Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Love Legumes!

So it's the last day of January. It also looks like as soon as midnight hits we here in Nowhere, Ohio are going to get blasted with snow. Then that will be followed with a lovely quarter inch of freezing rain. This should be fun. At least that's what the National Weather Service says.

But what that also means is that I will no longer be concentrating solely on vegetables. I will be posting on an occasional sweet, like the cookies I had to get out of my house because there was no doubt that I could eat the entire batch in one day. I also got some bread books for my birthday and I'll most likely be trying some of them out. AND I'm toying with the idea of giving up meat (in the Catholic sense) for Lent. So not to worry there will still be vegetables. Just not everyday.

Todays vegetables, because today is still January, is Braised Fennel and White Beans from the ever so lovely Martha Stewart. Being that the Brain is a man and beans tend to have a malodorous effect on men, I left him at work happily eating some Fritos, Mountain Dew, and a can of Chef Boyardee. And I came home to warm up and indulge in my beans and fennel. So very very delicious! I can't even claim that I found this recipe. My stepdad made it for the family Christmas of 2006 to accomodate my sister-in-law who happens to be a vegan. It was my first taste of fennel and let me tell you, I'm hooked.

The beans still retain their shape but add a nice buttery taste which plays so well against the tang of the vinegar, the sweetness of the onions, and the licorice taste of the fennel. Yes it's the bulb of the fennel that is used in this recipe. Fennel is such an interesting vegetable because you can eat the bulb, the fronds, or the seed. Raw its taste is intensely of licorice, but that flavor mellows dramatically on cooking. It's also known as anise.

So yeah, these beans were delicious. So good in fact you could say that I love it. Which happens to be very convenient because, Susan at the Well-Seasoned Cook is having a blog event called My Legume Love Affair. And this is my entry. She'll post a round up of the variety of legume dishes the weekend of February 10th so be sure to check back on her website then. I personally am pretty excited to see what everyone comes up with. There are some seriously creative food bloggers out there.

Braised Fennel and White Beans
from Martha Stewart Living, January 2007

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (15.5 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp coarsley chopped fresh oregano (plus more for garnish)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Heat oil in large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat.
Add fennel and onion; cook, stirring occaisionally, until tender and edges are brown, about 10 minutes.
Add beans, stock, chopped oregano, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in vinegar and butter until butter is melted and remove from heat. Garnish with more fresh oregano.

I apologize for my spelling errors, but I can't seem to get the spell check to work. D'Oh!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shredded Kohlrabi with Butter and Parmesan

My travels through the world of vegetables has brought me to a weird looking little vegetable that looks like a root vegetable, but really is a swelling of a stem of a member of the cabbage family. It's the kohlrabi. Translated literally from German, "kohl" means cabbage and "rabi" means turnip. Pretty interesting eh?

Well it gets even more interesting. Apparently, this is a brand new vegetable in the grand scheme of things. It only showed up about 500 years ago. It only arrived in the United States around 1800. It apparently developed from wild cabbages.

I personally really like the shape. It's like a round ball of a stem with leaf branches coming off the sides and then growing upwards. It's hard to imagine. And I'm a huge dork that I was so excited about eating it that I forgot to take a picture. D'Oh! But here's what they look like. Pretty cool.

And yes, I'm eating them out of season. They are usually harvested between spring and summer and I've jumped the gun a bit. Also, look for smaller kohlrabi when buying them. The big ones tend to be woody.

In surveying a group of "adults", I seem to be the odd person out that I've never had them before tonight. Even the checkout lady at Meijers was telling me that her husband loves them and they are super easy to grow. One of the other ladies that works for the Brain likes them, but she and her daughter have always had them raw. (I sampled raw. It's pretty tasty.) My mom says that she's never had it cooked either. They all told me it tastes like cabbage. It tasted like cabbage. Not that horrible in your face taste of cabbage that nobody really enjoys. Just a lovely hint of cabbage.

I had a hard time waiting for the rest of dinner to be done. And be proud of me. I shared with the Brain.

Shredded Kohlrabi with Butter and Parmesan
from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop (Man I love this book!)

3 medium kohlrabi bulbs without stalks and leaves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves

Peel the kohlrabi with a paring knife, removing the green skin and outer 1/8 inch or so of the flesh. Cut the bulbs so they will fit in the feed tube of the food processor. Shred using the coarse shredding blade.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the shredded kohlrabi and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and cook just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Salmon, Mustard Greens and Potatoes

Sometimes it's nice to come home and have something spectacular for dinner. It's nice too when it's quick. And easy. And the ingredients are easy to find. Tonight was one of those nights. After a day of bleak grey skies and the promise of a 20 degree temperature drop tonight, I reached into epicurious and came out with a fancy and yet super easy and comforting dinner.

We had Salmon, Mustard Greens and Potatoes with Mustard-Dill Glaze from Bon Appetit. Wow. Yummy. The mustard-dill glaze paired up super nicely with the zing of the mustard greens. The potatoes were roasted to perfection. And the Salmon was almost buttery paired so nicely with the sweet glaze. It really all comes together really simply and it hits the spot completely.

