pressure cooker spaghetti and meatballs

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Making spaghetti and meatballs in the pressure cooker is the ultimate one-pot meal. Aside from the prep (20 minutes, because I like to grind my own meat), cooking took just 5 minutes and the rest period was 10 minutes. Quite easy! I liked the way the pasta turned out. The sauce saturated the pasta and made it juicy and flavorful. I would have liked more sauce though, and will increase the amount of tomatoes the next time I make this recipe. Of course I increased the garlic. One can never have too much garlic.

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs (adapted from NY Times Cooking)

Spaghetti Sauce:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 basil sprigs, plus more thinly sliced for garnish
8 oz spaghetti, broken in half
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Meatballs:
1 pound (500 g) ground meat (beef, pork, veal, or turkey)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced

In the pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot. Stir in the garlic, red pepper, and black pepper, and sauté on medium high heat for 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and basil sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes on low heat.

Make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine meat, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and garlic. Roll into 1 ¼-2 inch balls. This recipe makes about 12 meatballs.

Pour 1 cup water in the pot with the sauce, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Scatter uncooked spaghetti over the sauce. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil over spaghetti, stirring gently. Top with meatballs.

Cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Manually release the pressure, then remove the cover to separate the spaghetti. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan. At this point, the pasta will be almost but not quite cooked al dente. Replace the top of the pressure cooker, loosely, and let sit for 3-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and spaghetti is al dente but not mushy. Serve with thinly sliced basil and more Parmesan, if desired.

I served this dish with a simple tomato-cucumber-pepper salad and garlic toast.

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jelly doughnuts

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Blueberry Jelly and Plain Sugared Doughnuts

I’ve been experimenting with yeast-y things like doughnuts–because they’re fun. I found this recipe from NY Times Cooking, and it looked straightforward enough. However, my first batch was a disaster because I forgot the eggs. So I started over with another batch but could not get the dough to clean the sides of the mixing bowl. It was horribly sticky. I ended up adding 10 tablespoons flour, 2 at a time,  to the mixer and when it started to come together, dumped it out onto a floured board where I added 2 more tablespoons of flour because it was still unmanageable. I was sure the doughnuts were inedible, so I was pleasantly surprised when they turned out soft, pillowy, and tender. I made a few with blueberry jelly–it was all I had in the pantry. Feeling bolder, I made a third batch and experimented with two different fillings: young coconut cream and spiced jujube compote. I still have to work on my technique; getting an even color in frying and making fillings that are strong enough in flavor to stand out. This is a work in progress!

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Reading from top to bottom: doughnuts filled with young coconut cream and spiced jujube compote

Jelly Doughnuts (adapted from Mark Bittman at NY Times Cooking)

Yield: 24 doughnuts
Time: 3 hours

1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
8 tablespoons (110 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup caster sugar plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cups (544 g) all purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying, plus more to oil the bowl
1/4 cup granulated sugar for coating the fried doughnuts

Special equipment: a candy thermometer, piping bag(s)

In a heatproof measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave for 50 seconds until it reaches a temperature of 110˚F. Pour warm milk into the workbowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar on the surface of the milk. Stir lightly and let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5-7 minutes.

To the yeast mixture, add the eggs, melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and all the flour. Fit the dough hook on the mixer and mix the yeast-flour mixture until combined, and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t do this, and the dough feels very sticky (when touched some dough comes away on your fingertip), sprinkle 2 tablespoons flour on the dough, and continue beating until smooth. Continue adding flour 2 tablespoons at a time if the dough is still too sticky and won’t pull away from the sides of the bowl. I added up to 10 tablespoons without detriment. Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading the dough and incorporating up to 2 additional tablespoons of flour. The dough should be smooth and shiny. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Baker’s Note: Mark Bittman never said how long to knead the dough in the mixer. That would be 8-10 minutes. For the second batch, I only put in 6 additional tablespoons of flour but the texture wasn’t as soft and pillowy as the previous batch when I added 12 tablespoons flour. After eight minutes of beating and 6 tablespoons of flour, the dough was still sticky but it was beginning to come together in a ball. That was when I stopped the machine and turned out the dough onto a floured board. It was still very sticky. I think I should have kneaded it by hand a few more times until it became smooth and shiny. Always go by how the dough looks and feels!

