Monday, May 14, 2012

Ooo OO! I made bagels!


Start with the pizza dough formula, and add a heaping tablespoon of dark brown sugar. Knead it well and let it rise at room temperature for about an hour and a half, until the air will whoosh out of it when you poke it. Don't knead it, just deflate it.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 and bring one or two large pans of water to a boil. Start squeezing the air out of the dough the way you would if you had hand washed a cashmere sweater: firmly, working in one direction, with no twisting. You'll feel the air popping out like bubble wrap. The dough will work out into a long rope, and when it's about 3/4" thick, wrap the end around your hand and pinch/tear the dough into a loop.

Set them on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, then slip them into the boiling water. Don't crowd too many in a pan, they should float freely. Boil them for about 3 or 4 minutes, gently flipping them over from time to time. Fish them out by sticking a chopstick through their holes, arrange them on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

You have no idea how exciting I find this. I am starting to feel like a real baker, not, you know, a person who shambles through recipes and then quietly eats the evidence later.

These are easy. They have to be, for me to get excited about them. There are several steps, but none of them are complicated. Here are some tips though:

1. Don't worry if the dough rings are lumpy. As they rise, they smooth out a lot. Dough does that.
2. Don't stretch the dough very much when making the rings, or the holes in the middles will close up. It's gotta have a hole to be a bagel.
3. Do put sprinkles on them. I used roasted garlic chips, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and salt. I wish I'd had some caraway seed, but that can happen next time. Slop some seeds and stuff on them just before they go in the oven, they're quite sticky when they come out of the water.
4. Traditionally, bagels are small. This recipe makes about 10 bagels.
5. I put a light shake of coarse cornmeal on the pan. This helps to prevent sticking.


I was so geeked out about these that I immediately jumped on my new bicycle and went to the store for some stinky fish, cream cheese and capers. Ok, so partly I was looking for a reason to ride my new bike, but whatever.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cheap Grub


Last year or so I was talking about how most green leafy vegetables come in strangely large units. Cabbage, napa, collards, that stuff. Kale seems to be the exception to the rule, at least lately. I go to Fred Meyer and they're asking a buck-fifty for like, 6 meager leaves. Pfffft! That's maybe a serving? Ridiculous. Back to Trader Joe's. A big bag of kale there is about $2, and it's ready to go in the pot when it gets home. This soup is unremarkable looking, but it's tasty as well as cheap, and you only need one big pot to cook it.

Kale and Sausage Soup with Lentils and Things

1 italian sausage link, mild or hot- about 1/4 lb
1 onion
1 clove garlic
6 or 8 mushrooms
2 tsp broth concentrate
2 T tomato paste
1/4 cup brown, black, or green lentils
water, of course
2 carrots
1/2 bag of kale
salt & pepper

Use a 4 or 5 quart sauce pan with a fairly heavy bottom. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in it, and put in the sausage to brown. Meanwhile, dice the onion & mushrooms. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot and stir them around. As the onions brown, start cutting little bits off the sausage. This will make the sausage into unevenly sized lumps, from little tiny grains to maybe half-inch chunks. When the sausage is browned, crush in a clove of garlic. Fry the garlic just until it is barely browned then add about 6  cups of water, the tomato paste, broth concentrate, and the lentils. Stir until the tomato paste is dissolved, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and leave it alone for about 45 minutes. Peel and chop the carrots, then add them and the kale to the pot. You may need to add a little more water, due to evaporation. Cover the pot again and cook for another 45 minutes or so, until the kale is tender. It takes a long time. Taste for salt and pepper, serve with a dollop of greek yogurt if you feel indulgent.


1. Yes, this recipe takes at least a good 2 hours. It's soup. Proper soup often takes a long time to develop flavors.
2. You could just squeeze the guts out of the sausage link instead of dinking around with it in the pan. But I happened to want the extra texture from the bits of sausage casing. Kale is very assertive, it needs plenty of assertive, bumpy, things to go with it.
3. Kale also cooks down quite a lot. Let it wilt into the soup pretty well before adding any additional water during the second half of cooking, or you may get an inaccurate idea of how much water you need to put in.
4. This soup needs a good bit of salt. The long cooking time causes the vegetables to become quite sweet, and the tomato paste adds plenty of sugar also. If you don't salt it, it will be very disappointing.
5. Likewise, do not use sweet italian sausage. It usually has too much fennel, and will not give the peppery kick the soup needs.
6. Brown, green, and black lentils hold their shape well when they're boiled. If you just want to thicken the soup, use red lentils, which dissolve rapidly during cooking. I used green ones, incidentally.

You need some nice crusty rolls with this, I think.