.  I'm going to have to go back to World Market to stock up - $2.99 for 2 vanilla beans is a great deal.

I made just one change, in the proportion and amount of milk and cream.  I only had one small carton of heavy cream so I used 1 cup of cream, and 2 cups of whole milk.  The original recipe called for 2.5 cups dairy total, but I wanted to stretch out the ice cream a bit.  I used 1.5 cups of the whole milk in the custard, then added the cream plus the extra 1/2 cup whole milk right before churning.

So please make this ice cream!  It's really rich (even with the extra milk) and not overly sweet.  If you have vanilla sugar, definitely use it, but I can say that it doesn't negatively affect the flavor if you use regular sugar.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (adapted slightly from Mangio da Sola)
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.  Put 1 1/2 cups of the milk, vanilla seeds, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan, and heat gently to near-boiling point.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow the vanilla to infuse for 15 minutes.

In a separate, heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar, using a whisk or electric beater, until thick and pale.  Add a little of the milk mixture to the egg mixture to warm it up slightly, then beat in the rest of the milk.

Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir the mixture until it coats the back of a spoon.

Remove the bowl from the heat, and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap or waxed paper to prevent a skin from forming.  
Allow the custard to cool completely by refrigerating mixture for 4 hours to overnight.

Once cool, stir in the cream, 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla extract and churn in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.  

Serve immediately, or transfer to a freezer container; cover the surface directly with waxed paper or foil, and put in the freezer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The best chocolate chip cookies you'll ever eat

These are my favorite chocolate chip cookies ever.  And they aren't that difficult to make.  I think I made 100 of them in the span of a week.  First I made 3 dozen before I moved - I baked some and brought them into the lab for a birthday, and froze the rest so I could bake as needed.  Then I made 5 dozen for my mom's birthday - made them, shaped them and baked them all in one night!  Everyone thinks I'm crazy since I did all kinds of baking while I was moving.
But anyway, make these cookies!  You can cut out some of the butter, I usually cut out 1-2 tbsp per batch, and I'm sure you could cut out even more.  But make sure that whatever butter you cut out is not the butter that is browned - you want all of that wonderful toffee flavor!
The dough freezes really well, so you can make a ton, shape them, and then cook them later.  Just make sure to thaw them out before cooking.  I think some were still too frozen when I cooked them, and they didn't bake very well.
Oh and the original recipe says to make them much bigger than I do - I use my size 40 scooper, which I think is about 1-1.5 tbsp.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Family, Friends and Food)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (I only had light brown and it was fine)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used a combination, and it was dark chocolate)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (I didn't use)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl and set aside.
Heat 10 tbsp butter in 10-inch stainless steel skillet (it's easier to see if the butter is brown) over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.
Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 tbsp butter into hot butter until completely melted.
Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.
Add egg and yolk (make sure butter mixture isn't too hot) and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.
Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.
Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
Use a #40 cookie scoop and arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until the edges are starting to get golden brown and the cookies are puffy, about 8 minutes.  The centers will still be soft and look uncooked.  Let cool on the sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Finally a new granola

For the longest time, I have remained loyal to two different granolas - Tyler Florence's and Steph Chows'.  I decided that maybe I should try something new.  (But don't worry, I still love my old favorites!)
Granola is such an easy thing to make, and as long as you keep the general ratios.  I didn't follow this recipe exactly, and it turned out great.  For the liquid part, I used a liquid cup measure and poured everything in until it was just over 2/3 cup, using mostly vegetable oil.  I'll include the original amounts for simplicity.  I didn't have enough pecans, so I used a mixture of nuts.  I have to say that the pecans were my favorite part, so I might use only pecans next time.  I also added wheat germ and sunflower seeds.  I didn't add any fruit into it.  I really dislike dried apricot (hate the texture), and I prefer adding fresh fruit and eating over yogurt.  Actually on a side note, I made homemade gingerale again, and decided to follow another recipe and put the leftover ginger pieces in the oven at a very low temperature, rather than letting them dry out over a day or two.  I figured this would speed things up.  Well that was true alright - after half the time the recipe called for, it had shriveled up into hard little pieces.
Definitely not what I was looking for.  But they were good to add in with the granola, so it wasn't a complete waste.

