Bagels

Its always the story behind the food — not just the bit that we hold in our hands or put in our mouths that makes it so much more than just something to eat.

The origin of the bagel is still an issue for debate. Most food historians have come to the conclusion that the bagel is of Jewish origin. Apparently originating in South Germany, migrating to Poland and then to North America. This boiled and baked roll with a hole, has endured through the centuries not only because of its heroic legend. It also had the advantage of lasting longer than freshly baked bread due to the boiling process giving it an outer sheen and crunchy protective crust.

In the early 1950’s, Family Circle included a recipe for bagels. The copy read: ‘Stumped for Hors d’oeuvers Ideas? Split these tender little triumphs in halves and then quarters. Spread with sweet butter and place a small slice of smoked salmon on each. For variations, spread with cream cheese, anchovies or red caviar.

The morning combination of bagel, cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon), rose in popularity thanks to the advertising efforts of Joseph Kraft for Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It soon became an alternative to Eggs Benedict or the other Sunday trilogy of bacon, eggs and toast.

I remember being in California in the late 70’s and tasting a bagel with cream cheese & lox for the first time. The bakery/cafes were very popular little boutique restaurants at that time and  it was there that I acquired the taste for this glorious combination. 

Bagelmania, replaced, to a certain extent, the doughnut shops of the earlier 20th century. Their popularity was largely because they didn’t taste ethnic. To the bread and sandwich loving population, the bagel was simply a craving for innovation, but not different enough to appear ethnic.

In the 1960’s, preservatives helped create bagels that stayed fresh for more than a few hours and engineers created mixers that didn’t tear themselves apart trying to work the dough.

For classic bagels you require two ingredients that most home bakers’ generally don’t have in their pantries. One is high-gluten flour and the other is malt syrup. Both should be obtainable at natural food markets. If you can’t find high-gluten flour, use bread flour, preferably unbleached. Regular all-purpose doesn’t contain enough gluten to make a proper bagel. As far as the barley malt syrup goes, honey or brown sugar are acceptable substitutes.

All that being said, if you are still up for making a few bagels here is a recipe from cdkitchen.com you might like.

 

Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Dough
Water for Boiling Bagels
'Everything' Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a large bowl, stir together water, yeast & sugar. Let rise for 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in oil, malt & 1 cup of flour. Add salt then enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10-12 minutes. Cover with a floured dish towel & allow dough to rest on board for about 15 minutes. Divide dough into 8 sections & form each section into a ball. Push your thumb through the center, creating a hole, (this method prevents the dough ring from separating as there are no seams). Place on a lightly floured surface, cover & let rest 15-20 minutes, rising about halfway & becoming slightly puffy. In a small bowl, mix all topping ingredients together. Set aside.
Water for Boiling Bagels
  1. Fill a large cooking pot 3/4 full with water. Add the malt syrup & salt. Bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 450 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. If desired, sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
  2. Line 2 other baking sheets with a kitchen towel, set near stove. Reduce boiling water to a simmer & cook 2 bagels at a time (do not overcrowd pot). Simmer bagels for about 45 seconds on one side, then turn & cook other side for another 45 seconds. Drain bagels on the towel-lined baking sheet.
  3. Carefully place bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle bagels with 'everything' topping, leave plain or use a topping of your choice. Place in the hot oven, immediately reduce heat to 425 F., bake about 17-25 minutes. When almost baked, turn bagels over with a pair of tongs. When golden brown remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • For a few sweet versions try cinnamon with raisins or use some dried blueberries or cranberries. 
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Rhubarb Orange Pork Country Ribs

There is definitely more to rhubarb than just dessert. While rhubarb is generally treated as a fruit, it has also made many popular appearances in recipes of the day as a savory ingredient.

Braised in chicken stock with a little brown sugar makes a nice side dish for pork, lamb or fish. In sauces, it teams well with onion, sugar and star anise and tarragon for salmon or trout. If your serving pork, onion, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cloves all pair well with rhubarb.

