Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lemon drizzle cake

Lester sent me this very British recipe for lemon cake yesterday—grams, self-rising flour, greaseproof paper, and all. I kept the grams, as you can see, but everything else is easy to substitute. It makes a deliciously syrup-laden cake, a good balance of tart and sweet all the way through, and the turbinado crust is a great touch. I think it might be even better without the almonds though.

3 sticks butter
350 g white sugar
zest + juice of 6 medium Meyer lemons (divided)
6 eggs
200 g flour
1 T baking powder
150 g ground almonds
2 T milk
1 T bourbon
200 g turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F and butter and parchment 2 loaf pans. Cream the butter, sugar, and half the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Gently mix in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, almonds) then the milk and bourbon; the batter should be fairly stiff but still sloppy enough to fall off the beaters. Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 45 min (for 9x5" loaf pans, probably longer for smaller). Meanwhile, stir the turbinado into the remaining lemon juice+zest to partially dissolve.

When the cakes are baked, set them in their pans on a cooling rack and poke the tops all over with a toothpick. Pour the lemon syrup over the surface, letting the liquid soak in and the sugar leave an even, crunchy coat. Let cool completely in the pans.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Crust & Crumb bagels

This attempt at bagels (the third on this blog) turned out about as well as the first, and way better than the second. That's probably because this version has the driest dough yet, which is critical for getting good chewy bagels. The everything bagels (which I topped with salt, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds) turned out especially well.

I followed the "yeasted bagels" recipe from Crust & Crumb, which takes 24 hr start to finish. My only real modification to the recipe was to add a drizzle of honey to the poaching water—this is characteristic of "Montreal-style" bagels, which are popping up all over the west coast these days—but I'm not sure it made a difference.

make the sponge:

2 c bread flour
2 c cool water (65F)
1/3 t yeast

In the morning, stir together the sponge ingredients in a bowl that can hold double the volume. Cover and let sit on the counter all day. By evening (or at least 6 hr later) when you're ready to use it, it should be bubbly and have a loosely cohesive internal structure like a well-proofed starter (but without the sourdough smell).

make the dough:

2 c sponge
1 t yeast
1 c lukewarm water (85F)
4 t salt
3 T malt syrup
1.75-2 lb bread flour (at least 6 c)
optional add-ins (I used cinnamon raisin)

After dinner, measure out the sponge into a large bowl, and stir in everything else except the flour until smooth. Dump in a third of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a batter. Dump in another third and stir to form a stiff, shaggy ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead for a long time, gradually incorporating the last third of the flour until your wrists are exhausted and the dough is smooth, firm, and dry. (At this point I cut the dough in half and kneaded 1 T cinnamon and a cup or two of raisins into one half.) Let the dough ball(s) rest on the counter, covered with a clean cloth, for about half an hour while you take a break and play some pinochle (or the recipe says you can move straight to shaping).

Cut the dough into 16 equal-sized pieces (e.g., 8 plain and 8 cinnamon raisin). Roll each piece into a 6" rope, join the ends with 2" overlap, and roll the overlapping ends together on the counter to seal. Place the shaped bagels on 2 semolina- or cornmeal-dusted baking sheets, cover with cloths, and let rest. After an hour or two, the bagels should just be beginning to rise, and a tester bagel should float in a bowl of cold water. Seal the pans inside spray-greased garbage bags and put in the fridge overnight.

cook the bagels:

big pot of water
optional toppings (I used kosher salt, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds)

Wake up early to pull the bagels out of the fridge, remove the bags, and cover the bagels with a cloth. Put the pizza stone in the middle of the oven and start preheating to 475F. This will take a while, so make some coffee and read some email. Then start boiling a few inches of water and a drizzle of honey in the pot. When the water boils, turn it down to just barely simmering (harder boil means flat wrinkly bagels). Working in batches (three bagels at a time works for my pot), poach the bagels in the water for 1.5 min on each side. Place the poached bagels on semolina-dusted parchment and sprinkle with any toppings. (Out of the 8 plain bagels, I left 4 plain and made 4 into everything bagels.) When the first 8 bagels are boiled and topped, slide the parchment of bagels onto the pizza stone and bake for 10-11 min while you boil the other 8 bagels; the second batch should be ready to bake right about when the first batch is done. Let the bagels cool on a rack for at least half an hour before slicing.

Egg drop soup

This soup started out as a way to turn extra egg whites (leftover from making mint chip ice cream) into dinner. It's very quick, very easy, very savory, and very light. In fact, it was a bit too light for a light dinner for three, and would be even better bulked up with wontons, sturdy greens, ramen or udon noodles, etc—try adding those between the mushrooms and the egg.

drizzle peanut oil
1 thumb-size chunk of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 bunch scallions (6-8), half chopped in 2" lengths and half thinly sliced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
dozen shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved and tops quartered
6 c hot stock (2 not-chicken stock cubes)
1 t soy sauce, or to taste
6 oz tofu, diced
1 T cornstarch
3 egg whites, lightly beaten

Heat the oil, ginger slices, long scallion parts, pepper flakes, and mushroom stems in a pot while you boil water for the stock. Add the stock to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes until the the broth is flavored to taste (add soy sauce now as needed). Remove and discard the ginger, scallions, and mushroom stems (scooping or straining works).

Add the tofu and mushroom tops to the broth and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked through. Ladle a bit of broth into a bowl and dissolve the cornstarch in it, then stir it back into the pot to thicken the broth a bit. (This should help the chunky bits stay suspended in the broth instead of just floating at the surface.)

With the soup at a very gentle simmer, slowly drizzle the egg whites in a thin stream around the surface of the pot—the egg should cook instantly into ribbons. Sprinkle in the rest of the scallions and gently stir. Simmer for another couple minutes to set the egg completely before serving.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A couple days of food in Portland

  • Amazing vegan reuben at Red and Black Cafe before exploring Hawthorne, Hosford-Abernethy, and the warehouse district
  • Genmaicha at the very pleasant Behind the Museum Cafe to gather our energy for Powell's
  • More vegan grains+veggies goodness for dinner at Prasad
  • Brunch of stellar french toast, but underwhelming other things, at Jam
  • While wandering around Mississippi: tea samples at Stash (we bought the Portland blend), solid cappuccinos (plus comfy couches and good music) at Albina Press, and delicious jambalaya and fried okra for happy hour at Miss Delta (no interesting local beer though, boo)
  • Didn't get any food or drink at Living Room Theaters, but Old Goats was highly entertaining and you should see it if you get the chance
  • Midnight snack at Voodoo Doughnut, of course
  • Passable coffee at Pieper Cafe, around the corner from Brandon's house (thanks for putting us up!)
  • Train food to-go from the Mt Tabor area: pasties from the Brit-approved Horse Brass, yummy lefse and overpriced sides from Viking Soul Food, spelt+pear+pecan bread from Tabor Bread. Wanted the veggie bowl from Namu, but sadly they didn't open while we were around the Good Food Here food cart pod.
Verdict: Mississippi and Mt Tabor neighborhoods are delightful. As are vegan tempeh rice bowl things. Totally failed to take advantage of the beer scene, but that just means I'll have to go back!