Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pumpernickel Bagels

A friend posted to Facebook that she was looking for a pumpernickel bread recipe. I commented that I had a killer pumpernickel bagel recipe that I developed after a lot of research if she was interested. She was, and so was another friend. These are two dear people, and therefore a more than good enough reason to make my first post to this blog in over a year....

Since I'm back to work after maternity leave, I haven't had a chance to make these recently, so alas...no photos. Will remedy that in the future.

Like most things, selection of ingredients is important. I use King Arthur High Gluten Flour (although their Bread Flour works well too if that's easier for you to get) and Bob's Red Mill dark rye flour. The high gluten flour helps get that wonderfully chewy mouthfeel you want from a bagel. Dark rye flour is the rye equivalent of whole wheat flour, be sure to get this and not regular rye flour. I use Hershey's Dutch Processed Cocoa, Grandma's Molasses, and Eden's Malt Syrup, although likely other quality brands will be just fine. Be sure to source your caraway to get fresh seeds- grocery store seeds may not be your best choice here. Some prefer fennel to caraway in their pumpernickel, and if you do, feel free to substitute.

  • 15 oz high gluten or bread flour
  • 5 oz dark rye flour
  • 1.5 tsp table salt
  • 1 TBS cocoa
  • 2 TBS molasses
  • 1 TBS malt syrup
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 TBS yeast
  • 10 oz water
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 TBS malt syrup
  • 1 TBS baking soda
  • Put everything in your stand mixer's bowl and using the dough hook start on stir to incorporate and then mix on low speed for ten minutes. Dough will be stiff and not sticky. If you think it looks a little too wet or a little dry, let it knead for a few minutes before trying to "balance it" with a tsp of water or a tbs of flour.
  • Transfer to a large bowl, lightly greased with a oil. Let rise for 90 minutes, until puffy. It won't "double" though.
  • Remove dough to a board, and divide into 8 pieces. I like to use a scale for this so the bagels are a consistent size.
  • Roll each portion into a smooth ball by cupping your hand over the portion and rapidly rolling in a circular motion. The dough is not sticky, and you may need to pinch the bottom together once or twice and use a little pressure while cupping and circling. Do not flour or oil board while doing this.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, bring the 2 quarts of water, 2 TBS malt syrup and 1 TBS baking soda to a boil in a wide pan (I use a 4 qt straight sided saute pan, but a large dutch oven would work well too)
  • To form each bagel- using the heel of your hand, press down on puffy ball of dough to flatten, poke hole in center, spin around finger/stretch out the hole so that the hole is about 1.5" in diameter. The bagel hole will get smaller when you boil, so make it bigger than you think a standard bagel hole should be. (Note, this is not traditional. Making a rope and rolling it into a loop is. However, I found that method to to not work super well for me, and this forming method was easier and resulted in intact bagels. Sometimes the rope method resulted in bagels that "unraveled" when boiling.)
  • Doing 3 or 4 bagels at a time, depending on the size of your pan, drop them into the boiling water bath. Do 2 minutes on the first side, flip, and then do 1 minute on the second side. I find that using chopsticks is the best for flipping and moving the bagels around.
  • Place onto a silicone mat or parchment paper lined sheet pan. You will need two pans, 4 bagels per pan.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Be careful to not overbake, as it is hard to "see" a tell tale "baked" color on these from the cocoa and molasses. If they've been baking for 20 minutes and there is no moisture in the center of the bagel's hole, then it is done. If it still seems damp in the center, go for another couple minutes.

Although bagels are best eaten fresh, if you aren't making these for a crowd, and have leftovers, I recommend slicing them and freezing them. That way you can pop them straight from the freezer into the toaster. And a great tip for packing in a lunch bag- if you spread cream cheese on a frozen bagel in the morning, by lunch time, the bagel is thawed and the cream cheese is still cool!

