Baking Bagels for the First Time

Cooking

I decided to try making homemade bagels. I opted for a recipe I found for Montreal Style bagels. https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/homemade-bagels/ The recipe looked simple enough, and it was.

The bagels were put together quickly using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. After that, they were set to rest for half an hour, shaped into bagels, and set to rest for another half hour. They were then tossed into a pot of boiling honey water, flipped to boil the other side, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and popped into the oven for fifteen minutes.

My taste testers agreed that they were good enough to make again. I was quite pleased as to how fool-proof they were to make. I think I shall be trying other versions of bagels soon. My son has requested his favorite cinnamon raisin bagel. I am sure the options are endless…

Boiling the bagels.
Out of the pot and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Ready to eat!

As always, Happy Baking!

Dreaming of Chickpea Soup

Cooking

This Chickpea Soup is my new favorite. I have caught myself craving it at night. It is so yummy! It is such a quick and easy soup to make. As with most soups, one can add or subtract an ingredient or two as needed. The version in my picture was made the day after Thanksgiving, so I added leftover pieces of shredded game hen. Usually, however, this is a meatless soup for us. Let’s get started…

Chickpea and Kale Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small green pepper – diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of each: oregano, thyme, basil, sage (dried)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tomatoe (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes (canned) (looks pureed)
  • small bunch of kale (rinsed and torn into small pieces)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • freshly shaved parmigiana cheese or crumbled feta cheese

Heat oil in a pot. Add the green pepper, onion, garlic, herbs, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are barely tender, 4-5 minutes. (Do not brown the onions.) Add the chickpeas, chicken broth, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add the kale, and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of cheese.

As always, Happy Cooking!

Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Cooking

Spaghetti with meat sauce is not the only way to eat pasta. I felt like a lighter dish last night. So I decided to head to the Mediterranean.

My recipe for Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta is a quick and easy, healthy dinner choice. Ready to try it? Let’s get started…

Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

2 cups of dried pasta (I used mini penne…but bow-tie would also be nice)

1 (5 oz.) can of tuna packed in water (drained)

1/3 cup or so Jar of Roasted Red Peppers (drained) (I buy the jar that is julienned)

1/4 cup sliced black olives (drained) {optional}

2 Tbsp olive oil

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Boil water in a medium pot. Cook pasta for 10 minutes or according to taste.

While the pasta is cooking, pour the olive oil in a medium saute pan and heat over medium heat. To this add the tuna, olives, and peppers. Saute for a few minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the boiling pasta water into the pan. Stir and continue to cook until incorporated and slightly thickened. Do not over cook this, or reduce the liquid.

Drain the pasta and pour into a serving bowl. Pour the tuna mixture over the pasta and toss to incorporate. Serve topped with crumbled feta cheese.

As always, Bon Appetite!

It’s Fall…Time For Lentil Soup

Cooking

It is finally beginning to feel like fall here in SoCal. We received frost on the ground a couple of nights ago, which seemed early for us. The leaves are starting to drop and a few are even changing colors. It is nothing compared to New England, but if one observes closely, the subtle changes are there. With fall in the air, I thought it a good time to make Lentil Soup.

Lentil Soup is an easy meal to make. It does require a bit of time on the stove, however, one can go about their business while the soup simmers. I like to serve warm biscuits or cornbread with my Lentil Soup. Here is the recipe…

Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 c onion- diced

2 medium carrots – diced

1 green pepper- diced

1 clove garlic- minced

32 oz. Chicken Broth

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) (undrained)

1 cup dried lentils (rinsed and drained)

1/2 tsp dried thyme

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt

fresh or dried parsley (to taste)

Steps:

After chopping all the vegetables, heat the oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add carrots, pepper, and onion and cook until softened a bit. Then add garlic and cook until the aroma of garlic is in the air.

Add the broth, tomatoes, and lentils to the pan. Sprinkle in the thyme and salt. Turn the heat to high until the soup comes to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 60 minutes.

When the timer goes off, add the balsamic vinegar and parsley and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

That’s it!

As always, Happy Cooking!