In September, 2016, I posted a recipe for Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney. It became real popular with my blog followers so I thought I would share another pork/rhubarb idea. This recipe was one of those newspaper clippings from yesteryear that is still in my ‘file’ today.

Rhubarb Orange Pork Country Ribs
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Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Rhubarb Orange Pork Country Ribs
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Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Trim excess fat from short ribs; cut into serving size pieces. Place some of the fat in a heavy skillet & heat until skillet is well greased. Discard any remaining pieces.
  2. Combine flour, salt & pepper in a plastic bag. Place short ribs in bag & shake to coat evenly; reserve any extra flour. Place ribs in skillet & brown slowly on both sides. Transfer to a shallow baking dish, making a single layer.
  3. Top ribs with slices of onion, orange & celery. Toss rhubarb, sugar, reserved flour mixture & cloves together & sprinkle over all. Add water to the baking pan. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 35 minutes or until ribs are tender. Uncover & continue baking 10 minutes longer.
Recipe Notes
  • The original recipe used pork chops but our preference is with pork country style ribs instead.
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Vintage Pineapple Pie

This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. Family birthdays forever bring me back to my childhood days. My mother always made the birthday person’s favorite meal on their day along with a cake. Although she excelled at cooking in general, her creative talent was put to good use when she decorated our birthday cakes.

Brion has always loved pineapple pie. I’m not sure where it came from but could possibly have been from time spent in the Cook Islands years ago.

In 1950, the Pillsbury company (General Mills) came out with a pie crust mix. Their promotion read that ‘the quality was assured by the finest ingredients, scientifically blended and perfectly balanced’. All you had to do was add water and mix. To further promote their product they included a recipe for Pineapple Pie supposedly having been written by ‘Ann Pillsbury’. This was a fictitious home economist created for marketing purposes. She essentially represented the members of the Pillsbury Home Service department. Unlike Betty Crocker, Ann Pillsbury did not catch on and was replaced in 1965 by the Pillsbury Doughboy who we still see in their current advertising.

My blog recipe is a bit different from the vintage one but is one of Brion’s favorites. Over the last six months, Brion’s love and support have helped me recover from shoulder replacement surgery for which I’m very grateful.

                                               BIRTHDAY WISHES WITH LOVE!

Vintage Pineapple Pie
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Vintage Pineapple Pie
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Pineapple Filling
Crumb Crust
Meringue Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Pineapple Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine cornstarch & sugar. Gradually stir in water until mixture is smooth. Add lemon zest & undrained crushed pineapple. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture starts to boils; reduce heat slightly & continue to boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; quickly stir in butter & beaten egg yolks, mixing well. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
Crumb Crust
  1. In a food processor or with a rolling pin, crush biscuits finely & evenly. Melt butter; add to crumbs, mixing well with fork. Press evenly over bottom & up sides of a 9-inch flan or pie pan. Refrigerate crust while filling is cooling.
Meringue Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar. Beat until sugar is dissolved. Spread filling evenly into crust; top with meringue making sure to spread it to the edge of crust to form a seal.
  2. Bake for about 5-10 minutes or until surface of meringue is evenly golden brown.
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Blueberry Dumplings

On February 12, 2016, I posted my first blog on this site. It was called ‘Bake Day Surprises’. It featured a simple little recipe from one of my mother’s many versions of dumplings. A sweet, caramel-like, bread dough dumpling that brings back another taste of a memory never to be forgotten.

Dumplings are made from a dough that can consist of ingredients such as flour, potatoes and bread crumbs. Most often formed into a ball shape, then boiled or steamed.

In German cuisine, you will find a dumpling for every occasion and course in a meal. They can be served as a main meal, side dish, part of a soup or as a sweet dessert. Other varieties are filled with fruit or meats.

The fact that my mother baked bread every week when I was a kid, meant that dumplings were the ‘norm’.

With fresh blueberries available at this time of year, why not use some in a few BLUEBERRY DUMPLINGS!