And if you want to abbreviate the time to make these, say for Christmas morning or a family brunch, the initial rise can be done overnight in the fridge. Take the dough out in the morning, let warm a bit at room temperature for 30 minutes, form and let rise second time, boil and bake.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Jam Crostata

Sometimes you need an elegant, but sturdy dessert. Usually those two words wouldn't go together, and yet that's what I was looking for. Something a little more special than cookies, but not as fussy as a cake, and certainly not requiring decorating. A dessert that wouldn't fall apart if looked at cross-eyed. For a few years, I had been making a jam crostata that was delicious and everyone loved, but like most of my cooking today it needed streamlining- two rests in the fridge and rolling and measuring and cutting of the pastry is just NOT in my timetable these days. So, I had some rules going in working on this recipe. It had to come together in the amount of time it took to preheat the oven. It required no rest in the fridge, no rolling out or cutting out of the pastry, and above all- it had to look beautiful and not be fragile. Yes, it requires a piece of equipment you may not have, but a false bottom tart pan is a wonderful addition to your kitchen and won't put you out more than about 10 bucks.

This tart is easy to put together (you can even feed a toddler dinner while you bring it together...seriously, I've done it!). Sturdy enough to eat out of hand, but also with a fork on a lovely plate. Sturdy enough to transport. And yet, with minimal effort, elegant and special, fancy but not fussy. And since it uses jam, you can make this anytime of year.

You do have some decisions to make around flavors. Raspberry pistachio is what I have pictured here, because I have lots of raspberry jam, and we can't get enough of pistachios. My favorite combination though is apricot pistachio. But try strawberry hazelnut, or blueberry walnut, or peach almond. To thin out the jam a little, use what fits for your flavor profile- a complementary liqueur, lemon or lime or orange juice, or even water if you don't have something that will fit. In the pastry, known in Italian as a Pasta Frolla, add extract and/or citrus zest to also fit your flavor profile. Although at the bare minimum and regardless of other flavors, be sure to add the vanilla extract. And if only adding vanilla, then double the amount. Although special extracts or liqueur will amp up the flavors in this- if you start with good butter and good jam, you'll be all set.


  • 1 cup + 2 TBS flour (5.75 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (1.75 ounces sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter, cold, cut into 6 chunks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond or other extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp citrus zest (optional)
  • 1 cup jam
  • 1 TBS liqueur, citrus juice or water (i.e. Amaretto, Frangelico, lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup nuts, roughly 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In food processor, buzz flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to together with a couple pulses.
  • Add butter pieces, and buzz, using 9 or 10 pulses, until crumbly
  • In a small liquid measuring cup, beat together egg, extract(s) and zests.
  • With motor running, pour liquid into food processor, until incorporated, but do not let it become a ball. Do not over-process.
  • Remove pastry from food processor and dump into tart pan. Remove 1/3 cup of pastry and set aside.
  • Press pastry into tart pan evenly.
  • Combine jam with 1 TBS liquid of choice
  • Spread jam onto pastry in tart pan
  • Sprinkle top with reserved pastry, crumbled, and the roughly chopped nuts. (see below for photo before baking)
  • Bake crostata for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let cool completely, then remove outer ring from pan, and cut into wedges.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Grilled Lamb Chops with Broken Olive Tapenade

Every year my mother and I split a whole lamb from Brookfield Farm in Walpole, NH. We divvy up the various packages of chops and ground lamb. She keep both legs for Easter, and I get both racks, because one rack is perfect dinner for two. Honestly, I really do get the better end of this bargain, because I am of course at Easter enjoying the roast legs! Although since I do my own frenching of the racks, there is just a little bit of extra labor in involved there. But the chops may be the best part. I enjoy the simplicity of cooking some up for simple, but crazy tasty dinners. For blade or shoulder and round bone chops- I usually braise those. But loin chops were made for fast grilling, and the wonderful flavor of lamb turns a quick grilling night into a special meal quite quickly.

