Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Bagel Project II

All right, I baked batch number 2 last weekend and I think I am nearly there. If you like your bagels fairly fluffy then this might actually be your recipe. So while I still don't think this is where I want to take these lovelies, here is recipe number 1 of probably several.
So, what did I do?
I think the main thing that you'll want to know about is that I used not only yeast but also some refreshed sourdough leven. If you don't have a sourdough starter living in your fridge you have several options:
a) make some, I'll tell you how to do that next week
b) if you're in St Andrews, let me know and I'll give you some of mine
c) use only yeast (but keep in mind that the reason I am using sourdough in the bagels is because of the flavour and the added moisture so you won't get quite the same texture and flavour)

Sourdough Bagels
500 g Bread Flour (you want a high protein content here, so extra strong is a good thing in this case)
1/2 tbsp Honey
3/4 the amount of yeast you would use for 500g flour normally (i.e. 32g of fresh yeast, or however much your dry active or instant yeast packaging tells you to use).
300 ml Water (if you are using dry active yeast, use some of this water when you are activating the yeast)
2 tsp Salt
150g Refreshed Production Sourdough (alternatively, use the entire 42g of yeast)
1 tbsp Salt &
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda for the water you'll boil the bagels in

Sesame Seeds, Salt or whatever else you want to put on your bagels

Mix the yeast, honey, part of the water and a couple of tablespoons of the flour and allow give it 10 minutes or so to get started before you mix it in with the rest of the flour and the salt. Knead for a few minutes and add enough water until you have a fairly stiff dough (you might not need all of the water so don't add it all at once).  Then, add the production sourdough and knead for another couple of minutes.
Once the dough has a satiny feel to it (if this doesn't make any sense to you, send me an email) form it into a ball and put it into a bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and stick it into the fridge.
Give the dough at least an hour, I normally leave it in there for 5 or so hours.
When you are ready to form the bagels take the dough out of the fridge and cut it into 8 pieces. For me this works out at around 120 g for each piece. Roll each piece into a ball, then stick your finger into the middle and poke a hole into the ball. Make the holes about 8 cm in diameter (they will get a lot smaller when they are proofing and when you are poaching them) then put the bagels onto a baking sheet that has been lined with oiled baking parchment. Don't leave out the oil! Oil is your friend in this case (I can't believe I am saying this, but if there is one thing that turns making bagels into non-fun it's them sticking to something at any point of the process, don't forget to oil the baking parchment).
Brush the bagels with some oil (again, I've tried it without and it's not worth it...go for the oil!)then cover the baking sheet with some cling film.
Stick your baking sheet into your fridge and leave it to proof for several hours or preferably overnight.
In the morning, take the baking sheet out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature until the bagels have warmed up. This should take around 90 minutes or so.
Half an hour before you are ready to bake the bagels, take out all the spare baking sheets in your oven (yes, I know you're lazy, but still), turn on your oven and preheat it to 250˚. You really want to give it the time to heat up properly so find something else to do for a while - like finding your biggest pot.
Mine holds 5 but you should be able to work with a smaller one as well. It'll just turn the whole poaching thing into a much longer affair.
So, once you've decided on a pot, heat some water and once it's boiling add the salt and bicarb.
Using your fingers transfer two or 3 bagels into the water and poach for 1 minute, then turn them around and poach them for another minute (don't go for much longer or they'll go super chewy - the bad kind, but if you like your bagels on the non-chewy side of things you could even reduce the time for the second side to 30 seconds, I think 1 minute is just right though).
Anyhow, using a slotted spoon, take them out of the water and transfer them back onto the baking tray (the oiled baking parchment should still be on there).
Repeat with the second batch.
While the second batch is in there, sprinkle your bagels with your topping of choice (the skin dries fairly quickly so it's better to sprinkle them while you're waiting for the next batch rather than doing all in one go).
Repeat until all bagels are poached.
Put the bagels into the oven and turn down the heat to 220˚, then you have about 8 minutes to work on the mess that your kitchen has turned into (ours turned into a sesame seed disaster zone), then rotate the baking sheet and give them another 10 minutes. My oven is on the hot side of things so I turned it down to 200˚ at this point but if yours is not having that problem just leave the temperature up.
You might want to check the bottoms of the bagels and see whether they are going too dark too quickly, if that's the case it apparently helps to put a second baking sheet under the one you're using. I've never had that problem though, so I don't know whether it works (sounds sensible though).
Once your bagels are done, take them out of the oven, slide them onto a wire-rack and let them cool before you slather them in cream cheese, or have them with some mouthwatering cheesy scrambled eggs.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Frozen Rosewater Yoghurt

This is pretty much what it says on the tin - frozen yoghurt with a hint of rosewater.
It's perfect after a dinner on the spicy side but it also works on it's own. The reason why mine is so pink (which lead Verena to hope for bubble-gum flavoured ice-cream) is because of the rose-syrup I used. If you can't get hold of the syrup then simply use a bit more rosewater and simple sirup and enjoy a non-pink version.

