Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why do they always discontinue the good stuff?

We were shopping with Sophie last week when Bryan commented again on how we can't find his favorite frozen snack anymore. We used to buy a box of bagel dogs every time we went to Costco but Costco has long since stopped carrying them. We also would buy the mini bagel dogs when we could find them. Even I would eat one once in a great while. So I suggested we just try making them ourselves. The next day I spent some time researching bagel recipes & then found a recipe for bagel dogs at another blogsite Cooking Dunkin Style who found the recipe at America's Little Germany who found the "Mall Pretzel" recipe at - Mall Pretzels(no previous source listed from there).

I remember making bagels years ago when my son was a toddler & I guess it must've been quite an experience, as I've not done it since. I've often thought about doing it again though and I do remember the hassle of making, boiling and then baking them. So when I saw this recipe, where the boiling is replaced by a quick dunk in a baking soda and hot water bath, I had to give it a try. The recipe as written is excellent but I've changed the instructions slightly to make the mini-dogs. We only made one full sized bagel dog, to compare, & I personally like the flavor of the hot dog better than the little smokey, but I like the size of the minis. Cause they're just plain fun to eat!
I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook attachment for the mixing & kneading with great results.

Mall Pretzel - Bagel Dogs

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 package Little Smokies cocktail sausages(rinse, drain & pat dry with paper towels)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.
Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan.

After dough has risen, divide in half and put one ball back in the bowl and cover again. Gently roll and stretch the second half into a log about 16 inches long and cut into 16-20 pieces. Roll each piece into a 7 inch rope, then starting at one end of the little smokie begin wrapping the dough around in a spiral, ending at the other end. Crimp the end or push it under the last wrap if needed to secure.

Dip it into the baking soda and water solution. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.

Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Repeat with remaining dough. Feel free to experiment with different sizes of dough you use for wrapping, especially if you choose to make the full-sized dogs. I ended up liking the thicker wraps best because the dough stayed soft & puffy instead of getting hard & crunchy on the outside. Any leftover dough can be formed into pretzels, twisted into pretzel sticks or I even tried just cutting them into bite-sized bits that were great for toddler snacks.

Serve with melted Velveeta cheese, ketchup, mustard, BBQ or horseradish sauce for dipping.

Yield depends on how many Little Smokies or hot dogs you're using. One full recipe will make a nice addition to your appetizer tray.

Brown Sugar Pound Cake or Cupcakes

Easier than burnt sugar cake and a really good substitute is the Brown Sugar Pound Cake(cupcakes) I've been tinkering with. Originally credited to the website I found it on Zaar, here: Brown Sugar Pound Cake

I've made the cake into cupcakes and actually ended up enjoying them even better that way. I've tried them with both the frosting from the cake recipe and this frosting, Browned Butter Frosting. Both frostings were deliciously thick & rich and both very good.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Question: What is the only food that never spoils?

Answer: Honey
Question: What is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water?
Answer: Honey

A couple months ago I participated in a world-wide honey swap on Recipezaar. The partner I was paired with lives in Florida and we shopped for items that are honey related and made up packages to send to each other. I did my research on honey, as I didn't want to send her something that she can get in her area. I ordered several jars of raw honey that are produced locally with flowers and berries grown in the Pacific Northwest. Also some diabetic-friendly syrup made with the official state fruit, huckleberries, made by the local company my dad's cousin started when I was a child. My swap partner sent me some Tupelo honey, Chilean raw white honey from South America and raw honey made from the rata flower in New Zealand. I really enjoyed this swap, as I learned a lot about honey; health benefits, history and of course, it’s always fun to get surprises in the mail!

Made by bees as food to sustain them throughout the winter, honey is free of fat, cholesterol and sodium but contains vitamins and antioxidants that help speed healing and fight infection. For centuries it has been used as a topical first aid treatment as well as for digestive disorders. It has no additives, is a natural sugar substitute (especially for diabetics) and is easy to digest.
Honey will vary in color and flavor depending on the nectar source and can be very pale to a dark amber color. Flavors range from mild and sweet to very bold. In North America there are 300 different varieties of honey. The most common nectar sources are clover, sage and citrus blossoms but honey can be produced with everything from eucalyptus and the tea tree to alfalfa and buckwheat nectar.

