October 31, 2008

Bagels - Double DB

These bagels came out of the oven about 5 minutes ago, so they were caught hot by the camera! I can hardly wait to taste one.

6-8 cups bread (high-gluten) flour
4 tablespoons dry baking yeast

6 tablespoons granulated white sugar or light honey
2 teaspoons salt

3 cups hot water
a bit of vegetable oil
1 gallon water
3-5 tablespoons malt syrup or sugar
a few handfuls of cornmeal

First, pour three cups of hot water into the mixing bowl. The water should be hot, but not so hot that you can't bear to put your fingers in it for several seconds at a time. Add the sugar or honey and stir it with your fingers or with a wire whisk to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water, and stir to dissolve.
Wait about ten minutes for the yeast to begin to revive and grow.
Add about three cups of flour as well as the 2 tsp of salt to the water and yeast and begin mixing it in. When you have incorporated the first three cups of flour, the dough should begin to become thick-ish. Add more flour, a half-cup or so at a time, and mix each addition thoroughly before adding more flour. As the dough gets thicker, add less and less flour at a time. Soon you will begin to knead it by hand. Sprinkle your work surface or bowl with a handful of flour, put your dough on top, and start kneading. Add bits of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Soon you should have a nice stiff dough.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with one of your clean kitchen towels, dampened somewhat by getting it wet and then wringing it out thoroughly. If you swish the dough around in the bowl, you can get the whole ball of dough covered with a very thin film of oil, which will keep it from drying out.
Place the bowl with the dough in it in a dry, warm (but not hot) place, free from drafts. Allow it to rise until doubled in volume.
While the dough is rising, fill your stockpot with about a gallon of water and set it on the fire to boil. When it reaches a boil, add the malt syrup or sugar and reduce the heat so that the water just barely simmers; the surface of the water should hardly move.
Once the dough has risen, turn it onto your work surface, punch it down, and divide immediately into as many hunks as you want to make bagels. Form the bagels: There are two schools of thought on this. One method of bagel formation involves shaping the dough into a rough sphere, then poking a hole through the middle with a finger and then pulling at the dough around the hole to make the bagel. This is the hole-centric method. The dough-centric
method involves making a long cylindrical "snake" of dough and wrapping it around your hand into a loop and mashing the ends together. Begin to preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
Once the bagels are formed, let them sit for about 10 minutes. They will begin to rise slightly. There should only be two or three bagels simmering at any given time. The bagels should sink first, then gracefully float to the top of the simmering water. Let the bagel simmer for about three minutes, then turn them over with a skimmer or a slotted spoon. Simmer another three minutes, and then lift the bagels out of the water and set them on a clean kitchen towel that has been spread on the countertop for this purpose. Once all the bagels have been boiled, prepare your baking sheets by sprinkling them with cornmeal. Then arrange the bagels on the prepared baking sheets and put them in the oven. Let them bake for about 25 mintues, then remove from the oven, turn them over and put them back in the oven to finish baking for about ten minutes more. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.

October 29, 2008

Pizza - Daring Bakers

This month's challenge is hosted by Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums, who invited us to bake pizza like a real pizzaiolo. Well I screwed the whole thing up, because I guess I used the wrong flour (dough was pretty brownish) and at the end when I wanted to get it out of the oven it fall down and made a big mess inside. But! I wanted to try this pizza dough recipe from Peter Reinhart since long, so I am going to bake this challenge once more. For the pizza I made the same sauce like the last time, and as topping I used ham and champignons with loads of mozzarella, because this is my favourite. The double challenge is on my to cook list for tomorrow, so I am going to post it somewhen this week.

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled

1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.


9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each
bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

October 27, 2008

Three Years of Weekend Herb Blogging - Chestnut

Weekend Herb Blogging, celebrates its 3rd birthday, an event created by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen. The new WHB Chief is going to be Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything at least once, she is going to do all the management of the event. So now back to this incredible 3 years of WHB and let's see with what we are going to celebrate the anniversary: this time we should blog about our favorite herb, vegetable or fruit.

As it is getting colder and colder outside, leaves falling from the trees, these are signs that it is time again for chestnuts! Can you imagine anything more lovely on a cold winter afternoon, while walking on the snowy streets, than a package of roasted chestnut? I adore the smell of the roasting cart and how the chestnut warm not only your hands, but your soul.
In my childhood my mom cooked me often chestnut, and I remember I could hardly wait until they were ready. At Christmas we always roast some at home and then the whole house is filled with the lovely smell of this gorgeous fruit.

