Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lamb Burgers With Mint, Cumin, And Port

Yes, it sounds strange, but it really did turn out well. I've always thought lamb did better with cumin than any other spice. I skipped making a chutney to go with it because I had the dried fruit buns to serve the burgers on. With a bit of blueberry/mint jelly the dinner really came together.

The small cup of tomatoes is a simple salad of ripe tomatoes, basil, marjoram, parsley, red onion, olives, Parmesan cheese and olive oil/red vinegar. Hard to go wrong with that on a warm spring day.

You could also do this as small balls to serve over cous cous, or even noodles.

1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons ruby port

Mix everything but the port together. Add the port slowly so that you do not over-wet the meat. If it begins feeling too wet, you can always toss in a few breadcrumbs.

Form the lamb into patties and fry over medium/high heat until done to your liking.

Stuffed Mushrooms With Spinach And Chervil

This recipe comes from The Best Of Food And Wine, 1993. I made a half recipe and it worked well. I'll post the original but keep in mind smaller batches will work just as well.

I should mention that these were met with delight by both husband and son. We didn't have any leftovers.

You Will Need:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked, chopped spinach (I used frozen) well drained of liquid
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons fresh chopped chervil
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds medium or large fresh mushroom caps (I had some large-ish baby bellas (yeah, I know how "baby" could they be?)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onion until softened-about ten minutes. Add the spinach and the cream. Cook until cream thickens-about three minutes. Remove mixture to a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the chervil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Mix well and set aside.

In a large frying pan with a cover, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon water over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cover. Cook until they become softened and glazed looking-about three minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms to a baking dish that can withstand high heat. Top the caps generously with the spinach. Add remaining cheese to tops and sprinkle with remaining chervil. Bake until heated through and cheese melts-about five minutes. Remove to a dish and serve immediately.

Lentil/Barley Casserole

I liked the last lentil loaf fine, but I thought it might be interesting to use barley instead of rice with it and add a few more vegetables. Here's the result.

You Will Need:

4 cups cooked lentils, drained

2 cups cooked barley, drained

2 cups grated carrots, squeezed dry

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, chopped

10 small, fresh sage leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Olive oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs

Breadcrumbs, dry-about ½ cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large casserole dish.

Cook celery, garlic and onion in olive oil in a large pot or pan. When soft, add herbs and carrots, adding more oil if needed. Add salt and pepper being careful not to over salt if using store-bought breadcrumbs. Cook a few minutes longer. Mix-in the barley and lentils. Mix well with the eggs and breadcrumbs adding slowly just until it holds together as a "glop" (that's a technical term). Pour into casserole dish and bake about 45 minutes, checking frequently after the first half hour.

Blueberry/Mint Syrup And Jelly

I started out to make a blueberry/mint syrup. I ended up with a ½ pint of syrup and ½ pint jelly. As I watched it reduce, I could tell it was going to gel easily, which it did. This was perfect, as I'm serving lamb over the next couple days-a great accompaniment. I did not use canning tested recipes and as the jelly did not go in a water bath (for a single half pint? I couldn't be bothered) it really should be eaten within a week and kept in the fridge.

I couldn't place the smell at first, but it dawned on me that it smells very much like the Celestial Seasonings berry flavoured tea. I haven't bought that tea in at least twenty years, but the smell was so memorable, eventually I remembered where I'd encountered it before.

To make ½ pint syrup and ½ pint jelly (or just keep cooking it all down to make a full pint of jelly)

2 cups sugar

¾ cup water

1 large bunch mint, torn in pieces

a handful of blueberries (about fifteen)

Dissolve the sugar in the water with a whisk until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the blueberries and mint. Switch to a wooden spoon, which you will use to mash the berries against the side of the pot here and there. Keep an eye on it so that the mixture does not boil over (it should simmer rapidly, but not at a full boil) and let it go for about ten minutes or until the syrup has reduced by about 1/3 and it coats a spoon ever so slightly. Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring cup, and then strain again into a clean, heated jar. Reserve the rest for the jelly. Let cool before storing in the fridge.

To make the jelly, return the rest of the syrup to the pan and continue cooking until it reaches the gelling point (if it sticks to a cold spoon, you're there). Strain again into a heated jar. Skin any foam, and let sit until cooled. Then cover and store in the fridge. Use within a week.

Dried Fruit Buns

I wasn't really sure what to call these. They aren't exactly Bath Buns, and they aren't Scotch Buns either. I guess "Mama's Big Fruity Buns" will have to do. I don't look forward to the Google hits from that one.

I took my basic white bread recipe and replaced all-purpose flour with bread flour. The addition of fruits, peel and ½ teaspoon mace gave it the sweetness I was looking for without adding extra sugar. The recipe makes 12 large buns, or 18 medium.

You Will Need:

¼ cup warm water

2-¼ teaspoons regular (not instant) yeast

2 cups milk, scalded

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1-cup raisins

1-cup sultanas

¼ cup crystalised ginger, chopped

Grated peel of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon ground mace

5-6 cups bread flour


1-tablespoon heavy cream

1 egg yolk

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl. Let proof.

In a large bowl, place the butter, sugar and salt. Pour the hot milk over it and let cool to lukewarm.

In a bowl, pour hot water over the fruits and peel and let plump while the yeast proofs and milk cools. Drain through a fine mesh sieve before using (you want to keep the bits of peel).

Add the yeast to the cooled milk and add three cups of the flour. Mix in the fruits and mace. Continue adding flour until dough is no longer sticky. Knead-in extra flour as you go. The dough should be elastic but not overly dry. Knead about ten minutes.

Place in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled-a couple hours.

Gently deflate dough and let rest 30 minutes.

