>Homemade Bagels – WAY Better Than Store Bought

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These bagels could change the world. Seriously though what is better than a homemade bagel spread with cream cheese,black truffles or pesto? How about using them to make ham and cheese sandwiches or your favorite morning egg sandwich?


As well as saving you some money these bagels are way better than any store bought bagel. Made east coast style as they like their bagels chewier, unlike the softer steamed version that’s most common in many stores. The chewier bagel is made possible by the water method, done by placing the bagel in alkalized water prior to placing in the oven. 


The sponge technique used to make these bagels produces a better flavor and textured bagel as well making as them better for harsh freezing and thawing. You will not produce a memorable bagel without using the overnight slow, cold fermentation which allows the naturally occurring enzymes to release their wonderful flavors.


Homemade Bagels

Sponge


1 teaspoon yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 1/2 cups flour


Dough
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cup high gluten or bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar


Also will need;


1 Tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, green onions, chopped onions tossed in oil


Making The Sponge


1. Stir the yeast into 4 cups flour. Add water whisking or stirring only until forms a smooth; sticky batter, almost like a pancake batter. Cover bowl with towel or plastic wrap and let sit out for 2 hours or when sponge is foamy and bubbly. Should double in size.


Dough


1. Using the same bowl or your electric mixer bowl, add the 1/2 teaspoon yeast. Stir. Add 3 cups of the flour and all the salt and malt (Or honey, brown sugar or malt syrup). Stir until the ingredients form a ball. Slowly work in remaining 3/4 cup flour to make a stiffened dough.


2.Knead dough for 10 minutes or for about 6 minutes if using your electric mixer. The dough result should be firm, pliable and smooth dough not tacky. If dough seems dry use a few drops of water and continue  to knead



3. Divide dough into about 12 rolls for large bagels, 24 rolls for smaller bagels . Make sure your rolls are formed into a tight ball 

4. Cover rolls with a dampened towel and let rest for 20 minutes.


5. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment and mist with spray. 


6. Poke a hole in a a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to make a hole about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Try to do it as even as possible.


7. Place each shaped piece 2 inches apart on sheet pans. cover with towel or plastic and let sit 25 minutes.





8. Keep covered bagels on sheet trays and put in fridge overnight or up to 48 hours for the long, cold fermentation process


9. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from fridge. Bring large (as wide as possible) pot of water to a boil and then add tablespoon baking soda to the water.


10. Drop bagels in boiling water, after 1 minute flip the over and boil for an additional 1 minute.


11. Remove from water and sprinkle with seeds, (sesame seeds, poppy seeds,salt etc..) or any other flavoring you choose.





12.Once all bagels have been boiled place the sheet pans on the 2 middle racks of your oven. Bake 5 minutes then rotate the pans 180 degrees and switching shelves. Bake until bagels turn golden brown or darkness you prefer.


Let cool 15 minutes. Enjoy!




Adapted from The Bread Bakers Apprentice


>Naan Bread – Oh, So Addictive!!

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This naan bread is so so good! Fluffy, slightly crisp and really addicting.  If you saved the whey from making  your Paneer cheese, use that in place of the water in this recipe. Whey will really improve the flavor of the naan and it give the crispier browned parts on the naan a cheesy flavor.


Use this naan to dip into your favorite curry or try out my Butternut Squash, Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Curry.

1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup Greek fat free plain yogurt
1 large egg
olive oil for cooking or ghee
In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.
Stir in the flour, salt, oil, yogurt and egg and stir, then knead until you have a soft, pliable dough. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size; about an hour.
Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece into a thin circle or oval.
Cook each naan in a nice hot skillet drizzled with oil (just a teeny tiny bit–you’re not frying it) until blistered and cooked, flipping as necessary. (When the surface has big blisters and is golden on the bottom, flip it over and cook until golden on the other side. Takes about 1 minute per side. Brush with ghee and sprinkle with salt.
Makes about 8 naan.

Tips: When pressing naan out from its final dough ball stage, use your fingertips and press down instead of trying to stretch the dough out with your palms or a roller. The less it’s handled, the better.


>Butternut Squash, Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Curry

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This vegetable curry dish turned out to be amazing! So full of bursting flavors accented by the perfect spiciness. As for me I love my curries spicy, if you aren’t crazy about the offensive yet satisfying flavor of the habanero, just use the green chilies.




