Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

I recently made a new friend who was silly enough to think she could say "I want to learn to make bagels" and not be dragged to my house and apronned. (If the act of putting an apron on a person isn't a verb, it should be.) She was thoughtful enough to bring another friend with her, and so, over the making of these bagels we new friends bonded. Awwwww. We also got a lot of flour all over ourselves.

It's basically the same recipe as the everything bagels I posted in January. If you want photographic references for the process, check them out here: Everything Bagels.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp barley malt syrup
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 tbsp honey

In your largest mixing bowl, combine the flour, barley malt, and salt with a pastry cutter. In a small bowl, add the yeast and vanilla to the water, stir well, then pour into the flour mixture. Stir with the pastry cutter until the dough becomes too dense to stir, then start kneading it into dough, rotating the bowl as you go. It will take several minutes for the dough to become smooth, and once it is smooth keep kneading for at least 4 more minutes. Knead in the raisins (good luck!).

Separate your dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then roll each ball out to a 'snake' about 11" long. Shape the dough into a circle and pinch it together with 1-1/2" dough-overlap. Again, this will not be easy. You can put your hand in the middle of the bagel and knead the seam under your palm.

Set the rolled bagels on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. They will rise slowly in the fridge, which is what gives them that wonderful texture inside.

12 to 18 hours later, preheat the oven to 425º.

Boil a quart or two of water and the honey in a wide deep pot (I use my wok). It should have room for 4 bagels in it at a time. Take the bagels out of the fridge and set them on the counter to relax while you wait for the water to come to a full rolling boil. Now might also be a good time to get out the wire cooling rack to rest the bagels on after boiling.

Carefully place 4 bagels at a time in the water. Boil them for about 30 seconds, dunking them with a slotted spoon from time to time. Remove them from the water to the cooling rack, let drip for a minute before placing the bagels on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until you start to see a hint of browning on top.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chocolate Fudge Cookies

These are even more moist and chewy than they look. When they first come out of the oven, they're still really doughy in the middle and if you eat them while they're still hot they are molten chocolate lava in the middle. As they cool it's more manageable, and by the time they've come to room temperature they're dense and brownielike. Are you drooling yet? Maybe I'll go make another batch...

Chocolate Fudge Cookies

2 slightly-overfull cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled to warm
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 to 2 cups chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 325º with racks in the middle and upper-middle positions.
2) Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
3) Mix the butter and sugars in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until just combined.
4) Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of flour and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. (Personally I feel like less is more in these cookies.)
5) Drop lumpy tablespoonfuls on a cookie sheet, at least 2" apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until somewhat solid-looking around the edges. If the middles start to look solid, pull them from the oven immediately or you'll spoil the best part.
Let them cool on the cookie for at least 5 minutes before trying to move them, they will still be raw in the center when they come out of the oven. They will continue baking themselves as they cool. Clever little cookies!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Japanese Curry with Mushrooms, Tofu, Carrots, and Onions

Ok ok, so, this isn't from scratch. The sauce comes in a box and I have no idea what's in it but if I find a recipe for it (not that I've looked) I promise I'll try making it from scratch. In the meantime, I don't feel guilty at all including this dish in my blog because it does take a bit of prep work and it still counts as cooking. Besides, I want everyone I know to know how good and easy this is...not to mention cheap. You can eat for days off of a batch of this stuff, and it only gets better after a stint in the fridge.

This is what the box looks like. It co mes in mild, medium, and hot, but the hot seems pretty mild to me and I'm a total wuss when it comes to spicy things. Another note, my friend Richard who brought Japanese curry into my life always puts shredded sharp cheddar on top while it's still really hot, and serves it with both chopsticks and a spoon. He used to live in Japan, so I take his word for it that it's the right way. Give it a shot, I bet you'll like it. Sadly, I happened to be out of cheddar the day I made the batch in the photo.

Japanese Golden Curry with Mushrooms, Tofu, Carrots, and Onions

2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 to 2 cups shitake mushrooms, stemmed
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained on paper towels and then cubed.
1 huge Asian carrot or 3 to 5 normal carrots, chopped into 1/4" discs
3 cups water
1 box of Golden Curry mix

Start your rice.
In a large skillet, sautée onion and mushrooms in oil until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tofu, carrots, and water and simmer for about 20 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the curry mix and stir until dissolved. Let simmer another 5 minutes before serving over rice.

Yes, it's that easy.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Baked Breaded Catfish with Parmesan

When I got back from a vacation in Belize this time last year, I was addicted to fish and looked up a ton of recipes, more than I could possibly make in a month, and tucked them away. This is one of those, and is so easy and so good that the first time I made it, I made it again the next night. There are witnesses. It goes really well with corn bread or couscous or roasted potatoes, and spinach sauteed in garlic mixes with it quite nicely, in case you were wondering. It doesn't even need the cheese, really, but I can't help but add cheese to things. It's not the worst habit a girl could have.

This recipe takes about 5 minutes of prep work and is done baking before you know it. 2 large fillets serves 3 to 4 people, depending on the fillets and the people. You can use seasoned breadcrumbs if you prefer, but the pre-seasoned breadcrumbs tend to be Italian and that gives a different feel to the dish. Tasty, though, I'm sure. Also, if you have grated parmesan instead of shredded, you can mix it in with the breadcrumbs at the beginning.

Yes, that's sweet potato cornbread in the picture.

Baked Breaded Catfish
1/2 to 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large catfish fillets
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 400º. Generously grease a baking pan (I prefer glass for fish) and set aside.
In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs and garlic powder. In another shallow dish (or on a plate), stir the lemon juice and olive oil together. Coat both sides of each fillet with the oil mixture and then lay both sides in the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat evenly. Lay them in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the paprika and parmesan.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake another 8 to 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Cornbread

For the past couple of years, I lived around the corner from a soul food buffet restaurant. I didn't eat there very often (why didn't I? Because I am an idiot!), but when I did I was always sure to get a big ol' hunk of their sweet potato cornbread, because it was unlike any other thing I've ever had. This recipe is nowhere near as good as theirs, but it's still walking distance from my new place and I may just have to go over there and get some and see if I can work out what they did differently. Three times more sweet potatoes, or honey, or some molasses maybe? I wouldn't be surprised. I'll let you know if I figure it out.

Don't get me wrong, this sweet potato cornbread still thrills me. Everyone who had a piece of this batch was pretty pleased with it, one of my friends even vowed to write a poem in its honor. But if you live in Bushwick and know the soul food place on Broadway, it may let you down a little. I, for one, am totally spoiled.

Sweet Potato Corn Bread

3 sweet potatoes
3 tbsp butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of clove
1 1/4 cups buttermilk*
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Fill a small sauce pot about 3/4 with water and bring to a boil. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Add them to the boiling water and cook about 20 minutes, then remove from heat and drain. Add butter, then mash with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor until fluffy. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature.
While it's cooling, preheat the oven to 400º. Grease a 9x9" baking pan and set it aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and clove. Mix the buttermilk and eggs into the bowl with the sweet potatoes, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined and a little lumpy. Pour into the pan and bake in the center of the oven about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges pull away from the pan a bit.
Let cool mostly before cutting or it will crumble beyond repair.

I recommend serving this with breaded catfish and something dark green and leafy.

If you don't have buttermilk handy (most of us don't) you can add about 1 tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar per cup of milk. Just add the spoiler to the milk and set it aside before you do any other prep work and it'll be nice and curdly when you're ready for it.