Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chocolate Fruit Cups

Here's my little disclaimer - if you are an impatient cook, or easily disappointed in yourself as a vicarious response to any of your culinary attempts failing - don't try this :) When you're a bit more patient, and more flexible with yourself - then try this.

These little fruit cups are amazing for bridal showers, baby showers, and lingerie parties - ladies love them! And appreciate their prettiness - don't serve these at a Super Bowl party or World Cup final.

I'm sorry I don't have more pictures - hopefully my instructions are clear enough, and next time I make them, I promise to take better pictures and add them to this recipe.

Chocolate Fruit Cups:
1 bag chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
4 c of assorted fruit
muffin tin
paper muffin cup liners (silicon would also work amazingly well, I would think - though I haven't tried it).

Using a double boiler, or a microwave, melt the chocolate chips and butter. The key to this is to stir frequently, and don't let your chocolate over-heat. If it overheats, it separates and turns into an unusable (and unsavory) mess. You can actually remove the chocolate from the heat (or microwave) when there are still some small pieces of chocolate left - the heat from the already melted chocolate will finish the job. Stir until your chocolate is smooth.

Before you begin the next step - make sure your chocolate isn't too runny. If it is too runny, let it sit for a few minutes. You want it to be the consistency of a runny hummus - sounds delicious, huh? I couldn't think of a better example, sorry.

Using a pastry brush (or I used a teaspoon because I didn't have a pastry brush), put approx 1 Tbs of chocolate in a muffin cup, and gently spread around the bottom of the cup and up the sides until your chocolate is evenly distributed. You'll probably have to pick up the muffin cup and delicately turn it as you spread the chocolate evenly. The main goal is to have your chocolate evenly distributed - you don't want it to be so thick it's difficult to eat, but you also want it to be thick enough it can hold it's shape. See the finished picture if you want to double check suggested thickness.

Once your chocolate is evenly spread in the muffin cup, place the muffin cup inside a muffin tin. Repeat until you've used all of your chocolate. Place the muffin tins, full of pretty little chocolate muffin cups, in the refrigerator for about 2 hours - or until the chocolate is hard.

Remove from fridge and try to take a chocolate cup out of the tin. If it sticks you can either wait for your muffin tin to warm to room temperature, or use a 9x13 with warm water and lightly dip the bottom of your muffin tin in the water - essentially offering a quick shot of heat to the muffin tin, which will release the muffin cups. Very carefully, and being sure not to grip the chocolate too tightly (it will melt in your fingers), begin peeling back the muffin cup. Some muffin cups will almost pop right off, other needs a bit of persuading. Just have patience, peeling the cup back until you have a pretty little chocolate cup!

Once you've finished, put your undressed little chocolate cups back in the fridge for about 20 minutes to let them set. They can stay in the fridge for a few days if they are in a sealed container.

Immediately before serving, fill each cup with approx 1/2 c fresh berries. Serve with pride :)

Let me know how this works for you, and don't be discouraged if it takes a few times - these were my 3rd time making this recipe! I've done this recipe both with and without the butter - the butter makes the chocolate a bit smoother, and potentially the muffin cups a bit easier to pull off...but it's 2 more Tbs of butter. Then again, we're talking about chocolate cups - we probably aren't worried about 2Tbs of butter :) Good luck!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Flour Tortillas

I love burritos - especially homemade ones. Everything in a burrito should be homemade - the beans, the guacamole, the salsa (ok, you can buy cheese) and especially the tortilla shells. Now, I know, I know - it is just SO convenient to buy them from the store. It is, I'm not arguing. But they taste fake - like a combination of playdoh and some week old bread product. Anyway - you get the point, I'm not a fan.

And here's the truth - homemade tortillas are incredibly easy to make. Rolling them into a perfect circle is a different story, unless you have one of those nifty tortilla presses (which I'm putting on my list for Christmas) but even with the use of a rolling pin (or a beer bottle or wine bottle) you'll eventually perfect your circles. In the meantime, no one needs a perfectly round tortilla to make a delicious burrito. And if they are terribly shaped, eat them plain or make them into tortilla chips.