So here's a great recipe to kick off spring grilling in a fancy way. You can make the tapenade in advance. You can also set the chops to marinating early in the day, well before grilling. And honestly, even though at least a couple hours in the marinade is nice- it's not going to ruin the dish if you're only putting the chops in the marinade while your charcoal gets going and you're chopping olives. This is a pretty forgiving dish, except for the actual grilling, when you need to pay attention and be swift.

For the tapenade, be sure to choose a sturdy, but not too woody green olive. I used castelvetranos, but picholines or manzanillas would also be great choices. It's called a "broken" olive tapenade, because the olives are chopped, but not pulverized into a paste like more common tapenades. You may think jarred olives aren't as flavorful as the ones you can get at your local store's olive bar. I buy olives in plastic tubs from the refrigerator section, from olive bars and in jars. Depending on the brand and store you're at, it can be a toss up as to what's best. I keep jarred Pastene brand olives in my pantry and fridge, because it's nice to have them around for quick dinners or emergency snacks for unexpected guests. If you have some leftover tapenade- it's great in a grilled cheese!

Serves 4 


For the lamb and marinade 
  • 8-12 loin chops total (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
For the Broken Olive Tapenade
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • pinch red pepper flake
  • 2-3 TBS parsley, minced
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme, finely minced

  • Combine lamb chops and marinade ingredients in a baking dish. Let sit at room temperature for up to an hour before grilling, or refrigerate overnight, taking out of the fridge an hour before grilling.
  • Combine all tapenade ingredients. Set aside.
  • Prepare your grill for direct cooking, building a medium hot fire, or setting your gas grill to medium-high.
  • Oil grill gates, then grill chops for 3-5 minutes a side, until reaching an internal temperature of about 120 degrees. This will give you medium-rare chops, which is the ideal temperature for lamb loin chops. You can cook them longer if you prefer, but they will be a little tough.
  • Serve chops with tapenade and enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Smoked Salmon (Lox)

Last Christmas was to be our first one as a family of three waking up in our home on Christmas morning. We spent a great deal of time planning the day's menu, which starred a rabbit guazzetto upon polenta studded with taleggio for Christmas dinner. But the Christmas breakfast was to consist of homemade seeded rye bagels with smoked salmon that we would cure and smoke ourselves.

You see, last spring, Matt built a cold-smoker. I laughed at him when he explained the contraption he was rigging up using a Weber Smokey Joe and a bargain-basement domed smoker and a dryer vent tube. In fact, I laughed a lot. That was wrong of me. Very wrong. For the grand total of about $20 in parts, we had a cold smoker. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, Matt smoked cheeses, nuts, and lots of grains for brewing beer. As the weather became colder, we turned our eyes to cold smoking some salmon for our Christmas breakfast spread.

First some terminology clarification was in order when I started my research. Lox (often called Nova Lox), Gravlax, Smoked Salmon- what's the difference? Lox and Gravlax are both cured salmon. The Swedes do Gravlax with a particular spicing including juniper berries and dill and is unsmoked. Lox is cured, then cold-smoked. You can hot-smoke salmon of course, but you will get an entirely different product that way- it's cooked salmon with the wonderful smoky flavor of your hardwood of choice- but is not particularly well suited for application upon a bagel.

After researching the bejesus out of various lox recipes, some that called for ridiculous processes and precious little salt (curing is preserving here folks, you need more than a 1/4 cup of salt for a pound of salmon!)...I called my best friend and chef genius Kiran. His advice, combined with my real-life-not-a-commercial-kitchen-with-a-prep-cook-situation (I do have a drunk monkey toddler wandering through my kitchen on the regular) along with what I had already learned from my weeks of recipe scouring created the process and recipe I offer here.

Is it traditional? No, not really.

Does it take 3 days? Yes, but you're not really actively doing much to it. (Don't be deterred by the many steps listed below, I've been thorough in describing the steps, but nothing is terribly complicated)

Is it ridiculously scrumptious, silky, properly seasoned, and worthy of a holiday breakfast or brunch? You bet your bippy it is.