Recipe: Coconut and Pecan Granola (adapted from Fine Eats)
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats or thick cut oats
1 cup sweetened, dried coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped roughly (or any mixture of nuts)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (with no salt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil.
Mix the oats, coconut, pecans, cinnamon, salt, wheat germ and sunflower seeds in a medium bowl.
Add oil, honey and maple syrup to a measuring cup or small bowl and stir to combine.
Pour over oat mixture and stir until evenly coated.
Spread the oats evenly on the prepared sheet pan.
Place in the oven and bake for about 25-35 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.  In the last 10 minutes, watch very closely as the oats will brown quickly.  Once they are golden brown, they're done.
Let cool in pan - if you like big clumps, don't stir once you take it out.
Store in an airtight container.

Leftovers --> Salad

After my big success with caramelized onions, I wanted to put them on everything.  I took 4 huge vidalia onions and caramelized all of them.  I figured that once they cooked down, I wouldn't be left with very much, but I still had a ton!  So much that I really did need to put them on everything to use up.  I of course bought a few heads of broccoli to make that delicious dish.  At the same time that I bought the onions, I also bought and roasted a bunch of veggies - eggplant, peppers and zucchini.  I made a few sandwiches, and then got sick of it.  So I made several salads with the leftovers!  I tossed spinach/spring mix with the onions, broccoli, roasted veggies and feta, and added a little sesame ginger dressing (there are so many veggies with their juices that not much dressing is needed).  This salad is so good!  So any time you have random leftovers - just throw them in a salad!

Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Now that I have a working sourdough starter, I want to do a lot with it.  I decided to try using it with the ABi5 dough.  Of course I made this a while ago, and I don't remember exactly how much starter I used.  I know that I calculated everything by weight - the recipe is given in cups, but they include how much flour usually weighs and I calculated the weight based on that.  And I took the amount of sourdough starter I used and subtracted half of that from each the water and flour weight totals.  I used the whole wheat starter and the equivalent of 1 cup of rye flour, the rest was AP unbleached.  Of course I meant to make several loaves from the bucket of dough, but only managed to use it once.  I now have it sitting in my fridge and really should dump it out.
The dough was really hard to work with!  I don't know if I didn't measure right, but it was extremely liquid-y.  To the point where when I grabbed a handful to make a loaf, half of it stuck to my hands and any surface I put the dough on.  The loaf also didn't rise very much in the oven.  But I have to say, the flavor was pretty good.  I was busy so I sliced and froze the whole loaf right away, and I've only had a few slices from it.  I'll have to try it again once I have more time.  I am borrowing the book from the library, and I'm probably going to buy it soon.

Catching Up

I have been so bad about posting lately!  But this time I have a real excuse.  I moved!  I scheduled the moving so I would have an entire weekend, which was definitely good thinking on my part.  My move-in date for the new place was the 11th, and I had until the morning of the 15th to move out of the old place.  So things have been crazy the past few weeks, with packing up all of my belongings, moving all of them, and then attempting to get settled in.  And then I went home this past weekend for my mom's surprise 50th!  Of course, she wasn't surprised.  You can't get anything past her.  But it was still a great party.  I got to see all of my family, including my aunt from California who I rarely get to see.

So with all of this craziness, I haven't had time to even think about posting (although I did spend plenty of time cooking).  As always, I'm going to attempt to do it in chronological order (when I take pictures, that helps me figure it out).