Grease a baking sheet. Shape the buns and let rise, covered with a towel for another 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the buns and bake 10 minutes. Rotate pan and bake another 10-15 or until golden and sound hollow when rapped. I baked mine to an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.

Cool on racks.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blueberry Roll

Sadly, the blueberries aren't from Nova Scotia (much too early). They're from my freezer. Anyway, I had the placemats and thought it would be an appropriate background, if not wholly accurate.

The recipe is from The New York Times Heritage Cookbook. It really isn't all that special-it reminds me of a cross between blueberry muffins and a buckle. It could have used lemon zest-maybe even a bit of vanilla. The dough was easy enough to make but difficult to handle and mine did split in two coming off the pan. My husband liked it, and in the right mood, I probably would too-but today it struck me as terribly ho-hum.

You Will Need:

1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling the berries
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (aprox)

Place the blueberries in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon and sugar.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and 2 cups of sugar

Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers until it is a fine meal. Beat the eggs in a measuring cup and add enough milk to total 3/4 cup. You probably won't need all of it.

Stir the liquid slowly into the flour to make a soft (not wet) dough. You will need to be able to roll it out, so keep this in mind as you add.

Roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness in an oblong approximately 10x15 inches. Spread with blueberries and roll-up from the wide end. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet and bake 40-45 minutes or until golden. Cool ten minutes on pan, then transfer to a rack. Dust with powdered sugar and serve slightly warm.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Marmite/Cheddar Bread And Tornado!

I'll keep this brief as there are tornadoes touching down not far from here and reports of semi trailers strewn all over the Interstate. Right now it is calm in my town but we all know (from the other night) how fast this can change. Kearney, I heard has been hit pretty hard tonight.

You Will Need:

1 cup fed sourdough starter
2 cups water
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese 2 heaping tablespoons Marmite
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl, soften the starter with the water. Mix in the three cups of flour and cover with plastic. Let stand three hours.

Stir in the sugar, salt, marmite, cheese and flour a cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead well, about ten minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled-about three hours.

Punch down, divide in two and shape. Place on cornmeal dusted pan and dust lightly with flour. Cover with a towel and let rise until nearly doubled-about two hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slash loaves. Using whatever method you prefer to create steam, do so and load the loaves. Bake 20 minutes, then rotate the pans-take care opening the oven as there may be steam.

Bake until they reach an internal temperature of about 200 degrees F. The loaves should sound hollow and have a deep golden colour.

OK-gotta go, the weather is getting scary. Stay safe everyone.

Cornmeal Pizzas

I over-bought mushrooms this week (Baby Bellas were on a major sale) so I've been looking for interesting ways to use them. You may prefer to forgo the half stick of butter to cook the mushrooms and onions and go for olive oil instead. The crust takes about an hour to prepare which is about how long it will take to make the toppings.

You Will Need:

For The Crust:

1 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons regular yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt

Disolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let sit five minutes. Add the olive oil.

Sift together the flour, cornmeal and salt. Slowly add the liquid and mix well. Knead on a board about five minutes until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled-about an hour.

For the Topping:

1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
2 large sweet onions, sliced
4 tablespoons (or more) butter
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, half reserved
1 teaspoon dried thyme
5 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
Splash of sherry
3 small ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 cup Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large frying pan melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions and mushrooms
Cover and cook until the onions and mushrooms are soft, stirring occasionaly. This should take about 30-40 minutes. Add the herbs and cook a few minutes longer, uncovered until some of the liquid evaporates. Toss on the sherry, turn the heat to high and burn off most of the remaining liquid and alcohol. Set aside and cover until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Place one rack in the lowest position and another in the centre. Toss some cornmeal on baking sheets.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out into thin rounds. You should be able to fit two to a sheet.

Place the mushroom/onion mixture on the bottom of the rounds. Top with cheeses, then tomatoes and a few bits of parsley for colour. Bake 5 minutes on the low rack and another 3-5 in the middle. Keep an eye on them as they tend to burn quickly once they go. Let stand a few minutes before slicing.

Barbecued Lima Beans

I'd been curious to try these after I saw the recipe in The Women's Day Encyclopedia Of Cookery, 1960. Danny really enjoys lima beans tossed with butter and salt, so I knew I had half the battle won. He ended up really enjoying these.

The recipe couldn't be easier, though I made a few changes (organic ketchup and double the amount of mustard). It certainly made me think you could prepare these with any sauce you prefer. I get into such a rut preparing the same vegetables the same way day after day. This recipe is a keeper. If I can get my three year old to eat lima beans, a sweet potato, and spinach for lunch I feel less guilty about letting him have pudding ice cream two days in a row. He did request the oddest combination of fruit for a salad tonight (tinned plums, fresh nectarines and maraschino cherries). I guess I'll let him have it-he did eat all his lima beans.

You Will Need:

1/4 cup molasses (mild)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
6 cups cooked lima beans (frozen works fine)

Cook and drain the beans. Mix everything else in a bowl and transfer to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until well blended. Mix in the beans and cook a few more minutes until warmed through. Let stand a few minutes before serving. Reheats well.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stop With The Faces Already

Ever find yourself sitting at home thinking:

"Marmite and cheese on toast would be excellent right now."

Yeah, me too. But I'll bet you don't try to incorporate it into bread. OK, maybe you do-but I couldn't find anyone on-line that had actually done it. I found an odd old reference to it, but the rest of the recipe sounded so messed-up I was sure it would be a waste of Marmite and good cheddar. OK, not good cheddar because I can't afford that...but a reasonably priced block of store-brand extra sharp cheddar from Hy-Vee that is (much to my continual shock), actually pretty darn good. Really, I couldn't believe it either.

So yeah, I'm refreshing the sourdough starter overnight and we'll just have to wait and see if this was genius or not. Stop making faces. The taste of a decomposing compost heap and sharp cheddar is really quite the delicious snack.