1 – 1/2 Yellow Onions

2 Green Chillies

3/4 can Coconut Milk

1 Large Roasted Red Pepper

2 Carrots Cut Into Cubes

1 Roasted Habanero

1/2 Can Chickpeas

1 Roasted Butternut Squash, Cubed

Toasted Shredded Coconut To Garnish

5 Tbsp Madras Curry Paste (I cheated with the store bought paste)

1 tsp Cumin, 1 tsp Singapore spice (optional), Salt, Pepper

1 Tsp Cilantro , Diced


     Roast squash at 420 degrees just till tender but still a little crunch  

     Cube the butternut squash into 3/4 inch cubes and sear the outsides in a saute pan with a touch of olive oil at medium-high heat till browned.  

     Sweat onions in saute pan on medium heat till translucent to release maximum flavor.  Cut carrots into sticks or cubes and add to pan.  

    Add curry paste, coconut milk, and spices. Stir. Add squash, roasted peppers, chili peppers and chickpeas. Garnish with cilantro and toasted coconut. 

     Smell it, eat it, love it.


    >Goat Cheese and Sweet Corn Tartlets

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    First off, I must confess to you all..NO I will not, okay but it’s really really bad…  I’m addicted to goat cheese! Whew, that was stressful! I’ve loved goat cheese or often called “chevre” since the second I was  introduced to it. I remember losing my goat cheese celibacy when I was working at Taliesin, and we received 6 logs of  Montrachet Chevre. The smell instantly reminded me of a farm on a sunny summer day and tasted how a goat would smell. The tasting brought back memories of when I was a small boy and we owned a goat named Brownie. The three things I remember from Brownie were that him chewing up a toaster, him jumping over a fence and how he smelt. I really couldn’t tell you why we had a goat or what happened to him. Hmmm. Maybe my Dad will read this and fill us in on Brownie.


    If you too are a goat cheese fanatic I recommend trying humboldt fog, bucheron or bucherolle or a goat gouda.  From cheaper, whipped goat cheese to the real, stinky goat cheese with the rinds that gives you a taste like no other, they are all very good! 

    Sweet corn and caramelized onions are two things that pair really well with goat cheese, that’s where these tartlets come into play. Try them out and let me know what you think. I thought they were very impressive and packed a huge punch of flavor.
    Goat Cheese and Sweet Corn Tartlets

    Makes 8 tartlets


    10 sheets of phyllo dough
    1/2 Cup (1 Stick butter,melted) plus 1 tablespoon
    2 1/2 cups sliced red onions
    1  teaspoons sugar
    8 Ounces fresh goat cheese 
    (I used a cheap one like Montrachet)
    1 cup fresh corn kernels(2 ears)
    (If you don’t have any ears of corn stashed away in the
    freezer,the frozen bags of corn from the frozen section at your grocers will do)
    Freshly ground pepper to taste


    1. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on a flat surface. Lightly butter the phyllo with a brush, working from the edges towards the middle, layer 4 more sheets over the first, buttering each one.  

    2. Cut the layered phyllo into four 6 by 8 inch rectangles. Repeat process with the remaining 5 sheets of phyllo to create 8 rectangles. 

     3. To create that yummy tartlet , take one phyllo rectangle and fold each side over by 1/2 inch. Fold each side over twice more in 1/2 inch increments , to create a rectangular tartlet shell that should be around 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches



    4. With two fingers pinch each corner of the tartlets to prevent from unraveling when baked. Lightly brush tartlets with butter and used a fork to poke small holes on the bottom. You can chill the tartlets until you’re ready to use if you’d like.


    5. In a saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Cook the onions over medium heat until they begin to soften up and start to brown. 4 mins. Sprinkle with sugar and continue cooking for 3 mins. Remove from heat, let cool completely.


    6.Preheat oven 375 degress F. Top each tartlet with layer of caramelized onion, corn, and goat cheese to your liking. Add a touch of pepper, optional. 