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

Cooking

I was in the process of making my morning oatmeal when it dawned on me. We were out of brown sugar. Oh no! I knew we ran out yesterday. Just did not go to the store to replace it yet. That was not a way to start off my morning.

But I was not bothered for too long. A thought came to me of how to save my morning oatmeal. I was already making fried apples with cinnamon. Why not top the oatmeal with these instead!

So, I finished the apples which I was sauteeing in butter with a sprinkling of cinnamon and then decided to add a teaspoon of regular granulated sugar to give it just a bit of sweetness. I usually do not add sugar to the apples, however, since sugar is added to apple pie filling, I thought I would give it a go. I plated the apples and then topped it with my old fashioned oatmeal. Not bad, but I am adding brown sugar to my shopping list.

As always, Happy Cooking!

Another Day with the Crazy Baker

Cooking, gardening

One zucchini can go a long way! I still had one plump zucchini from the garden. Since everyone around my house seems a bit done with sauted zucchini as a side for dinner, I turned into a crazy baker lady today.

I think I shredded five or 6 cups of zucchini. So, with the oven set to 350 degrees, I just kept turning out the recipes until the zucchini was all gone. I ended up making a total of three recipes. I started with Zucchini Brownies, then Zucchini Muffins, and to finish, Zucchini Cake with Orange Glaze. My kitchen looks like a bakery.

I plan on popping most of this in the freezer. Some day when I’m feeling lazy, I can take out a treat for the family. I just hope there is room in the freezer, come to think of it… The last time I opened the door a bag of green peppers (also from the garden) fell into my hands.

As always, Happy Baking!

Making Fried Donuts

Cooking

My son wanted to bake some ‘Donut Shop’ donuts. Since the croissants from the cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by JoAnne Chang turned out so well, we decided to use a recipe in the same cookbook to make the donuts. We were not disappointed.

As with the croissants, the donuts did take a bit of time. The time was mostly spent waiting for the dough to rise. The actual making of the donuts was simple enough. We made the dough using our stand mixer and popped it in the fridge overnight to do it’s thing. Before going to bed we set the alarm for 5 am. Oh yah…that went over well. So up I popped and down the hall I went to get my son out of bed. It took a few attempts. In the kitchen, we rolled out the dough and stamped out the doughnuts with a large biscuit cutter. It is important to note that the dough should be rolled on the thicker side of half an inch. Better to make these a bit thicker than thinner as they need to be nice and puffy in order to fill them easily. After stamping out the doughnuts, they were left to rise on a floured cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap for two hours. It is important to flour the cookie sheet well or the doughnuts will stick. Then it was back to bed for a couple of hours while the doughnuts were rising.

After another knock or two on my son’s door, we were back in the kitchen and ready to fry our donuts. But wait! Frying takes more oil than I realized! I was off to the store for more oil while my son made the custard filling. We chose to make the same custard filling from my blog post on Polish donuts instead of the vanilla filling the recipe called for. When I returned, we got to work on frying the donuts, two at a time. When they were cool we rolled them in confectioners sugar and not the regular sugar that the recipe called for. Then my son poked holes in the donuts with a skewer and filled them with the custard he made earlier. Voila!

My family sat down for fresh donuts with much anticipation. We all enjoyed them very much. The remaining donuts were for dessert. Hee Hee!

Recipe can be found in the cookbook: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by JoAnne Chang

Note: To “refresh” the donuts, I popped them into the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Only do this for un-filled donuts. We filled the donuts as we were going to eating them.

As always, Happy Baking!

My Take on…Dinner Chez Moi

Book Reviews, Cooking

After having read both of Elizabeth Bard’s memoirs, I decided to give her cookbook a try. Mixed in with the recipes are little paragraphs of tips or “secrets” as the author calls them. I found those fun to read and read them straight away, as I was skimming the recipes. I decided to make a full meal including desert from Dinner Chez Moi.