It should go without saying that the better quality salmon you start with, the better quality lox you will end up with. It should perhaps also go without saying, that you also want quality fish for safety reasons. Also, for food safety, you should only cold smoke fish if you can maintain an ambient temperature of below freezing. Which although it is April in New England- we're still able to achieve that by smoking at night. This will probably (hopefully?!) be the last cold smoke of fish until next fall for us.

***No cold smoker, weather already too warm even at night to cold smoke fish, or don't want to wait until next winter? Follow recipe up through rinsing and drying step and then let sit in fridge for about a day before slicing and eating. Will still be very tasty!***

  • 2 TBS fennel seed
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1.5 TBS cumin seed
  • 1/2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 pounds kosher salt
  • 1 pound granulated white sugar
  • 2 pound filet of salmon (you will want to buy a filet that weighs a 1/4-1/2 pound over 2 pounds, because you will trim off the side to make a more uniform piece- see photo below- I use the trimmed piece to make salmon cakes)
  • Place fennel seed, star anise, cumin seed and peppercorns in a coffee grinder and buzz a few times into seeds are cracked and broken up, but do not grind too much. You want bits and pieces, not powder. You can also do this st with a mortar and pestle, it's just much faster with a grinder.
  • In a large bowl combine the broken/cracked spices, salt and sugar and mix well.
  • Lay out your salmon filet on the board and trim away the side piece that fans out, so you have a filet of more uniform thickness all around, a solid rectangle.
  • Prepare a half sheet pan in the following way:
    • Lay out one long piece of plastic wrap lengthwise, and two pieces of plastic wrap going the other way, making a sling.
    • Lay a rectangle of parchment paper atop plastic wrap sling.
  • Pour a bed of the salt mixture (more than a third, less than half) on parchment paper.
  • Place salmon filet, skin side down on salt mixture.
  • Pour remaining salt mixture atop salmon, covering evenly.
  • Tightly pull plastic wrap sling around the salt covered filet, first one way then the other
  • Wrap two more pieces of plastic wrap, one each way, again pulling tightly. Place salmon back onto sheet pan, skin side/parchment side down.
  • Place a second sheet pan atop the tightly wrapped salmon, placing weight atop the second sheet pan, and place whole contraption in fridge. (I used a few cans of tomatoes and a stoneware baker as weights, but anything heavy that distributes weight evenly over whole filet will do.)
  • 24 hours later, flip salmon over, replace weights
  • 24 hours later again (total 48 hours of curing), open package up over sheet pan for easy clean up and remove salmon from cure. The salmon will have shrunken some, and be very firm to the touch.
  • Under cold water, gently rinse salt mixture away from salmon's flesh and skin (there will likely be a few pieces of the cracked spices that are very much adhered to the salmon's flesh, that's ok).
  • Thoroughly dry salmon with paper towels. If ready to smoke, proceed with smoking instructions below. If you are not smoking the salmon at all or not smoking for a few hours, place salmon on a rack set into a pan, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for a few hours until fully dry, flesh will be a touch tacky. Then seal in a ziplock bag. Proceed with smoking instructions below or consume within a few days, or cut filet up into smaller pieces and freeze, well wrapped.
  • Prepare your cold smoker using a fruitwood, like apple or cherry. 
  • Cold smoke salmon for 90 minutes. (photo of salmon on smoker without lid for illustrative purposes only- you need the lid on through the smoking process!)
  • Place salmon in a ziplock bag or two (the smoke aroma will be intense at first, and you don't want your whole fridge to smell smoky). 
  • Allow salmon to rest for a day to let smoke mellow.
  • Slice and eat within a week, or freeze in small portions. Thaw in fridge overnight. I like to freeze in 4 ounce portions, unsliced, to maintain texture. 4 ounces is generally enough to cover two bagels.
***Slicing tips: Use a carving knife, with a very sharp edge. With knife at an angle almost parallel to salmon, slice slowly with a back and forth motion to remove paper-thin slices.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Beef Stew/Ragu with Pickles and Sausage

Last winter, our go-to stew was a delicate veal stew with mushrooms and sage, which paired nicely with our delicate winter.  This winter, in expectation of a more "New England" winter, our go-to stew will be this one with a touch of smokiness from bacon fat, a sweet and sour component from pickles and capers, and a finish of red wine vinegar to give just the right amount of brightness and a little tang.