While the dough is proofing in the bowl, prepare the fillings (recipes to follow) and line two baking trays with parchment paper that has been lightly sprinkled with flour. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and sprinkle a little flour on top. Because I have a small work surface, I cut the dough ball in half and put one half back in the bowl covered with plastic. I rolled out the remaining half to a 1/2 inch thickness. I used a 4 inch cookie cutter to cut out 8 circles. Don’t twist the cutter because you want to get a straight edge for the doughnuts to puff up when they fry. Gently knead any scraps together to form a ball, and let it rest, covered with plastic, for 30 minutes before cutting out more dough circles. These re-kneaded scraps will not have the height of the first roll-out of doughnuts.

Baker’s Note: Try and get as many doughnuts as possible from the first roll.

Put the cut dough circles on the prepared baking sheets so that there is at least an inch of space between each circle. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they are slightly puffed up, about 30 minutes. Check, and if they are not risen, let them rest 10-15 minutes more.

Fifteen minutes before the dough has completed its second rise, heat the oil. Prepare a baking tray or a large platter layered with paper towels to drain the hot doughnuts. Fill a shallow bowl with 1/4 cup sugar to coat the hot doughnuts. Prepare 3-4 loaf pans for stacking the sugared doughnuts.

Baker’s Note: I re-used the oil from the first batch of doughnuts. The oil did not fry up the second batch of doughnuts as well as the first because there was flour in it. I also got more blisters and uneven browning. Using new oil for each batch is worth it.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot (I used a wok) add about 2 1/2 to 3 inches of oil and heat over medium-high heat to 350˚F. The temperature is important. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the doughnuts will soak up more oil. Use a metal spatula to lift the delicate risen doughnuts from the parchment and slip them into the hot oil. Depending on the size of your pot, add 4-6 doughnuts at a time. They should not crowd each other. After 45 seconds to a minute, when the bottoms are deep golden, flip the doughnuts over to cook the other side for 30 seconds. When the doughnuts are golden brown on the second side, use a skimmer or a spider to remove them from the hot oil to the paper-towel lined platter/baking tray to cool.

When the doughnuts have cooled for about a minute, coat them in sugar and stack them in a loaf pan to await filling. You want to sugar the doughnuts while they are still hot so the sugar adheres to the surfaces.

Baker’s Note: After frying a batch of doughnuts, pause to let the oil come back up to temperature. While the oil is heating up again, sugar the doughnuts.

Fill the doughnuts about 10 minutes after they have been coated with sugar, when they will be cool enough to handle. Make sure the fillings are at room temperature. To fill the doughnuts, use a chopstick or a plastic straw to make a hole in the side of the fried doughnut. Wiggle it around slightly to enlarge the hole, but be careful not to pierce through the doughnut. Snip off the tip of the piping bag and fill. Insert the tip into the hole and squeeze the piping bag gently until some of the filling just oozes out the top of the filled doughnut.

Baker’s Note: If you haven’t got a small round icing tip for filling the doughnuts, some people improvise with a two-inch tip of a plastic straw. What you want is something stiff to insert into the very top of the doughnut to fill it. The tip doesn’t have to go all the way inside. Stack the filled doughnuts upright back in the loaf pan to keep the filling from dripping out and letting the doughnut finish cooling. I did not use any icing tip for the second batch of doughnuts. I found the filled piping bag was stiff enough; just squeeze the filling from the top to the tip. Of course, there were drips from the cut end, but there were drips from the tip too.

Suggested Fillings:

Baker’s Note: To save time, I make the fillings a day ahead and keep them in the refrigerator. When I am ready to make doughnuts, I bring the fillings up to room temperature.

Jelly

The easiest filling of all to use is a jar of jam, jelly, or preserves. Spoon the jam, jelly, or preserves into a small saucepan to heat until it becomes a thick liquid. If using jam or preserves that have fruit pieces in them, strain the heated liquid and discard the fruit pieces. Spoon the thickened liquid into a piping bag and let it rest on a plate to cool to room temperature. Use a tie clip to cover the top so the filling won’t spill out. Don’t snip the end of the bag until ready to fill the doughnuts.