Mustard greens are terrific for you. They have really high amounts of Vitamins A, C, and E. They are also great sources of manganese, folate, calcium and fiber. They originated in the Himalayan region of India and have been grown and consumed for more than 5,000 years. They are staples in a variety of cuisines from Chinese to Southern American. India, Nepal, China and Japan are among the leading producers of mustard greens. The United States also grows a substantial amount of them. Mustard greens are also sometimes grown as "green manure" where its purpose is to act as a mulch. It covers the soil and suppresses weeds. Most importantly, they taste good. (Isn't google amazing?)

Salmon, Mustard Greens and Potatoes With Mustard-Dill Glaze

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
3 Tbsp packed golden brown sugar
1/2 pound baby new potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 4-oz salmon fillets
1 bag prewashed mustard greens

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 4 ingredients in small bowl. (Sauce can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.) Place potatoes in small bowl. Spoon 1 tablespoon sauce over and toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven; push potatoes to sides of pan. Spread each salmon fillet with 2 teaspoons sauce and place in center of baking pan. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 18 minutes. Meanwhile, place greens in large skillet. Toss with 2 tablespoons sauce. Stir over medium-high until wilted, about 4 minutes. Divide salmon, greens and potatoes between 2 plates. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

I ended up with a lot of remaining sauce. It could be that I'm just not a big fan of sauce in general, or that there's too much sauce. It's really tasty though.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pie with the Daring Bakers

So part of the reason I started this blog was so that I could join that super cool group of Daring Bakers. Over the last several months, I've watched them make all sorts of daring and fantastic things, where I alternately commented to myself, "I could do that if I had to", or "Oh I bet that's really good to eat". Last month I happily challenged myself, with delicious results, making the Yule Log. So this month I eagerly awaited the secret announcement of what we were going to make. The lovely Jen, The Canadian Baker who's hosting this month declared we would be making Lemon Meringue Pie!


Pie. "Oh boy," I thought. "I do not want to make pie." I don't like pie. Pie has the dreaded one two punch of fruit and crust. Crust is tasteless and if made wrong gummy. And fruit is yucky. My mom can make excellent pies. She used to whip out blueberry pies and apple pies all summer. Every year for her birthday instead of cake she would have cherry pie. When I was young she would make lemon meringue pies piled high with yummy meringue. Wait a minute I thought. Out of all the pies, I actually don't mind lemon meringue pie. It's not so bad, other than the crust part. Maybe this would work out OK.

Crust has always been my nemesis. I have had several people try to show me how to make crust. And always, when attempting it by myself it fails. The edges burn. The top becomes transparent. It's miserable. My mom suggested I try Grandma's secret recipe (Jiffy Pie Crust Mix). Instead I started trying the Pillsbury refrigerated already made pie crust. I can't even say that always turns out for me. My poor poor husband loves pie and I just haven't been able to deliver. He says I get an A for effort, but still it has been a crushing defeat in my baking skills.

So imagine, if you will, my trepidation when Lemon Meringue Pie was announced to be our challenge this month. That is a challenge indeed. But I decided that this was the nature of the beast. That I would have to try at least to make this lemon meringue pie. As word started to spread, in not so polite fashion, about how people were having trouble with this recipe, two thoughts came to mind. First, I was determined that I would succeed at this if it killed me, because I felt so bad that so many people were being so negative about the recipe. And second, I had better make this early because so many people were having trouble and pies are definitely not the easiest thing in the world for me to bake.

So after carefully taping my recipe to the cupboards and measuring as exactly as I could, I set out to make the crust. It has butter in it. I'd never seen a crust recipe with butter in it. I love butter. Pie crust with butter in it couldn't be that bad. I'd just think of it as a cookie. That made me have less of an aversion to baking it. And really when all was said and done, it tasted more cookie like than any pie crust I've ever made before. Unfortunately the recipe is for a 10inch pie. I don't have a 10inch pie pan. Walmart didn't sell them. So I went with a 9inch pie and 11 little tartlettes. Basically I squished leftover crust in square cupcake molds. Then I stuck them all in the oven with beans to weight them down and waited until they were golden brown. For the sake of making sure they were done, I sampled one of the tartlette crusts. Not too shabby, I thought, for pie crust anyway.

Next came the filling. Again I measured carefully, horrified by the amount of cornstarch. Carefully I cooked the filling and then it happened. I came to the point where I've seen thinner wallpaper paste and it kept getting thicker and how was I going to tell if this stuff was boiling because holy crap it was thick and bubbles weren't going to be able to get to the surface! Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was probably only about a minute or two, a bubble came to the surface and I declared it boiled. Then with the eggs tempered and added it was a beautiful yellow color. By the end it tasted so delicious and lemony that I was back to my early thought of merely, oops, forgetting the crust and just eating the filling and meringue. Shoot, I wouldn't mind just eating the filling.

I filled my 10 remaining tartlette shells with a blob (that would be the technical term) each of the lovely lemon filling and spooned the rest into the pie. Meringue has never been a problem for me so I happily whisked the living daylights out of my egg whites to form pillowy white meringue. Slapping that meringue on the pie and the little tarts was a lot of fun. Being that my pie had actual come out, shall we call it, "rustic" from my inability to crimp correctly, I thought it would look ridiculous to try piping and getting all fancy. So I just spread it on with a spatula and tried to make as many happy little peaks as I could. I asked the Brain if I could borrow his blowtorch, but he made me use my tiny little kitchen torch and supervised to make sure the only things I was toasting were the pie and the tartlettes.