Homemade tortillas made into quesadillas - great leftover use for remaining burrito ingredients! Also featured - homemade salsa.
So - here you go, the decades old flour tortilla recipe from my Indiana-grown/African-lived mother's kitchen (so obviously authentic):

Flour Tortillas
yields approx 8 9" tortillas

2c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c shortening (don't try and substitute this for oil - they turn out  greasy. Sorry)
1/2 c warm water

In large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Using a pastry blender (or two knives) - cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until the shortening is pea-sized or smaller.

Add 1/2 c warm water - usually about 2Tbs more depending on how accurately you measured your 2c flour.  Mix, using your hands, until all the dry ingredients are absorbed - you may need to add more water than directed, but do so slowly - you don't want to over water your dough! You want your dough to be soft, not rubbery, and smooth. Rubbery dough is a result of over-kneading, so resist the urge to knead this recipe. This isn't bread. Just add the water and mix until all of your ingredients are smoothly combined.

Cover the dough with a damp towel and let sit for 2 hours. (If you're working ahead, you can cover tightly - in a sealed container, for example - and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. If you do this, pull out the dough an hour or so prior to use to allow the dough to come to room temperature - it will make it much easier to roll out).

Divide your dough into eight equal pieces - they should should be the size of golf balls, or a bit bigger. Flour your rolling surface and roll each ball out individually, being sure to rotate and flip the tortilla to make sure it doesn't stick to the counter (and because this will greatly improve your chances of achieving a round tortilla). Roll until you've reached your desired thickness - I like very thin tortilla shells, some people like them a bit thicker. I'm sure you've had a tortilla at some point in your life if you're considering home making them...make it as thin or as thick as you like.

Warm a non-stick skillet (cast iron is awesome - but not necessary) over med-low heat. Place your tortillas in the skillet (one at a time) and let cook until air bubbles begin to form, flip and allow the air pockets to re-form. Remove from skillet and put on a plate. Cover with a dry towel. This towel will help keep your tortillas hot, and very soft. I actually put the towel directly on the plate, the tortillas on the towel, and fold half of the towel over the tortilla. This prevents the bottom tortilla from getting wet with any condensation that forms as the tortillas cool.

Serve with homemade salsa, and all of your other favorite burrito fixings! (I recommend refried beans, seasoned ground beef, guacamole, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and red onions).


Storage note:: homemade tortillas freeze exceptionally well. Whenever I make them - I quadruple the recipe (or more). For freezing purposes: when cooking them, I highly recommend flash cooking your tortillas - in other words, prepare the tortillas exactly as directed above but when you get to the cooking phase only cook each side of the tortilla for 5-10 seconds. Just long enough to dry the outside so when your frozen tortillas are thawing, they don't stick together. If you freeze them just as rolled out dough, or even as balls of dough, they will stick together. Not fun.

You could cook them all the way and freeze them, but then they don't re-warm as well and are often quite dry or even brittle. Flash cooking allows you to thaw them without fear of them sticking together, and then you can finish the cooking process (as mentioned in the original recipe) just before your meal. Your tortillas will taste as if they had just been made, even if they were frozen for up to 2 months.

When you freeze them, I recommend wrapping your stack (I usually freeze them in sets of a dozen) in foil and then sealing in a ziploc.

Last side note - ground beef and refried beans can also be frozen - you can have homemade tacos on the table in 20 min if you double your quantities on your next taco night and freeze half of it!!! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mango Chutney

This is an incredibly easy recipe! I've looked at a bunch of chutney recipes, and had never attempted them. Then, I was staying at beach house in lovely Watamu, Kenya when the chef offered to make a mango-chutney to go with the delicioso!! feta & coriander samosas I was making. Here's the low-down on homemade fruit chutneys (at least for use within a week or two - not sure how much longer it would last): it's basically cooked fruit, a bit o' vinegar, and a bit o' brown sugar.

