Bagels: More than a Roll with a Hole

The bagel is an interesting critter in the world of bread. It’s shiny crunchy crust gives away to chewy and spongy innards. No other bread product can really match the enigmatic yet satisfying texture of this bready delight.

The history of bagels is murky at best. Some say it was invented to commemorate the Polish King Jan III Sobieski victory over the Turks in 1683(1), others argue that it’s origin is much older bread created to compete with the obwarzanek (a circular bread that was traditionally only eaten during Lent)(2) and the very mention of the bagel and obwarzanek in the same sentence sparks debates as to where the bagel ends and becomes an obwarzanek(3). What is clear is the bagel has ceremonial origins as being gifts presented to midwives after a successful delivery and to celebrate circumcisions and they even made an appearance in rituals following death(2).

It wouldn’t be until the early 20th century that the bagel would make it to the new world when Polish immigrants brought the recipe with them. Early in their history the recipe was jealously guarded by the International Bagel Bakers Union formed in 1907(4) and confined to the city of New York. Harry Lender opened his own bakery in New Haven Connecticut in 1927 helping the growth of the bagel outside of New York city. Only with the invention of bagel making machines in 1963 and Murray Lender‘s vision of mass producing and shipping of bagels did the bagel become a fully American phenomenon(4). As of 2012 total American bagel sales toped at $592,725,400,(5) which is about $1,623,905.21 spent each day on these rounds of joy.

However bagel making doesn’t need to be expensive and of the bread’s I’ve made it’s relatively labor light all you need is some simple ingredients and a little bit of patience.

You will need:

1 large russet potato (around ¾ pound will do)

2 ½ cups water

2 tablespoons (or 2 packages) active dry yeast

1 ½ table spoon surgar

1 ½ tablespoon salt

7 – 7 ½ cups bread flour or AP flour (unbleached please)

¼ cup corn oil

4 eggs

1 – 2 quarts water

2 tablespoons salt or sugar


Peel and cube your potato and drop into pan with 2 ½ cups water and heat to boil (you may need more water depending on the size of your pan, just make sure the water covers the potatoes by ¼ inch). Once water reaches a boil bring down to a simmer and let cook until potato cubes are tender.

In the mean time combine team dry ingredients in large work bowl (this is where a kitchen Aid is really useful): sugar, salt, and 2 cups of the flour and mix to combine.

Check the potatoes for done-ness, knife passing through the biggest cube easily? If not, continue to boil, otherwise strain cubes and save 2 cups of the potato water and let cool to 120*F.

**Side Note** If you’re like me, you might be wondering what you need potato water for and how these little cubes of potential deliciousness play a role in our bagel baking. When you boil a potato starch is released into the water (between 13-23% of the potato’s weight can be released in boiling(6)). Starch plays an important role in bread baking by providing food for yeast and in the baking process gluten releases its liquid and reforms in a rigid structure which makes the bread take shape. This liquid released is adsorbed by the starch in a process called gelatinization. However this process isn’t finished so you a final product that still holds moisture but isn’t a soupy mess(7).

As for what the cubes left over, what I personally did was toss together a simple spice mix of seasoned salt, fresh ground black pepper and a masala seasoning blend in a small bowl and toss with potato cubes, then on a sprayed baking sheet bake on 375*F for about 15 minutes. **End Side Note**

Begin your electric mixer on low and add the potato water and oil slowly. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. After the two minutes turn down the speed to low (least you make a mess for your self) and add 1 cup of the flour and the eggs (add one egg at a time, wait till fully mixed in before adding the next).

**Egg Substitutions** For anyone who is sensitive to eggs or has some aversion, there are plenty of substitutions. I personally ran out of eggs (I only had 3 on hand) and used half a banana (I always have at least 2 pounds of bananas broken in half in my freezer) and ½ teaspoon baking powder. Other alternatives to eggs and other ingredients can be found in this article on **End Substitutions**

Once all eggs are well mixed in beat on medium for another 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes drop the speed down to low and add ½ cup of flour at a time until the mixture begins coming away from the sides of the bowl.

Wriggle off the dough ball from the attachment (the recipe I’m using called for a paddle attachment, but in the future I may experiment with a dough hook as it may be easier to pull off the dough) and plop onto a flour dusted work surface and knead dough for about 3 minutes or until the dough makes a springy ball.

Once dough is kneaded drop into bowl (or I used a large pot) and cover with towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Fill a pot with 1-2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt or sugar (I personally did one of each). This is a great time to begin cleaning up for those who like cleaning as they go.