Over all, I'm super pleased with how the pie and tartlettes came out. They were delicious. I know, pie being delicious is a concept I'm trying to work my brain around. I gave the big pie to my friend S. who's family devoured it. The Brain and I each had 2 of the tartlettes and stuck the rest in the freezer. Every so often we'd pull 2 out to thaw while I'd make dinner and we'd have a lovely dessert.

So thank you Jen for a fantastic challenge that I can honestly say I would have never tried if I hadn't joined the Daring Bakers. And I'm glad I tried it. For the recipe check out Jen's blog. And for the hundreds of other Daring Bakers and their attempts at Lemon Meringue Pie check out the Daring Baker Blogroll, here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


After an eventful night of side effects of this delicious, yet dangerous gratin, I found myself in need of serious comfort food. I was first introduced to avocados in the late 70s when my mom used to throw fabulous dinner parties. Now, I think I've mentioned about my mom and cooking, how she really isn't very good at it. But, there is the great big exception of when she would throw dinner parties. She would carefully pay attention to how the recipe was written and serve her guests beautiful and lovely things. Deep fried sweet and sour pork. Chicken cordon bleu. Vanilla ice cream drizzled with creme de menthe. Dad would get out the ice crusher and mom would get out multiple card tables and put out the fine china and tablecloths. Mom would always put on some beautiful dress that was silky or halter topped in gold or vibrant purple or bright green. She was a very stylish lady.

At one of these dinner parties, Mom made guacamole. I might have been 7. maybe. And as I stood there peering at the counter and the fancy ingredients, Mom told me about how much she loved avocados. It seemed a little weird to me at the time as avocados are fairly slimy and bright green, but now every time I eat an avocado I think of my mom. And all the glamour and stylishness that original avocado captured for me.
The good news is that avocados are really good for you. They're full of those heart healthy fats. They also are full of Vitamins K and B6, iron, folate and fiber. And they are higher in potassium than a medium banana. Interestingly, if you have a latex allergy you may want to steer clear of avocados. It has something to do with the chemicals in avocados and the chemicals in latex.

Anyhow, it seems silly to take such a deliciously healthy food and mess it up with bad for you foods, so here's a simple and delicious guacamole recipe adapted from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop.


1 Tbsp minced onion
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 small jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 medium ripe Haas avocados
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Place the onion, garlic, chile, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Cut around the ends of the avocados and twist to separate the halves. Remove the pit and discard. Slide a rubber spatula between the skin and flesh to pop out the flesh. Add the flesh to the bowl with the seasonings.

Sprinkle the lemon juice over the avocado and seasonings. Mash with a large fork until the mixture forms a chunky puree. (Guacamole should not be smooth). Add salt to taste and serve immediately.

Ahh delicious!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Jerusalem Artichokes

I'm so excited. I found a new vegetable! Well OK it's not a new vegetable. It's been around for a long long time. I found a vegetable that is new to ME. These lovely ugly little knobby things are Jerusalem artichokes. They are not from Jerusalem and they are not artichokes. What they are are the roots of a sunflower.
From the extensive research I did on the Internet, well from googling them anyway, I found that Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America. They are also store carbohydrates as inulin instead of starch and inulin is not used by the body for energy. So these funny little vegetables are recommended as a potato substitute for people with diabetes. They apparently have untapped potential in making ethanol for fuel. And they are high in iron, potassium, fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus, and copper.

For a long time Jerusalem artichokes were thought not to be edible because some people have trouble digesting inulin, thus making them highly flatulent. Yikes! I'm not sure I want to know what highly flatulent meant. I don't seem to be having any problems, but I know that inulin is commonly added to yogurts. (I read labels.) Also, there was an old wives tale that people who eat Jerusalem artichokes will develop leprosy because Jerusalem artichokes look like the fingers of people who suffer from leprosy. And finally Jerusalem artichokes are also called sunchokes. Thank goodness for Google!

And yes, these came from my trip to Trader Joe's. I hunted around to see what I could find as far as recipes and not wanting to try them raw to begin with. It seems to me the highly flatulent part might be more probable if I didn't cook them. I also didn't really feel like a puree. You'd be surprised how many recipe books I have suggest pureeing them. Finally I located my Williams-Sonoma Vegetable cookbook. It's a pretty coffee table like cookbook, that I've never cooked from before. After this Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin, I may try more of the recipes. It was so creamy and rich, I enjoyed it tremendously. It also was fairly non-complicated to make. I adjusted the recipe in half and added more garlic and it came out delicious.

The Brain, made nervous by the highly flatulent comments, decided to let me have this gratin all to myself. And he would prefer that I don't discuss him and flatulence.

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

Bring a saucepan 3/4 full of salted water to a boil. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and boil until just tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, peel them, rubbing the skins off with your fingers or removing the skins with a pairing knife. Cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a small gratin dish about 4 inches wide by 6 inches long (or about that size, I used a stoneware dish my sister-in-law gave me as a bridal shower present).

Cover the bottom of the prepared gratin dish with a layer of Jerusalem artichoke slices, overlapping them slightly. Dot with some of the butter, sprinkle with some of the garlic and parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Repeat the layering until you have used up all the ingredients. Pour two thirds of the cream evenly over the surface.