Knock your socks off Mango Chutney
makes approx 1/2 cup (so I recommend doubling)

1 ripe mango - cut into medium size pieces
1 Tbs cider vinegar
2 Tbs brown sugar

Put all ingredients in a skillet. Saute until the mango is completely soft, stirring frequently and mashing mango as you go. The end.

It's seriously that easy.

Now - a few notes:
* if it burns just a little bit, don't worry. I think it adds a delicious burnt flavor. Who doesn't love burnt sugar? Creme brulee, anyone?
* you can add ANY complimentary fruit - I've done apple and pineapple so far. And it can be in any shape - I had old pineapple, it made an awesome addition to the chutney. My kids didn't eat all the apple slices I served at lunch. At dinner - I added their leftover apple slices to the chutney I was making. It was awesome. Here's a suggestion - anytime you have fruit that's on it's way out, freeze it! You can always toss it in muffins, and now you can toss it in chutney, too!
* I think green onions are a delicious addition to this mango chutney, especially if you are eating them with the Feta & Coriander Samosas.

Ok - enjoy!! Let me know how you like it and what fun chutneys you create!

xo - sarah

Feta & Coriander Samosas

Sorry it's been so long! I'm trying to revamp my blog's an attempt at putting up a new recipe each week.

SO - SAMOSA TIME!!! If you've never had a samosa, keep reading...then make this delicious recipe and the mango chutney recipe I'll put up next, call over some of your best friends, bust out a bottle or two or three of red wine and ENJOY!

Feta & Coriander Samosas

When making samosas, please don't cheat and use puff pastry for the dough. It's just not the same, and you're better off putting in a bit of extra elbow grease. These aren't super healthy, and you're going to eat a lot of them - so the more calories you burn making them, the better.

For the dough, I'm just gonna refer you to this fantastic samosa recipe - I hope that's ok! Follow her directions for the dough - though I roll mine out a bit bigger, between 9-10 inch diameter (that's the width from one side to the other, for those of you who hated geometry). Cut as she directs, right in half. She folds hers in half, which works great. I've included pics below of the process I use. There are other methods, which you can do a quick search for, but the basic idea is to make an ice cream cone, put the filling in just as you would ice-cream, then seal the top.

Ok, for the filling:

Feta & Coriander (Cilantro) Samosas
 yields 16-20 samosas

2c crumbled feta cheese
1 medium sized red onion, sauteed in 1Tbs butter
1/3 c chopped green onions (the smaller, the better)
2-3 Tbs fresh lime juice
2/3 c chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 Tbs powdered cumin

2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs water
* combine into a paste - should be the consistency of glue, set aside.

Mix the above Filling ingredients together, making sure everything is mixed in well but taking care not to turn your delicate feta into too much of a schmear. Prepare the aforementioned dough recipe, rolling out your dough as if you're rolling tortillas.

Follow any version you prefer of folding - here are pics of my method (please ignore my horribly unmanicured fingers...a girl can only keep up with so much):

Cute your samosa round in half. Then, taking the bottom corner closest to you, fold the dough diagonally up to the opposite side (see pic below).
Using your finger, spread a bit of the flour paste across the edge closest to you.
Fold the opposite side across so your straight edges line up, press gently along the seam.
Open up the top of your samosa, leaving good room for putting in the filling. Using a spoon, put in the filling (sorry no pic!).

Spread a bit of flour paste across one side of your top opening.
Pinch your edges shut securely.
Almost ready for the pot! just needs edges trimmed.

Trim off any excess edges - being sure not to re-open your nicely sealed samosa.
 If you have a hole, pinch it shut. If it won't stick, use some of your flour paste to hold it shut. If you have a huge hole, consider using some back up dough as a band aid - and use the glue to hold it in place as necessary. Set aside. Prepare all of your samosas.

Pour enough sunflower oil into a deep pot guessed it...deep frying samosa time!!! Once your oil is hot enough (drop in a little extra piece of dough to test. The oil should immediately start bubbling, and the dough should turn brown within 30 seconds or so) drop in as many samosas as can comfortably fit in the pan. You'll need to flip them after about 30 seconds, so take care to not overcrowd. Fry each samosa until both sides are a nice, golden brown - approx 30 seconds each side.