Stop with the faces already. Just wait, you'll see. 24 hours from now I'll be enjoying a slice of Marmite and cheese sourdough bread and you'll be eating...well I don't know what you'll be eating but I'm pretty certain it won't be Marmite and cheese sourdough bread.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pea Smoothie

A nice way to enjoy peas on a hot day.

You Will Need:

1 cup cooked peas
1/2 cup plain yoghurt (or more if desired)
Water to thin (you could use vegetable broth if you have it)
1 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled
Salt to taste

Puree in a blender and let sit half an hour before serving to chill and let the mint soften. Serves four.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ice Cream From Leftover Pudding

This ice cream was completely improvised. I had about half a cup of heavy cream and a cup of whole milk to use up. I combined them with 1 cup of chocolate pudding I'd made the day before and enough chocolate syrup to sweeten the mixture-about three tablespoons. Ice cream is a custard-based thing anyway, right? You know how I hate to waste. I must admit to a feeling of great satisfaction when I tossed away that empty carton of heavy cream. Every last drop put to use. Because mama hates waste. She does. She really hates it.

No picture because we all know what chocolate ice cream looks like and the kid isn't patient enough to wait for his ice cream while I drag out the camera. Use your imagination.

Sourdough Bread With Ancho Pepper And Corn

This bread has the most wonderful colour from the addition of 1 teaspoon of Ancho chili powder. Ancho chilies have a sweet, smoky flavour and only a mild heat, making them perfect for a sandwich loaf. I suspect this bread will be excellent toasted with the corn meal in the recipe to provide texture.

You Will Need:

For The Sponge:

1 cup fed starter

3 cups all purpose flour

2 cups water-room temp

For The Dough:

All of starter

1-cup cornmeal

1-teaspoon ancho chili powder

1-tablespoon salt

1-tablespoon sugar

2-3 cups all-purpose flour (or more)

3 cups fresh cut corn (just take a knife and scrape it off the cobs)

Egg Wash:

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine fed starter with two cups water and stir to break it up. Add the flour and mix quickly. The dough will be shaggy. Cover and let soak 2-6 hours (I did three and a half). The longer the soak, the more sour flavour it will develop.

To the starter add the sugar, salt and chili powder. Mix in half of the corn. Begin adding the flour a cup at a time, alternating with remaining corn. You will want to work in most of the corn, don't worry about the flour. If it is too sticky to knead, add more. The dough will feel tacky (due to the cornmeal) and slightly "squishy" but it shouldn't stick. Knead it a good ten minutes, poking the corn kernels back in when they pop out. Don't use a mixer for this or you'll break up all the corn.

When your dough is kneaded, place it in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. Sourdough takes longer and even on a hot day here, it took three hours. Be patient; let it do what sourdough does. When your dough is doubled, punch it down and let it rest for 30 minutes. This would be a good time to wash the dishes and butter your baking pans.

Divide dough in two, shape and place in buttered pans. Cover with a towel (plastic will stick too much) and let rise until almost doubled-about another 2 hours. Halfway through second rise, begin preheating oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush loaves generously with egg wash and bake twenty minutes. Rotate and continue baking another 10-20 minutes or until a deep golden colour and sounds hollow when rapped. For loaves of this type I like them to test to an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees F. but use your sense too. If the loaves seem done and sound hollow, pull them out. Generally, a few extra minutes in the oven is better than too few.

Cool completely before slicing (resist the temptation as sourdough really needs to settle a bit before fully developing the sour flavour and desired texture. Just be patient-go do the rest of the dishes while you wait.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Severe Weather

I chanced to look out the window at dinner and noticed the sky becoming quite dark. The air was dead still-after a day of fairly constant wind. I excused myself, grabbed the camera and headed outside to snap a few photos of the strange cloud formations.

In the time it took to walk to the end of our sidewalk (about ten seconds) the wind began to blow and looking up I could see the clouds racing towards me from the south. It was like something out of a movie-my hair blowing, the clouds racing past revealing sunbeams for a second. Then, it turned completely black and the wind zipped over my head and I felt the first raindrops. I headed back in. Those ten seconds it takes to get to my back door were all it took for a full-fledged storm to come in and the door slammed hard behind me as I made it to the house.

The boys were still eating dinner when I returned.

"I'll bet the weather radio will be going off any minute. You should see what it's doing out there."

The words were barely out of my mouth when the wind began shaking the house and hail bounced off the window air conditioner. I went to check the weather radio only to discover it was unplugged. Oops, time to get new batteries. I plugged it in just in time for the familiar alarm to sound.

The only thing worse than hearing a warning for your county is hearing your very small town mentioned by name. That's bad. We bundled ourselves on the lowest floor away from windows and doors and all the things they tell you to do and as quick as it came in, it ended. I pulled myself together and cleaned up the dinner dishes.

We're supposed to be in for a long night and tomorrow is predicted to be more of the same. Afterward, we heard that there were 70 mph winds-hurricane force gales, and like an idiot, I was outside waiting to get hit in the head by flying debris. If you haven't checked the batteries in your weather radio yet this season, learn from my mistake and do so.

Now for the strange part-things are strewn all over the damn farm but somehow my container garden of herbs on the patio not only didn't budge, but withstood the hail. The flowers and other vegetables look OK as well. And hey, our satellite dish for the Internet service is still running-that's pretty good.

I have a feeling it will be a very long night.

Cherry Freezer Jam

I had pounds of cherries but the weather was too humid for canning (well, too humid for me to stand over pots of boiling water) so I opted for freezer jam. This recipe uses pectin (which I had to run out for because I've never used it before) which I suppose adds a bit to the cost, but my time is also worth something. This jam was made in under an hour. Not bad.