Bake until the top is crusty and the cream has become custard like, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cream, and return to the oven. Raise the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C) and continue to bake until the surface of the gratin is golden brown, crusty, and sizzling, about 15 minutes. Serve at once, directly from the pan.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fancy Spinach

Do you ever come home, rummage around in the fridge and realize you've got half a bag of spinach that's quickly dying on you and you need to use it now? Well that happened to me today. I should eat more salad. I know I should. But frankly it's cold outside and if I eat something I want it to be hot. Ok the arugula salad from yesterday wasn't hot, but it went nicely with hot soup. So here I was with half a bag of salad and no way was I eating a salad. my feet are still chilly from the walk home for crying out loud.
So, I poked around some more and found some garlic. Of course I found garlic. And in the back of the fridge I found some pine nuts. And in my cupboard, neatly labeled was a snapware container of golden raisins. My OCD comes to an ugly head when it comes to my cupboard.

In the pantry I had some onions and I was ready to rock and roll!

This yummy sweet yet salty spinach totally hit the spot. The raisins, garlic, onions and pine nuts all combined to make this one heck of a delicious side dish. And spinach is so chock full of iron, Vitamins A, K, Manganese and folate. So terrifically healthy for our bodies. It did look mighty fancy next to boring old baked chicken though.

Ok, I checked and pine nuts aren't actually a nut. They are a seed of a pine tree. Isn't that interesting? That being said though, I also checked and some people are allergic to pine nuts, most likely people who are allergic to more than one type of nut. SO, people who are allergic to nuts may want to avoid pine nuts and other seeds unless they know they are not allergic to them. Just to be on the safe side. That would really wreck the whole experience of eating this fancy spinach if someone went into anaphylaxsic shock.

Fancy Spinach

1 Tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion sliced thin
1/2 bag baby spinach, washed and dried
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add onion and saute until onion softens. Add baby spinach and cook for 3 minutes until spinach wilts, but maintains its bright green color. Squeeze juice from half lemon over spinach mixture and transfer mixture to serving bowl.

Add raisins and pine nuts to skillet. Saute until pine nuts start to color and raisins are warmed. Add to spinach mixture. Toss well and serve.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Arugula Salad

Tonight, the Brain has alternate plans for dinner. And I think I've maxed out the potential for bacon in vegetables. Well at least for right now. After so many delicious and yet mildly not so great for my figure vegetables, I've decided to switch directions and do a healthy arugula salad.

We grew arugula last summer. And no, this is most definitely not made from that arugula. But the Brain and I both liked the peppery taste of arugula better than both the spinach and the leaf lettuce we grew. So this summer we'll be planting more arugula. Arugula is also known as rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola. It's very low in calories and high in Vitamins A and C. Interestingly, Arugula is also an aphrodisiac. So this salad might be lovely to split between you and your honey on Valentine's day. If you believe in that kind of stuff anyway. Personally, I think it's a bunch of hooey. What makes February 14th so special anyway. I'd serve this to the Brain any day.

So how did I get arugula in Nowhere, Ohio? Easy. I drove approximately 50 miles to Trader Joe's. I didn't drive there specifically for arugula. I was driving up there anyway, decided to go to Trader Joe's and LO! There was arugula. I may have squealed when I found it. I'm easily excitable. The salad is terrific and peppery with creamy bites of goat cheese and cool slices of crisp apple. It goes perfectly with my Martha Stewart for Costco Crimini Mushroom Soup with Sherry. Yes, Costco is nearby to Trader Joe's. It was a big trip to the city for me!

Arugula Salad
2 cups arugula (packed)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp walnut oil
1 oz fresh goat cheese
1 firm Gala apple
salt and pepper to taste

Toss arugula, lemon juice, and salt and pepper together in small bowl. Move to plate(s). Drizzle with walnut oil. Sprinkle crumbled goat cheese on top. Slice apple and place neatly alongside salad.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

I normally love winter, but sometimes when I sit at my desk and watch the sky maintain its depressing grayness and it just snows and snows, I tend to forget. We can go days without sunlight and the wind is bitter cold. It can get depressing.

So today, the Brain was having a rough day and I was frozen from a trip to file a deed. I decided we needed comfort food. And really what could be more comforting than bacon? And potatoes? Oh yeah, I'm doing vegetables this month. While one could rightly argue that potatoes are a vegetable, I went a little healthier with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes help to regulate the blood sugar. They are also high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B6. 'Cause yeah, I'm all about health mixing those lovely sweet potatoes with half a pound of bacon.

But the hash hit the spot. It was easy, fairly quick. And went beautifully with a simply supper of grilled Italian sausage. HA! Like I braved the snow flurries to grill in frigid weather. I stuck them in the broiler.

Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon
adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 pound bacon sliced in 1/2 inch strips
2 small onions chopped
1 large red pepper diced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain. Leave drippings in skillet.

Add onion, bell pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened. Stir in potatoes and another shake of salt. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. Remove cover and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally so that any excess liquid evaporates and potatoes start to brown. Stir in thyme and bacon.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pumpkin: It's a Vegetable

Oh so you know that I've been focusing on vegetables all month. How I promised to spotlight them and show you hot great all these different vegetables are. Well Peabody and Helen threw yet another blog event into the mix that I simply wanted to participate in... Time to Make the Donuts! Only problem is that it is a donut event. Yes those delicious fried rings of dough that are ridiculously fattening. In a month that I'm focusing on vegetables. Who ever heard of a cabbage donut?