Honey is amazing in the kitchen as it can adapt to all types of cooking processes and can be used in everything from savory marinades to breakfast muffins. Because of its unique ability to attract and absorb moisture, your baked goods will be moist when baked and stay fresh longer. The only caution is not to feed honey to children less than one year of age as honey can carry botulism spores that can be harmful to young immune systems.

Here I'd like to share with you two of my original recipes, both featuring honey, and created for a Recipezaar contest using a specific list of ingredients.

But first, have you ever wondered where the term honeymoon came from? About 4,000 years ago in Babylon, as part of the bride's dowry her father would supply the groom with all the mead he could drink for the first month of marriage. Mead is a mixture of water, honey and yeast that is allowed to ferment and is considered to be the oldest of alcoholic beverages. It was believed that drinking mead during the honey month would ensure that the couple's first born child was a male. Because their calendar was lunar based, the "honey month" eventually became known as the honeymoon.

Pumpkin Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft, bakery style cookies packed with pumpkin, grated carrot and chocolate chips. Don't expect a crunchy cookie, as these are more like muffin tops.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin, not pre-spiced pie filling
1/2 cup baby carrots, grated
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In medium bowl, whisk eggs lightly. Stir in pumpkin, grated carrot, honey and melted butter. Whisk until combined then stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Don't over mix. Spread a sheet of parchment paper over cookie sheets & drop 1 Tablespoon of batter for each cookie about 2-3 inches apart on parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and then cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool the rest of the way. Yield: 42 (2-1/2 inch cookies)

Easy Veggie Salad with Asian Dressing

1 (12 ounce) package broccoli slaw mix (or a mix of shredded broccoli stems, carrots & purple cabbage)
1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas, drained (garbanzo beans)
1 cucumber, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup artichoke heart, chopped
3/4 cup tomato, chopped

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

In large bowl, combine all 5 salad ingredients.
In small bowl combine all 11 dressing ingredients. Stir or whisk to combine.
Pour dressing over salad, mix well. Cover and refrigerate til serving time.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sometimes Burnt is a good thing!

The attraction of creme brulee is the contrast between cold, creamy custard and the warm, crunchy caramelized sugar on top. To achieve this, the custard is first baked in a bain-marie, or a water bath, then cooled and chilled. The bain-marie prevents a crust from forming across the top before the center of the custard is fully cooked.
When the custard has chilled for several hours a layer of sugar is sprinkled across the top and the custard is set under a broiler or a butane hand torch is used to quickly melt & caramelize the sugar. This leaves the custard cold and smooth while the topping is warm and gets crunchy as it cools. Torching the custard is done at serving time and can look pretty impressive but with very little work involved.

The origin of creme brulee is hotly contested, as are many dishes I've researched. It seems all the countries were getting the same brainstorms around the same time. lol

The earliest mention of creme brulee is in a French cookbook by Francois Massialot in 1691 but in his 1731 edition he changed the name of the same recipe to read creme anglaise. My guess as to why he would do this is to appeal to the English market as well as the French.
Trinity College in Cambridge, England claims that they were the creators of creme brulee, calling it Trinity Cream or Cambridge Burnt Cream in 1879. They use a branding iron in the pattern of the college arms to caramelize the top of each custard.

There is another version of creme brulee that hails from the Catalan region of Spain, aptly named Crema Catalana, and it also claims to be the predecessor of France's creme brulee.
While creme brulee is traditionally flavored only with vanilla (other flavors can be used, such as chocolate, fruit or liqueurs) the Catalan version is flavored with lemon or orange zest and cinnamon. The Crema Catalana is not however, baked in a bain marie, as the creme brulee is.

I have tried many versions of creme brulee and there are two that stand out for me. A lemon creme brulee made with the bain marie method and a super easy creme brulee cheesecake. Both are actually easy and both require refrigeration time, but that allows for making these a day ahead if you plan to serve them for a special event.
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TinksTreats by Lorilyn Tenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License