Blueberry Dumplings
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A simple baking powder dumpling that 'mimicks' those delicious but more time consuming yeasted versions.
Servings
4-8
Servings
4-8
Blueberry Dumplings
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A simple baking powder dumpling that 'mimicks' those delicious but more time consuming yeasted versions.
Servings
4-8
Servings
4-8
Ingredients
Blueberry Sauce
Dumplings
Servings:
Instructions
Blueberry Sauce
  1. Place blueberries into a skillet. Add water, sugar & cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until blueberry juices start to flow & bubble. Turn heat to low.
Dumplings
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, zest, nutmeg & salt. Add milk & stir until flour mixture is just moistened. With a spoon, drop 8 'dumplings' onto simmering blueberry mixture. Cover pan & allow to cook 14-15 minutes or until dumplings puff up nicely.
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Flammkuchen – German Pizza

I guess because of my German heritage I forever gravitate to German cuisine and food history. Although my mother’s cooking was a mix of German and Canadian, I can definitely see how she correlated the two quite well.

When most people think of pizza, Italy comes to mind. That’s why I’d like to talk about Flammkuchen, a crisp, smoky bacon German pizza. The name translates to ‘flame cake’ and comes from south Germany and the Alsace region of France. Originally it was used by bakers to test the temperature of their ovens. A bit of dough was rolled flat, topped with ‘sour cream’ and baked in their wood fired bread ovens for a few minutes. The oven’s temperature was told in the nearly blistered crispiness of the flammkuchen. When it came out just right the oven was ready to bake bread.

The classic version of German pizza is characterized by its thin, crisp, blistered crust. The dough is spread with soured cream (creme fraiche) then topped with partially cooked bacon, caramelized onions and spices. 

Other savory variations include Gruyere or Munster cheese and mushrooms while sweet versions may include apples, cinnamon and a sweet liqueur.

For those of you who enjoy a thin, crispy crust pizza, this one’s for you!

Flammkuchen-German Pizza
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Flammkuchen-German Pizza
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Pizza Dough
Caramelized Onions
Servings:
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, water & oil. Mix until dough begins to form; turn dough out onto lightly floured surface & knead until soft & smooth about 3-5 minutes. Place dough back in bowl; cover & set aside. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt & nutmeg; set aside.
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  2. In skillet, saute bacon until it is half way to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 11 x 16-inch rectangle. Generously sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal & place dough on it. Spread yogurt mixture over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over yogurt. Top all with a dusting of black pepper.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven & slice.
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Lemon Chicken

Lemon chicken is the name of several dishes found in cuisines around the world which include chicken and lemon.

In Canada, we usually either use breading or batter to coat the chicken before cooking it and serving it in a sweet lemon flavored sauce. A completely unrelated dish from Italy, also called lemon chicken is where a whole chicken is roasted with white wine, fresh lemon juice, fresh thyme and vegetables. In France, lemon chicken generally includes Dijon mustard in the sauce and is accompanied by roasted potatoes. I would presume the German version would be a chicken schnitzel with fresh lemon.

Having an inherited love of ‘sweet things’, lemon chicken has always appealed to me. I prefer to make a tempura batter to dip the chicken strips in and then fry them on a griddle. I’m not big on anything deep fried so this is as close as it gets for me. Some years ago I came across a recipe on a kraftfoods.com site for a very unique and easy ‘lemon sauce’ for chicken. It might not appeal to everyone but we enjoy it every so often.

Lemon Chicken
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Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Lemon Chicken
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Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Tempura Batter for Chicken
Lemon Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Stir-Fry Vegetables
  1. Prepare vegetables & saute in 1/2 cup chicken broth until tender-crisp. Drain broth & reserve for later.
Tempura Batter
  1. In a bowl, whisk together all batter ingredients. Slice chicken breast into thin strips & place in batter; mix well. Heat griddle to 325 F. Add a small amount of oil; remove chicken strips from batter & place on griddle. Fry on each side until cooked & golden. Lay on paper towel to blot off oil.
Lemon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine jelly powder & cornstarch. Add 1 cup chicken broth, dressing, garlic & ginger; stir until jelly powder is dissolved. Simmer over medium heat until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Add reserved broth from vegetables.
  2. Combine vegetables chicken & lemon sauce. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.
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Chicken Wings Risotto

A popular and versatile dish, risotto is served extensively in the kitchens and restaurants of the world. The history of risotto is naturally tied to the history of rice in Italy. Rice was first introduced to Italy and Spain by the Arabs during the middle ages. The humidity of the Mediterranean was perfect for growing shorter-grained rices.