But, have no fear. I found a pumpkin donut recipe. Pumpkin is a vegetable. Pumpkin is very good for you too. It's loaded with phytonutrients which helps keep our skin young and protected from sunlight. Even when it's mixed with sugar and flour and deep fried.

So I was up in Michigan to celebrate my birthday on Sunday. Yay! I love birthdays! Really, I just love birthday cake and cards. I don't even care if I get presents as long as there's cake and cards. SO my sister M, my mom, my stepdad, Brain, and I were all up there and I figured this would be perfect because then the Brain and I aren't left trying to eat all the donuts in one morning before they get gross. Fried food doesn't stay good long usually.
I mixed the dough the night before, and Mom and I did a late night run to Meijers for buttermilk, baking soda, and what we could find for a donut cutter. The next morning, my sister M, helped bring sheet pans of raw donuts over while I was putting them in the oil. She also brought over empty pans for me to put the cooked donuts on. M also helped roll the donut holes in the spiced sugar. The Brain taste tested several of the donut holes as soon as M could roll them in sugar. My mom supervised to make sure I didn't catch the kitchen on fire while deep frying. And my stepdad helped by testing the experience of waking up to warm frosted donuts.They were delicious. I'm so glad we weren't left with all of them. I would have happily eaten them. And, because they were cake donuts, they stayed good until around 1pm when we fled from their delicious subliminal call to eat them. They might be good even longer than that. If you can get them to stick around that long.
And I didn't catch the kitchen on fire. Whew!

Pumpkin Donuts with Powdered Sugar Glaze and Spiced Sugar Donut Holes

Spiced Sugar:
1 cup sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp buttermilk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
Canola oil (for deep frying)

Powdered Sugar Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
Whipping cream

For spiced sugar:
Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend.

For donuts:
Whisk first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (mixture will be grainy). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin in 4 additions. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic and chill 3 hours.

Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour.

Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2 inch diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.

Using 1 inch diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make donuts and donut holes.

Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels.

Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach deep fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F. to 375°F. Fry donut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry donuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer donuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

For powdered sugar glaze:
Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons milk to blend. Make this up to 3 hours ahead.

Add donut holes to spiced sugar and toss to coat. Spread donuts on 1 side with glaze. Arrange glazed donuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, about 15 minutes.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'm adopted!

Now, before I have 120 relatives calling me, I am obviously not really adopted. I am the spitting image of my dad. But in the food blogging world, I have been adopted by the lovely Cynthia at Tastes Like Home. Cynthia is from Guyana and living in Barbados. She has beautiful photos on her blog of all her delicious looking food and will share recipes if you email her. Although I am going to email her and get some recipes for her delicious looking food, I am not going to post about those recipes because they are her recipes and she's writing a book. But I definitely encourage you to look around on her blog and if one of her recipes tickles your fancy, email her and ask her for it. She also has a weekly column that she writes and every time I read it I learn something new. I am really happy to be paired with her in the Adopt a Blogger program started by Dine and Dash!

So OK, I'm not Caribbean, although the Brain and I did honeymoon there. And I don't think I have a snowball's chance in Hell of finding things like fresh sardines up here in Nowhere, Ohio. Where it is currently so cold that it's spitting snow. Little tiny mean snowflakes. Not even enough to cover the ground and make things look pretty. Just a few at a time. Enough so you know it's snowing, but not enough to get excited about. So what could I blog about that would at all make anyone think of the Caribbean?

Well, I made an eggplant, Garam Masala, lentil, and zucchini curry. What? You say. Curry is not Caribbean! But it is. Sort of. Believe it or not, my former sister-in-law, M, is also from Guyana. And she's half Indian. There is apparently a large population of Eastern Indians in Guyana (43% according to Wikipedia). And one of my current sister-in-laws, S, is from Trinidad and she eats curry all the time. And when the Brain and I were in St. Martin, on the Dutch side, I had a chicken curry for lunch with bananas in it. Holy cow was it delicious! So curry it is!
This did start as a recipe I found on Cooking Light, but really I strayed from it so much, it's hardly anywhere close. I liked it over whole wheat couscous. The Brain thought it was tasty too. The nice thing is that this recipe makes a large pot. Leftovers are really good too because the flavors blend nicely overnight.

Vegetable and Lentil Curry

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 cup dried lentils
4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
2 cups chopped zucchini (1 large or 2 medium)

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and Garam Masala. Saute 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic and eggplant. Saute for 7 minutes or until eggplant is tender.
Add lentils, water, salt, and bay leaves to pan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in zucchini and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes or until zucchini is just tender. Discard bay leaves.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

I have to admit that cauliflower is not my favorite vegetable. Overcooked and mushy it can be downright inedible. So as I was standing in line at Walmart holding my cauliflower that I was planning on making with dinner tonight, I almost decided to make a less daunting vegetable and leave the Walmart without buying anything.

But then in the middle of the tabloids showing Brittany's descent into mental illness, there was an Eating Well magazine. I leafed through it and came across a whole section on cauliflower. My confidence bolstered, I added it to the Chef Boyardi and Pringles I was also buying and headed home to make some cauliflower.

The Balsamic and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower was what I decided to cook. I like roasted vegetables a lot and I was intrigued by the idea of adding balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese. And I've never roasted cauliflower before. I don't know why not. It's really really good this way. I'll make it again this way that's for sure. It was delicious.