Remove and let excess oil drain off. I actually put a cookie sheet lined with newspaper under a cooling rack - works really, really well. Once drained, put in a dish with a lid - the extra moisture from the samosas cooling will help take away the unsavory over-crunch that can occur with deep frying thin dough.

Serve warm with homemade mango chutney & a glass of red wine. Or two. Enjoy!!!

ps - I know this seems like a brief recipe for what could be a complicated can do it! Feel free to write with questions, and next time I make these, I'll try and take some pics to enhance this entry. Let me know how they turn out!!!

xo - sarah

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fudgy Brownies

 Here’s my first warning – these are not in any way, shape, or form diet brownies, healthy brownies, or “your doctor recommended you have one a day” brownies. These are fudgy, yummy, gooey, stick-straight-to your-thighs brownies – and I don’t think there is really any other type worth eating.

Bit of advice before you start this recipe – don’t think about substituting healthier ingredients if you want the same gooey result…these are truly an indulgent brownie…aren’t you excited?!?

Fudgy Brownies Recipe
¼ c shortening (Crisco is great, and by great, I mean awful – which for this purpose makes it great)
¾ c margarine
¾ c unsweetened cocoa
2 c sugar (raw sugar is actually better – in the US, I would actually encourage you to even mix 1 c white sugar with 1 c brown sugar, since most brown sugar in the US is fairly refined)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ c flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 c chopped nuts (optional, and I would recommend walnuts)

Preheat your oven to 375F.

In a small pot, melt the shortening and margarine. In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add the melted margarine & shortening – it will be a bit difficult to mix due to the viscosity of the egg mixture and the greasiness (yes, greasiness) of the margarine/shortening mixture. Continue with gentle persistence (you could apply that phrase to various situations in life, actually….I’ll leave application up to you).

Once the shortening/margarine is combined with the sugar mixture, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Now, many (ok almost all) baking recipes recommend that you combine the flour, salt, baking whatever in a separate bowl THEN add it to your wet ingredients. This is purely so you don’t get globs of salt or baking soda in your finished product. I don’t like to do dishes (unless I have someone fun to do them with, and my children aren’t pulling on my legs the whole time) so I add the flour to the wet ingredients, DON’T MIX, then put the baking whatever and salt on top of the flour & do a little ‘top mix’, if you know what I mean. After the salt & baking soda/powder is mixed in with the flour, I mix together the wet and dry ingredients. So….do that for this recipe.

Once your batter is mixed up, you can add walnuts if you like, and then…eat a bit of it.  Go ahead, it’s ok, you won’t get sick. Here’s the ish on salmonella: (disclaimer – please do your own research, as I hold no responsibility for anyone getting sick from eating raw batter.) Salmonella is an intestinal disease, and is transmitted via the fecal-oral routine (I did not come up with that name, by the way, and feel a bit uncomfortable writing it here…we’re all adults, though, you get the point). Salmonella is found on the outside of eggs, on the shell, not inside (unless of course the shell has been compromised prior to use , in which case you shouldn’t use that egg anyway). If your eggs are clean prior to use, there shouldn’t be any salmonella transmitted to your batter (I wash mine in light bleach water for 10 minutes when I first buy them…I also live in Kenya, so the eggs come a bit more dirty than they do in the US). So, go for it, eat some batter…but again, do your own research/recognize I’m not a salmonella specialist, but have just done some independent research because I LOVE eating batter…

Another note about eggs – if they have never been refrigerated, they don’t have to be. Most eggs in the US are sold from a refrigerator, so you need to keep them in your fridge. BUT, if you can find them unrefrigerated, you can keep them unrefrigerated for several weeks. In Kenya, the eggs are sold on the shelf in the grocery store, and are stored in my pantry (after being washed of course).

Okay, sorry for the egg tangent. Back to the brownies. Pour your brownie batter into a greased 9x13 pan and place in the oven. Let them bake for approximately 30 min. I say approximately because I encourage you to bake your brownies to your own gooey preference. Keep in mind the brownies will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven, and will firm up more as they cool. I find the best brownies are ones that are almost impossible to scoop out of the pan when they first come out of the oven, due to being so soft.