The sweet chestnut was introduced into Europe from Sardis, in Asia Minor; the fruit was then called the 'Sardian Nut. It has been a staple food in Southern Europe, Turkey and southwestern and eastern Asia for millennia, largely replacing cereals where these would not grow well, if at all, in mountainous Mediterranean areas. Alexander the Great and the Romans planted Chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. The Greek army is said to have survived their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C. thanks to their stores of chestnuts. Ancient Greeks like Dioscorides and Romans such as Galen, wrote of chestnuts to comment on their medicinal properties – and of the flatulence induced by eating too much of it. To the early Christians chestnuts symbolized chastity. Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities which had scarce access to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates. In some parts of Italy a cake made of chestnuts is used as a substitute for potatoes.

The fruit can be peeled and eaten raw, but it then can be somewhat astringent especially if the pellicle is not removed.

The other way of eating the fruit which does not involve peeling, is to roast them. Any method of cooking requires to score the fruit beforehand, else the flesh expands and the fruit explodes. Once cooked its texture is similar to a baked potato, with a delicate, sweet, nutty flavour.
Chestnuts can be dried and milled into flour, which can then be used to prepare breads, cakes, pancakes, pastas (it is the original ingredient for "polenta", known in Corsica as
"pulenda"), used as thickener for stews, soups, sauces..., . The flour can be light beige like or darker . It is a good solution for long storage of a nutritious food. Chestnut bread keeps fresh for as long as two weeks.

A fine granular sugar can be obtained from the fermentation of the juice, as well as a beer; and the roasted fruit provides a coffee substitute.

The nuts can also be eaten candied, boiled, steamed, grilled, roasted or fried (fritters), in sweet or savoury recipes. They can be used to stuff vegetables, poultry, fowl and other edibles.They are available fresh, dried, ground, canned (whole or in puree).

Candied chestnuts (whole chestnuts candied in sugar syrup, then iced) are sold under the French name marrons glacés or Turkish name kestane şekeri ("sugared chestnuts"). They appeared in France in the 16th century. Chestnuts are picked in autumn, and candied from the start of the following summer for the ensuing Christmas. Thus the marrons glacés eaten at Christmas are those picked the year before.

Chestnuts' taste vary slightly from one to the next but is somewhat sweet and certainly unique. (source:wikipedia)

I baked a chestnut cake today, that it great with a cup of coffee and a ball of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with caramel sauce. Here you find 2 other chestnut recipes.

150 g butter
150 g cane sugar
3 eggs
200 g flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

zest of a 1/2 orange
150 g cooked chestnut
3 tablespoons chesnut liquer

Preheat oven to 200
°C. Whisk butter and sugar for about 10 minutes until fluffy. Whisk in eggs one by one. Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, orange, chestnut liquer and chestnuts. Pour batter in a buttered form and bake for 50-60 minutes.

October 21, 2008

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

I have seen this bread in Millie's blog, and being a huge cinnamon fan, of course I could not resist to try it. However I am quite sure that I used the wrong flour for it, so I am going to give it another go somewhen. I baked it without raisins, because they are not my cup of tea.

3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons shortening, melted or at room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
3/4 cup water, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups raisins, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped walnuts

Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk, and water. Stir together with a large spoon until the ingredients come together and form a ball. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff. Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Add flour as you knead, if necessary, to achieve this texture. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes). Sprinkle in the raisins and walnuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly and to avoid crushing them too much. (If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to distribute the raisins and walnuts evenly.) The dough should register 77° to 81°F (25 to 27°C). Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves. Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch pan, mist the tops with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished breads should register 190°F (85°C) in the center and be golden brown on top and lightly
golden on the sides and bottom. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.Immediately remove the breads from their pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving. (by Peter Reinhart)

October 16, 2008

World Bread Day ‘08 - Ciabatta

Today is the 3rd World Bread Day hosted by Zorra from Kochtopf. I am not very experienced with bread baking, so that is why I baked something simple like ciabatta, an Italian white bread. I was very happy with the result: it tastes as a ciabatta should. Bread baking is fun!


For sponge
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105°‐115° F.)
1/3 cup room-temperature water

1 cup bread flour

For bread
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm milk (105°‐115° F.)

