Monday, December 28, 2009

Holy Bagels Batman!

Mix them, knead them, boil them, bake them, bagels have always appeared to be so hard to make.  I always safely went for the store bought kind until yesterday, when I came across the "Boiled Bagel" recipe in an old Hadassah Cookbook called "Sharing Our Best."  I realized that with a few modern convienences the bagels might not be such a challenge.  If you read through my process, you will be rewarded with an updated bagel recipe at the end.

A big turn off with the original recipe, written in 1970, was the 20 minutes of kneading after the dough was mixed by hand with a fork.  Despite many recent workouts at the gym, my arms are just too wimpy for that, plus, I've got things to do, like arm exercises.  I opted to try mixing and kneading with my Kitchen-aid mixer and boy, did that make the job easier.  I let the dough rise right in the mixing bowl. Then, I shaped the dough directly on my clean, lightly floured granite countertops.  *Note: I'm not trying to brag about my mixer and counters, I just want to show how the convienences of the modern kitchens can make this recipe flow. 

The next problem was how would I boil these things?  The recipe said to use a wide pan.  What does that mean?  My big frying pan seemed to shallow and my soup pots were all deep, but not wide enough. I used a wok.  It turned out to be a good choice.  I could fit four to five bagels in it at a time.  You only need to boil the bagels for a minute.  I used metal tongs and a flat turkey fork to pull the bagels out.  The recipe said to use a flat metal whisk, but I don't have one. *Tip my birthday is coming soon ; )
The recipe then said to drain the bagels on foil, so I laid out some foil on a wire cooling rack.  This worked out because I could add the toppings at this stage and they all stayed neatly on the foil.

I laid the cooling rack right next to my wok on the top of the stove.  I found that it worked best to keep the steps of the bagel making in one straight line in the kitchen.  The Kitchen Aid was by the sink, then the shaping station was next, the wok was right next to that, the cooling rack was next to the wok, and lastly the greased cookie sheet was at the end of the line. 

Here is a picture of the shaped dough with toppings.  I used Sesame Seeds, Rock Salt, and Chopped Onion. This is the most fun part, get creative with the toppings.  You can see how the bagels brown baking in the oven. 
I made two cookie sheets worth from my recipe and got about 18 bagels; you may notice from the pictures, not all of my bagels were the traditional torus shape, some were pretzels, some were bagel nubs. This is the delightful finished product. A day later, these are all gone.

And now... As promised:  
(makes 18-24)
5 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
2 Packets of Yeast
1/4 Cup Sugar
Warm Water
2 Eggs, beaten
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp Salt
Toppings - Your choice, may include: Chopped Onions (dried or fresh), Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds, Garlic, Rock Salt, Fresh Parmesan Cheese, Cinnamon and Sugar, Sunflower Seeds, etc.
To Mix:
Sift, or if you don't have a sifter, like me, (*TIP, did I mention my birthday?) shake the flour out into your electric mixing bowl.  If you have one, put a dough hook on the mixer.  Make a well in the middle of the flour pile and add in the yeast. Put the sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in the well.  Let the yeast bubble a bit and then mix slowly for about 5-10 minutes.  Add in the beaten eggs, oil, salt, and 1 more cup of warm water.  Mix and knead in the mixer for 10-15 minutes.  Add a few tablespoons of water as you go if the dough is too dry. Every once in a while stop the mixer and scrape the sides and pull the dough off the hook so it mixes better.  The dough should be smooth and elastic. 
Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel to let the dough rise for about 20-30 minutes.
Before you start shaping, fill your wok with water and a dash of salt and heat on a high heat.  You need a rolling boil for the bagels to cook properly.  It would also be a good time to preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
To Shape: 
If you have two cookie sheets, you can shape the dough all at once, but if you don't, split the dough and let half rise more while you shape and bake the first batch. Lightly flour a clean surface, a cutting board or a smooth countertop will do nicely.  Knead half of the dough to release any air bubbles. Divide into about 9 pieces.  Shape each piece into a rope about 8 inches long.  Cross the ends of the rope and wrap the rope under, tucking in the ends.  Press firmly so the bagel holds its shape.  You can also try other shapes, like a pretzel, or a bagel stick if you prefer.  Let rise until they have increased in size and are fairly light.
To Boil:
Make sure your wok is ready with the water boiling rapidly.  With floured hands, drop 4-5 bagels into the water.  Boil for 1 minute.  Remove from wok with tongs and a flat wire wisk or turkey fork.  Place on foil to drain. 
While the bagels are on the draining rack, get creative with your favorite toppings. Sprinkle whatever you choose on the bagels while they are still wet.
To Bake: 
Transfer topped bagels to a greased cookie sheet; Pam or Spray Olive Oil will work well for fast greasing.
Put the cookie sheet in the preheated 400 degree oven.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Cookbooks!