You can eat immediately, but you’ll probably need a fork and a napkin or you can let cool for a bit until the brownies have firmed up a bit.

A couple warnings:
If you use too much flour, this recipe ends up being quite cakey, and not nearly as good. I actually recommend, especially in the US, using  about ¼ c LESS flour. Also, if you use butter and oil, all oil, orange juice, or some other healthier substitute for the fatty ingredients, your brownies will not turn out like the original recipe. Feel free to experiment, and let me know if you come up with a deliciously healthy substitute. I’m all for healthy eating, but do believe some food items have no hope of being healthy and should just be enjoyed as a moment of indulgence.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Homemade Salsa

 This recipe is one of my all time favorites because it’s so easy, yields a high quantity, and has a refrigerator life of almost 3 months.

Using fresh ingredients will produce a higher quality taste, and I recommend playing around with various quantities of the veggies and peppers to acquire your preferred veggie to spicy ratio.

Homemade Party Salsa
6 c tomatoes - chopped
3 c mixed red/yellow/green peppers – chopped
1 ½ c onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic - chopped
1 ½ c cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp oregano
2 t salt
1 t cumin
1 t seasoning salt (optional)
½ tsp thyme
½ c fresh cilantro
4-8 thumb size hot peppers without seeds (type and variety depending on your preferred spiciness)
5 ½ oz tomato paste

Combine all ingredients except the tomato paste & cilantro in a large stockpot.  Mix well. Use an immersion blender to blend the salsa to your preferred chunkiness, be sure you don’t scrape away the protective coating on the bottom of your pan. If you don’t want to risk it, just mix up your salsa in a glass bowl and transfer it to a stock pot once you’ve blended to your desired consistency.

By the way, if you don’t have an immersion blender I highly recommend you purchase one – they make blending everything incredibly easy – especially soups, guacamole, refried beans, and other creamy textured things. Plus your mess is minimized dramatically. So, if you don’t have one already, go get one! And for now, use your regular blender to blend your salsa in batches.

If your salsa is not in a large stock pot already, transfer it to one and turn the heat on. High is fine. At this point, check your salsa to see if it’s too watery. If it is, add the tomato paste – I recommend adding half a can at a time so you don’t make your salsa too thick. If it’s still too watery after using the whole can, feel free to add some more, though I wouldn’t do more than an additional 5 ½ oz can as your salsa may come out more like a pasta red sauce.

Once your salsa reaches a bubble, turn the heat down to simmer for the next 30-45 min. Leave it covered if you love the consistency, if it’s too watery, leave the lid off for a while. Stir periodically and reduce the heat if your salsa is thickening to the bottom of the pan.

After 30-45 min (the longer you let it simmer, the more the flavors blend and the more thick it will be). Add the cilantro and let cool for 30-45 min. Transfer the salsa to glass storing jars, seal tightly, and store in the back of your fridge (coldest part).

Plan a taco night and enjoy!

A couple additional notes:
* this recipe works best for a very smooth salsa. If you like a more chunky salsa, I would recommend using a food processor to chop your ingredients to the consistency you would prefer, then add 1 c of cider vinegar, the seasonings, and half of the tomato paste.  Use the remaining tomato paste and cider vinegar to achieve an ideal consistency
* I have successfully canned this salsa and left it on the shelf for close to a year – if you’re into canning, this recipe is a winner and you can have fresh salsa even during those winter months!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! I look forward to your comments and if you have any, please post questions. I’m still learning how to do this ‘kitchen blog’ thing, and am happy to clarify any unclear directions!

Happy salsa-ing!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Easy Homemade Bagels

These bagels are delicious, truly delicious. Let me give my preemptive acknowledgement to the website where I found the original recipe. I did tweak it a bit, which makes me feel justified in re-posting this recipe.

Making bagels, contrary to popular belief, is quite easy and exceptionally affordable. The only trick is activating yeast and fine tuning your bagel rolling. Otherwise, it's quite straight forward - and I'll give you tips on the other two.