    7. Bake on nongreased baking sheet for 12 to 15 until crisp and golden.




    >Greek Spanikopita – Rich, Savory and Always Delicious

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    Spanikopita is a rich and savory Greek pastry, layered with spinach, feta, onions, eggs, herbs and good amount of butter, you can see why the Greek eat it as a snack. When feta is not readily available or if your trying to save some money, ricotta can be substituted for feta. Also, I’ve found buying feta in a block is much tastier and cheaper than the crumbled.

    There are many forms in which you can make spanikopita such as the pie method, rolled up like a jelly roll, napoleon-stacked or in triangles. It is very versatile and you really have to make it to your liking. Can also get creative and replace part of the spinach with leeks, sorrel or chard to create a different palate.
    I chose to do the pie method this time as I haven’t tried it before. It turned out to be a great way to make spanikopita. Here’s the recipe I’ve formed from different sources as well as trial and errors.
    Spanikopita

    1 tablespoon butter, plus 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
    1 small yellow onion, diced
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    2 Pounds spinach, dried really good with a towel or pressed between two plates
    1 Cup (6 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
    1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
    1 Egg plus 1 egg yolk
    2 Tablespoons heavy cream
    9 Sheets phyllo dough

    Oven – 375 Degrees

    Grab a saute pan and melt the 1 tablespoon butter. Cook onion and garlic until slightly browned and fragrant, usually about 2-3 minutes. Add your spinach and cook uncovered until coated with butter and beginning to be more tender.  Drain the spinach, Add Nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let sauteed mixture cool completely.

    Large bowl, add feta, egg, egg yolk, and cream. Slightly chop spinach mixture and add to your egg mixture. Mix.



    1. Brush your pie pan with butter. 2. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo face down on a flat surface and brush lightly with the melted butter working from the edges towards the middle. Lay 2 or more down(depending on your liking or how thick you would like your spanikopita) brushing between each layer. 3. Drape buttered pastry dough over the pie pan and press into place. 4. Add spinach layer.
      5. Repeat steps 1-4  till you have 3 layers or more layers.  6. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Let spanikopita rest for 5 minutes after removal from oven.
    Smell it, Eat It, Enjoy it

    >Toast, Egg and Steak Appetizer

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    Toasted rounds of bread with Greek yogurt, egg, hanger steak, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. Absolutely one of my favorite snacks or meals to eat.

     Very quick to throw together and bursting with flavors that are sure to make the ol’ taste buds jitter. Can also add julienned roasted peppers, capers, fatback or whatever you choose.

     I mean really..what doesn’t go good with an egg?


    >Why Not Eat Delicious Local Food?

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    There are many benefits to eating local, some of which may seem very obvious and others which may make you want to think twice. I have owned a local and organic restaurant for a brief period of my life in which I have made many mistakes and had those little triumphs as well but either way it was one of the greatest learning experiences in my life. I have learned so much MORE than I ever thought I could about something that we all do every single day and that is… eating! Eating is one of my favorite things to do and I’m sure I can relate to a lot of people in that way. The problem is that the majority of people these days don’t know where their food is coming from, don’t know what is in their food, and sadly many may not enjoy their food to the fullest.

    I think one of the reasons that we all have had or have these issues is because we do not have a good relationship with our food. That is why I encourage anyone to go out there and discover local foods from local farms so we are not only supporting local farms but we are also supporting ourselves and our bodies by really HAVING a great relationship with our produce, meats, cheese or whatever we choose for ourselves.

    Of course it’s easy and convenient to go to the store and buy some perfectly colored produce or ground up beef or highly processed foods, but that will result in not only not having a deeper understanding of food but also in limited choices and duller flavors in your meals. I have also learned in my years of cooking in kitchens that half the frozen food and produce that come in are from distributors and/or from China or Mexico when we could be getting excellent produce and meats right down the street. Why the hell are we getting meat from China?!?

    Shortly thereafter we started working with local farmers to get products that were raised and grown usually within 30 miles. I’m not one of those local freaks that won’t even drink coffee because it isn’t local but I will buy local meat, produce and herbs when available. Many of you may believe that there isn’t local growers that provide quality produce and meats in your area. This is exactly what I thought at first until I received a two page list of local produce and meats within 30 miles! Here are 8 solid reasons to eat local.