Because it does not get processed in a canner it must be either kept in the fridge and eaten within three weeks, or frozen. I doubt it will last three weeks, but I'll freeze some just in case. I was able to get three finished pints from a quart of chopped cherries.

You Will Need:

1 quart fresh cherries, finely chopped-juices retained

4 cups granulated sugar

1 package Sure-Gel Pectin

3/4 cup water

Wash and dry 6 1/2 pint jars that can be frozen, or plastic containers. Pit and chop cherries and place in a large bowl. Cover with sugar and mix well. Let stand ten minutes.

Place water in a small pan on the stove. Whisk in the pectin and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly. After it comes to a boil, cook one minute longer. Remove from heat. Stir into fruit mixture until sugar is dissolved-about three minutes. It is OK if a few grains of sugar remain.

Pack into jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before storing in fridge or freezer.

Easy Pickled Onions

Really easy. as in five minutes of work. You can spare five minutes, can't you?

You Will Need:

The juice form a jar/tin of beets (use the beets for something else)

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried chervil

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

2 medium red onions, very thinly sliced

3 whole cloves

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or to taste

Slice the onions and place in a bowl. Pour the rest over it. Toss well. Pack in a jar. Chill.

See, five minutes easy.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cherry Strudel

Once a decade I buy a package of Phylo dough and remember why I loathe working with it, resolving never to do it again. Guess I'm good for another decade. Until the moment I made the actual strudel, I was still considering shoving it back in the freezer and just making the dough. It is quite a simple thing to do-as I did HERE. But no, I had the box in the freezer I'd bought for heaven knows what, and the two large bags of fresh cherries were staring me down demanding their stones be removed. Fine, I used the damn dough.

Such a bloody chore. It certainly wasn't any more convenient than just making my own, though it did free up the dining room table where I normally roll out strudel dough. In the end, it came together (amazing how much patching you can do with melted butter) but it does pain me that I didn't follow my gut and make my own pastry.

I couldn't find a suitable cherry strudel recipe anywhere. What I found were fillings with cheese, or chocolate(?) or all three, or large amounts of cornstarch. One even suggested drying out a few sheets of Phylo and crumbling it up in place of breadcrumbs. I wouldn't recommend that. I finally thought to look in Paula Peck's The Art Of Fine Baking, and there was a cherry strudel recipe pretty close to what I had in mind. I made a number of changes (like using Phylo dough) and you should feel free to adapt it as well this isn't an exacting type of recipe. I probably overfilled mine a bit, but the overflow wasn't disastrous. Remember to roll loosely and not to overstuff your strudel and it should be fine. Strudel is best served slightly warm.

You Will Need:

½ package Phylo dough, thawed (or use my pastry recipe HERE)

1 cup melted butter
2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs, sautéed lightly in butter
4 cups cherries, stones removed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ cup cinnamon sugar

On a flexible cutting board or a lightly floured sheet, layer five sheets of Phylo dough brushing each layer lightly with melted butter. Spread the surface with breadcrumbs (you may not need them all). Leaving about an inch at the edge, place the cherries in a line across at the bottom length of the dough. Carefully lift the edge of the board or the towel and flip the dough over itself. Butter top and continue until the strudel is rolled-up. Place on a buttered baking sheet seam side down. Brush top with butter and cut five or six slits in the top. Bake in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown, basting at least twice in that time. Remove, let cool a few minutes on sheet then transfer carefully to a rack to cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving still slightly warm.

Cherries kind of stain your hands. If you care about that sort of thing, wear gloves to remove the stones.

Sourdough Pizza With Cherries, Sage, and Shallots

This is easily the best pizza I've made. The crust was wonderful and the combination of Bing cherries and fresh sage from my garden really made it unlike anything I'd ever made. I've topped pizzas with cherries before, but alongside goat cheese or feta. This time I used a small amount of Swiss and an even smaller amount of Pecorino Romano. Perfect.

You Will Need:


1 cup fed sourdough

2 cups warm water

2-3 cup bread flour

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Mix sourdough with warm water until it breaks up a bit. Add the olive oil, salt, sugar and two cups of the flour. Keep adding flour until you have a stiff dough. Keep extra at hand to add as you knead if dough becomes too sticky. Knead a good fifteen minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise slowly-about three hours in a warm house, or until doubled. Punch down, let rest another 30-45 minutes.

Stretch dough into desired shape (I do rectangle shaped pizzas) and place on a baking sheet lightly dusted with semolina (cornmeal is a bit coarse for this).

Top with cherries/cheese mixture and let rise another fifteen minutes as you clean up the dishes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place one rack in bottom position and another in middle.

For The Topping:

1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

4 large shallots-thinly sliced

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter plus more if needed

1 tablespoon stripped rosemary

5-6 small sage leaves, left whole

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 cup pitted bing cherries cut in half

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

a good grinding of black pepper

In a small pan, saute the shallots and herbs-except parsley, in the butter adding more if needed. When soft, pour atop pizza dough and spread evenly to distribute butter. Top with cheese mixture. Arrange cherries and parsley over top. Grind fresh black pepper on top.

Bake the pizza five minutes on the low shelf. Transfer to middle rack and continue baking until cheese and crust are nicely browned. Let stand a bit before cutting.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Like Crack, For Teetotalers

Somehow, we stumbled upon the realisation that Danny had yet to try anything mint. These days, the children's toothpaste is available in many varieties of fruit, bubblegum and the like, but mint seems to be rather underrepresented. I bought a bag of chocolate covered peppermints.

"It's like winter in my mouth mama!"

I then had a three year old blow in my face so I could smell his fresh breath. It was quite fresh. I'm glad he liked it because I grew up with a sister that would become ill just being in the same room with someone eating mint, and I didn't want to spend my declining years being considerate of another mint-hating freak's hang-ups. Fresh. Quite fresh.