This meal I made for my parents when I went home over Memorial Day Weekend.  When my parents visited me for my birthday, I took them to an Indian grocery store in Charlottesville, and they bought a bunch of stuff.  2.5 months later, and they still hadn't touched anything!  The paneer said it was good until May, so I knew that if I didn't make anything with it, it would get thrown away.  I decided to make a dish I have already made many times before, in pre-blogging times.  And it was great as always!  I was in such a rush, since I wanted to get on the road by 5:30 to avoid getting back to Virginia too late (of course I didn't leave until 6:45).  I didn't remember to take pictures at the time, but my dad took pictures when they ate the leftovers the next night (I still need to get those pics from him).  I make very few changes to this dish when I make it.  First - I dice the paneer instead of shredding it, only out of convenience.  And this time, we didn't feel like dealing with fresh hot chilies so we used two from a can, and then I used 2 dried chilies that I removed later.  I used half-and-half instead of cream, and omitted the cilantro because I can't stand it.  This dish is really easy to make.  It has a lot of ingredients, but don't let that deter you.

Recipe: Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Paneer Cheese (from Lisa's Kitchen)
2 tbsp of ghee or a mixture of butter and oil (I used a mixture)
3 black cardamom pods
1 6-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 bay leaves
1 small onion, chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped or shredded
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 hot green chilies, finely chopped
1 5.5 oz can of tomato paste (I used a 6 oz can)
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric (warning - this will stain everything yellow!)
3 cups of cooked kidney beans (I used canned)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2-2/3 cup paneer cheese, shredded or diced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
small handful of dry curry leaves (optional)

Heat the ghee (or butter and oil) in a large, deep pan over medium heat.  When hot, add the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves (this is where I added the dried whole peppers) to the pan and cook for 15 seconds.  Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until it starts to soften.  Add the garlic, hot chilies and ginger and cook for another minute or so.

Add the ground spices and salt.  Stir and add 1/2 cup of water and the tomato paste.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water is mostly evaporated - roughly 5 minutes.  Stir in another 1/2 cup of water, cover, stir occasionally and simmer until the water evaporates again.  Repeat 1-3 more times until you have a nice, thick red sauce.

Stir in the kidney beans and 3/4 cup of water.  Stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered until the sauce is thickened - roughly 15 minutes.

Add the cream, garam masala and shredded paneer and cook for another few minutes.  Stir in the curry leaves and the cilantro (if using), reserving a bit for garnishing if desired.  Remove the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick pieces (and peppers if using) before serving.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sourdough Bagels

I am so excited about these bagels.  They are long gone now, so I need to make some more!  I think I will as soon as I move (which is in less than a week!)  They definitely require more space than I currently have in my kitchen.

To back up a bit, I decided to make the bagels when I went home last weekend.  I brought my sourdough starter with me.  I fed it its own weight in water and flour the night before traveling (a Wednesday), and left it out overnight.  Then I kept it refrigerated (or in a cooler) until Friday night.  Then I fed it again with equal weight water and flour.
(Side note - I've been enjoying doing it by weight.  It's easy, you don't need to measure anything.  And I like how precise it is.)  I left my parents with the excess, and told them they have to keep it going :)
I let it rise for a few hours at room temperature on Saturday, then shaped them and refrigerated for almost 24 hours.

I assume that everyone has a ridiculously stocked pantry, like I do.  I discovered that my parents didn't have any yeast!  I know the bagels use the sourdough starter, but the recipe I was using called for some yeast.  I had found some recipes that didn't use yeast, so I decided to follow their rising methods.  They also didn't have any dry milk.  I just replaced some of the water with skim milk, and it seemed to work fine.  Next time I'll use dry milk.  But I think I'll stick with using only starter, no yeast.  I still get such excitement from seeing things rise, when I haven't added any commercial leavening agents.

I know there are a lot of steps, but this is really so easy to make!  They turned out so well!  My mom actually said they tasted like New York style bagels.  I think the double feeding gave them a nice sourdough flavor.  I would love to make flavored bagels next time, maybe add some cheese or herbs in the actual dough.  Some recipes call for using a stand mixer to make the dough, but I wouldn't recommend it.  It takes a lot longer, and requires some muscle power, to mix it by hand, but that's better than running the risk of burning out your motor!  It's a really stiff dough.