A hearty rice dish, risotto is rich with the flavors of the stock used in its making, as well as saffron, and any of the hundreds of ingredients that pair so perfectly with it.

The key components of this simple but elegant dish are: rice, stock (usually chicken), onions, butter, wine, parmesan and saffron. It can be served by itself or as an accompaniment to other dishes. The starchy component of the dry grain mixed with the stock creates a thick, creamy sauce.

Brion is a ‘wing’ man. He LOVES chicken wings and rice so it seems quite fitting to make a CHICKEN WING RISOTTO.

Chicken Wings Risotto
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Chicken Wings Risotto
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat butter & oil; add wings, cook until golden brown on both sides; Remove from skillet to paper towels & drain skillet.
  2. In skillet, melt extra butter; add onion & garlic; cook until tender. Add pepper, shallots, zucchini, celery & saffron, cook another minute. Add wine, rice, water, chicken bouillon cube & chicken wings, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat & simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in parsley.
Recipe Notes
  • Saffron is extremely expensive to buy in our part of the country. A good trade off would be turmeric or just use the spices that appeal to you.
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Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks

Savored for centuries, crepes are popular not only throughout France but worldwide. Crepe making has evolved from being cooked on large cast- iron hot plates heated over a wood fire in a fireplace to pans or griddles that are gas or electrically heated.

Around the 12th century, buckwheat  was introduced to Brittany, France from the east. Buckwheat could thrive on the  desolate, rocky Breton moors and was high in fiber, protein and essential amino acids. At that point, all crepes were being made from buckwheat flour. White flour crepes appeared only at the turn of the 20th century when white flour became affordable.

Almost every country in the world has its own name and adaptation of crepes including Italian crespelle, Hungarian palacsintas,  Jewish blintzes, Scandinavian plattars,  Russian blini  and Greek kreps.

Although crepes are simple in concept, by creating fillings that are complex in flavors, takes this entree to a whole new level.

 On July 25/2016, I posted a blog featuring both sweet and savory crepes you might enjoy to read. For something different today, I made ‘crepe stacks’ which have a savory filling of my own ‘design’. Hope you find time to make some.

Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks
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Smoked Gouda cheese gives such a nice flavor to these crepes.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks
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Smoked Gouda cheese gives such a nice flavor to these crepes.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Crepes
Gouda Sauce
Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Crepes
  1. In a large container with a cover, beat eggs well on medium speed. Gradually add dry ingredients alternately with milk & oil. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.
Gouda Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; add flour while stirring for a couple of minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, chicken broth & spices. Add cheese; cook, stirring until cheese is melted. Set aside to cool slightly then place in food processor. Process until smooth & fluffy.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add ground pork & mix well. In a skillet, saute mushroom slices in margarine; remove from skillet & set aside. Scramble fry pork until no longer pink. Spoon onto paper towels to drain. Add to Gouda sauce.
To Assemble:
  1. Place one crepe on each dinner plate. Top with slices of sauteed mushrooms & some pork/Gouda sauce. Repeat 3 more times on each plate. Garnish if you prefer. It may be necessary to reheat for a couple of minutes in the microwave before serving.
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European Easter Bread

The aroma of Easter bread baking certainly brings back precious childhood memories. What I recall about my mother’s Easter bread, was that it was a dense, mildly sweet & a very egg rich bread. It was always baked in round ‘cans’ and the taste was unforgettable.