Thankfully, the little fondant patties covered in (real) chocolate made by Pearsons are low in calories and fat...because I cannot stop eating them. I don't want to sound like I'm trivialising drug addiction when I tell you these little disks are crack. Sure, after three I was ready to throw-up, but I kept eating them anyway. I'm at something like five. Hey, that's only 2.5 grams of fat. See, this is health food. Crack. The stuff is crack.

Like winter in my mouth.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Polenta With White Beans, Basil and Tomato

Odds and ends came together in a delicious dinner. I made a large batch of polenta to eat over the next few days. This dish will work better with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden-I'll try it again in a few months when my own supply is in full swing. Because the supermarket tomatoes have been so dreadful lately (even the hothouse ones) I opted for tinned ones.

You Will Need:

For The Polenta:

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups polenta grits

3 tablespoons butter

In a large heavy pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir the polenta in slowly stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and with a long spoon (you need to stand back as this stuff "spits", keep stirring until it is really thick. If you've never made it before, this will take about thirty minutes. It will be difficult to stir at the end, but keep it moving as it will burn. Expect to spend the entire time on your feet stirring.

Pour into a greased glass or ceramic baking pan-9x13 makes a good thickness for cutting later, but if you prefer thicker slices go smaller. Some people use bowls which is also OK.

After ten minutes, unmould it carefully onto a plate. Chill until ready to fry.

To fry polenta: in a heavy frying pan (I used cast iron) heat a bit of olive oil and fry until it develops a crust. Turn and cook other side.

For the Beans/Vegetables:

4 cups cooked white beans

1 small tin of whole tomatoes, seeded and drained-chopped coarsely

1/2 red onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

About ten Greek olives

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 cup fresh basil-torn

Olive oil

Grated Provolone and Parmesan cheese for topping.

In about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, cook the onion, garlic and olives until they begin to soften. Reduce heat to low. Add the beans, thyme, marjoram and cook a bit longer until beans are heated through. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook a few more minutes to blend. Serve over polenta. Top with cheese.

Raisin Bread

I wanted this to be simple raisin bread that will go with anything so I skipped the cinnamon/cardamom and didn't add excessive amounts of sugar. If you prefer a spiced loaf, add it with the dry ingredients.

I kneaded this batch by hand and added the raisins in after the first three cups of flour. If you're using a mixer with a dough hook, it will break the raisins up a bit leaving flecks in the dough. I don't mind that look, but some people do-if this disturbs you, simply knead the raisins into the dough after the initial kneading. I do think it is easier to do it before.

You Will Need:

2-¼ teaspoons regular (not instant) yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 cups whole milk
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups raisins, plumped in hot water and well drained
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5-6 cups bread flour


1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a small bowl, proof the yeast in the warm water.

In a saucepan, scald the milk and then pour over the butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl. When cooled to lukewarm, add the yeast. Mix in three cups of the flour and add the raisins. Add the rest of the flour half a cup at a time until you have stiff, not sticky dough. Knead until smooth-about fifteen minutes. Don't worry if the raisins pop out-just tuck them back into the dough.

Place in a buttered bowl, turn once and cover. Let rise 1 ½ -2 hours or until doubled in volume. Punch down, let rest 30 minutes.

Generously butter two bread pans. Divide the dough in two and shape into loaves. Cover with a towel and let rise until nearly doubled-about 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.

Mix the wash and brush over loaves. Sprinkle a bit of sugar if you like on top.

Bake 25-35 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.

Cool on racks.

Vietnamese Style Vegetarian Salad

I say "style" because living in rural Nebraska on a farm I just don't have convenient access to Napa cabbage and Asian Basil. I made due with what I had and it was a lovely salad, but a far cry from authentic. I served it over Jasmine rice for a substantial lunch. We omitted the peanuts, but you may prefer to include them.

You Will Need:

1/2 package extra-firm tofu, fried (directions below)

1/2 head green cabbage, finely shredded

2 carrots, finely matchsticked

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup basil leaves, torn

1/2 cup mint leaves, torn

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Dash of dried red chili pepper

chopped peanuts as a topping if you like


1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon dried minced garlic

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Fry the tofu by first pressing out excess liquid in a towel. Slice and fry in hot oil. Drain well and chill before adding to salad.

Mix the vegetables and herbs together in a large bowl. Toss with cold tofu and dressing. Serve over rice topped with chopped peanuts.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spinach Parmesan Sourdough Bagels -UPDATED

I followed the recipe I developed HERE adding 1 package of cooked frozen spinach (squeezed dry in a towel), a quick shake of garlic powder and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. I added them to the sponge along with the honey and salt before working in the rest of the flour. I also substituted 2 cups of all-purpose flour for part of the bread flour. I'm not sure that was a good idea, but we'll see tomorrow when I bake them. Stay tuned.

It worked! If I make these again, I'd stick to using all bread flour, but otherwise-spinach bagels are a new recipe to add to my collection. Cool.

Chocolate Syrup II

This chocolate syrup is less sweet than my usual one and slightly thicker. Instead of standing and chopping chocolate, you whisk in 2/3 cup of powdered cocoa. Easier (not that the other recipe is difficult) and fast-about five minutes. I also like that it makes a smaller amount (1 pint) so there isn't pressure to use it all quickly. If you like a sweeter sauce, simply add more sugar to the water. I did need to thin it a bit at the end with water as it was just too thick for my tastes. I realise that commercial syrup these days is a bit on the thick side (not like the bottle of Bosco when I was a kid). I was worried Danny would turn his nose up at it, but he downed a glass of chocolate milk in under a minute.

