17 February 2018: Montreal Bagels

2018-Feb-21_fournightsaweek_bagel_1826With all due respect, Montreal has the best bagels that I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Hands-down. No contest.  We always leave Montreal with at least a dozen ready for the freezer as well as a few for the ride home.

Basically, bagel worshippers fall into two very loyal schools regarding which of two Montreal bagel bakers makes the best.  My personal favorite is from St. Viateur on the Plateau; however the “other” bagel bakery, Fairmount Bagels, also makes a great Montreal-style bagel.

There is a subtle sweetness to Montreal bagels which comes from malt or other sweeteners in both the dough and the water.  The bagels themselves are much less dough-dense than the supermarket or bakery bagels one finds here in New England, and for me, that makes them enjoyable. For purists looking for malt, King Arthur Flour and/or a local beer making supplier should be able to help out.

Since, for the moment, a trip to Montreal is not in our future, I set out to find an authentic Montreal bagel recipe, and thanks to the MTL Blog, found this one on a great Montreal food blog called “My Second Breakfast“. Sami Berger, who write a regular food blog here, suggests at the outset that one can either make the bagels large (yield 12) or smaller (yield 15), but I would suggest that dividing the dough into 18 knobs (yield 18) is just about right for a Montreal sized bagel.  The process – start to finish is about 90 minutes. 

My Second Breakfast’s Montreal Bagels

Adapted from bigoven.com

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 5 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 3 TBSP canola oil (I substituted coconut oil, melted)
  • 8 grams active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs, divided (1 for the dough, 1 for the egg wash)
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup poppy seeds OR sesame seeds
  • 16 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • (for chocolate bagels, add 1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chips) – I love chocolate, but wouldn’t think of doing this to a bagel!

Method

  1. In a large bowl (I used my mixer and a whisk for steps 1 and 2), whisk together the
    warm water, sugar, oil,yeast, egg and syrup Combine until the yeast dissolves.
  2. Stir in salt and 1 cup of the flour.
  3. (Now using the mixer’s bread dough hook), add enough flour to make a shaggy, soft dough – about another 3 cups.2018-Feb-21_fournightsaweek_bagel_1834
  4. Knead the dough (yes, on the machine!) for about 12 minutes, adding flour as you go (I ended up needing an additional cup of flour, but baking day was a high-humidity day). If you are adding chocolate or raisins, knead in the chunks at the last minute (don’t do that with a machine!).
  5. Once the dough is smooth and firm, flour the countertop and cover the dough with an inverted bowl. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into (12/15/18) pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-10 inch rope, then curve each on pressing together the ends to make a bagel shape. Make SURE the ends are firmly stuck together at this point or they will come apart in the boiling process. Note that the bagels will look pretty deformed and the holes will be very big – not to worry!
  7. Let the shaped dough rest for 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before the dough has finished rising, fill a large pot with water (16 cups) and stir in the honey. Bring that to a boil.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Boil the bagels by placing them in the pot, 3 or 4 at a time – you don’t want the bagels to be over crowded. Boil for 45 seconds on each side (90 seconds total). Remove and let the water drain off onto a clean towel or paper towel.
  10. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set the seeds on a small plate.
  11. Dip the boiled bagels first in egg wash and then coat both sides in seeds. Note that the bagels will tend to get very dark in the areas without seeds so if you plan to leave any “plain” you’ll need to watch them carefully.
  12. Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes (they should be starting to get golden brown on the side touching the baking tray), then flip and bake another 6-8 minutes until completely lightly golden brown.
  13. Cool the bagels on a cooling rack.
  14. Once complete cool, store in a freezer bag for a few days.

 

 

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14 February 2018: Ina Garten’s Lemon Mousse

2018-Feb-15_fournightsaweek_mousse_1773Happy Valentine’s Day! With Valentine’s Day falling in the middle of the week this year, we decided to stay in, cook, and enjoy one of our favorite movies. Just because it was a quiet night, doesn’t mean the food didn’t need to be spectacular and this Lemon Mousse recipe from Ina Garten was a great finish to our meal.  The most difficult part of the process was stirring the egg yolk mixture for 8-10 minutes, but after that, it came together easily. 