Young Coconut Cream (adapted from Food Network)

500 ml coconut milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coconut jelly from a young coconut

Add coconut milk, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Reduce heat to medium low.

In a small bowl, add the cornstarch. Pour in the coconut water and combine to make a slurry. Whisk slurry into coconut milk mixture. Allow the mixture to reduce and thicken to the consistency of yogurt. In a word, it should be thick, not runny. The longer you cook the mixture the more it will thicken so watch carefully until the liquid reaches the desired consistency. Add the chopped coconut and scrape into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic touches the surface of the cream because you don’t want a skin to form. Chill in the refrigerator to room temperature. Spoon the cooled cream to fill a piping bag halfway and clip the top closed. Let it rest in a plate until ready to pipe. You may have leftover cream. Chill and eat leftovers for dessert! The Hawaiians call this coconut pudding haupia.

Spiced Jujube Compote (adapted from Real Simple)

4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced jujubes (putsa in Thai)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Pulse the jujubes in a food processor to get a coarse lumpy consistency. Put all ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring and mashing the fruit, until the jujubes have broken down and the mixture is thick, 8-10 minutes. It should look like applesauce. Stir in the vinegar. Transfer the compote to a bowl. Let cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator to room temperature, then fill a piping bag halfway with the cooled compote

scallion pancake

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This is the savory pancake that is served in Chinese restaurants. It is so simple to make! The ingredients are flour, salt, hot water, oil, and scallions (green onions). The dough is filled with scallions, rolled out, and fried until crisp. It is sliced into wedges and served with a vinegar-soy dipping sauce. Delicious.

Scallion Pancakes (adapted from Food 52 and Allrecipes)
(Makes 2 pancakes)

Active time: about 40 minutes
Resting time: 2 hours

For the Dough:

2 cups (240 g) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt (1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt)
3/4 cup hot water (150˚F)

For the Oil Mixture
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

For the Pancakes
1 cup scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (save 1-2 tablespoons for dipping sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed.

Combine bread flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the hot water. Mix together with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough.

Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until sticky but relatively smooth and elastic, dusting with a minimal amount of flour, if needed. Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic on the work surface. Let dough rest for 2 hours.

Mix vegetable oil, sesame oil, and flour together in a skillet over medium heat until starting to bubble, about 3 minutes. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Unwrap dough and cut in half with a dough scraper. Cover the second half with plastic for later. Roll out half into a cylinder and flatten with your fingers. Use a rolling pin to roll out dough into a rectangular shape about 1/8 inch thick, 12-15 inches long, and 4 inches wide. The secret is to roll it as thin as possible. Flip dough over and dust lightly with flour halfway through. If the dough springs back, cover it with plastic or a clean kitchen towel and let it rest a few minutes.

Paint the surface of the dough with the oil mixture until just covered, leaving 1/4 inch of space around the edges. Sprinkle evenly about 2-3 tablespoons scallion on top. Roll up dough tightly to seal in the scallions, starting with the long side nearest you. Pull the opposite edge over the top once you have reached it.

Start coiling one end of the dough inward toward the middle; wrap the opposite end around the coil to finish, tucking the tip under the bottom. Dust the coil lightly with flour and roll dough out into a pancake about 1/4 inch thick, rolling from the center outward. Turn the pancake one quarter turn and repeat. Flip pancake over, lightly flouring the surface, and roll and repeat. You should get a pancake that’s about 9” in diameter. Repeat process with remaining dough, oil, and green onions to make the second pancake. Stack with wax paper between the pancakes until ready to fry.

Heat vegetable oil in a 10 inch heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Add 1 pancake; lower heat to medium. Cook until crispy and browned, about 4 minutes per side. You don’t want it to brown too fast or the inside will not cook. The outside will be crisp and brown. When both sides are browned, slice the pancake into wedges. When cooked, the inside will separate into honeycomb-like layers. Repeat with the second pancake. Cut into wedges. Serve hot with dipping sauce (recipe follows).

Dipping Sauce for Scallion Pancakes

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste
Ginger, grated, to taste
1-2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced

Mix vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add hot sauce to taste. Grate some ginger to taste. Combine with about 1-2 tablespoons scallions.