I enlisted my daughter to help me prepare the meal. We made the Lentil and Sausage Stew (Lentilles aux saucisses fumees), even though it is summer here in California and rather warm. The author assured us that, ” This is a favorite dish in our house year-round-warm and comforting as a big bear hug. Friends and family request it each time they visit, even if it’s 100 degrees in the shade!”. Well, ok. If it is recommened in any temperature then let’s go for it! And go for it we did. Next on the menu were the Ham and Rosemary Cheese Puffs (Gougeres au fromage, romarin, et jambon cru). To top off the meal, we made the Butter Cookies with Orange-Flower Essence (Sables aux fleur d-oranger).

We made the butter cookies first. They take an hour in the fridge to chill and then fifteen minutes to bake. They were light and very flavorful. The orange rind and orange-flower water gave the perfect amount of flavor. Sometimes, flavors are not so distinct. Also, I found this to be a nice treat with very few carbohydrates per cookie. The sugar was a mere 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon. Nice!

Next, we made the stew. I have a go-to lentil soup recipe, however, this one might have surpassed it. It was easy to make and loaded with fresh vegetables. It took an hour to simmer, which is normal for recipes with lentils. I really liked the added touch of wine and sausage. Yum!

While the stew was simmering, we made the Cheese Puffs. I did not find the ham at the store, so we left it out. I figured since there was already sausage in the stew we did not really need more meat with the meal anyway. I used fresh rosemary from our garden. They smelled delicious. Again, this was an easy recipe to whip together. I found that they did not need the full time in cooking. As with all new recipes, be sure to watch the bake time so as not to over bake these puffs. As with the cookies, I found this recipe low in carbohydrates. Nice!

My take on Dinner Chez Moi by Elizabeth Bard is that I think it is a keeper. Three out of three recipes tried were winners. The bonus “50 French Secrets” are interesting and worth the read. The only question is, “What will I make next?”. As always, Happy Cooking!

My Take on… Picnic in Provence

Book Reviews

In a recent post, I gave my take on Lunch in Paris, a memoir with recipes by Elizabeth Bard. Having enjoyed her first book, I decided to follow her journey to the French countryside of Provence. Picnic in Provence is full of more of Bard’s recipes, this time with a flair for the French countryside.

In Picnic in Provence, the now pregnant Elizabeth and her husband set off on an adventure to Provence to visit the home town of Rene Char, a poet that her husband finds of interest. To their surprise and great luck, the home that Char used to inhabit is now available for purchase. Falling in love with Provence, the couple decide to leave Paris for the countryside. They learn to live at a slower pace and decide to become entrepreneurs as well. What town could not use an ice cream shop?

After reading Picnic in Provence, I am ready to pack a bag for France. After all, I am fond of lavender, French cooking, and ice cream. Picnic in Provence did not dissapoint. It was a perfect follow-up to Lunch in Paris. I highly recommend making some croissants and sitting down with a copy of Bard’s latest memoir. Au Revoir!

Summer Calls for Strawberry Shortcake

Book Reviews, Cooking

I like eating fresh fruit in the summer. Wanting dessert last night, I decided to make strawberry shortcake. A great way to top off a summer meal.

I again turned to the cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by JoAnne Chang to get my recipe. Chang’s strawberry shortcake recipe was easily whipped-up in the stand mixer. The biscuits were made and topped with the no-fuss, no-cook strawberry sauce that included balsamic vinegar in the list of ingredients. I chose to top the shortcakes with a chickpea based whipped topping (see previous blog post for recipe) instead of Chang’s whipped cream, so I can not comment on the topping.

So what did I think of Chang’s Strawberry Shortcake recipe? Yum! Another success story from the cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe. The biscuits were crisp on the outside, light on the inside, and packed with flavor. The strawberry topping was easy to make and tasty as well. Put together, a delicious summer dessert that I will be making again. This recipe, unlike her fabulous croissant recipe, does not take all that long to make.

Chang’s cookbook is easily becoming one of my favorite cookbooks for baking. It seems as though everything made from this cookbook turns out delicious. As always, Happy Baking!

Biscuit waiting to be topped.
Strawberry topping
Chickpea Whipped Topping