Balsamic and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

8 cups 1 inch thick slices cauliflower florets (about 1 large head)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss cauliflower, oil, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Roast on rimmed baking sheet until starting to soften and brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes (watch closely). Toss the cauliflower with vinegar and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven and roast until the cheese is melted and any moisture has evaporated, about 5-10 minutes more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cupcake Hero Coffee

The theme for January's Cupcake Hero is Coffee. Piece of cake. I thought. I like coffee. I like the deep rich taste of coffee. I like the aroma of coffee. I do NOT like sugar in my coffee. or cream. Suddenly I realized this was going to be very difficult to make a coffee cupcake without liking cream or sugar in my coffee. I do like a plain old nonfat latte sometimes. But how to make a milk flavor in my not sweet coffee cupcake?

I was stumped.

I couldn't really think of a coffee flavoring that wasn't a Starbucks flavor. And I didn't want to do that. Basically I wanted a cupcake that tasted like a cup of coffee. So, I took a not too sweet cupcake recipe added a ton of espresso powder and mixed and stirred and frosted it with a little bit of plain white fluffy buttercream icing. I was going for the "foam" look. Then after a sample, I decided it was just too sweet and looked too plain. Then I hit upon it. I dusted the tops of these simple cupcakes with instant espresso powder. Now when I took a bite, the espresso powder stayed on my lips and gave that unmistakable coffee flavor. Followed by sweet icing. Followed by coffee flavored cake. I was still a bit unsure so I took them to my volleyball team.

I think the volleyball team keeps me around because I'm tall and for the first game of the match the other team can be intimidated by me as I crowd the net somewhat oxen like. But then they discover that I can't seem to serve over the net most nights and that if I actually hit the ball it may or may not go over the net (or in the direction I want it to go). It's a good thing I bring cupcakes.

The aroma of these cupcakes hit as soon as I opened the box. They smelled like a latte. That was a good sign. And the girls gobbled them up and gave their seal of approval. I would say it made them feel better about losing, but we've lost all but 10 games, so we're pretty OK with it right now. We have fun. Yes that's 10 games won and many many many losses. It's not like there's a trophy or a prize or anything.
So I'm sending them over to Quirky Cupcake with Happy Birthday wishes to Jaos!

Espresso Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup softened butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk flour, espresso powder, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in large bowl. Add eggs, milk and vanilla and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed in electric mixer. Beat in butter for 1 minute at low speed. Scrape the bowl. Beat for 1 1/2 minutes at medium-high speed. Scrape the bowl again. Beat for 30 seconds on low speed.

Fill 12 cupcake molds with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until tester inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean.

Buttercream Frosting

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
12 oz (1 1/2 sticks) of butter softened

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in medium mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently until egg whites are hot (140 degrees) and sugar is melted, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and whip by machine until thick and cooled (about 5 minutes). Beat in butter and continue beating until buttercream is smooth and spreadable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Quick and Easy Broccoli

Sometimes, especially if I stop by the gym, or go for a run before cooking dinner, I find myself home late. Starving hungry. And really I would be happy with a bowl of ice cream for dinner and then off to bed. Or cake. But I have a husband now. So, being that it's his job to give me money when I ask for it, it's my job to have a meal in the evening for him. (It's not exactly that simple, but you get the idea.)

So today, hungry, I decided to go with the standard of baked chicken and some noodles. I was going to make this delicious looking chicken dish over at more than burnt toast, but I didn't have any cheese and I hadn't stopped at the grocery store on the way home. For a vegetable, I turned to my trusty Cooking Light (March 2007 issue) and found Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Toasted Garlic. The Heck with George H. Bush, broccoli is darn tasty. (Don't get me started on GW.)

This is one speedy recipe to prepare too. Let me explain my timeline this way. I got home and started the baked chicken thighs and put on the water for the noodles. Then I did the dishes from breakfast; It's the most important meal of the day you know. In the time it took the pasta to cook, I got the broccoli florets cut from the stalks and thinly sliced the garlic. Maybe it's just me, but I'm always jealous of the guy in Goodfellas who's slicing the garlic with a razor in prison and he gets it wafer thin. My garlic just seems coarsley sliced in comparison. But I digress, I drained the pasta and pulled the chicken out of the oven. While I was letting the chicken rest, I whipped together the broccoli. Simple. Easy. So very very delicious.

Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Toasted Garlic

2 tsp olive oil
6 cups broccoli florets (about 1 very big head)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add broccoli, salt, red pepper, and sliced garlic. Saute 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Brussels Sprout Yumminess

Believe it or not, when I was growing up, I hated brussels sprouts. They were that horrible green ball of yuckiness that I would force down simply because I couldn't get up from the table unless I did. After I moved out of the house, I banned them from my kitchen. Several years later, as my interest in cooking grew, I found that they were pretty tasty just split open drenched in olive oil and kosher salt and roasted in the oven until crispy. Up until tonight, this was the preferred way of eating them.

But tonight I discovered the ultimate brussels sprouts recipe. If they weren't such a pain to separate from their tiny little cores, I would eat these every single day. I'm not kidding. Because they are only cooked for 3 minutes, they don't have that overcooked cabbage yucky taste. The flavor of the pistachios shines through the whole dish and adds a wonderful nuttiness to the brussels sprouts. And that final zing of lemon amps up the fresh taste.
This is a wonderful note to leave my much loved February 2007 Bon Appetit with. The only problem was that it took longer to separate the brussels sprout leaves than to cook the whole dish!