I'm writing this cooking blog with the assumption some people may be new cooks and need a bit more information. Therefore I will give a lot of details; sorry if it seems a bit verbose.

A couple cooking tips in general:
* Read through the entire recipe before you begin cooking; it can save you a lot of headache & frantic runs to the grocery store.
* Pull out all your ingredients & baking utensils beforehand - there's nothing worse than trying to get a clean spoon out of the drawer with dough all over your hands.
* Clean as you go - if you're waiting on your dough to rise, use the opportunity to rinse or wash your dishes, put away items you're finished with, etc.
* Do all necessary prep work - grease your pans ahead of time, get toppings spread out on plates ahead of time - it will make your whole cooking process more smooth.

Alright - to the bagels:

4c flour
1 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2c warm water
2  tsp yeast
1 Tablespoon (Tbs) sugar
1 Tbs oil (I prefer olive oil, but any kind would work)

Step One: If you don't have warm water on tap, warm some water. Combine the yeast & sugar in a small bowl.  In a separate container measure your water - making sure it is the correct temperature to activate yeast. My general rule of thumb for activating yeast - you want the water to be hot enough that when you stick your finger in the water this thought goes through your mind: "yeah, that's pretty warm but I can leave my finger in there. Should I take my finger out? No, it's not too warm, I'm good." If you generally can stand water a lot hotter than other people, take that into consideration when you activate your yeast.

Many people are terrified of activating yeast, and therefore miss out on all the wonderful goodies you can make (cinnamon rolls, homemade bread, hamburger buns). It's really not that hard. Just think of it as it is - yeast is a living organism that is essentially in 'hibernation' when you buy it from the store. When you put warm water on it, the yeast 'wakes up' - the sugar combined with the yeast (especially if it's not quick rising) gives the yeast something to eat, literally...therein making it 'activate'. You can do it. I promise.

Step two: add 1 cup of your warm water to your yeast (save the other 1/2 c for later), pouring in a circular slow motion to 'mix-in' the yeast & sugar. Many people add the yeast & sugar to their water - I find this results in a layer of unactivated yeast on the top of the water, and the need to stir it, which I've found can damage the yeasts ability to activate. The water-poured-on-top method works every time.

It should look about like this. Now just leave it alone & combine your salt & flour in another, larger bowl.


As your yeast activates, it should begin to bubble and foam at the top. Don't worry if it's not super tall at first, if your yeast has activated, you'll know.

 Step 3: Add 1 Tbs oil to your yeast mixture, then pour your yeast mixture into the pre-measured flour & salt. Start mixing, gradually kneading in all the flour. You may need to add the remaining 1/2 c water, but do so slowly as this bagel recipe is so good because the dough is not too wet.
Step 4: After you've mixed in all the flour, knead your dough for ten minutes. You really want to do a full ten minutes as this will help everything mix well and will contribute to smoother, yummier bagels. 
 Step 5: After ten minutes of kneading, separate your dough into 8 equal pieces. I usually form mine into a log and cut in halves until I have 8 pieces.

 Space your 8 pieces apart, as they will rise a bit, and cover lightly with a bit of olive oil. I find if you don't grease them, they become incredibly dry & won't roll as nicely. Cover with a towel and let rise for 10 - 20 min. If you really prefer not to use oil, you could alternately get your towel slightly damp before using it to cover the bagels - just make sure it's not too wet.
Use this time to do a bit of clean up, and prep for your next stage which is the rolling phase. You'll need some clean counter space.  

Step 6: After the bagels have risen for 10-20 min, roll each piece out using two flat hands. Remember when you were a kid and you would make a snake using playdough? That's what you're doing again. Make your 'snake' a bit wider than your two hands (if you have large hands, or very tiny hands, take this into consideration). After you have your 'snake', join the head & the tail together, pinching them to remove any seams in the dough. This is the trickiest part of making bagels, don't worry if they're a bit misshapen or still have some of a seam.
Obviously, I'm still perfecting mine too. 