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How to cure codfish at home

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Home-Cured Salted Codfish

Salted codfish or bacalao is essential to Jamaican dishes like Ackee and Saltfish and Saltfish Fritters. It goes without saying that bacalao for home cooking is difficult to come by in Bangkok. So I found the directions for curing codfish on The Spruce Eats. I couldn’t find sea salt in large quantities for curing. I did find it eventually, but only after I had bought 5 kg of iodized table salt (43 baht at Makro). I found frozen codfish fillets, also at Makro, for 160 baht. So for 200 baht (about US$6.00) I can make my own bacalao as compared to buying it for US$12.00 per pound. I also read online that curing fish with iodized table salt might brown the fish and give it a bitter taste. But I decided to try it anyway with just 2 fillets. To my surprise, they came out just fine. Here’s how I did it:

2 frozen codfish fillets, thawed
Sea salt (I used iodized table salt but a medium grain sea salt or kosher salt is recommended)

Special equipment
9×13 inch glass dish (can use stainless steel. Do not use plastic)
Cheesecloth
Wire rack
Rimmed baking tray

Rinse and thoroughly pat dry the thawed fillets. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of salt in the bottom of the dish. Place the fish fillets in a single layer on top of the salt, making sure they are not touching. Cover completely with another layer of salt.

Cook’s Note: The Spruce Eats allows that a second layer of fish can be added on top of the first layer. Make sure the second layer is completely covered in salt.

Cover the dish loosely with a clean kitchen towel to absorb odors, and place the whole thing in the refrigerator for 48 hours. The fillets will give off a fishy smell but will not smell spoiled. After 48 hours, the fillets were dry, even flatter from the loss of moisture, had lost about 25% of their length and about 10-15% of their width. Discard the salt.

Rinse the fillets and pat dry with a clean dish towel. Wrap each fillet individually in cheesecloth and set them in a single layer on the wire rack set on top of the baking tray or dish. Return to the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks to dry and stiffen up.

After 1 week, the fillets became dry and stiff. There was no moisture or smell because the salt had drawn away all the water from the fillets. The cheesecloth remained dry the whole week. The fillets turned white and stiff.

Wrap each fillet in waxed paper and then in foil. Label and date. Store in the refrigerator 3 months or up to 1 year in the freezer.

Before cooking you need to remove the excess salt. Soak the fillets in water for 24 hours, changing the water at least twice. My mother always boiled a piece of salted codfish for 3-5 minutes to remove the salt.

To test the result, I then cooked one of the fillets with tomatoes, onion, and ackee. The saltfish was too thin, I think, and lacked the “meatiness” necessary for the dish. It wasn’t bitter at all. The next time I cure fish, I will use a thicker fillet, and experiment with a different whitefish such as pollock, haddock, or flounder.

 

Christophe’s Apple Tart

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After watching Stephanie Jaworski of Joy of Baking on YouTube bake a French apple tart, I noted her recipe and Christophe’s were very similar. These French apple tarts start with a buttery pâte brisée, then a layer of apple sauce, and finishing with a pretty arrangement of apples on top. I picked up some tips from Stephanie: brushing the crust and the apples with apricot glaze, and cooking down the apples will make them easier to arrange on top of the apple sauce. I decided it was worth it to revisit Christophe’s tarte aux pommes. I liked that recipe because it is not overly sweet and even with the extra steps from Joy of Baking added in, this tart is still so simple to make. It looks like you spent hours on it, but with a few simple tricks, you can make it look so professional!

Christophe’s Tarte aux Pommes
Makes 1 x 7-inch tart

For the Pâte Brisée:
200g all purpose flour (Type 55)
100g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold water

Apple sauce
2 small apples, peeled, cored, chopped (recommend: Granny Smith or Gala)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla or a dash of cinnamon, optional

Tart
3 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon apricot jelly
1/2 tablespoon rum

Preheat the oven 400˚F/ 200˚C.

Prepare the pâte brisée. Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter in small pieces. Mix in cold water, a tablespoon at a time, or just enough to make a ball, and let rest about 30 minutes in refrigerator wrapped in plastic to firm up the dough. Heat the apricot jelly in a small pot until just warm. Remove from heat. Stir in rum. Set aside.