My only problem - my bagels had such a funny shape!  I don't know if that had anything to do with using only sourdough.  They looked fine after boiling, but then when I baked them, they just expanded upward instead of widthwise.  They looked like really tall smushed bagels.  And the holes completely closed up.  I know that when you use a pizza stone, things really rise upwards.  But I put them on cooled cookie sheets, so I don't know why it happened.  Next time I'll make them really flat and wide before boiling, and see what happens.  And if anyone has advice, I'd be happy to hear it!

Recipe: Sourdough Bagels (adapted from Wild Yeast)
675 g bread flour (I used King Arthur)
18 g vital wheat gluten (bought at Whole Foods)
304 g ripe 100% hydration (fed equal parts by weight of water and ap flour) sourdough starter
308 g ice water (I replaced 58 g with cold skim milk)
2.5 g instant yeast (I didn't use)
2 tsp salt (I started to measure by weight, and then realized that there must have been a mistake in the original recipe, since 13.5 g of salt is a lot!)
18 g sugar
15 g extra-light malt power (bought at a beer brewing supply store)
47 g milk powder (I used the milk above instead)
Cornmeal or semolina

4 tsp kosher salt
4 tsp poppy seeds
4 tsp sesame seeds
4 tsp garlic flakes
4 tsp onion flakes

1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp extra-light malt powder

Combine the flour, starter, water, yeast (if using), salt, sugar, malt, and milk powder (if using) in a medium bowl.  Mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
Use your hands and knead until the dough is very smooth and strong, it could take at least 15 minutes.  In the first few minutes, it might feel like it needs some flour, so sprinkle some on.  But only add what is absolutely necessary.  It will eventually feel tacky, but not sticky.  The test to when you can stop kneading is the "windowpane test."  Take a small piece of dough, and stretch it until you can see through it when you hold it up to a light.  If it breaks, it needs to be kneaded more for gluten development.
When the dough is ready, form into a smooth ball.
Put the dough in a bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel.
If using yeast, let it rest for 10 minutes.  If only using the starter, let it rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and dust them with semolina or cornmeal.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces ~100 grams each.  Form each piece into a tight ball, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
There are two methods of shaping the bagels.  The "true" method is to roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 8-10 inches long without tapering the ends.  Wrap the cylinder around your hand, with the ends overlapping by about 2 inches in your palm.  Roll your palm on an unfloured counter to smash the ends together.  The easier way is to form the piece of dough into a smooth, tight ball.  Carefully poke a hole in the center by bringing your thumb and middle finger together.  Widen the hole to several inches - it will close up as it rests.  I did about half the first way, and half the second.  I didn't notice any major differences after cooking.
Place the bagels on the prepared cookie sheets and cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
When you take the bagels out of the refrigerator, test them to make sure they are ready to be boiled by placing one in a bowl of room temperature water.  It should float within a few seconds.  If it doesn't float, then pat it dry and let it sit out longer, re-checking every 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add the baking soda and malt powder to the water once it is boiling.  Be prepared - it will foam up!  But it will subside once you add the first bagel.
Meanwhile, place a cooling rack on the counter with a dishtowel underneath it.  Mix together the topping ingredients and place on a small plate in a shallow layer.
Drop the bagels, up to three or four at a time (I did them one at a time), into the vigorously boiling water for 30 seconds - 1 minute.  If they float right away so the tops are not submerged initially, flip them over about halfway through the boil.
Remove the bagels from the water to the cooling rack with a slotted spatula.  Let them drain for about 30 seconds before pressing them, top down, into the seeds and replacing them back onto the cornmeal/semolina-dusted, parchment-lined cookie sheet.  (I didn't press them in the seeds, I just sprinkled the seeds on.  Pressing would have probably added more, so I'll do that next time.  And I would suggest spritzing with water or using an egg wash to get them to stick better.)
Turn the oven down to 400 F once the bagels are in.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Rotate the pan halfway through cooking.  (Don't be tempted to pull them out early.  I did, so I could toast them individually when eating, but then the insides were a little doughy.)
Cool on a wire rack.
(Baked on left, Unbaked on right.  See how tall they got!)

I enjoyed mine with cream cheese+lox or whitefish salad+tomatoes.