Frozen Rosewater Yoghurt
500g Plain Yoghurt
2 tbsp Simple Syrup
2 tsp Rosewater
2 tbsp Rose Syrup
2 tbsp Lime Juice

Mix all ingredients together, put into a freezer-proof container and freeze. After an hour break up the crystals that have formed using a fork, then put it back into the freezer. Keep breaking up the crystals at decreasing intervals.
Before you serve the frozen yoghurt, leave it on the counter for a few minutes so it can soften a bit.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Leeks with a Vinaigrette

After all the deserts lately I was craving something at least slightly healthy so when I walked past some gorgeous looking leeks that were smiling at me in their light green, yellow, and white goodness I couldn't resist.
These are all lovely when you eat them warm but they are just as good if you cover them with the vinaigrette and leave them in the fridge. If you have them warm, make some salmon to go with them. It's one of my favourite combinations of flavours at the moment.

Leeks with a Vinaigrette
2 Leeks per person (or more if you want leftovers)
3 tbsp Vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
3 tbsp Oil (I like the flavour of olive oil but other people swear that plain vegetable gives you a nicer texture)
Some Water

Cook the leeks in a pan of salt water (no, the dark green stuff isn't nice, cut it off :) and you might want to wash of the sand...just saying...).
While the leeks are cooking away, make the vinaigrette. Traditionally you would go for a 3:1 ratio of oil and vinegar but I really don't like the taste so go for whatever ratio you like, the 1:1 one above is the one I like the best. If you are using quite a lot of vinegar you might want to add some water to tone down the acidity but again, go for whatever you like :) whatever you go for, mix the vinegar and mustard first, that way the emulsion will get thicker and will stay that way for longer. If you want to add some salt, add that before the oil as well, then whisk in the oil.
Once the leeks are done, which should take between 10 and 15 minutes, drain them and sit them onto a pretty plate.
Now you can either stare at them in adoration or you could just inhale them (guess which option I have been going for).

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Bagel Project

Last week Louisa at The Wednesday Chef wrote about this bagel recipe by Peter Reinhart. Part of my amazement was probably mediated by the whole Lent thing (ok...probably more like 90% of it) but I started dreaming of bagels.
Bagels have always been one of those things that I had never quite gotten the hang of - I'm happy to poach a yeasty dough if the end product is going to be Hefeknöpfle (if you feel like learning a new word today, try to work out what they are :) ) and if we're talking about yeast and just an oven - there is probably no recipe that I wouldn't at least try once.
But bagels...I spent about a year during high-school trying several different bagel recipes and every single one of them failed rather spectacularly (think scraping the lower part off a baking sheet, bagels that were soo fluffy that I wouldn't really call them bagels, bagels that made a shoe-sole melt on your tongue in comparison) so I gave up after a while and resigned myself to buying them....until now :)
I mean who can resist trying one last recipe if it promises to be foolproof?
I certainly can't.
So, on Saturday I set out to finally master making my own bagels from scratch.
And I succeeded!
Well kinda - nothing burned to the pan or the baking sheet, I nearly got the texture that I wanted - but not quite.
So rather than giving you a recipe that I don't like 100% I shall leave you with another photo and will report back next weekend after another batch.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Coffee Granita

We have arrived at part three of our dessert odyssey :)
This granita goes incredibly well with the Coconut Poached Pears.
I have to add a warning though - I can drink coffee at any time of the day and still sleep (and I still believe anyone who can't is just not tired enough, but I've had that argument with several of you so we're just gonna leave it here) so while I think this is one of the coolest after-dinner treats (especially if you use nice coffee to start off with), if you know that coffee at dinner is really not a good idea for you, then you should potentially not make this for a dinner party (just a thought).
You could have it for breakfast though...granita for breakfast...hmm...
Anyhow, let's make some granita :)

Coffee Granita (after Vicky Bhogal)
8 Shots of Espresso
4 tbsp Sugar (I used unrefined cane sugar because I like the flavour)
Enough Cold Water to bring things up to 500ml
A pinch of Salt

In a jug mix the espresso, sugar, and salt and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then add enough water so you have 500 ml coffee mix.
Pour into a freezer-proof container and freeze for an hour or so before stirring in the first crystals that should have formed by now. Repeat the freezing/stirring thing a few more times (decreasing the intervals) until you have something that resembles a fancy slushy. Now you can either serve it or leave it in the freezer. If you decide to freeze the granita for a while before serving, give it 10 minutes or so and some serious aggression with a fork before you serve it.
This goes incredibly well with the Coconut Poached Pears but it's really nice on its own as well.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Pear Infused Coconut Granita

