Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homemade Bagels

I have been thinking about making bagels for such a long time.  What was holding me back?  I think it was the intimidation of having to boil these doughnut-shaped rolls in water first.  I have had terrible luck making doughnuts and having them keep their shape.  Well, I'm here to tell you, making bagels is SO MUCH easier.  This recipe is anyway.

I found this recipe on a wonderful website called The Galley Gourmet and the author has a wonderful tutorial of how she made hers if you're interested in step-by-step visual instructions. After reading this blog I was convinced to give them a try.  I will share her recipe with you and encourage you bread makers out there to give these a try.  They are far superior to the too soft versions we find in our supermarkets and the flavor is delicious.  The Husband declared "These are the best bagels I've ever tasted."  High praise indeed!
Homemade Bagels

2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for kneading
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Poppy seeds (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)
Dried onion flakes (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the water. Continue to mix until the dough comes together in a mass, about 4-6 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and knead for another 8-10 minutes until soft and smooth. Put the dough in a bowl sprayed lightly with non-stick baking spray. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425ยบ F and bring a large pot of water to a boil; then reduce to a simmer.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Press each piece down to get rid of air bubbles. Form into balls and roll the balls between your palm and the work surface, rotating to form a smooth ball. Coat a finger in flour and press it through each ball to form a ring. Work the rest of your fingers into the hole, stretching the dough and widening the hole to about 1/3 of the bagel’s diameter. Place the bagels baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Gently lower the bagels into the water in batches, 2-3 bagels at a time. Boil, uncovered for about 1 minute. Turn them over once and boil for another minute. Using a perforated skimmer, remove the bagels from the pot, letting the water drain, and return to the baking sheet. Sprinkle tops of bagels with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, or leave them plain. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 8 bagels.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Not Ready For Fall

I thought about making a big pot of soup over the weekend but then decided that I'm not ready to give in and start cooking Fall recipes.  I had recently made a shopping trip to the new Trader Joe's in town (it's about time we got one), and I picked up a bag of Meyer lemons for a darn good price. 
I just knew I would be inspired to whip up something with these wonderful lemons if I looked in a recently acquired new cookbook, The Bon Appetit Cookbook.  This cookbook is chock-a-block full of amazing recipes from apples to zucchini, breakfast through dinner, and beyond.  I have a special warm spot in my heart for Bon Appetit as of late, as I was given a little bit of press on their blog site for cooking a recent recipe they published in one of their issues.  It's always been one of my very favorite magazines since I started subscribing in the early '80's.
I found just the recipe for my "I'm not giving up on Summer" lemon dessert.  I share with you this Meyer Lemon Mousse.  It didn't call for Meyer lemons but since that is all I had, that is what I used. Meyer lemons have a much more distinct orange taste and are far less tart then our common garden variety lemons.  They made for a delightful change and a delicious dessert. I also  modified the recipe a bit as it called for toasted coconut layered between the mousse which I opted not to do. Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon Mousse

2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream

Place 2 teaspoons water in small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 10 minutes. Whisk sugar, lemon juice, yolks and lemon peel in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Add butter; stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and just begins to bubble at edges, about 9 minutes. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture; stir to dissolve. Transfer lemon curd to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Beat cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold 1 cup cream into curd.

Spoon into serving dishes and let chill for at least one hour. Serves six.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

I have attempted to make homemade pizza a few times at home and I had just about given up.  I never have been able to achieve the perfect pizza parlor results I have been looking for.  Even after investing in a pizza stone and a pizza peel, I still ended up with flabby thin crust pizza and a broken pizza stone.  Don't believe the manufacturers instructions about it being okay to put in the oven at 450 degrees. 

Recently I stumbled across this recipe for deep dish pizza on a blog called SparkPeople and this pizza sounded like and turned out to be a real winner.  We haven't traditionally been deep dish pizza fans at our house, but one taste of this fantastic pie and we are now converts. 

The recipe below calls for pepperoni but I opted for a Pizza Margherita (tomato and fresh basil) and sausage and olive for my first attempts. It is hard to say which I liked better. They were both fantastic.  This dough for the crust is so wonderful and pliable.  Unlike thin pizza dough that has to be coaxed into what I always hope to be a circular shape, this is easily pushed into the cake pan and up the sides.  It bakes into this extremely favorful (thanks olive oil), very light, and richly browned crust.  I highly recommend this recipe for anyone interested in making pizza from scratch at home.

Deep Dish Pizza


1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup skim milk plus 2 additional tablespoons, warmed to 110 degrees
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1 package instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic , minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper

1 (3.5-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
1 1/3 cups tomato sauce (see related recipe, "Basic Pizza Sauce")
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions for Basic Pizza sauce

Cook oil and garlic in medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, herbs and peppers, increase heat to medium, and cook until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Instructions for dough

1. To make the dough: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Lightly grease large bowl with cooking spray. Coat each of two 9-inch cake pans with 3 tablespoons oil.

2. Mix milk, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in measuring cup. Mix flour, yeast, and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium-low and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter, gently shape into ball, and place in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

3. To shape and top the dough: Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and lightly roll each half into ball. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll and shape dough into 9 1/2-inch round and press into oiled pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm spot (not in oven) until puffy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.
4. While dough rises, put half of pepperoni in single layer on microwave-safe plate lined with 2 paper towels. Cover with 2 more paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Discard towels and set pepperoni aside; repeat with new paper towels and remaining pepperoni.

5. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce on each round, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 cups cheese and top with pepperoni. Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is browning around edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let pizzas rest in pans for 1 minute. Using spatula, transfer pizzas to cutting board and cut each into 8 (or four, as was our case) wedges. Serve.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanks for Lunch Jodi

Today I would like thank Jodi for our wonderful weekend lunch.  I have never met Jodi. She is a work friend of The Husband's.  She is also an amazing canner and has shared with The Husband and myself some lovely food she has preserved.  This includes Albacore Tuna from our local waters on the Pacific coast, delicious dill pickles, and peaches extraordinaire! 

I like to prepare at least one nice lunch on the weekends as The Husband and I never get to have lunch together during the week.  On this particular day I decided to make a lunch using all of these wonderful products sent to our home by Jodi.  The menu consisted of tuna sandwiches, pickle garnishes, and peaches for dessert. 
The tuna was fantastic. A nice solid block of light tuna that was flaky and full of rich tuna flavor.  The pickles had just the right amount of tartness, garlic flavor, and bite to them.  And the peaches.....oh where do I start.  I am a huge fan of peaches but unfortunately most commercially canned peaches are mushy and have a distinct tinny taste to them.  The moment I opened the jar I knew these were something special.  They tasted as if they were straight from the orchard, bursting with fresh peachy flavor and they had an almost floral aroma to them. Delicious!

So again, thanks Jodi for lunch and I hope we can meet someday so I can thank you in person.