You Will Need:

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring water and sugar to a boil whisking until sugar dissolves. Whisk in cocoa and salt. Reduce heat to simmer and cook a few minutes until thickened. If it seems too thick, add a bit of water keeping in mind the mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and cool. Store in jars in the fridge. Makes 1 pint.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Goat Tamales-I Kid You Not!

I had 2 1/2 lbs. of frozen goat meat in the freezer waiting for something interesting to happen. I'd already used goat in a stew, this time I seasoned it Mexican style and made tamales. Gosh, it was exhausting work. If I had an ounce of brains in my noggin, I'd have split this up over two days. Oh well, that's what Ibuprofen is for, eh?

You can use this recipe (as I have) for chicken or beef. I've even made vegetarian tamales using soy chorizzo. I've never tried a bean filling, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. You should also feel free to adjust the spices for your own tastes. This recipe was on the mild side as I only used Ancho chillies. I also used vegetable shortening (Crisco). You may prefer lard.

You Will Need:

For the Goat:

2 1/2 lbs. goat meat, cut into chunks (bone-in OK-you'll pull it apart later)

1 onion, sliced

5 cloves garlic, smashed

2 teaspoons salt

10 peppercorns

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

4 tablespoons ground Ancho chillies

2 tablespoons Ancho chillies (for frying)

2 tablespoons ground cumin (for frying)

4 tablespoons shortening for browning meat

2 tablespoons shortening for frying

In a heavy stockpot, melt the 4 tablespoons shortening and brown the goat meat to seal the juices. Remove as pieces finish. Return all the meat to the pot, reduce heat and add onions, garlic, peppercorns, salt, cumin seeds, and 4 tablespoons Ancho chillies. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer (and keep an eye that it does not return to a rolling boil) and cook 2-3 hours until tender.

Two hours before you plan to make the tamales, wash and soak the corn husks in hot water in a large bowl. If it goes three, no harm done-but you need as least two hours to make them pliable. If you can't find corn husks where you live (which should never be a problem here as I live in the "Cornhusker State"-which actually used to be known as "The Beef State", but that's another story) I'm told that coffee filters will do the trick. Having never attempted it, I can't vouch for the method. People also use parchment paper, but that would turn a low cost meal into a pretty expensive one.

When goat is cooked, remove pieces to a plate to cool, strain and reserve liquid. Go take 15 minutes to get off your feet (you'll appreciate the break later).

When meat is cooled, begin pulling off the pieces carefully (goat has many tiny bones that need to be removed) and shredding them with your fingers. You can use a fork if you want to be all fancy and stuff. When the meat is shredded, find your biggest frying pan (cast iron works great if you have one) and melt 2 tablespoons of the shortening. Add the chillies and cumin and stir to make a sauce. Add the meat and over medium heat, stir and cook it for about three minutes. You want to incorporate the fat and spices back into the ground goat. Add enough of the cooking liquid to cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to a somewhat gloppy mass (about an hour). Again, keep an eye on it as it will need the temperature lowered as it reduces.

While you are reducing the goat meat, make the masa.

For The Masa:

4 cups Masa flour for Tamales (you can use the regular stuff, but the tamale variety has a coarser texture. What you do not want is cornmeal. You can find ready-made Masa in Mexican grocers, but it is easy enough to make your own).

4 cups water with 4 chicken flavoured bouillon cubes dissolved in it and cooled to lukewarm. Broth is not a good substitute here.

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/3 cups solid vegetable shortening

Combine the masa flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Ass the liquid slowly until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. In another bowl, beat the shortening with a mixer until fluffy. Add the masa mixture and beat until spongy. Cover until ready to use.

When goat meat is finished, move to a bowl to cool and begin assembling tamales. Take a husk, spread it out on a work surface. Take about 2 tablespoons of the masa mixture and spread it on the middle of the hush making sure it reaches the sides. You should leave space at the top and bottom for folding. Place a bit of goat filling on top and then, lifting the corn husk by the sides, gently move it back and forth sideways until the tamale comes together in a cigar shape. Fold the sides over it and fold the top and bottom. Load into a steamer one by one. You Can start heating your pot of water for steaming at this point.

I used an Asian style 2-tiered steamer. This works super, but if you don't have one, stack the tamales in a metal steamer standing on edge and cover with a cotton towel tucked inside the opt. You'll need to keep adding water more often with this method, and you'll probably need to do two batches, but it will work. Keep an eye on the water level, no matter which method you use.

Steam the tamales for about an hour. You can check them periodically because this ain't an exact science. When they are finished to your satisfaction, pull them (carefully) out of the steamer and let them cool, in the husks in a casserole dish in the fridge. You can store them in the husks if you like for about a day. After that, I'd wrap them in parchment or waxed paper. They freeze well and re-heat excellent in the microwave. This recipe make close to three dozen tamales, so unless you have a very large family, you'll want to freeze some. Why not, they make terrific midnight snacks.

Note-I never thought I'd need to point this out, but since people have asked over and over in Google searches that arrive at my blog-you cannot eat the corn husk. You unroll the husk and eat the tamale inside.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sourdough Strawberry/Cheese Coffeecake

I suppose a recipe might have helped with this-but I couldn't find one. Anywhere. To me, a coffee cake with sourdough seems like a natural, but all I could find were cakes that were either un-risen (with a bit of the toss-off included for flavour) or actual cakes (usually chocolate or carrot). I improvised, and though the dough was somewhat slack (and I couldn't really form it into anything pretty) it did come together. The filling was an adaptation of some horrible cheese "Danish" made with crescent rolls from a tube. The filling worked OK, and I had a last jar of preserves that were nearing the end of their shelf life. This did make a whole heck of a lot of coffee cake. I mean, the photo does not really reflect how massive this thing is. I'm going to freeze half to see how it holds up.