1 hour passes

Turn the heat on medium high on you pot of water and bring to a boil and pre-heat your oven to 425*F.

Meanwhile cut dough into 4 quarters and get your kitchen scale (you do have one, right?) and weigh out approximately 100 gram dough balls (I believe my final yield was 28 bagels). Once balls are weighted roll into a snake. Take each end of the snake in each hand and twist/flip the snake so one hand is facing up and one is facing down, then tie the ends together. If the ends don’t completely stick, just keep working them into each other until they do. Given patience and effort most will conform.

Now your water should be boiling or close it. Once at a full boil, using a slotted spoon or if you have one a spider, lower the bagels into the boiling water and boil on each side for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes drop you bagels on a greased baking sheet and place in oven for 28 minutes or until the crust takes on a beautiful golden brown.

Once Maillard has had his effect remove from oven and let cool on rack until they’re just cool enough to tear into.

I got this recipe from the wonderful book Baking Bread: Old and New Traditions by Beth Hensperger which has various other bagel variations and many many other bread recipes.




Vegan Flour Tortillas

Wheat tortillas

Source: Budget Bytes – Flour-tortillas-v 2.0

Etymology/Definition of “Tortilla” – “1690s, from American Spanish tortilla, from Spanish, “a tart,” literally “a little cake,” diminutive of torta “cake,” from Late Latin torta “flat cake

The history of the tortilla dates back 10,000 years to their inventors, the Aztecs.  The name was coined by the Spaniards when they came to South America.  Originally tortillas were only made from corn meal painstakingly ground from corn on a stone slab, similar to a mortar and pestle, by young women. These young women would spend a life time learning the secrets to making the perfect tortilla.

Since then this simple flat cake has taken the Americas by storm being the second most bought bread product just behind sliced bread. (source)

This isn’t the traditional tortilla recipe, since we’re skipping the lard and using wheat flour rather than corn flower, however this delicious variant is just a delicious and versatile as it’s ancient cousin.




1 large mixing bowl

1 small mixing bowl

1 rolling pin

1 cast iron skillet

1 teaspoon

½ or 1 ½ teaspoon

1 cup

¾ or ½ and ¼ cup



1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp salt

1.5 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vegetable oil

¾ cup warm water (give or take depending on the humidity)


Step 1: In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir until evenly combined.


Step 2: Combine the warm water and vegetable oil. Create a cavity in middle of dry ingredients then begin adding to the flour mixture a little (around a tablespoon) at a time. Stir and add water/oil until the dough comes together into one piece. You may need more or less water depending on the moisture content of your flour. If you do have to add more water, add in half tablespoon increments to prevent from over watering.


Step 3: Knead the dough for about a minute. Shape into a ball and let rest, covered with a damp towel for about 10 minutes.


Step 4: Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Let rest for another 10 minutes.


Step 5: Flatten out each ball of dough with palm into a quarter inch circle then roll out into a 6 inch circle about the thickness of a piece of poster board. To help keep consistent thickness, wrap 2 rubber bands, one on top of the other, around each end of the rolling pin. Stack the tortillas, dusted with flour, until they are all rolled out.


Step 6: Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat. One at a time, cook the tortillas in the hot skillet until blistered and slightly golden on each side. On my stove, it took around a minute 30 seconds each tortilla (45 seconds each side).


Step 7: Stack the tortillas on a plate covered with a dry towel to keep them soft and warm until all of the tortillas have cooked.


Need ideas on what to do with your tortillas? Check out Good Eats Episode – “Tortillas Again


Pantry Raid I: Indian Sauce and Cornbread Mix

This week I went on a pantry raid and found that I had a jar of Kitchens of India Rich Cashew & Cumin Cooking Sauce and I had a bunch of vegetables that needed cooking. The jar recommended paring with steamed rice (which I already had on hand) and naan bread (which I will be making soon but I haven’t gotten all the ingredients for it yet) so I paired it with sweet corn bread mix (I thought the sweet and spicy would work well together). Here’s what came from it:



3 medium carrots

1 large Idaho potato

9 ounces of mushrooms

1 15 ounce can of black beans

1 12.2 oz jar of Kitchens of India Rich Cashew & Cumin Cooking Sauce

6 cups water


  1. Cut carrots into quarter pieces.

  2. Rinse mushrooms (yes I know many of you will say “omg why?!” but here’s a few cases for rinsing them rather than brushing them (better method of cooking mushrooms and a case study for washing v. brushing mushrooms)

  3. Boil potato (whole) with carrots in water for around 10-15 minutes (I like to use this methodfor checking potato for doneness)

  4. Drop carrots and potato in ice water to stop cooking for about 3 minutes.

  5. After potato has cooled enough to touch use this method to peel potato.

  6. Cube potato into bite size pieces

  7. Drain and rinse black beans.

  8. Heat skillet with 2 table spoons of oil and add carrots, mushrooms, potatos and saute vegetables for 2-3 minutes.

  9. Add jar of Kitchens of India Rich Cashew & Cumin Cooking Sauce and bring to boil then let simmer for around 15 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are desired texture.

