Monday, 26 November 2012

Savoury Bagels – Fresh and home made

Posted by Kim Fong On 7:56 pm

Home alone on a week night. I had all good intentions to do nothing! Spend some quality time with my sofa and the TV. Maybe bring some popcorn to the party. It started off well. Cooking shows! Yah – then Poh comes on. Which is great, coz I love her shows. She started showing how she makes bagels. Then I got a hankering! Then I got motivated – next thing you know I'm kneading the dough, then while it was proving, I've rushed off to the supermarket to get cream cheese. Coz you can't have bagels without cream cheese.

It didn't take me long, though there were a few steps, and now I know what to do, I'll probably get it done faster. They turned out beautifully. Probably not as gigantic as the cafe/store bought ones. But definitely better than the Aussie stuff you get, though I don't have much competition here. I'm far from opening my own New York bagel shop with ten kagillion cream cheese flavours – but this definitely curbs my urge to get on a plane for 21 hours just to get a NY bagel.

So thanks to Poh and TV – I have a) learnt how to make bagels, b) made bagels, c) enjoyed a lovely fresh bagel dinner, lunch the next day and snacks in between. Definitely something I'll be making again – perhaps I'll try different versions, including sweet ones. 

If you want to see how Poh makes it, here is the link. I've stuck pretty close to her recipe – the only change I made were the toppings, and no Swiss cheese.

7g dried yeast (1 sachet, 2 tspn)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2/3 cup (170ml) warm milk (soy milk or water for the vegans and dairy intolerant folks out there)
4 cups (450g) plain flour, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons salt
3/4 cup (180ml) warm water + extra if needed (about bath warm)
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
2-3 tablespoons of lightly toasted sesame, poppy seeds, dried herbs, cheese and/or nigella seeds (or any topping you wish)

1. Mix together yeast, sugar and milk in a small bowl, cover and set aside for 10 minutes or until the surface of the mixture is covered in bubbles.

2. Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add yeast mixture and warm water. Mix and knead until smooth and elastic, for about 7 minutes.

Tip: You should not need to flour the bench for this. If it is the right consistency, the dough should only stick to itself. If it feels a little dry or wet, add 1 tablespoon of water or 1 tablespoon of flour and knead until smooth. I found it was a little dry at first but I kept kneading and it came together without having to add more water. And kneading for this long is necessary. You'll noticed the dough’s consistency change and becomes very smooth.

3. With a knife, divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and cover with damp tea towel. Knead each piece very briefly then roll into a sausage 2.5cm in diameter or long enough to form a doughnut shape. Squash 2.5cm of one end of the sausage. You can dust the bottom of the palm of your hand with a little flour if the dough is very sticky but I didn't need to do this. Bring it around to meet its tail, so it forms a doughnut, overlapping the tail end onto the flattened end. Then pull the flattened dough up from either side of the tail to meet on top and pinch into a seam to secure the tail in place. Flip the bagel over and comment on how awesome it looks. (Yes I actually did this too!) Cover with a moist tea towel and rest on baking tray(s) lined with baking paper leaving some room between them, for about 15 – 20 minutes. This allows the bagels to prove. I put the tray somewhere warm, like near there TV. If your bagels seem not to be proving very well, zap your moist tea towel in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until the towel feels lukewarm to touch. Repeat when the towel feels cool again.

View album
These big fluffy pillows are my proving bagels

Boiling the pillows - I mean bagels

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the risen bagels, boiling in batches of 3 to 4 for 1 minute on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and rest on clean tea towel to absorb residual moisture. Don't be alarmed, at this stage they will look slightly deflated and dimply. Return to trays lined with parchment. Brush generously with egg wash and sprinkle with toppings of choice on top. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Allow to cool slightly and serve. Some serving suggestions include:
  • Cream cheese & chives
  • Pastrami and Swiss cheese
  • Salmon, cream cheese and capers
  • Plain toasted with butter

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Muffins

Posted by Kim Fong On 5:53 pm

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, how good is goat’s cheese!? I had a bit left in the fridge I wanted to use up and it just so happen to come across this recipe on Good thing about savoury muffins, they make a great snack or a breakfast on the run.

I changed this recipe a bit but it turned out great. It’s a good base where you can change to suit your taste. You could add bacon bits, mushroom, zucchini, eggplant, mozzarella cheese  – the list goes on. Below my version – enjoy!

25g butter
200ml milk
100g frozen spinach, thawed
1 2/3 cup plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (a little more wouldn't hurt)
1 egg
1/4 to 1/3 cup semi dried tomatoes, chopped
Bunch of fresh basil and parsley, chopped
2 tspn pesto
120g soft goat's cheese

1. Preheat oven to 180 to 190C. Grease 8 to 15 holes of muffin pan(s) – depending how deep your muffin pans are.

2. In a pan, heat butter and milk over medium heat until milk just boils, remove from heat, stir in spinach and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and bicarb soda. Add parmesan, egg, tomatoes, pesto, herbs and spinach mixture. Crumble goat’s cheese and stir into mixture.

4. Fill pans with mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until muffins have risen and cooked through – after testing with a toothpick. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. It will last a few days in an airtight container in the fridge, so you can reheat in the microwave.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Grandma’s bean curd fusion

Posted by Kim Fong On 6:14 pm

I was asked if I could make Grandma’s Bean Curd. My reaction... "Ehhhh… I don't know how your grandma makes bean curd, buddy!". No! that tofu dish you get at the Chinese takeaway shop. GRANDMA’S bean curd!
Me: Sure!
Note to self – must Google Grandma’s bean curd.