Nearly every country around the world has a traditional Easter bread. Each one is different in some way, a mix of symbolism and satisfying taste. They represent a continuity of traditions from centuries past, including much earlier pre-Christian times. Often these rich, yeasted breads are made in symbolic shapes and are elaborately decorated.

Germany and Austria make several shapes such as : Osterzopf – Easter braid, Osterkranz – Easter wreath or crown, Osternester – Easter nests, Eierimnest – Easter egg nest, Striezel – stacked braided bread.

That being said, I couldn’t resist doing a little ‘version’ of my own. I started with my favorite sweet yeast bread, added some anise flavor and a cream cheese filling. So now you have German osterkranz, Italian panettone and Romanian pasca all in one beautiful EUROPEAN EASTER BREAD.

European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk yeast & sugar into lukewarm water; let stand about 10 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat together 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, anise extract, lemon zest, lemon extract, salt & anise seed. Combine egg mixture, melted butter & milk with yeast mixture.
  2. Add 4 CUPS flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth & elastic, about 5-6 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour if necessary.
  3. Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl & turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise until it doubles in bulk. Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom & go up the sides of a 10" spring form pan. When dough has risen enough, cut into four pieces.
  4. On the parchment paper, press one piece of the dough into a circle measuring about 10" in diameter. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mixed peel, leaving a gap at the edge. Press out second piece of the dough on a lightly floured piece of wax paper, place it on top of the first layer & sprinkle with another 1/3 of mixed peel. Repeat with the third & fourth pieces of dough but do not sprinkle mixed peel on the final layer.
  5. Place a glass tumbler on top of the center of the dough circles. Cut dough into 16 segments, starting a the edge of the glass. Lift & twist them away from each other through 180 degrees. Lift & twist through 90 degrees so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process with all pairs of segments. Leave glass sitting on top at the center of the circle to form an indentation for the cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise for about 1/2 an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to to 325 F. In a bowl, place cream cheese, eggs, sugar & vanilla; mix well. When bread has risen, remove glass & fill indentation with cheese mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool. Brush with honey/water glaze. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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Easter Hot Cross ‘Scones’

Eostre is an obscure Germanic and Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and dawn, and it is thought to be the namesake of the Christian holiday Easter. Because food has always had a close association with Easter, special dishes were cooked in her honor. Most important of these was a small spiced, sweet bun from which our ‘hot cross bun’ derives. These little spiced buns are a rather old English tradition, which are still traditionally eaten on Good Friday. They are marked on top with a cross which is of ancient origin connected with religious offerings of bread.

Hot Cross ‘Scones’ are an easy take on the seasonal classic bun. They are the best of both worlds; hot cross yeasted buns and a tender spicy scone. Scones work for me in the way that most of the time I have the ingredients on hand and they only take about twenty minutes or so to make.

As always, I enjoy the idea of variation in just about everything. I had three scone recipes in mind for today’s blog. One recipe is a hot cross scone made by changing out the regular flour for ‘Kamut’ flour. This flour is made from an ancient grain originally grown by the pharaohs of Egypt. It contains more protein, minerals and other nutrients than modern wheat.

The other two recipes are Spiced Orange & Fresh Apple Hot Cross Scones,  both made with a sour cream batter. Hopefully they will become part of your Easter recipe collection.

Easter Hot Cross 'Scones' X 3
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Easter Hot Cross 'Scones' X 3
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Ingredients
Scone Batter
Glaze
Icing for Crosses
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Add butter; using a pastry blender, blend until mixture forms fine crumbs. Stir in spices, dried fruit & orange zest.
  2. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, & vanilla; whisk until well blended. Add to flour mixture; stir until a soft dough forms.
  3. Scoop onto lined baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven, combine water & honey glaze. Warm very slightly in microwave; brush over tops of scones. When scones have cooled, decorate with icing crosses.
Recipe Notes

FOR VARIATIONS:

  • To make Kamut Scones use 1 3/4 cup kamut flour & 3/4 cup white flour instead of all white flour.
  • To make Apple Scones add 1/4 of a large apple, peeled & cut in 1/4" dice. to basic recipe.
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