Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yogurt Cream Cheese

There’s a note in my Deli cookbook that mentions how great it would be to have a brunch where everything, from the lox to the bagels to the cream cheese, is homemade. So that’s what I decided to do. Also, the cream cheese recipe is on the opposite page from the lox, so it’s kind of just right there, asking to be made. This is a half-size recipe.

Yogurt-Cream Cheese from Deli:

Makes about 5 oz.

1 qt. yogurt
Salt (optional)
Flavoring of your choice

Line a sieve or colander with a long piece of doubled damp cheesecloth and place in over a large bowl. Dump in the yogurt, fold the cheesecloth over to cover well, and leave in a cool part of your kitchen for 24 hours. Every once in a while, pour off the liquid that accumulates in the bowl.

At the end of the 24-hour period, pick up the wrapped ball of yogurt cheese and squeeze it over the bowl to extract any remaining liquid. Place the cheese in a bowl and mix in the salt to taste (although it is perfectly delicious with no salt at all) and – if you wish – the flavoring of your choice. I went with salt and no additional flavorings. At first I thought I hadn’t added enough salt and then I thought I had added too much. It turned out to be just fine, but be careful! Refrigerate for several hours before serving. If the yogurt is fresh to begin with, the cream cheese will keep for weeks.

I did like this, but mostly as a layering device to go with the lox and bagels. On its own (and why would you eat just cream cheese on its own anyway?), it wasn’t bad, just not amazing. Part of this is likely due to the fact that I used Nancy’s organic non-fat yogurt. I love, love, LOVE Nancy’s, but it does have a very distinct taste and tang to it, which definitely comes through in the cream cheese. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does change the flavor profile quite a bit. However, it worked really well with the bagels and lox and I am glad I made everything on my own. I was filled with pride, just like the book said.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home-Cured Lox

What is a bagel without lox? Well, a lot of things, but it’s better with lox. As I mentioned in the bagel post, my dad made lox whenever my grandma came to town with her box o’ bagels. Being in Alaska, we had lots of access to good fish, particularly my favorite for lox, sockeye (or red) salmon. When talking to my folks about Jew brunch, I was asked what brought it on. The answer is simple: I saw a beautiful piece of sockeye for a decent price at the store and decided to go for it. So why is lox second in my postings if it was the impetuous for the whole brunch? Because the bagel entry took longer to type and it’s the base for the bagel sandwich. That’s why. Make this. You will be so pleased.

Home-Cured Lox from Deli:

¼ c. kosher salt
¼ c. sugar
1-2 Tb. freshly ground pepper
1½ lb. salmon fillet in one piece, with skin

Combine the salt, sugar, and pepper. Spread half the mixture on the bottom of a shallow glass baking dish of a size to hold the salmon comfortably. Remove any small bones left in the salmon. Dry the salmon well with paper towels. Rub the skin side with a little bit of the remaining salt-sugar mixture. Rub the rest of the mixture into the other side of the fish. Place the fish, skin side down, in the glass dish. Cover well with plastic wrap.

Place another dish on top of the salmon. Cover with a cutting board and place a weight on the board – a clean brick or some heavy canned goods (obviously I like green beans). Refrigerate for 72 hours. Every 12 hours, remove the weights, unwrap the fish, and baste with the liquid that has accumulated in the dish. Then re-wrap, re-cover, and return to the refrigerator.

At the end of the 3-day period, remove the fish from the dish and scrape off the remaining pepper. Or try to and then give up when not that much comes off. Dry, wrap well in plastic wrap, and return to the refrigerator for one more day.

To serve, place skin side down on a cutting board. With a thin, sharp carving knife, slice thinly on the diagonal, detaching flesh from the skin as you slice. Serve with bagels, cream cheese, tomatoes, and sliced sweet onion.

There would have been more to serve, but I kept eating it while slicing it off the fish. It’s kind of hard not to eat it with the smell of bagels in the oven and the anticipation of a feast on your mind. Plus, lox is ridiculously delicious. This is probably one of things I have made that I am most proud of. It came out exactly the way I wanted it to. I suppose it was a good thing I was eating so much of it because lox does not keep for long. It gets slimy after a few days, so invite some friends over and eat it up.

But what did this lox rest on? Well, of course it was cream cheese, but not store bought. Up next, the conclusion of Jew brunch!