Make the apple sauce. In a small saucepan put 2 apples cut up into small pieces with the sugar, 4 tablespoons water, cinnamon or vanilla (if using), and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes on low heat (8 minutes in an oven-proof casserole in the microwave), crushing the apples as they cook to make a thick applesauce. Set aside to cool. Makes about 1/2 cup apple sauce.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut up the remaining 3 apples into thin slices. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and a dash of cinnamon, stirring to blend. Add the apples to the pan and cook until the apples are just wilted. Drain in a colander. Set apples aside to cool.

Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator and roll it out onto a lightly floured board into a 1/2 inch thick disk 8 inches in diameter. Roll up on the rolling pin. Place dough circle in the tart pan, rolling it out and pressing the dough into the bottom and sides. Repair any tears with extra dough pieces. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork.

Line the pastry shell with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights. Blind-bake the pastry shell 10 minutes at 200˚C. Reduce heat to 175˚C. Remove the parchment and pie weights and return to the oven and bake the pastry shell 5-10 minutes or until the bottom is light golden. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Brush the bottom with apricot mixture. Reserve any leftover apricot mixture.

Spread the cooled apple sauce over the base of the tart. Arrange the apple slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles on top of the apple sauce. If the rim of the crust is browned, cover it with foil to prevent it from over-browning. Bake 30 minutes or until the apples are slightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven. Remove the foil collar, if using. Brush the apples with the remaining apricot mixture to glaze them.

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

Almost-Everything Bagels

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I do miss New York bagels.

That being said, I decided to try Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe for Everything Bagels. I am missing one ingredient: poppy seeds, which I could not find in Bangkok, even at the upscale gourmet markets. So I substituted black sesame seeds instead, hence the name “almost-everything bagels.” The bagels turned out chewy but not as dense as a New York bagel. But they will do when I have a yearning for an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese.

Almost Everything Bagels (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Bagel Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water (100˚F)
2 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 cups (480g) bread flour
1 tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar (I used white sugar because I ran out of brown sugar)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil to coat the bowl

Water bath
2 quarts water
1/4 cup honey

Almost Everything Bagel Topping
2 1/2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1/2-1 tablespoon coarse salt, like Maldonado’s sea salt flakes
Egg wash: 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Prepare the dough:

Put yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the warm water on top. Lightly whisk together. Loosely cover with a kitchen towel and let stand 5 minutes until the surface becomes frothy.

To the yeast mixture, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Fit the dough hook on the stand mixer. Beat flour mixture on Speed 1 for 2 minutes. Sally writes the dough will be stiff and may look dry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough 4-5 minutes. Form into a ball. The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Grease bottom and sides of a large bowl (I used the mixing bowl) with a tablespoon oil. Put the dough ball in the bowl, turning to coat evenly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Drape a kitchen towel over the top. Let stand at room temperature 60-90 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Shape the dough:

When the dough is ready, punch down the dough to release air bubbles. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Using a bench scraper, cut the dough in half, then cut each piece in half again until you get 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Using your thumbs, poke a hole in the center of the ball and turn the bagel in your hands to smooth and shape it. Loosely cover the bagels with a kitchen towel while you prepare the water bath.

Preheat oven 425˚F/218˚C.

Heat to boiling 2 quarts of water. Stir in the honey until it dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high. Pick up each bagel carefully then gently slip into the water 2 to 4 at a time, making sure the bagels have enough room. Cook 1 minute then turn over the bagels and cook for another minute on the second side. Use a spider to remove the bagels from the water bath to a tray lined with parchment. Let cool slightly or until just cool enough to handle.

Baking the bagels:

Make the almost-everything bagel seasoning in a medium bowl. Brush the top and sides of the bagel with the egg wash and dip the brushed tops and sides in the seasoning. Place each bagel, topping side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through baking. Remove the bagels from oven and cool in the pan 15 minutes, then place each bagel on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serving the bagels:

Split the bagel in half horizontally. Lightly toast and butter each half, or make a spread of cream cheese and scallion. Yum.

