Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Bagels

My attempt to cook something new each week almost failed in its second week--but I just managed something new: bagels!

Thanks to advice from another on-line source, I decided to try the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  Except, somewhat of course, I failed to follow directions fully and/or had minor issues.

First, I couldn't find high-gluten flour, which isn't that much of a surprise.  I did find Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten, though, so I bought some and threw a bit in with my flour.  I don't know if it had an actual effect on the end result.

Second, I couldn't find malt powder, so, as recommended, I used honey.

Third, I think I ended up with a bit more flour than called for, all worked in in the process of kneading.  It was a humid day, so that probably had something to do with it.

I kneaded by hand, for longer than the 10 minutes suggested, because I was in a groove and because I didn't think it was quite ready.

Fourth, this recipe has you make a sponge, then add in more flour and yeast, knead, shape (with some rest period in there), rise a little and then go into the refrigerator for a long, slow, cool rise overnight.  I did all that.  However, I also made vegetable stock yesterday, and just before going to bed put the still warm stock in the refrigerator, too.  And I think that raised the temperature in the fridge enough that the bagels rose a bit more than they ought to have risen.  So, they're a bit puffier than expected.

Fifth, I baked them for about 4-5 minutes longer than suggested, including a final two minute on convection for a nice brown.

The result:


Totally fun, not that hard, and very good, even with the wrong bits.  They were appropriately chewy on the outside, but not too dense.  I'd make them again (except, actually, for the fact that I kind of dislike the smell of the baking soda in water solution for the boiling).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cabbage and kohlrabi salad

One of my goals for this spring and summer is to cook more, and particularly to cook new things. And so, a blog about it. I'm going to concentrate on cooking recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, because I got it a year or so ago, have made one thing from it about five times, and otherwise have just paged through it looking at all the pretty things. Now, to cook!

So, I decided to start with something simple. I looked through my refrigerator to see what I had (in an additional attempt to make better use of what I buy), and realized I had a cabbage I bought to make colcannon for St. Patrick's Day, which I didn't actually do. The recipe that called for a reasonable amount of cabbage was the cabbage and kohlrabi salad. And so, there was my decision made for me.

This really is a simple recipe. I made it not quite as described. I didn't have dried cherries, and so used dried cranberries. And I didn't add in alfalfa sprouts, both because I don't like them very much, and also because I knew I'd have leftovers and I didn't think they'd stay very nice.

Otherwise, it's a simple matter of slicing up vegetables, chopping dill, grating some lemon zest, and mixing with hands. I'm glad that in this recipe, at least, there are weight/volume descriptions of what a "large" bunch of dill means, or what half a cabbage should be. Bunches of dill and cabbages must be smaller in England than they are in Canada, because I used maybe a third of a bunch of dill and... gosh, probably not even a quarter of a cabbage, and had about the proper volume/weight.

The verdict. Yum. It's crisp, it's tangy, it's... just really, really nice. The dill and lemon and garlic work together really well. Kohlrabi has a wonderful texture, and it complements the cabbage perfectly (which I suppose should be obvious, what with them being essentially the same thing).

I had it with Mark Bittman's Chickpea and Chicken Tagine, something I've made a number of times before. This was, for some reason, a less successful version than times in the past. For one, I realized I had no bulgur, nor any couscous, which I've used in the past, and the little corner grocery had neither, either. So, I threw in some of a Israeli couscous mix I had in the cupboard, but it's not quite right. Also, for some reason this time the whole thing ended up too sweet. I'm not sure if I did something, or my dried apricots were unusually sweet, or my tastebuds have changed, or it was the couscous mix, or what, but it wasn't quite right.

'Twas OK, though, as I had seconds of the salad, and was satisfied.