I have been a lifelong bagel eater and pretty much a lifelong bagel snob. My folks are from NYC and my grandma still lives in Brooklyn. Every summer when she would come visit us in Alaska, she’d bring along a big box of crunchy, chewy, perfect Brooklyn bagels and bialys. My dad would make lox and we’d have a fantastic spread. The day the last bagel was gone was always a sad one. Years later, my dad took to making bagels, with some helpful hints from a Brooklyn bagel baker (I love alliteration), and they were awesome. So of course before I made these, I called him to let him know I was going to do it. I also let him know that these were a grand part of my Jewish brunch. I think I did him proud. The recipe below is the half recipe, except for the salt and sugar amounts listed as they are primarily for the water bath for the bagels.

Bagels from Deli:

Makes 8-9 bagels (I got 9)

1 Tb. or 1 package dried yeast
1 c. warm water (100-115 degrees)
3 Tb. kosher salt
3 c. bread flour
4 Tb. sugar
1 egg
Kosher salt
Dried onion
Fresh garlic, chopped
Poppy seeds

Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Stir with a fork or a small whisk. Add ½ Tb. salt. Stir in all of the flour, one cup at a time. Use a whisk until the mixture becomes stiff, then switch to a wooden spoon. Or use your stand mixer. Whichever.

Use a handful of flour to flour your work surface. Turn the dough out and knead rhythmically and vigorously, add more flour as you knead, until the dough is smooth, springy, nonsticky, and elastic. I did almost all of this in my Kitchenaid, turning it out and kneading it by hand at the end, but I just had to post the original instructions because I find them so hilariously in-depth. This dough should be quite stiff. It is kneaded sufficiently when you can pole it with your finger and the indentation springs back. Total kneading time will be 10 to 15 minutes.

Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest while you wash, dry, and oil the bowl. Knead the dough a few more turns, then form it into a ball and place in the bowl. Turn to coat with oil. Cover the bowl and put it in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour. It has risen sufficiently when you can poke a finger in the dough (there’s lots of finger pokin’ in this recipe!) and the hole remains after about 5 minutes. Poke very gently or the dough will collapse.

When doubled, flour your first and punch the dough down. Knead a few times, then allow to rest for a few minutes. Divide the dough into 8-9 equal pieces. As you work with one piece, keep the remainder covered with a kitchen towel. Spread another towel out on a clean work surface. Roll each piece of dough between your hands to form a smooth ball. Flatten slightly and use your thumb to form a hole in the center about 1” in diameter (more pokin’!). Place finished circles on towel-covered surface.

Cover bagels lightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes, until puffy, but not quite doubled. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine 5 quarts of water, the sugar, and the remaining salt. Bring to a boil. Definitely do this right after letting the bagels rise again. It took forever to come to a boil. Have one large or two small baking sheets lightly greased and ready to go.

Adjust the water bath to remain at a gentle boil. Four or five at a time, drop the bagels into the water. Cook for 3 minutes, turn with tongs, and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes on the second side. Remove with a skimmer or slotted spoon, and place briefly back on the towel to drain. Place on baking sheet. The whole process is similar to the one you use to make pretzels, so I felt very comfortable doing this. It’s really easy anyway.

Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush on the top of each bagel with this mixture, and sprinkle with kosher salt, poppy seeds, or the chopped garlic. Or all of the above. Or none. Or anything else you can think of. I made one salt, two poppy seed, two plain, and four garlic. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and crusty. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on racks. According to the original recipe, these freeze beautifully, which is something I considered before going for the half recipe.

These were fantastic. Not as crunchy as I would have liked all the way around, but the bottoms were great. The best part, though, is that my dad is going to look this recipe over (he has the same book) and tell me his modifications and secrets. So they’ll be even better next time! These went really well with the next two parts of Jew brunch, which are coming up next, and tomato and sliced red onion. I forgot to get capers (boo on me!). To take out a bit of the bite of the red onion, I soaked them in water briefly.

Anyway, on to the rest of brunch!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Visiting Librarian's Guide to Portland

Okay, so this isn't food related at all (maybe a little), but I'm just so damn proud of this video, I had to post it here. The Public Library Association (PLA) is having their annual conference in Portland this week and a few of my classmates and I put together a video showing off Portland to all the librarian's coming to our fair city.