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Pistachios

3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp minced onion
1 1/2 pounds of brussels spouts, trimmed, leaves separated from cores (about 8 cups), cores discarded
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and stir 20 seconds. Add brussels sprouts and pistachios, and saute until leaves begin to soften but are still bright green, about 3 minutes. Drizzle lemon juice over. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Bite and a Cocktail

So. Yeah, after that article, I'm trying to up the amount of alcohol I drink to moderate. Well, not exactly. It's a Blog Party! Wheee! I'm participating in Blog Party #30 over at Dispensing Happiness. The rules are simple. I have to prepare one cocktail and one appetizer. There's one teensy little catch. It has to be vegetarian. Dairy is ok though.

Piece of cake. Well not really a piece of cake. The Brain's favorite cocktail is a Maker's Mark on the rocks. That is also what all the brother-in-laws drink, and what my mom and Grandma drink. And I usually pass on the cocktail. So today I got all fancy and girly. I was at the local grocery (not the big chain store that's closing) and they had some beautiful pink grapefruits. Unable to remember exactly how to make the martini I used to indulge in, that I raked up a $114 bar bill at the Knickerbocker hotel in Chicago drinking, I decided to improvise.

For my cocktail, first I mixed 1 tsp grapefruit zest to 2 tsp sugar and dipped the rim of my glass in grapefruit juice and then in the sugar/zest mixture. Then I pureed the pulp and juice of the grapefruit to make a grapefruit puree. And what the heck, I gave it a cute cute name.

Little Mary Sunshine

1 oz. vodka
2 oz. grapefruit puree
sparkling mineral water (San Pellagrino)

First pour the vodka into the bottom of the sugar rimmed glass. Then add the grapefruit puree. Stir. Pour sparkling mineral water to fill the glass.

Now on to my appetizer...

This was really good. Really. I even had a good time roasting the peppers and I didn't catch the oven on fire. I did however manage to melt my tongs a teeny bit.

This is again out of my Vegetables Every Day cookbook by Jack Bishop. There's very good instructions on how to roast red peppers and that's what I did, but I'm sure you could go out and get a jar of roasted red peppers and it would work just as good. And I'm sure leftovers would be great on sandwiches. If you have leftovers.

Roasted Pepper Spread with Goat Cheese and Herbs
from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop

3 medium colored bell peppers (I used a red, an orange, and a yellow) roasted, steamed, peeled, cored and seeded
3 oz. goat cheese
3 small garlic cloves
6 large basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper

Puree the peppers and their juices along with the cheese, garlic, and basil in a food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. This spread can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Walnuts

I have decided to be brave. To be daring. To try a vegetable I've never tried before. OK, that is neither brave nor daring considering that I really really like most vegetables. I am however I did it though. I had seen broccoli rabe in the grocery before, but never quite knew how to cook it. Sort of like quinces. SO when February's Bon Appetit came (yes, it's another recipe from the same issue), I decided to give it a go.

Broccoli rabe is also known as rapini. I like to call it rapini because that's how Meijers had it as and (most importantly) I don't know how to pronounce broccoli rabe. Does it rhyme with babe or sound like Rob or is the e not silent? I'm completely clueless. My mom had never heard of it before.

Apparently this rapini is a nutritional bonanza. It's a great source of calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, fiber, anticarcinogens, and antioxidants. Pretty impressive. The only thing Bon Appetit didn't tell me was whether or not to remove the leaves. The Joy of Cooking and a couple of websites mentioned it as a leafy green (or salad green) so I decided to leave the leaves on. Bon Appetit also says that broccoli rabe has a bitter edge. I really didn't think it was bitter at all. But maybe that's me.

So what did I make? I made Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Walnuts. It was terrific. I made it as a side dish with some baked chicken, I know I'm really creative with the baked chicken. I was thinking when I was cooking it though, that it would make a great lunch all on it's own. The walnuts add protein. The broccoli rabe provide a vegetable. And the bulgur is a great whole grain. The bulgur was nice and chewy and the walnuts were hardly noticeable. Something like a little perk. The Brain ate all of his before eating the chicken, so I may have to fight him for leftovers though.

As an aside if you are bringing this to a potluck, make sure you inform people that it has walnuts in it. The walnuts blend in visually with the bulgur and would definitely cause a problem if someone has a tree nut allergy. That would be very bad. In fact, I think this could probably be made successfully without the walnuts.

Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Walnuts
from Bon Appetit (again)

1 cup medium grain bulgur
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe (rapini) bottom 1 inch of stems trimmed
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place bulgur in medium bowl; pour 2 1/2 cups boiling water over. Stir once and let stand until just tender, about 20 minutes. Pour bulgur into fine strainer set over bowl. Reserve soaking liquid.

Cook broccoli rabe in boiling salted water until crisp tender and a bright green color, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to bowl of ice water and cool. Drain; cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add walnuts; saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and bulgur; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until heated, about 3 minutes. If dry, add reserved bulgur liquid by tablespoonfuls. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Toss in Parmesan and serve.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cabbage and Pasta

OK, so now back to vegetables. The bagels were a fun little break, but January is all about the vegetable food group. Recently I read that if you make these 4 changes you can add 14 years to your life: 1) quit smoking 2) exercise regularly 3) eat 5 servings of fruits or vegetables daily and 4) drink alcohol moderately. I thought it was interesting.