You Will Need:

1 cup fed sourdough starter
3-4 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole milk
1-teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter
1-tablespoon sugar
1-tablespoon honey
2 eggs

For The topping:

1-cup strawberry preserves+ 1-tablespoon cornstarch
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup cottage cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg with 1-tablespoon water for wash

1 cup powdered sugar
Enough water to make a thick, but pourable glaze

Heat milk, butter, sugar, and honey in a saucepan until warmed and butter is just melted. Cool to lukewarm

In a large bowl, dissolve the starter in the milk mixture and beat in two eggs. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat at low speed with a mixer for half a minute, scraping sides. Then, beat on high for three minutes. By hand, mix in the rest of the flour until you have moderately stiff dough. Place in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled. This can take anywhere from 2-3 hours as sourdough rises slower than yeast.

When doubled, punch down and let rest ten minutes. Lightly butter a large baking sheet. Roll the dough into a rectangle and transfer to the sheet. Make the filling as follows:

In a small bowl, mix the preserves with 1-tablespoon cornstarch and mix until smooth. In another bowl, mix the cream cheese, cottage cheese, powdered sugar, eggs and cornstarch. Mix until smooth and light.

Top the dough with alternating stripes of cheese and preserves. Cover lightly with waxed paper and let rise again-30-40 minutes or until light.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Before baking, brush the edges of dough with egg wash for colour. With rack in centre position, bake the coffeecake for 20 minutes and then rotate pan. Bake another 10-20 minutes or until cheese is baked through and centre of cake seems done.

Remove from pan and place on a large cooling rack. Place rack over a baking sheet. Pour glaze over still warm cake and then cool completely before serving.

Feeds, many, many, hungry coffee-klatchers.

Onion Flats

This wasn't what I was trying for (I wanted a bread that would have a bit more tooth almost like a bialy) but is still quite good. I might have gone overboard on the topping-use your jugement. If you're really feeling decadent, cream cheese would be great on these. Make 4 large flats that can be cut in wedges for apetisers.

You WIll Need:

2 1/4 teaspoons dry, regular yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 cup lukewarm water

3-4 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 cup poppyseeds

1/4 cup dried onion flakes

1 egg, beaten plus 1 tablespoon water

cornmeal for dusting

In a small bowl, proof the yeast in the sugar and water. Let stand 10 minutes.

Add the oil, salt and pepper to the liquid and slowly mix in the flour a cup at a time. Depending on your flour and conditions, you may only need 2 cups of flour, or as much as four. Go slow adding until you have a dough that will come together. Knead a few minutes until smooth and place in an oiled bowl to rise about an hour or until doubled.

Mix melted butter with poppy seeds and onion flakes.

Punch down, divide in 4 pieces and one at a time roll out into a round and brush with beaten egg wash. Top with 1/4 of the onion/poppy mixture. Place on a cornmeal dusted pan and cover with a towel. You may need 2 pans, depending on the size of what you have.

Let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Create steam in oven using whatever method you prefer and then bake flats ten minutes. Rotate and bake ten more. Cool completely on racks.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chow Chow-With Update

I made two jars of this today. I have no idea if it will be any good as it is not a recipe, but an improvised relish. We'll see. I'll post an update when we know, as there is no point in adding a recipe to the index that might not be any good. It is probably good-it has corn, green beans, celery, carrots, parsley, red onion, mustard powder, lima beans...hey, that can't be too bad. In the meantime, isn't it pretty?
Mr. Eat The Blog couldn't wait and tried it this morning. He decalred it, "excellent." The recipe is as follows:
4 cups sweet corn
1 cup cooked lima beans
2 cups cooked green beans
1 large red onion, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste
Toss everything together, mix with dressing. Pack into jars and turn frequently to distribute liquid. Keep refrigerated and eat within a week.

Grilled Bagels

Have you heard of these? I've never seen them outside of New England, but when we lived in Boston, every dinner had grilled bagels on the breakfast menu. Yes, this bagel's hole closed-up. Thanks for noticing. These are the sourdough bagels from the other day that are now gone save for one which will no doubt end up grilled in the morning. Here's how you do it:

In a heavy frying pan, melt over medium heat a good tablespoon and a half of butter. Place the bagel half cut side down. Weight the bagels with a heavy pot on top. If you don't have one, that's OK-just press well with a spatula.

And that's pretty much it. Fry them until the butter forms a lovely crust. In Boston, people actually add cream cheese in addition to all that butter. Do as you see fit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Meatless Lasagna

I've probably made four lasagnas in my entire life. I don't know why-we enjoy it, and having leftovers is always nice.

One of the things I dislike about meatless lasagna is the tendency people have to fill it with watery vegetables like courgettes that just slide about in too little sauce and cheese. If I want tomatoes, courgettes and onion-I'll make ratatouille-not lasagna. I've tackled this problem by making a very vegetable-heavy spaghetti sauce. As a bonus, you get extra sauce for the freezer (why cook more often than you have to?).

I made the sauce a day ahead when I had time and tossed the lasagna together when I got home tonight. If you're really planning ahead, the cheese can be grated the day before as well.

This recipe makes a lot of food. We'll be eating it all week. I used whole milk ricotta because it was on sale at our market but normally, I wouldn't buy it. Part skim is fine. Cheese is a matter of taste, I guess. I had provolone and Parmesan on hand, so I used them. Mozzarella is traditional, but then, so is a layer of meat. Regular readers know I'm not a stickler for adhering to the recipe unless it is pastry. I call for whole tomatoes in a tin because that is what I buy-they are more versatile than chopped or stewed. If I need chopped, I chop them. I take this approach with pineapple rings too, as it is a simple enough matter to crush them. You can certainly substitute a tin of crushed tomatoes if that is what you have at home.