I do eat cupcakes in it. And talk about doughnuts and coffee. There's also some beer. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, watch it. If you have, watch it again. I'm okay with it. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Mar. 18, 2010

Two things I love at the same time, Beer and Cheese Pairing: I’d love to do something like this at home. In fact, now that I’ve said that, I think I might.

Cute Food is Cute: I agree!

10 Common Ordering Mistakes in Paris: There are actually only nine, but they are all fun, even if you haven’t been there. My favorite was the discussion of getting tap water. Aaron and I ate at a cafĂ© in Paris and asked for tap water, were served two bottles (the waiter cracked the caps too), and then we insisted that we wanted tap water. Seriously, just tap water. It took some work and our waiter hated us, but it was worth it. Don’t pay for bottled water! Even in Paris.

Booze without a hangover? It’s possible! I feel like I always post something about drinks in these. Hmm…

Gummy Bear Chandelier!

Do you like the band Wilco and sandwiches? Go to Toronto and eat here.

Making a $3 Pizza Stone: I’ve been craving a baking stone for a while now and this gives me hope that it can actually happen in the near future. I love crafty ideas like this!

Bob’s Red Mill Goes Employee Owned: You all already know how much I adore Bob. This makes me love him just that much more.

I’m also loving: Spring time (spring, spring, spring!) which means more yummy produce (Farmer’s Market in TWO DAYS!) and patios opening up at my favorite places to eat and drink; infused liquors; impromptu dinners by Aaron; Irish car bombs; cheese, beer, and wine samples at Trader Joe’s; Lay's Balsamic Sweet Onion Flavored Potato Chips (actually tastes like the ingredients. Weird, right?); leftovers in scrambles; breakfast dates.

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ginger Ale

Aside for the things listed in my bio, I love few things more than ginger. My friends and I went out for happy hour the other day and the bar we went to specialized in infused liquors. I had a drink with ginger whiskey. I probably smiled far too widely just looking at the menu. It’s all a part of my supreme love for things ginger.

In 8th grade, my class, as a part of a project of which I can no longer remember, made root beer. While I do oh so love root beer as well (future project!), I decided a bit back to take a stab at making ginger ale. All I needed was a funnel. Finally, after a trip to IKEA, it was time to make ginger ale. It was worth the wait. You can see the original recipe here (he also has recipes for cheese!).

Ginger Ale from David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D:

Makes about 2 liters

1 c. cane sugar
1½-2 Tb. freshly grated ginger root (I ended up with 2½)
Juice of one lemon
¼ tsp. fresh granular baker's yeast
Cold fresh pure water

Add 1 cup sugar to the 2 liter bottle with a dry funnel. Leave the funnel in place until you are ready to cap the bottle. Add yeast through funnel into the bottle, shake to disperse the yeast grains into the sugar granules. Grate the ginger root and place grated ginger in the cup measure. As I mentioned above, I ended up with about 2½ tablespoons. Grating it ended up being a bigger mess than I had anticipated and when there was extra in the bowl, I just decided to roll with it. Plus, Reed’s is my favorite kind of ginger ale and they are extra ginger-y, so why not. The mess wasn’t all that bad. And it made my hand smell awesome, so there’s always that.

Juice the whole lemon and add the juice to the grated ginger. Stir the lemon juice and grated ginger to form a slurry. Add the slurry of lemon juice and grated ginger to the bottle. (It may stick in the funnel. Don't worry the next step will wash it into the bottle.) Rinse containers with fresh clean water. Add the rinsings to the bottle, cap, and shake to distribute. Fill the bottle to the neck with fresh cool clean water, leaving about an inch of head space, and securely screw cap down to seal. Invert repeatedly to thoroughly dissolve sugar.

Place in a warm location for 24 to 48 hours. (Do not leave at room temperature longer than necessary to feel hard. The excess pressure may cause an eruption when you open it, or even explode the bottle!) Test to see if carbonation is complete by squeezing the bottle forcefully with your thumb. If it dents, it’s not done.

Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, usually only 24-48 hours, place in the refrigerator. Before opening, refrigerate at least overnight to thoroughly chill. Crack the lid of the thoroughly chilled ginger ale just a little to release the pressure slowly. Filter the ginger ale through a strainer if you find floating pieces of ginger objectionable. These are found in the first glass or two poured, and, since most of the ginger sinks to the bottom, the last glass or so may require filtering too. Rinse the bottle out immediately after serving the last of the batch.