For the pickles, I use golden glow, which my mom makes. If you don't pickle, look in speciality sections for this old fashioned style of pickles, which is peeled cucumber, red and green bell peppers, onions, and has a sweet and sour flavor.  You could I presume use cornichons or dill pickles, but you will miss out on the sweetness the golden glow adds.  The other key ingredient here is herbs de Provence, which although there is only a 1/2 tsp, adds a powerful herbal note in support of the other strong flavors. I like Penzeys, but as long as your blend is not powdered from age, any high quality blend will work here. There are various ways to make your own herbs de Provence blend, but if you keep dried marjoram or savory as standards in your pantry, you probably have herbs de Provence too.

Be sure to plan ahead to simmer the dish for at least an hour and a half, preferably two hours, so that the beef becomes suitably tender.  Unlike some stews that have large chunks of vegetables with the chunks of meat, this stew has chunks of beef only, and the rest of the stew is saucy.   In this way, I guess you could call this a ragu.  But who cares, it tastes good no matter what you call it. The first couple times I made this, I used standard sized stewing chunks, which are about 2 or 3 inch hunks of beef.  I've decided that the only utensils you want here are a fork and a piece of bread, so I cut the beef chunks into generous 1" pieces, that can fit on a fork.

If you don't have bacon fat, just use olive oil.  However, if you don't have bacon fat, I must ask....why???? Next time you make bacon, drain off the fat and keep in a glass jar with a tight lid in the fridge.  You can add new fat to the same jar, scooping out what you need.  Great for dishes that would benefit from an extra smoky boost, like this one!

As with most stews...even better the next day.

  • 3 TBS bacon fat
  • 4 ounces of sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, like chuck, cut into generous 1" chunks
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 1 medium onion (about 1 cup), chopped
  • 1 medium carrot (about 2/3 cup), finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery (about 2/3 cup), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden glow pickles, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 TBS capers, drained and well rinsed, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves (about 2 tsp) minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried herbs de Provence
  • 2/3 cup red wine (like a young pinot noir or chianti)
  • One 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1-2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • Heat bacon fat over medium heat in a large dutch oven.
  • Add sausage to pan, and cook until lightly brown, breaking up into small pieces with wooden spoon as it cooks.  Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from pan and set aside.
  • Raise heat to medium high, and working in batches to allow room from deep browning, cook the beef. Just before placing in pan, dredge beef chunks in flour, shaking off excess. (do not dredge beef chunks until just before placing in pan, or the flour will soak in, and you won't get a good crust)
  • As each batch of beef browns, remove from pan and set aside with sausage.  If your pan gets too dry in subsequent batches or before the next step, add more bacon fat or a splash of olive oil, and allow to heat before continuing.
  • Ensure there is at least a TBS of fat in the pan, and then add onion to pan and lower heat to medium. 
  • Cook onion for a about 5 minutes, until softened.
  • Add carrot, celery, pickles, capers, garlic and herbs de Provence, cook stirring regularly for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened
  • Add red wine, raise heat to medium high, and simmer the wine, deglazing the pan.  Simmer for 1 minute
  • Add tomatoes, rinse can with water and add half a can's worth of water.
  • Return beef and sausage to pan, stir to submerge into sauce.
  • Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and simmer for 1.5-2 hours.
  • When beef is tender and sauce thickened, remove from heat, and stir in 1 to 2 TBS red wine vinegar.
  • Serve with bread or over pasta.