Step 7: Once you have them all shaped like bagels, again let them rise for about 20 min. No oil is necessary at this stage, but you should still cover them with a towel to keep them moist. While your bagels are rising, fill a large size pot with water, add 1 Tbs of sugar or molasses and bring to a boil. Preheat your oven to approx 400F or 200C. 

Step 8: After your bagels have finished rising, gently lift them from the counter and place them gently in the boiling water. You can do more than one at a time, just make sure your bagels aren't too crowded as they will get a bit bigger during this stage.
Boil your bagels for 1 min, then flip, boiling on the other side for another minute. Remove using a slotted spoon, or something similar and allow to 'dry' for a minute or two on a drying rack. Continue with the rest of your bagels. 
If you would like toppings on your bagels (I did sesame seeds and poppy seeds), dip the bagels lightly in the topping before placing topping side up on a greased baking sheet.  Otherwise, just transfer directly to the baking sheet.
Your bagels can be relatively close together as they won't get much bigger in the oven.
 Step 9: Once your baking sheet is full, place in the oven and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the bottom is nicely browned. Flip over and let bake for another five to ten minutes. 
Step 10: Remove from the oven and place bagels on a cooling rack - serve warm or put them in sealed container or bag to use throughout the week! Counter life is about 1 week, fridge life would be a bit longer. I also have half a dozen in the freezer right now, and assume they will last up to a month or two. 
 I've made this recipe 4 times now, and feel like I have it fairly perfected. A couple tips: don't make your dough too dry, don't make your snake too long or your bagels will be too thin & crunchy, don't bake them too long on either side or you'll end up more with bagel chips, and put in a sealed container shortly after they've cooled or they will dry out. 

Other recommended toppings: sauteed onions & garlic, other seeds, cheese (though I would sprinkle this on top of the bagel, rather than dipping the bagel in it). 

Dough variations: whole wheat bagels - use 1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, and 2 2/3 c white flour
cinnamon raisin bagels - after your dough is formed, add approx 2 tsp cinnamon & 1/3 c raisins to your kneading process
honey wheat bagels - add 2 Tbs honey to your yeast mixture at the same time you add the oil - reduce oil amount to 1 tsp rather than 1 Tbs, use whole wheat flour ratios (above)
jalapeno cheese bagels - add 1/3 c chopped jalapenos to the kneading process (as with cinnamon raising bagels) and sprinkle formed bagels with cheese just prior to baking

I'm sure there are many other alterations you could make to your dough (blueberry, anyone?) and to your toppings. If you are a new break maker, I would recommend making a fairly straight forward first batch and expanding from there - it will just be a bit less overwhelming. 

Please feel free to pass on any suggestions and feedback. Happy bagel making!! 

Next recipe up will be homemade passion juice for all you living near the equator!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The intro

Welcome to my kitchen!! I absolutely love to cook & create - it's my mode of expression & creativity. My number one rule - you are as a good of a cook as you believe yourself to be. My number two rule - if no one likes to come over for dinner, you might want to revisit the level of your belief in number one.

If you can read - you can cook. And if you enjoy food, and all the variety there is to it, you can be a very good cook. The only bad cooks I've met are the ones that don't enjoy eating. Someone who hates reading wouldn't be a good writer - so someone who just eats to meet their nutritional needs? Not gonna be a good cook.

With that said, if you just kinda like eating you can still be a great cook - and my advice? Slow down, really taste your food - there's so much enjoyment to be had!

I'll work on organizing this blog better as I go, and can't promise any huge frequency of posts, but I will do my best! Please feel free to post feedback, questions, or tips on how I can improve my own kitchen. Note: I am currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Therefore, some of my recipes may not be universal, and some of the recipes I really wish I could indulge in are just not possible here. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy these recipes immensely!

Please feel free to pass them to others, duplicate them, tweak them to your own liking, or never make them! I'll try to give credit where credit is due when I acquire a recipe from someone or somewhere else - my apologies if  I don't always do this correctly!

Enjoy the process of discovering or expanding your own culinary genius! Recipes to come soon!

xo - sarah