I thought that this stuff tasted amazing and there was a satisfying csssh when I first opened the bottle, but it definitely wasn’t as carbonated as I would have liked. Mine felt hard after 24 hours, but I’m wondering if I left it just a little longer if the carbonation would have been better. The solution, for now anyway, is to just drink it straight or mix it with sparkling water. The flavor is definitely there, though. As my friend Corey said “Ahh…ginger!” Coming from someone who isn’t a huge ginger fan, I took that as a big compliment. I still have about half a bottle in the fridge, but I am going to try this one again.

Like I said, so worth the wait.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicken with Lemon, Cumin, and Mint with Orzo

When I made this recipe the first time, I didn’t have a food blog (oh horror of horrors!). I honestly can’t remember what I thought of it the first time, so I figured let’s do it again. I was pleased and I have some ideas about what to do next time. The orzo was my idea because I love orzo. It always cooks perfectly and just wants to be friends with lemon and garlic. It was the perfect accompaniment.

Chicken with Lemon, Cumin, and Mint from with Orzo:

Serves 2-3

Zest of 1 lemon
½ c. fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1/3 c. olive oil
2 Tb. finely shredded fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp paprika, preferably hot
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 chicken legs, skin on
Lemon wedges for serving
1 c. cooked orzo
A little extra lemon zest
A little extra minced mint
A little extra minced garlic

Stir together the zest, lemon juice, olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the mint, half the garlic, the paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper with a fork, in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. I found it easiest to mince the garlic and mint together in a small food processor.

Preheat the broiler. Place the chicken on the broiler pan and broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat, turning once, for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and just cooked through. Meanwhile, cook your orzo, mix with the extra lemon zest, mint, and garlic, and set aside.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, garnish with the lemon wedges, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon mint and garlic, and serve.

I also quickly fried a couple of lemon slices to serve with it. I ended up eating both, but I think they went very well.

My ideas for next time are to marinate the chicken for far longer. Like an overnight amount of time or something of that nature. The flavor is there, I just don’t think 30 minutes is enough. I’d also love to do this on the BBQ. Good thing spring is coming!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Widmer Brewery Tour

The Friday before Aaron's birthday (I know, I'm behind. Grad school.) we went to the Widmer Brewery because a) it was almost Aaron's birthday, b) we both love the heck outta Widmer, and c) it's right down the street. Oh yeah, and d) it's free!

And it was awesome! We got the usual rundown of how beer is made and the "please taste from lightest to darkest" speech, but all of that stuff is fascinating. I also discovered that despite my previous proclamations that I don't really like IPAs, I really dug Broken Halo. Like, a lot. Like way more than I ever thought I would.

After learning lots about beer, we crossed the street and went into the brewery itself, where we got to see huge silos of grain, so much beer, and many, many things made out of metal that turn grains, yeast, and water into delicious magic. Plus, we got to smell hops. It was a fantastic time.

See, giant silos of grain

Aaron and the mash tun

Aaron's hand and hops

My hand and more different hops.

One of these was the spicy hops, which smelled amazing. I wish I could remember which was which, but that's what happens when you take a while to post.

Barrels and barrels of delicious Widmer Bros. beer

This is when the tour got even better! Not only did we get to learn a lot about beer in general (like why IPAs exist in the first place), but then, at the end, our guide says thanks for coming and oh yeah, you get a free pint glass and key chain bottle opener. Yeah. We were stoked.

Cutest picture of Aaron ever. Aww!

After the tour, totally excited by our swag, we decided to go drink some more beer at their restaurant, the Gasthaus. And it happened to be happy hour! Yes! Aaron's drinking Drop Top Amber Ale and I'm having their special blueberry honey mead. Oh yeah, it was good. And then we had a pretzel, Aaron bought a growler of hefeweizen, and we walked home, tipsy and happy.

If you live here and haven't done it yet, go! If you don't live here, come visit and then go. They have tours every Friday at 3 pm and every Saturday at 11 am and 12:30 pm. Call ahead to reserve a spot and that's it. Check out their site for more info.
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