For The Sauce:

4 medium onions, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 large sprigs rosemary, stripped and chopped

2-3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon marjoram

6-8 medium carrots, sliced in thin rounds

12 oil cured olives, pitted and chopped

4 stalks celery, stripped and chopped

A good hearty grinding of fresh black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil (plus more is needed)

2 4 ounce tins mushroom pieces, drained

1 large tin (28 oz.) of whole, Italian tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved.

32 ounces of tomato sauce (I had 4 small tins)

2 6 ounce tins tomato paste

In a large, heavy pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and olives. Cook until carrots and onions are softened. Add the spices and cook a few minutes until fragrant. Add everything else, bring to a boil and then cover. Reduce to a very slow simmer and cook the daylights out of it for five hours or so. Check it once in a while to make sure it isn't burning to the bottom of the pot, but basically, leave it alone.

For The Lasagna Filling:

4 cups whole milk ricotta

1 cup provolone cheese, shredded

1 cup Parmesan, finely shredded

1/2 cup chopped parsley

3 eggs

Pepper to taste

Reserve 1/8 cup of Parmesan and 1/8 cup provolone for topping. Mix everything else together in a bowl.

For The Pasta:

Cook according to directions and drain well. Use tongs to lift it in place because burning your fingers isn't fun.

In a 9x13 pan, cover the bottom with sauce. Layer sheets of pasta and then more sauce. Top with cheese mixture. Repeat until you reach the top ending with sauce. Cover with reserved cheese and cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, bake 10 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature before cutting and serving.

Warning: Objects on the internet may appear larger than in real life. Lasagna is quite slimming.

Sourdough Bagels

These bagels are a two day project. Because the dough is so stiff and difficult to work, I do not advise using a stand mixer (I busted the gears on my Kitchen aid doing bagels a couple years ago). Go slowly and eventually you'll get all the dough worked in. At that point you may split the dough in two and knead separately.

I had no idea if this would work or not, and the recipe is completely improvised. They turned out excellent. Very chewy crust, light interior-everything a good bagel ought to be. Perfect with some homemade strawberry jam.

You Will Need:

For the sponge:

1 cup fed starter

2 1/2 cups water

4 1/2 cups bread flour

For the dough:

All of the sponge

3 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons honey

3-4 cups bread flour

For boiling:

A pot of water

1 tablespoon baking soda

Early, the day before baking:

Refresh sourdough starter and remove 1 cup for sponge. Feed this starter as you normally do (I used 1/2 cup water and 1 cup First Clear flour) and cover to soak for 4 hours. Stir, and add the 2 1/2 cups of water and the 41/2 cups bread flour. Let sit 2-4 hours. It will be soupy.

Add to the fed starter the ingredients for the dough adding the salt and honey first and stirring in well. Add the flour until you have a stiff dough. You may need more or less depending on humidity and the ash content of the flour. Once you have a stiff dough-beat the daylights out of it. I'm serious. Take the dough, lift it over your shoulder and slap that sucker down on the counter with a serious whack. Do this over and over, folding and kneading as you go. Before you know it, the dough will begin to take shape. I know this slapping method sounds insane, but with really heavy dough that is hard to knead, it really does the trick. You should warn people in your household what you're doing as it makes a terrific "Thump!" and well, you don't want to frighten anyone. If the dough is still too hard to handle, break it in two and proceed.

When you have kneaded and beaten your dough to the point where you've developed sufficient gluten, break it into 12-15 pieces and roll them into balls. Cover them with a damp (not wet) towel and let rest 30 minutes.

After dough has rested, roll them ball smooth, poke a finger through, and shape into a bagel round. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and when they are all done, cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let these rest for about 1 1/2 hours. Place the sheets in the fridge until morning.

Baking Day:

Boil a large pot of water, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. and lightly coat a baking sheet with cornmeal. When the water boils, add the tablespoon of baking soda (it will foam a bit) and plunk in four of the bagels. I do them upside down first to make it easier to skim them out upright, but that's not a big deal. Boil 1 minutes and turn. Boil another minute. Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and transfer to baking sheet. If you're using toppings like poppy seeds, add them at this point so they will stick to the wet bagel. When you have a tray filled, place in the oven for 5 minutes. Rotate pan and reduce heat to 450 degrees F. and then bake another 5-10 minutes until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat process for next tray leaving time for temperature to go back to 500 degrees F.

Cool completely before eating as sourdough really needs some time to "settle."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Art Deco Cookies

These cookies are from an ancient baking pamphlet. Basically, these are pinwheel cookies but cut with a doughnut cutter and then cut in half to create the effect. They look very Art Deco to me, hence the name. I think it sounds better than "Cut-Ups" which makes me think of William S. Burroughs and hell, who wants to think about Burroughs when they're baking cookies?

It was 1 in the afternoon when Danny brought me the pamphlet and asked if we could make some sort of elaborate date-filled cookie. I suggested he pick something else and he settled on these. Hindsight being 20/20, the date cookies might have been easier. Oh well, by the time he was up from nap at 5 PM, the cookies were cooling on a rack, ready to spoil his dinner.

The dough is very soft and difficult to work with. I managed it without adding any additional flour to dust the surface, but I am pretty skilled with a rolling pin. You'll need a very thin metal spatula to lift these off. Work fast, and keep the scraps in the fridge until you're ready to re-roll them.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon double acting baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered cocoa

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt-set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour in two additions and mix well. Remove half of the dough to another bowl and beat in the cocoa and cinnamon. Mix well. Wrap each in a ball with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out each dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with doughnut cutter. Remove centres placing light in dark and dark in light. Cut each round in half and then place together with opposite on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes until edges are just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on pan, the carefully transfer to rack. Makes (about) 2 dozen.