Sally’s Pizza

I’ve been looking for a good pizza dough that’s easy to make. This is due to my fear of yeast. But I’m getting over my fear;  it hasn’t been easy, especially when the dough is too sticky then I panic. How much more flour can I add without making the thing taste like cardboard?! My latest fail: I tried a famous no-knead pizza dough (it shall be nameless) that promised to be easy but it came out tasting like cardboard. So trash that. This recipe seemed less risky; it uses less flour and only made two pies, so if I failed it wouldn’t be such a terrible waste. They turned out great. Andy pronounced this recipe a keeper, and I liked how the pizza went from prep to table in an hour.

The first pizza is an attempt to use Thai ingredients. I had some kor moo yang –boneless roast pork neck with a thin ring of fat around the edges–combined with a basic margherita style pizza. The second pizza is a riff on Sally’s garlic pesto and sausage pizza. I used homemade basil pesto with homemade Italian “sausage.” I just ground up some pork loin and added spices to it to make sausage.

Sally’s Pizza Crust (adapted from a flatbread recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Makes 2 10-inch pizzas
Prep time: 1 hour
Baking time: 10-15 minutes

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (can used active dry yeast)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup warm water (100˚F)
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon for brushing the dough
1 teaspoon salt

Place sugar and yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Pour warm water on top. Whisk gently to combine. Loosely cover with a clean kitchen towel and let stand 5 minutes. The surface of the mixture will become frothy.

Fit the dough hook on the stand mixer and on Speed 1, add the flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt to the yeast mixture. Beat on low speed (Speed 1)  for 1 minute or until the dough is thick and shaggy. Transfer the dough and any bits of loose flour to a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 2 minutes until it all comes together and is smooth. You may add 1-3 tablespoons of flour, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky to handle. Make a smooth ball.

Oil the bottom and sides of a large bowl (to save washing up I used the same mixing bowl). Put the dough ball in the bowl, turning to coat the whole thing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and drape a towel over the top. Let sit 35-45 minutes at room temperature to rest. It should double in size.

Preheat the oven to 475˚F/225˚C (my oven’s highest setting)

As the dough is rising, prepare the toppings. Here are some suggestions:

Kor Moo Yang (Thai roast pork)
1 cup kor moo yang, thinly sliced in slivers
1/4 of a medium onion, thinly sliced,
1 large fresh tomato seeded, sliced, lightly salted and drained
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese.

Sausage and Pesto
1/3 cup homemade basil pesto,
1/3 cup homemade Italian sausage, crumbled, cooked, and drained of any oil/moisture
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil for garnish

Margherita
1 large tomato, seeded, sliced, lightly salted, and drained
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil for garnish

Spinach and Bacon
1 cup chopped spinach, lightly cooked so that it is wilted, then drain any extra water
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
6-8 slices bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Poke the dough ball to release any air. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. With a bench scraper, divide the dough in two. Working with one half at a time, shape it and stretch it into a circle or a square—it doesn’t have to be perfect. It should look rustic. (Mine looked like Australia.) Repeat with the second piece of dough. Put each pie on a baking tray lined with parchment.

Lightly prick the tops of the pie dough with a fork. Brush the tops with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil then add the toppings. I like to start with a layer of cheese, slightly more than ½ cup, then add the other toppings and finish with a sprinkle of cheese on top. Except for the pesto, that should go down first; spread it around with the back of a spoon. Top with cheese and sausage then more cheese.

Bake in the oven on the top rack 10-15 minutes. Turn the pan around halfway through the cooking time. Watch to see that the crust doesn’t burn. Remove from oven. Garnish with basil chiffonade if desired.

Portuguese fish stew

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It’s after the holidays yet we’re still eating out, celebrating the new year with friends and family who have come to visit. Not so good for one’s waistline! I found this recipe in my collection from the Food Network and adapted it here. It turned out to be lightly spiced and filling without being heavy, perfect for a light dinner after a heavy lunch.

Portuguese Fish Stew (adapted from Food Network)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons pimenton dulce (Spanish paprika) or smoked paprika
1 small onion thinly sliced
1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2-1 cup water
2 pounds white fish, cut into 1 inch chunks
Salt and pepper
Slices of multigrain bread, lightly toasted

Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok over medium-high heat. Add bay leaves and paprika, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add onion, peppers, tomatoes, garlic and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until the peppers are slightly softened.