See the original – and accompanying video here.

Ina Garten’s Lemon Mousse

Ingredients

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • Sliced lemon, for garnish (I used raspberries – equally good)

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I purchased perfectly acceptable whipped cream from Whole Foods – not the stuff in the aerosol can!)

Directions

  1. In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook (NOTE: Get that water simmering before you start timing), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.
  2. Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula.
  3. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
  4. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a deep bowl OR pipe smaller amounts into dishes.
  5. Top with whipped cream and lemon slices (or as I did, fresh raspberries)

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high-speed until the cream just forms still peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

 

 


8 February 2018: Lemony Carrot & Cauliflower Soup Meets Wine Club Arneis

2018-Feb-08_fournightsaweek-carrotcauliflower_1756_edited-1When I make soup, it very often is a vegetable-based soup. Here’s a creamy – without the cream – soup that is a welcome variation on carrot-based soups. This one uses carrot, cauliflower, and light miso to blend together. It made a satisfying weeknight dinner soup.  Take Melissa Clark’s advice: don’t let the recipe hinder creativity: this is a basic roadmap for infinite variety.

Now what else to serve? Wine of course! I chose a Ceretto Arneis, a selection from our Wine Club (notes below the recipe) to pair with the soup.

Lemony Carrot and Cauliflower Soup (Link to original here)

Melissa Clark for NYTimes.

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP coriander seeds
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 medium carrots (1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups). (I used a variety of carrots, purple, yellow, white, orange)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 TBSP white miso (I used yellow miso because I had it – no harm, no foul)
  • 1 small (or half a large head) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice (I used more)
  • Smokey chile powder (for serving)
  • Coarse sea salt (for serving)
  • Cilantro leaves (for serving)

Method

  1. In large dry pot over medium heat, toast coriander seeds until fragrant and dark golden-brown, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar & pestle and coarsely crush (or use the back of a spoon on a chopping board – just crush them)
  2. Return the pot to medium heat. Add the oil and heat until warm. Stir in onion; cook stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly colored, 7-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add carrots, crushed coriander, salt and 6 cups water to the pot. Stir in the miso until it dissolves. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and cook, covered over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from heat. Use an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice just before serving. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with chile, sea salt and cilantro leaves.

Ceretto Langhe DOC Arneis, 2016

We joined Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese’s Wine Club last summer and honestly, we have 2018-Feb-08_fournightsaweek-carrotcauliflower_1742been delighted by some exceptional wines. I don’t think we’ve had one bottle in the last 6 months that we did not love.  

The Ceretto Arneis is one of those finds we never would have considered on our own. It has a minerally freshness with a slight sparkle that, now that I’ve discovered it, I know I’ll be returning to. The Arneis grape, grown in the Piedemonte region of Italy, were near extinction in the 1960s. Luckily they’ve been rescued! For tasting notes from the vintner and more about this wine, click here.

Looking to expand your exposure to some terrific wines? Check out Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese Wine Club here.

 


02 February 2018: Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

2018-Feb-02_fournightsaweek_oatmeal_bars_1739Whenever I can use up the remaining bits of something I’ve only partially utilized during the week, it’s a win.  This week, I had most of a container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt leftover from a spicy bean dish, and rather than just eat it or (horrors!) wait until it was no longer edible, I went on a search for a way to incorporate Greek yogurt into another recipe. The fact that this recipe not only used up the yogurt but was a dessert AND used dark chocolate was something like winning a lottery.  Here is a recipe for Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars from A Mindful Mom’s blog. Be sure to check out blogger, Kristen for other great healthy choices.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups oats (I used old-fashioned, not quick)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
  3. Add oil, yogurt, egg, honey and vanilla. Mix until just combined.
  4. Stir in dark chocolate chips
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before eating (good luck with that).

29 January 2018: Red Bean Stew

2018-Jan-29_fournightsaweek_red_beans_1704When you go to your local wine purveyor to ask about a wine that will pair with Red Bean Stew, you really are setting up for a challenge.  And, luckily in my case, our local wine and cheese shop, Tutto Bene, has a very knowledgeable owner, Wendi Wilkins, who hit this recommendation out of the park. 