    1. Support your local economy

    Support your local farmers that are growing amazing and very tasty food. Support a families dream to work the land by making a living providing us with food that is not shipped in from 1000’s of miles away and mass produced on “factory farms”. I’m not saying you should empty your cupboards and go buy everything locally, that’s not going to always be realistic. Buying local produce and meats when in season from farmers and markets is realistic though. You can not only buy straight from the farmer but I’ve been seeing more and more grocery stores that carry local products such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s as well. They usually have their own local food section and are often found in the organic section as well. You just have to look for it and you’ll get your hands on some tasty food.

    2. Get to actually know your food

    There’s so many more varieties of foods out there that we just don’t get in a mainstream grocery store. Did you know that there’s over 7500 different varieties of tomatoes? How many do you see in the store, maybe 2 to 4 different kinds? That’s because most of us have been stuck in “sameness” and the factory farmers have caught on to this and now only grow a few select varieties that most of us know today. Did you know that tomatoes aren’t only red? Heirloom tomatoes offer distinct and amazing flavors that you just can’t get in genetically modified tomatos. There’s literally every color of the rainbow and beyond of tomatoes and the same goes for potatoes and many other fruits and vegetables.

    3. Have fun with it

    Get your spouse or some friends involved and come up with delicious dishes. Canning vegetables and fruits such as making your own pickles and/or pickled vegetables and fruits, salsas, sauces, jellies and jams which you can enjoy in the winter as well. Just have fun with all the new and fresh products you got your hands on.

    4. Get to know your neighbors

    Know your farmers and meet new friends that are just as excited as you when a fresh crop of heirloom fingerling potatoes are harvested from a nearby field. I’ve found artisinal bread bakers, butcherers, numerous produce farms, herb growers and the list goes on just from talking to people at farmers markets and farmers. There’s farmers all over that support “food shares” which is a share of food which a farmer grows specifically for you. You usually get a wide variety of seasonal produce and meats delivered to your door or at a drop off location 1 to 4 times a month. There’s a great site and i’m sure many more such as www.localharvest.org/csa which you can locate farmers and markets that participate in this food share program.

    5. Familiarize yourself with the seasons

    Get in touch with your local seasons and know what grows in your area. Check with your local farmers and see when it will be harvested. Most farmers will have a list of what they grow and when. There are different vegetables and fruits that grow at their peak at certain times of the year. Eating within the seasons is a great way to not only feel healthy but it will also make you feel more in tune with your body and the seasons. With these programs, you’ll find yourself eating more and more local produce/meats which will make you feel great.  Keep in mind as well that a lot of farmers will keep their food share programs running through the winter because there is produce that does grow best in the winter as well. Some farmers also choose to grow various things in greenhouses so they can expand the variety of produce and herbs that they can grow and they can grow more of the product.

    6. Save money

    A lot of local products are often found to be a fraction of the cost than at the grocery store. For example spinach, lettuce, herbs, squash and tomatoes which are much tastier, more beautiful, better for you, and usually picked within 24 hours from when they reach your kitchen table. Produce that comes in from other places can be on a truck for 4-6 days before it reaches store shelves. Of course, some local products will sometimes be more than the mainstream groceries but the extra 80 cents is worth it with all of the hard honest work, love and care put into the foods which can most definitely reflect in the taste.

    7. Feel better and lose weight

    If you eat foods that are local more often than not, they are grown organically which means there is no chemicals or hormones used during the growing or raising process. That means we aren’t filling our bodies with pesticides or hormones every day and believe me your body will love that! You would be surprised the amount of chemicals and hormones used to grow produce that’s in our grocery stores and the end result is dull tasting product. Overall you just have more energy and are more alert just from changing the way you eat. Eating locally grown organic food is a great to improve your immune system, reduce stress, have higher energy and kick that lazy and groggy feeling. Fairly simple, I believe and it can be so worth it!

    8. Not supporting Monsanto

    If you haven’t had the chance to watch the wonderful documentary Food Inc. from filmmaker Robert Kenner, it’s a must. You can watch a brief preview at http://www.foodincmovie.com and I highly recommend renting it at your local video store or online at netflix.com. You’d be surprised where our food comes from and how much of it is from one company who uses genetically modified seeds to grow food. They have actually modified seeds to have pesticides be a part of the seed structure so when the produce grows it naturally will have pesticides in the vegetable, fruit, etc.

    .