Add 1/2 cup water and reduce heat to medium-low. If you think the stew needs more water, add up to a 1/2 cup more. In a large bowl, season the fish chunks with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Nestle the fish chunks on top of the tomato-pepper mixture. Cover and simmer 5-7 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle the top with the remaining cilantro. Serve each bowl with a slice of bread.

Fresh jujube cake

 

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Our back-door neighbors gifted us a bag of jujubes last week. A jujube or Chinese apple (putsa in Thai) is a small green oval-shaped fruit. Inside, the flesh is white, lightly sweet, and crisp surrounding a small brown pit. I decided to bake them into a cake by adapting a recipe from Bon Appétit for German apple cake. I had made a German apple cake last week. I liked that recipe; it was easy and though it required time to prep (peeling and cutting apples) it was definitely delicious, and I was sure I could use jujubes instead of apples the second go-round. There were 13 jujubes in the bag and I only needed 6 for the cake. I cut and peeled them all up anyway. Now, to cut a jujube open takes some effort.  I made a slice vertically all the way around the fruit, gave the two halves a firm twist (or two), and pulled them apart. Then I gouged out the pit and peeled the two halves. I tossed the jujube halves in a sugar-spice mixture so that I didn’t need to glaze them after baking.

Jujube Cake (adapted from Bon Appétit)
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup plain fine breadcrumbs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons apricot preserves

Jujubes
6 fresh green jujubes, cut in half, peeled, and seeded
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
A dash each nutmeg, ginger powder, allspice powder, clove powder

Unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Preheat oven 350˚F/175˚C.

Butter one 9 inch round springform pan. Sprinkle bottom and sides with breadcrumbs and tap out the excess. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, place the cut jujubes and toss with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup flour. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg, vanilla, and butter. Using a fork, combine the ingredients to form a sticky ball. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly to the edges of the dish. Spread apricot preserves on the surface with an offset spatula.

Take a jujube half from the bowl and carefully make crosswise cuts in the rounded end of the fruit, just like hasselback potatoes. Don’t cut all the way through. If there is any juice in the bowl, discard. Continue making cuts in the remaining jujube halves. Starting about ¼ inch from the edge lightly press a cut jujube half in the surface of the dough. Continue filling in the spaces, sometimes cutting the jujube half to fit, as pictured.

Bake 55-60 minutes rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing into squares. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

 

sunday night pizza

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Making pizza is easy. It’s the pizza dough that’s tricky especially if you want to make it from scratch. To make a pizza dough from scratch requires planning. You have to set aside 2 1/2 to 3 hours to make the dough. I liked this pizza dough recipe because the instructions are methodical and clear. This recipe is originally for pizza on the grill but I decided to do it in the oven instead. The crust came out chewy and tender. Definitely I would make this again.

Pizza Dough (adapted from The Kitchn and Bobby Flay)

1 2/3 cups warm water (about 100˚F)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle yeast on top.  Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves and begins to “bloom.” The surface of the water will be covered with a brownish foam. Mix in 2 cups of flour for 1 minute. Let stand, covered 1 hour, to form a sponge.

Using the dough hook on setting 1, stir the oil into the sponge, then add the 2 teaspoons salt. Add the remaining 3 cups flour 1/2 cup at a time. Knead the dough on low speed with the dough hook. Remove from bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 7 minutes. When kneaded, the dough should form a smooth ball, feel smooth to the touch, and spring slowly back when poked.

Put the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Poke the dough until it deflates. Remove from the bowl and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Use a pastry scraper or knife to cut the dough into 4 or 8 lumps. At this point the dough can be frozen for later use.

Grease a baking pan lightly with olive oil or baking spray. Place the dough lumps in the pan and turn them over so they are coated with oil. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Let rest 30 minutes. If using frozen dough, let it defrost in the refrigerator then let it come to room temperature about 30 minutes to 1 hour before using.

Heat oven to 200˚C/400˚F.

Working with one piece at a time, roll out dough or pull and stretch a dough ball in your hands on a lightly floured surface. It can be round or long, sort of flatbread shaped. If it springs back, let it rest a few minutes then try stretching it again. Place dough on oiled pan.

Brush top of the pizza dough with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. For toppings, I used fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes seeded and sliced, and parma ham. Bake 10-15 minutes or until the edges are golden. Slice and serve immediately.