This wine, Seven Sinners (2015), is created from a 100% Syrah from Central Valley of California around Lodi. Deep red, and velvety in color, the wine is tastes big and jammy to me with some nice spiciness. My palate may still be under construction, but I know what I like, and I like this wine. A lot! And who knew? It was perfect with the Red Bean Stew I adapted from the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for Meatless Monday. Head over to Tutto Bene before Wendi runs out. Because, as Wendi tells it, you will be sad when you run out.

Red Bean Stew

Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times

We tend to eat mainly plant-based in our house and off and on I’ve eaten strictly vegetarian meals for much of the last 30 years. Mondays are generally Meatless Mondays around here, no matter what, so tonight I gave this hearty red bean stew a try.  Don’t let the preparation of the beans intimidate you. Once you’ve prepared dry beans from scratch, you’ll have a difficult time going back to canned beans with (as Sara Moulton would say), their lovely gelatinous material.  Just plan ahead and it will all be fine.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) red beans, washed, picked over & soaked for 6 hours or 2018-Jan-29_fournightsaweek_red_beans_1716overnight in 2 quarts of water
  • 2 TBPS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into small dice
  • 2 TBSP sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Pinch cayenne (I substituted 2 TBSP-you read that right-Sriracha Sauce)
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Freshly ground black papper
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup drained yogurt (I used Greek yougurt – 0% fat)

Method

  1. Drain the beans through a strainer set over a bowl, Place the beans in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Measure the soaking water in the bowl and add enough water to measure about 2 quarts (this is less than NYT recipe called for). Add to the pot with the beans, turn the heat to medium high and bring to a gentle boil. Skim off any foam and/or bean skins.
  2. [This is my adaptation]. Drain the cooked beans (I let them simmer for about 30 minutes), reserving the cooking liquid. Wipe out the pan or dutch oven and continue with step 3.
  3. Heat 1 TBSP of the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant (about 8-10 min). Add 2 of the garlic cloves and continue to cook for another minute or so. Season with salt, add another TBSP oil and add the paprika. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are well coated with paprika. Add a ladleful of the bean cooking water to deglaze the pan then stir in the beans and add the rest of the bean water (should be about 2 quarts of liquid). Add tomato paste and bay leaf, reduce heat and simmer for an hour with the cover on.
  4. Add oregano, remaining garlic, sriracha (or cayenne if you really don’t want this to be spicy), vinegar and sugar. Simmer for another hour. Beans should be thoroughly cooked at this point (i.e., not crunchy!). If you want the broth a bit thicker, take about a cup of the beans out of the pan and mash or blend them. Return this to the pan.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Serve with large dollop of the drained yogurt.

23 January 2018: Cocoa Brownies

2018-Jan-23_fournightsaweek_brownies_1694We recently purchased a condo unit in the building in which we have been renting. Our new neighbors gifted us with the wonderful bottle of wine which we have determined would go quite nicely with some chocolate. I mean, what doesn’t go with chocolate? I’m not sure I want to live in that world.

There are plenty of brownie recipes made with cocoa in place of bar chocolate, but oftentimes I’ve found them to be pretty dry. This recipe comes from Bon Appetit and is hands down one of the most chocolate-y of cocoa brownie recipes I’ve ever tasted.  And, it is quite tasty with our bottle of Ipsus 2008 Passito de Pantelleria.

Cocoa Brownies

Bon Appetit, December 2012.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick oil spray
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into approximately 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used King Arthur’s Triple Chocolate)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line and 8-inch square pan (glass) with foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Melt butter (I microwaved, BA suggests doing this in saucepan). Let cool slightly.
  3. Whisk sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl. Pour butter in a steady stream into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in vanilla.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beat vigorously to blend after each addition (make sure the butter has cooled a bit or you’ll end up with bits of scrambled eggs – yuck).
  5. Add flour and stir until just combined – do not overmix. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. (I added some chopped up dark chocolate dove bar here just for fun).
  6. Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. 25-30 minutes.
  7. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool completely in pan. Use foil overhang and lift 2018-Jan-23_fournightsaweek_brownies_1692brownies out of pan. Cut into 16 squares.