After searching around I got this gist of this infamous dish. Also known as Moa po tofu, this is a Szechuan speciality. Obviously everyone has their own version of it, but basically it’s silken tofu, minced pork with a chilli sauce served over hot rice. Admittedly I didn't have many ingredients needed (such as 20 different types of chilli/hot sauce – I exaggerate), so I sort of “winged” it as I do. I call it fusion as I didn't have Chinese black bean sauce – so I used fish sauce. I also served with fresh coriander and fried shallots. Apparently it was pretty close so success for the first attempt. Will definitely do this again – perhaps more tofu than pork, and more chilli, however the method seems sound. This dish is super tasty – I even had leftovers for breakfast!

This recipe serves about four and the flavouring volumes are approximate. So depending on your likes you can adjust accordingly. For the vegetarians out there, you can substitute the pork with mushrooms or eggplant – finely diced, and the vegetarian version of the fish and oyster sauce.

Pork marinade
200 to 300g minced pork
3 tbspn soy sauce
2 tbspn fish sauce
2 to 4 tbpsn oyster sauce
2 tspn sesame oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
pepper, to taste
1 tspn ginger, minced (or powder)
1 to 2 tspn chilli sauce
3 tspn shallots, finely chopped
1/2 tspn chilli flakes (optional)
dash of oil

For the gravy
1/4 to 1/3 cup water (tap water is fine)
2 tspn corn flour
1 tspn powdered vegetable stock
1/2 tblspn soy sauce
1/2 tblspn oyster sauce
2 dashes of fish sauce

For the dish
600 to 900g silken tofu (I prefer Fortune Brand, for those living in Australia) – diced into 1 to 1.5 inch cubes
1/2 large onion (1 small to medium onion), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
pepper to taste
chilli flakes to taste
Freshly chopped coriander (garnish)
Fried shallots (garnish)

1. Marinate pork – in a medium bowl add all ingredients listed under “pork marinade”. Mix well and set aside. The more time you have it set aside, the better. If you're going to cook it the next day, then best to cover and refrigerate. If you're time poor, you can still marinate the meat first before preparing everything else and cooking the rice.

2. In a little bowl – mix the ingredients for the gravy together. Set aside. Make this just before you're about to cook.

3. Heat a large fry pan, under high heat. Add oil to coat the base of the pan. Add 3/4 of the onions. Stir and allow to sweat. You'll have to move quickly. If its too fast for you and you're finding the onions started to burn, turn the heat down to a more manageable level. Add marinated pork and half the garlic. Keep stirring to break up the mince and allow to cook through.

4. Once pork is cooked through, add tofu and gravy. Gently stir through (or toss pan if you're confident). Be sure not to break the tofu. Reduce heat to medium and cover for about 2 minutes, to allow tofu to be heated through and the flour to cook.

5. Serve immediately over hot rice with chilli flakes, coriander and/or shallots. Any blanch, steamed or stir fried Chinese greens makes a great accompaniment to this dish.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pandan Cupcakes

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:43 pm

After reading Much a Munch’s recent blog post – I got inspired. I've never cooked with Pandan flavouring before, but love the unique fragrance.

This weekend I went past the Asian grocery store and combed the isles looking for some sort of Pandan flavouring. I found Pandan extract. A little vial size container, only 90 cents (AUD). The liquid is thick, dark green and smells fantastic! Hey it’s only 90 c  why not! After buying it, I did a bit more research on how to use it. Some people get the leaves and boil it down. Others have Pandan syrup. I combined a few different recipes, but mainly based on this one.

The cupcakes turned out moist and tasty, in good cupcake fashion. The cakes themselves were brilliant green! As my boss described it – green tree frog, green. I garnished with desiccated coconut coloured with green food colouring.

2 cups plain flour (minus 4 tblspn)
3 tspn Pandan extract
2 tspn baking powder
1/8 tspn baking soda
140g butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 tspn coconut essence
3/4 cup milk

115g butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar mixture
1 1/2 tblspn condensed milk
1/2 tspn coconut essence
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
Juice of half a lime
Handful of desiccated coconut, mixed with a few drops of green food colouring

1. Preheat the oven to 175C degrees.  Line 15 to 18 muffin cups with liners. 

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until soft and creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Then beat in the vanilla & Pandan.

4. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix until just combined.

5. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling until about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes becomes clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely before frosting.

1. Beat together butter and icing sugar. Add condensed milk, essences and juice. Taste to ensure the right sweetness and flavour and adjust accordingly.

2. Frost cupcakes when cooled and garnish.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Garlic & Herb Bread

Posted by Kim Fong On 12:50 pm

For all those folks who buy garlic bread – this is going to blow your mind! It will be so quick, Jamie Oliver will only need 30 seconds (not minutes). So quick, so easy, I didn't even get the chance to take a serving photo. When I make this again, I'll be sure to update the pix. Well I'll stop with the chit chat – nothing more to add. A quick post to tie you over.

Butter, margarine (or your usual butter replacement spread) – softened
Bunch of dried (or fresh) herbs – oregano, parsley, basil (or any other favourite herbs)
Pepper to taste
1 clove garlic (or more if you like it garlic-y), minced
Bread (turkish, baguette, sliced – all sorts) - can use old bread, fresh not necessary

1. Combine spread, herbs, pepper, garlic in a small bowl. Stir to combine.

2. Slice bread (if necessary). Spread mixture liberally on bread.

3. Wrap bread with foil. Either chuck on the BBQ (did I just type that!) or in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. IT should come out soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Serve hot.

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