I got some new cookbooks for Hanukkah and Christmas and boy are my eyes tired. What a great set!

I recieved the new collection from the editors at Gourmet Magazine, Gourmet Today. This book is so comprehensive, I barely know where to start. All I know is that it is likely to become a new favorite.

Also, I got Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2. The first recipe I plan to make from this book is the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits for a certain Friend of Food who loves the things.
If this book works out, I am likely to save lots of money and calories by making my own versions of restaurant foods.

Lastly and perhaps most enjoyably I was given Hello, Cupcake. You all know my penchant for making my food into a craft project (see the tag bento for evidence of this.) I already have picked out a recipe that I may have the twins help me on for Christmas Eve. The only thing preventing me from making cupcakes today is the abundance of sweets on my kitchen counter (thank you K!) No worries, the future will include cupcakes... look out for edible cuteness on the blog.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Miracle of Hannukah Bento

Hannukah is a holiday about the miracle of lights. The Maccabees were able to fight off overwhelming forces to take back the holy temple from the Greeks who wanted the Jews to worship their pantheon of Gods. It is about keeping the holy flame lit in the temple during a war. Oil that was only supposed to last one day, lasted eight days, enough time to get more oil. In other words, G-d helped keep that flame a-glowing. It is a metaphor for keeping the light of Judaism alive in the face of powers that wish to squelch the religion.

My multicultural family celebrates Hannukah today with this festive Bento. Yes, I realize we are in full Los Angeles culture clash with this one. Almond butter and boysenberry jelly on wheat bread make fine dreidles. Thinly sliced baby carrots represent Hanukkah Gelt, the chocolate coins given to children to play dreidle with and for luck. The kids' daycare doesn't allow real chocolate, or the twins might have had a special treat in the lunch. They do have one surprise, apples are under the menorah. The menorah itself is made of edamame for the candles and sharp cheddar for the flame.
When I saw the edamame box in the fridge, I thought,
"Great, candles, but we have been eating these things so much, there's no way I'll have enough for two menorahs. I need eight candles, plus the shamus (the candle that lights the others) times two, that's eighteen edamame pods!"

As I was laying the candle pods out I found one damaged pod, oh no... but there were exactly eighteen good ones, nine for each box! It's a Hannukah Bento Miracle. This flame keeps a-glowing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Busy Times

The holidays are always busy times. This year I have been blessed with more family time, a little freelance work (I am an Artist by trade), and the pleasure of living life. Yesterday we set up the Christmas tree, lit the candles on the menorah, and saw the Princess and the Frog; we are a multicultural family. We ate at The Counter,but more about that in a future post.
Husband of Food and I spent time with friends at their house in Torrance. I brought Muddy Buddies and found out who reads this blog regularly. I played a board game. I finished a book I could barely put down. If you are a parent with young kids, you may like it, too. I can't tell you how many times I laughed at this book thinking, "OK, so this happens to other people, too."

I chatted with Mother of Food. I let Husband of Food calm the overtired twins who were still up when we got home. I read an incredibly sweet post on the Mandicrocker Blog, featuring yours truly. Yesterday was a beautiful day. But enough about me... What's new with you?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Whipper Info

Son of Food posted the following to the "Comments" of the last post. The info is too good to be hidden away there, so I am posting it here on the front page. This information is for a whipper like this one, the iSi Gourmet Whip.

I did figure out my whipper problem from Thanksgiving, I wasn't taking the charger off before spraying. I had never actually seen one of these in action before. A bit of youTube reference revealed the secret. The following information gives us so much more to work with. Thanks, Son of Food!

Just checking in. So what you need to do, first, is be sure the canister isn't filled above the fill line, which should be 16 oz or 500ml for a 1 pt. whipper. I usually mix whatever I'm whipping in a measuring cup to be sure. The liquid shouldn't have lumps that might clog the dispenser, so strain if you're making something like avocado foam.

Attach the lid with a tip attached. Charge the canister by putting a cream cartridge (nitrous oxide) in the charging cylinder and screwing it in place, shake it up, and remove the cylinder. Don't shake too much. It may only need two or three shakes.

You can also make soda in the Gourmet Whip using soda chargers (CO2), but don't use soda chargers for things other than fizzy liquids, or they will create carbonic acid that will impart an undesirable flavor to things other than fizzy drinks.

To dispense the cream, hold the canister upside down, shake once to move the contents down toward the dispensing tip, and push the trigger slowly so you'll have some control over how much comes out. You can change tips once the whipper is charged. If you hold the canister with the tip up, the gas will be released, and the cream will be stuck in the canister, just like with a can of Redi-Whip.

Here's a website with some useful suggestions--

There are some good videos as well on starchefs--

This is an excellent collection of foam recipes in Spanish by Ferran Adrià, some of which appears in English translation on the isi site linked above--

This site has a compilation of recipes using hydrocolloids, including many foams that can be prepared in a whipper--

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