So, before we continue in our quest to make the coolest desert you'll ever make let me tell you one thing about this granita - I don't think I've ever seen a litre of ice-cream or granita or anything disappear that fast from my freezer :) there were a lot of very happy faces (which made me very happy) and it turns out that it goes incredibly well with say the fruit salad I made a while ago (as an afternoon treat if you're having a bad day) or with the chocolate vodka (for example after fajitas while the people at your kitchen table talk about all the things you could possibly deep-fry...I love you guys!) or by itself while you're making Cape Malay Curry :) in a nutshell - it's the perfect desert!

Anyhow, let's make some coconut granita!

We're starting off where we left off with the poached pears. After you have removed the pears from the coconut mix, allow the liquid to cool. I highly recommend trying some while you're waiting. It gets a bit addictive but it's soooo nice!
Once it's all cooled down, transfer the mix into a freezer-proof container and stick it into your freezer. Unlike other granitas this one is very lazy. No checking every hour or so.
Leave the mix in the freezer overnight and then come back to it in the morning. I was worried I was going to come back to a solid block of ice but it turns out that I was wrong. Instead I had just about made it to a semi-fredo state.
Once you're there, break up larger lumps of ice with a fork (or if you feel like it, put it into a bowl and whisk it for a bit) then put everything back into the freezer and then wait until it's properly frozen ('s just as good if it's not properly frozen....but you know how much better it will taste if you make yourself wait...).
This tastes best in the company of some amazingly lovely people :)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Coconut Poached Pears

This is recipe 1 of a series. So over the next 3 posts I'll talk about making 3 glorious deserts that will be the easiest to make in one go (like this weekend) but I love each part on its own as well so they get separate posts. So bear with me :)

I made these a while back when Katie had a tangine party. I wanted to bring a desert that would work with the gorgeous flavours of the tangines (apricot, almond, and chicken and a lemon, chickpea and vegetable one) without being overwhelming. I was looking for clean flavours and at the same time I was looking for something which point I ended up sticking my head in the sand for a day...and then I decided to go ploughing through my cookbooks. And in Vicky Bhogal's Flavour I found something that matched all my prerequesites :)

Before you start worrying, this recipe couldn't be any easier - if you watch the pot that is :) I managed to get the coconut milk to boil over no, not just once...but twice in about 5 minutes because I was running around the house doing other things. So, I think the safest bet is - get a magazine and sit down next to the pot...and watch it like a hawk :)

Coconut Poached Pears (adapted from Vicky Bhogal's recipe)
1 Pear for every person you're having over
800 ml Coconut Milk for every 4 pears
200 g Sugar for every 4 pears

Peel the pears (but leave the stalks attached) and cut a tiny slice off at the bottom - that way they'll stand up better later on.
Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan that's big enough to hold the liquid and the pears but not too big (you want the coconut milk to cover the pears later on) and dissolve the sugar in it.
Once the liquid is simmering away, place the pears in the saucepan and cover (and watch). You'll probably find that the lowest setting your hob has will be more than enough.
Simmer until the pears are tender (about 10-15 minutes), then take the pears out using a slotted spoon and allow them to cool (they like your fridge after that).
Serve them with some Coffee Granita.
Allow the coconut milk to cool, then make some Pear Infused Coconut Granita :)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Visual Perception & Photography

I thought this might be of interest for those of you who are also interested in photography.

On Friday (March 11th) Marty Banks is giving a talk in the School of Psychology here in St Andrews (3:30, Old Library).
The talk is about 'The Perceptual Basis for Some Guidelines in Photography' and when I had the chance to go to his talk last year at the Gatsby Symposium I really felt like I had learned something.

If you're studying perception and want to know more about photography, you'll thoroughly enjoy this talk; if you're into photography and want to find out more about why certain things end up looking good and other things don't, you'll really enjoy it too :)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Citrusy Blueberry Muffins

Today's recipe is for Valentin who just handed in his Master's thesis. I am so excited for you!!!
And to have the last word in our conversation about muffins from ages ago, here's my take on the blueberry muffin :)
These muffins are based on the blueberry muffins in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito's 'Baked' and since they have blueberries in them I believe eating more than one will bring you closer to your five-a-day :)
Anyhow, they are super fast (25 minutes from when I started pulling the butter out of the fridge to taking the baked muffins out of the oven) so they would also make a lovely breakfast treat.

