Monday, February 27, 2012

Bagels with Homemade Cream Cheese and Cranberry Jalapeno Jam

The best kind of presents to give are the kind you can benefit from. For example, when I bought my sister the cookbook Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, I knew that good things were going to come out of it, and they were going to come right to me. Don't feel bad for her, she does it to me, too. Plus, last week, I was over at her house making the "Oreos" recipe out of that book, so I am sure she is not complaining.

A few reasons to get this book if you are into DIY:  there is an abundance of easy recipes to make novel things that are very impressive such as cream cheese, Camembert, ricotta, mozzarella, mascarpone, vermouth, bitters, marshmallows, pancetta, and, of course, oreos, just to name the few I can remember. Since I don't have this book, however, I can't supply the recipe for the fluffy and light, dreamily creamy cream cheese that she made and gave to me. I can tell you, it was easy. The only extra work is in buying the mesophilic culture from an online supplier. 

What I will share is this easy bagel recipe I got from The Good Stuff Cookbook, another wonderful cookbook, full of novel items, like honey jelly, wine jelly, potted cheese, homemade biscotti, pretzels, crumpets, fresh mustards, cranberry ketchup, digestive biscuits and the list goes on and on.

Water Bagels
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups warm water between 110 and 115 degrees F
3 Tablespoons barley malt powder (I happen to have this thanks to Sean's beer making ventures, but you can use honey or sugar as well)
2 teaspoons salt (originally was 3 but you know how I feel about salt, and mine were perfectly salty enough)
5 - 5 1/2 cups bread flour (I mixed 1 cup of whole grain rye with whole wheat flour and some wheat gluten)

Dissolve your yeast into the water. Let it activate for about 10 minutes. now stir in the sugar or malt, a cup of the flour then the salt. Then work in the rest of your flour. Knead by hand for 10 to 15 minutes. Don't skimp on the kneading. Most home cooks underknead. If you have a standing mixer, knead for about 5-8 minutes. Now let this rise about an hour or until doubled in volume or in the refrigerator overnight.

If you had it in the fridge, take it out for about an hour before shaping the bagels. Divide the dough into 12 lumps. Now you can make a ball, stick your finger through the middle and with it in the middle roll it on all side to make the hole neater looking. The hole should be a bit large since it will become smaller as the bagel puffs up.

Let the bagels rise 10 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Bring to a boil 3 quarts water and a 1/4 cup of the barley malt, or some sugar. Boil the bagels 30 seconds on each side.I recommend a baking sheet with parchment or heavily oiled as my bagels stuck quite a bit.  After they are done boiling you can brush them with egg white if you want to, I didn't, and sprinkle them with salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and/or caraway. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Cranberry Jalapeno Jam
1 cup of frozen cranberries
3 jalapenos, diced
1 clementine, diced
3/4 - 1 cup sugar

Gently boil all ingredients together, stirring now and then until the jam is very thick and most of the cranberries have popped. It will not be spicy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tom Yum

Yum is right. This is what I usually order when I go out for Thai food. So, when my sis gave me a few kaffir Limes, I knew I wanted to try to make my own version. I have made it a few times, and now, a year later, my kaffir limes are dry and hard as little rocks, but I whip out my micro plane and they still give off a very, very powerful flavor, so I use a minuscule amount.  If you have enough of the ingredients that give this soup its unique flavor, then you can definitely give it a go.

You will need:

Kaffir lime, fruit or leaves (or try it out with a regular old lime, but it won't be quite the same. I bet you can find Kaffir vegetation somewhere in Chinatown.)
Fresh Galangal or Ginger root
Coconut milk
Tofu or chicken

I add in red bell pepper, bay leaves, garlic, and cilantro for good measure. As you may have noticed, this recipe is also vegan, and so far, other than a few items left in our fridge, we are eating mostly vegan. Today, however, I was able to fortuitously and finally purchase eggs from our across the street and over a little bit neighbor. Apparently, they have 14 hens and charged me $1.50 for a dozen of these beautiful speckled, green, and brown eggs. I feel good about consuming animal products when I know that I am funding a worthwhile operation. I think that was a part of the reason we decided to stop investing so much money in animal products in the first place, because we can't always afford to buy from trustworthy suppliers. If you are interested, I highly recommend checking out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's list of sustainable (and in most cases, more nutritious) seafood to purchase. Buying wild Alaskan salmon isn't just better for the environment, it actually lives up to the health benefits you are after anyway.

Tom Yum Soup
1 Tablespoon of lemongrass dried
1-2 bricks of firm tofu, cut into cubes (or sub out cooked cubed chicken)
1/2 onion, cut the onion in half, then slice it
1 pkg of mushrooms
Kaffir lime leaves or a tiny amount of the zest of the fruit OR zest a regular lime. Use a small amount and taste!
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tablespoon fresh ginger root or galangal, minced
2-3 small tomatoes
1/2 can regular coconut milk
1-2 Bay leaves (optional)
Cilantro for garnish (optional)
Salt or soy sauce to taste

Heat up two cups of water in a soup pot. Add the lemon grass either in a tea ball or a tea bag, or resign yourself to having to later strain out the lemongrass and return the liquid to the pot--no big deal. Boil the water and lemongrass for 5-8 minutes, covered. Strain out the lemongrass. Now add all of your other ingredients in and simmer for at least 8-10 minutes to get that nice flavor from the leaves. Covered, uncovered, whatever--you can't mess this up.

I cooked a mixture of brown and wild rice and put this in the bottom of my bowl for some extra rib stickiness.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three Sisters Stew

Sean and I have stopped buying animal products. Now, if they are offered to us... that's another matter.

The other day, we were sitting in Pura Vida, a wonderful vegan restaurant situated right next to an antique mall and a strip club, and we were reminiscing about  how great we felt when we used to live in California and have beans and vegetables from the local farmers' market. I never bought much meat because it is so much more expensive, and thus we inadvertently became vegans with the occasional egg or yogurt. Of course, with a tiny budget, you have to choose between that scary Tyson chicken from Smart and Final or 6 dollars a pound heirloom beans, and if you know me, you know where my money is going.

So, for the moment, except for the brick of parmesan left in the fridge, and the homemade cream cheese my sis gave me, and the chocolates I can't seem to stop eating at work (Must be Valentines Day) we are eating pretty much an animal free diet.

Here is the recipe for what I made last night. It is called three sisters stew, because it has the three staples in the Mexican diet: corn, squash and beans. Oh, it is so delicious. I adapted the recipe from The Jungle Effect. Here is the original recipe, along with the entire list of recipes from the book, all of which are highly delicious.

Three Sisters Stew
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 dried guajillo chili, boiled in a little water, purreed, and mashed through a strainer, saving the cooking liquid or a few sprinkles of any chili powder, to taste
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 can of tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes
5 small tomatillos ( I just used some extra salsa verde I had)
1 cup of broth or water
2 cups Lima beans ( I used frozen)
1-2 cups cooked pinto beans
2 cups hominy
2 cups peeled and sliced delicata squash, or other squash, such as butternut or acorn
1 bunch of cilantro
Queso fresco or parmesan, to garnish.

Cook the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in the oil over medium heat until tender. Add in everything else, except the cilantro and cheese. Put a lid on top and let stew on low for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro. Top with queso fresco or parmesan, and some sliced radishes if you like.

Makes a lot.