Ipsus 2008 Passito di Pantelleria
I love, love, love that this moscato dessert wine comes from Sicily. Smooth and a golden color your can practically taste the sunshine!  The wine is produced in a southernmost island near Tunisia; somewhat sweet (but not overly so) there are notes of apricots and raisins. Definitely great sipping wine to go with dessert. To find out more about these wines, link to the Wine-searcher site here.

 

 


16 January 2018: Lemon and Garlic Chicken With Mushrooms

2018-Jan-16_FourNightsAWeek-Chicken_1652

Santos Winery 2016 Santorini Assyrtiko


A side benefit to a subscription to the New York Times – not that I need one – are the wonderful food columns. This recipe from Martha Rose Shulman is a great weeknight meal because it 
comes together quickly.  Tonight, the dish was paired with a delightful and slightly mineral-ly Assyrtiko from Santorini which I picked up on recommendation from Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese Shop. Both of us were more than a little unfamiliar with the wines of Greece (click the link above for NYTimes Wine School article about Santorini wines), but this one was definitely a home run ~ Thanks Wendi!  Tasting notes follow the recipe.

 

 

Lemon and Garlic Chicken With Mushrooms

Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice (use the fresh stuff for best flavor)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or pureed
  • 1 tsp chopped FRESH rosemary
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP grapeseed, sunflower or canola oil (I substituted Olive Oil)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 TBSP chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Assyrtiko – cook with what you drink as Julia Child would say)

Preparation  2018-Jan-16_FourNightsAWeek-Chicken_1654

  1. Stir together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Here’s where I deviated from the original recipe: I pounded the chicken breasts BEFORE adding to the marinade, so if you want to try that as well, go to Step 2 now). Add the chicken to the marinade (I always marinate raw fish or poultry in a zip bag for food safety). Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes (or, if you do this prep earlier in the day, the extra time in the marinade doesn’t seem to hurt anything).
  2. Place 2 sheets of plastic wrap on your work surface, overlapping slightly, to make 1 wide sheet and brush lightly with oil. Cover the chicken with another wide layer of plastic wrap. Working from the center to the outside, pound chicken breast with the flat side of a meat tenderizer (or if you don’t have one, I found a heavy rolling pin works fairly well) until the chicken is about 1/4 inch thick. [If you are doing this step prior to adding the poultry to the marinade, go back and finish up step 1, and if not…. be sure to pat the chicken breasts dry BEFORE pounding] At this point I cut the chicken breasts in half so that there were 4 pieces altogether.
  3. Season the pounded chicken breasts with salt and pepper on one side only. Dredge lightly in the flour and tap to remove excess.
  4. Turn oven on low (this is for holding the chicken after cooking). Heat a wide heavy skillet over high heat and add oil. When oil is hot, place one or two pieces of chicken in the pan – do not over-crowd. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes, until bottom is browned in spots; turn over and brown the other side (about 1 1/2 minutes) [I ALWAYS check the internal meat temperatures to that I know things are cooked through and safe (165 degrees) – that would be my advice here as well. Go by internal temperature, not time.] Transfer to a platter or sheet pan and keep warm in the oven. If there is more than a tablespoon of fat in the pan, pour of some (not all).
  5. Turn the burner down to medium-high. Add mushrooms to the pan. Let them sear for about 30 seconds to a minute without moving them, then stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. When mushrooms have softened slightly and begun to sweat, add wine, thyme or parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until wine has evaporated (this took under a minute for me). Spoon over the chicken and serve.

Tasting Notes for Santos 2016 Santorini Assyrtiko (from the Winemaker)

A pure expression of the indigenous Assyrtiko grapes grown in the unique basket-shaped vines aka kouloures at the volcanic terroir of Santorini. This wine is a classic benchmark of the variety and its homeland. A vibrant aromatic cocktail of sea-breeze freshness and citrus fruits with honeyed undertones. Bone-dry, brightly acidic with a textural minteral smokiness and food-begging finish.

Alcoholic content: 13.5%


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