2/3 cup room-temperature water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Make sponge:
In a small bowl stir together yeast and warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, room-temperature water, and flour and stir 4 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature at least 12 hours
and up to 1 day.

3rd World Bread Day hosted by 1x umruehren bitte aka kochtopf

Make bread:
In a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened and beat dough at medium speed 3
minutes. Add salt and beat 4 minutes more. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.)

Have ready a rimless baking sheet and 2 well-floured 12- by 6-inch sheets parchment paper. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with
floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before baking ciabatta, put a baking stone or 4 to 6 unglazed "quarry" tiles (see note, above) arranged close together on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425° F.

Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment to baking sheet with a long side of loaf parallel to far edge of baking sheet. Line up far edge of baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles, and tilt baking sheet to slide loaf with parchment onto back half of stone or tiles. Transfer remaining loaf to front half of stone or tiles in a similar manner. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. With a large spatula transfer loaves to a rack to cool.


October 8, 2008

Pumpkin Risotto - Art You Eat #5 - Autumn Edition!

Almost a week passed and I still have not used the pumpkin that was sitting comfortably in my pantry, until today. I am talking about a medium hokkaido pumpkin. I like this type of pumpkin because these are easy to prepare, no need to peel and you do not need much power to cut them. So let's start stirring that risotto!

1 hokkaido pumpkin
1 onion
250 g risotto rice
200 ml white wine
500 ml chicken stock

50 g grated parmesan
olive oil
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
1 rosemary twig
2 tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 200°C and bake half of the pumpkin with a rosemary twig for 20-30 minutes. Slice the other half and deep fry in oil, flavour with a tablespoon honey, salt, and cayenne pepper. Puree baked pumpkin slices with a tablespoon honey. Chop onion. Heat olive oil, add onion and rice. Mix until rice is well covered with oil.
In a separate large saucepan bring the bouillon to simmer, and keep it hot.
Add wine, increase heat to medium, and stir constantly. When the wine has been absorbed, add a little of the hot bouillon. Add salt and pepper. Once the stock is absorbed, add a little
more; repeat this process, stirring constantly, until the rice is cooked through. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the parmesan melt. Stir in pumpkin puree and diced pumpkin.

I am sending this to Holly for the Art You Eat #5 - Autumn Edition!

October 6, 2008

Pecan Crusted Cod - Culinarty Round-Up

Pacific cod caught by trawl or Atlantic cod

Pacific cod caught by longline

The first time I prepared basil pesto was also the last, because it is not my cup of tea.
However today I used loads of basil in our lunch and I was totally surprised how tasty it was, so I might give that basil pesto another try somewhen. Like most of the time, I did not have a clear idea what and how to prepare, I only knew which ingredients I am going to use: beautiful cod fish fillets, white polenta, and I wanted to use nuts. I loved the combination of pecorino with the polenta last time and I decided to prepare something similar now. Back to the nuts: I grabbed a handful of pecans, breadcrumbs, a shallot, some lemon juice and the crust for the fish was ready. While stirring the polenta for about an hour I had the idea to fry it in olive oil with a twig rosemary. And the pecorino sauce? Well it turned to be a basil foam at the end, that was so delicious, even my friend, who only eats fish with a lot of mayonnaise, did not even touch the tube! So it seems finally I can get rid of that tube, not to mention that this was the biggest compliment I could receive for this lunch!

2 cod fillets
salt, pepper
600 ml chicken stock
125 g white polenta
1 rosemary twig

1 handful of pecans
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots
50 g pecorino
100 ml sherry
150 ml chicken stock
50 ml heavy cream
10-15 basil leaves

Cook chicken stock and add polenta, cook for 40 minutes, while stirring constantly on lowest heat, pour it on baking paper and let it cool. Slice and fry in olive oil with rosemary. Heat oilve oil, add grated shallot, breadcrumbs, mustard and chopped pecans. Salt and pepper fish and smear crust on top. Sprinkle lemon juice over the crust and optionally add some flakes of butter on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes on 180°C. Heat olive oil, add chopped shallot, sherry and stock, reduce, sieve, stir in heavy cream, grated pecorino and cook some more minutes together with the basil leaves and with a help of a mixer whisk so that it gets foamy.

I am sending this recipe to Lore for her monthly event Original recipe.

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