Citrusy Blueberry Muffins
Zest of 1 Satsuma and 1 Lime
125 ml Orange Juice
125 ml Milk
2 Egg Whites
60 g Butter (melt it, then let it cool)
40 g Ground Almonds
20 g Flaked Almonds
110 g Plain Flour
110 g Kamut Flour
170 g Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
75 g Blueberries

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin pan with 12 cups.
Mix all the liquid ingredients and the zest in a jug. In a medium bowl mix all the dry ingredients (make sure the baking powder is well distributed and there's no lumps - trust me, it really won't taste nice!). In a tiny bowl toss the blueberries in some flour (this will stop them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins).
Fold the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are just combined (remember: well-mixed muffins = chewy muffins), then fold in the blueberries.
Spoon the batter into the paper cases, then bake for 15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Take the pan out of the oven and after another 15 minutes remove the muffins from the pan.
Enjoy your muffins with a glass of milk or a relaxing afternoon coffee and keep telling yourself that spring is nearly properly here :)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sandra's Cape Malay Curry

It's a real pleasure to introduce my first guest-writer!
Today's post was written by my lovely friend Sandra. Sandra is one of the people who have been involved either in the cooking or the eating of probably more than 50% of the dishes I talk about on here so when she offered to show me how to make Cape Malay Curry and write a post for you guys, this was like winning the lottery.
Anyhow,  I hope you enjoy this curry as much as we did.

My dear friend Katharina has been cooking the most wonderful dishes for me and so when she asked me to do a guest-post on her wonderful blog, how could I possibly say no? I know that she has previously referred to me as the queen of Austro-Hungarian cooking and so I decided that I was definitely not going to let her label me as merely that.
I grew up in South Africa and one of my favourite dishes from home is a traditional Cape Malay Curry. This is a curry that is distinct from other curries because it combines sweet and savoury elements in the dish by adding things like cinnamon (I absolutely love cinnamon, it's the best spice EVER) or dried fruit, in particular dried apricots. The dish gets it's name from the Cape Malay community in the Western Cape. They originate from the slaves that the settlers of the Dutch East India Company brought with them from India to Indonesia.
So last weekend, Katharina, Phoebe, and I decided that it was curry time.

Apparently this recipe is meant to serve 4 to 6, but it barely fed 4 hungry girls...

For the curry:
4 Chicken Breasts, cut into smaller pieces
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable Oil
2 Onions, roughly chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 small Knob of Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 Cinnamon Sticks (or 1 huge one if you're Katharina)
1 tbsp Roasted Masala Spice (or any curry powder)
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Ground Cardamom (also we managed without it)
400 g tin Chopped Tomatoes
410 ml  tin Coconut Milk
Coriander Leaves for garnishing

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken in some oil and then set aside. Now fry the onions until golden. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick , and remaining spices. Simmer for a few seconds to release the flavours and then add the tomatoes and the coconut. Now return the chicken to the sauce and cover the pan and leave to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Whilst the curry is merrily bubbling away, move on to the sambals. Sambals are side dishes that compliment the curry by either making it milder or hotter.

Banana Sambal
Chop a banana into slices and cover with some yoghurt and leave to infuse.

Cucumber Sambal
1/2 Cucumber
Some chopped Coriander (optional)
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
250 ml Plain Yoghurt

Slice the cucumber into squares and mix together with the other ingredients. Season with salt.

Once you've made the sambals, it's time to enjoy the amazing and wonderful aromas and tastes of this amazing curry.
A perfect accompaniment to this is rice or naan bread. We loved both.

Right, I think that entitles me to at least another year of Katharina's delicious cooking!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Confessions of a workaholic II

It's been a while since the first post of these so here's a few more things that you might have/might not have wanted to know about me :)

© Kathleen Dowling

I don't actually like chocolate. Here, I've said it! I don't understand how people can eat an entire bar of chocolate in one go!

What I do love, however, is baking with chocolate. Is there anything better than the smell of warm chocolate in your kitchen?

There are very few things that I love more than travelling (especially when it's travelling to see friends!) - is it just me or is anyone else getting excited about hanging out in Florida in May?

Don't tell her, but I'm super proud of my little sister. She's bright as a button and I can't wait to see where she goes next.

Have I ever mentioned that I really don't like writing? My current chapter is a daily reminder...

I made some coconut granita this weekend and it's rather glorious. I'll have to post about it once I'm able to stop eating it for long enough to take some pictures.

I should probably exercise more...but somehow baking tends to tonight...there's a loaf of French country bread in my oven right now :)

When I'm not trying to write up my thesis I am currently organising a python programming course, if you are interested in scientific programming you should check out the course website (and join us for the course in September!)
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