And voila, with rice should yield about 6-8 servings.

Fermented Tea recipe

Ever since I first tried fermented tea in NOLA at Hey Cafe I’ve had the strangest craving for that bitter vinegary drink.  I decided to look up a recipe. It looks super easy but it requires a unique mushroom which will have to wait.


If only I hadn’t drank all me wine last night, I’d have everything for this dish, however this recipe has made a spot for it self on my “To make List”.


Don’t be thrown off by the number of ingredients or what seems to be many steps in this recipe. It isn’t hard and the results are amazing. This recipe is one of the best chicken dishes I have tried in a while. The gravy is rich and delicious. The chicken is tender. The mushrooms and onions compliment the chicken amazingly. This may be French food but it isn’t the pretentious, tiny serving you would imagine. This is rustic, heart warming food. I served it with Yukon Gold Potatoes with Parsley and Spring Onions. If you make the effort to prepare this dish, you will be so happy you did. I promise!


Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon by Julia Child

  • 3 to 4 oz chopped bacon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs cut up frying chicken (I used boneless, skinless thighs)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

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African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

I found this recipe originally on when I was looking to make my grocery list. I already had most of the ingredients and it looked pretty delicious. I wasn’t hugely fond of the (very) brief directions the allrecipes version had so I found another version on that had much clearer directions. However, I didn’t realize that the recipes differed and so I kinda just started working from the simplyrecipies version. The only changes I made was I didn’t have chicken (kinda cooking on a budget and chicken wasn’t on sale this week), I didn’t have peanuts so I used PB2 peanut butter powder since I did have this on hand, and I didn’t have fresh cilantro so I used dried (again since that’s what I had on hand.

Review: Turned out great! It’s a little sweeter than I expected (even with out the carrots) so I’d put more spices in next time. Might need a bit more water, like maybe an extra cup. I like a good broth to chunks ratio. I really wish I had real peanuts because a little crunch was all the texture needed. I served it over a platform of long grain white rice and one bowl left me fuuull!




  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • ¼ cup PB2 peanut butter powder
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • dried cilantro (garnish)


1 Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat.

2 Sauté the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.

3 Boil 4 cups of water with one bouillon cube. Boil until cube is completely dissolved.

3 Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts/PB2 powder, coriander and cumin to the vegetables and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding more if needed. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 90 minutes (check after an hour), or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

4 Adjust the seasonings for salt and cumin, then add plenty of black pepper. Stir in the dried cilantro and serve by itself, or with simple steamed rice.



Original recipe:

Better directions:


Delicious alternatives to Green Beer

I found this article today on Food, “8 Alternatives to Green Beer”. Some of these concoctions look rather interesting (such as the celery infused gin and green apple drink) and some look downright delicious (see the mint limeade).

My roommate’s baking green cupcakes today and I’ll be posting my green butternut squash Soup later. How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s day? Pictures encouraged.


I’ve tried making lattice work pie toppings like this, but this is just a work of art!


National Pi Day is a celebration of the Greek letter  “π”, which represents the constant ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

You know you remember this from algebra, right?


Truth is, I don’t either.

What I do remember is that I love PIE! Apple, peach, pecan, pumpkin, chocolate, coconut, berry, lemon, lime, custard… You name it, I like it… And I bet you do it. So to celebrate National Pi Day, why don’t you whip up a delicious pie. If you use this recipe, it won’t take much time at all.


A Berry Medley Pie

  • 3 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen then thawed
  • 2 pre-made pie crusts
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 3/4 cup white sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small sauce pot, combine the berries, cornstarch, and sugar until well combined.


In a 9 inch…

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Quinoa and Shrimp? How can you go wrong?


This week I am making a concerted effort to plan my meals for work. I usually just depend on leftovers but they never seem to last long enough. This salad caught my eye because the awesome flavors and the ability to make it in advance.


Vietnamese Shrimp Quinoa Salad (from The Crafty Cook Nook)

The Dressing:
6 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more if desired

The Salad:
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 small cucumber, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Add quinoa, salt and 1-2/3 cups water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and…

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