I've already quit smoking, although I crave my cigarettes daily, like I have for 4 years. I dream about them. But smoking is bad. So I don't start back up again. I'm starting to get back Into exercise, although when Nora Jones came on in spin class this morning it was a little frustrating. I really really like Nora Jones, but she doesn't hype me up to pedal faster up an imaginary hill. She's good music to go downhill on the other side of that imaginary hill with your feet sticking out yelling WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (Spin class is the same as "indoor cycling". It's basically pedaling up and down imaginary hills when the leader tells you to and there's loud music. Basically aerobics on a stationary bike.)

But I digress, as for #4.... I'm not very good at drinking. I used to be great at. I was fantastic at it. I could drink like a fish and not be sick the next morning. I could hang out with my guy friends and drink beer all day long while watching football. Ah the good old days. College. Now, I'm lucky if I don't have a hangover after 2 drinks. So pretty much I only drink about 2 times a month maybe. Can we call that moderate? hmmmm. Maybe I need to drink more often...

So let's up our vegetable consumption. Tonight's lovely vegetables are savoy cabbage and haricots verts, or as they're known in Nowhere, Ohio, frozen petite green beans. This is again from February's Bon Appetit. I Love this issue!! The only small ooopsy daisy I made was that I made the entire package of pasta. But really I thought it still tasted great. I think if I had only made half the package that it would be overpowered by the sauce and the cabbage.

This was a really good, different use of pasta. It tasted green. I was impressed at how fresh and delicious it tasted using for the most part a winter vegetable as a main ingredient. I used anchovy paste instead of whole anchovies and squeezed out 3 squeezes that looked like they were the size of anchovies. I'm not always frugal, but that was a $3 savings to buy the paste instead of the whole anchovy fillets. And the Parmesan mixed in is really essential because of its saltiness.

Multi-Grain Pasta with Sicilian Salsa Verde, Cabbage, and Haricots Verts

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
3/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp drained capers
3 anchovy fillets (or 3 anchovy sized squirts of anchovy paste.)
3 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
6 cups thinly sliced savoy cabbage
3 cups frozen haricots verts thawed (about 1/2 a bag)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, puree parsley, 4 tablespoons oil, capers, anchovies, and 1/3 of chopped garlic in food processor.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cabbage; saute until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add haricots verts and remaining garlic; toss 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup cheese pasta, parsley mixture, and 2/3 cup pasta cooking liquid. Toss until sauce coats pasta, adding more pasta cooking liquid if dry, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing remaining 3/4 cup cheese separately.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Everything Bagels

All summer the post office across the street from the Brain's law firm has been having work done. It has been some serious entertainment. At the end of it all, the workers landscaped the front and planted some grass seed. They put down some straw to keep the birds away and left. Today, before the rain came, large gusts of wind blew through town and picked up all that straw in one big swirly mass. It was like what I imagine a sandstorm would except it was straw. We couldn't even see across the street.

Sometimes things we see everyday, like straw can be transformed into something magical. The Brain and I had this experience with our everything bagels. Before now, if we wanted an everything bagel, we went to the grocery store and looked for one. And those barely taste like anything. When we travel we might stop on the tollway and get one from Einstein Bros. Bagels. So everything bagels haven't been a common occurrence out here in nowhere land.
But, feeling like I need a break from the steady stream of vegetables going on over here. Especially after getting seriously creative with those turnips, I needed to work with something I know would work out for me. Baked Goods. Bolstered by my repeated success with Martha Stewart's pretzels, I decided to attempt bagels. (Also there's a neat food event going on over at Sweet Sins called Bread Baking Day #6 Shaped Bread and this is my entry for it.)

I mixed and kneaded and when it came to shaping, the Brain was seriously interested in what I was doing. So he sat there and measured out little 3 ounce blobs of dough and I rolled them into what I thought were mini bagels. Half of them I made into balls and poked holes in them. The other half I made into ropes and from the ropes into circles. I think the rope/circle method worked better than poking holes, but by the end I couldn't tell which were which. After letting them rise and then boiling them, I created a mixture of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dehydrated minced garlic, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and caraway seeds. Then I pressed the bagel tops into this mixture.

They came out WAY better than buying them at the store. And since my little town has no bakery other than WalMart (blech) we will most likely make these again. frequently. maybe when the family comes into town. maybe just because we like bagels. maybe just because we like THESE bagels. And really although the Joy of Cooking recipe says it makes 8 bagels and we got 16 good sized bagels out of it, there was nothing mini about them.

from the Joy of Cooking

Combine in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes:
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm (105° to 115° F) water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Stir in:
1 Tbsp melted vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 cup bread flour
Gradually stir in:
3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour*
Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let rest, covered, 15 to 20 minutes.
Punch down the dough and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope tapering the ends. Wet the ends to help seal and form into rings, stretching the top end over and around the bottom end and pinching them together underneath. Or alternately, roll each piece of dough into a ball. Stick your thumb through the ball to make a hole. Stretch the hole out about 2 inches. Let rise, covered, on a floured board about 15 minutes, until puffy.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bring to a boil in a large pot:
4 quarts water
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Drop the rings 4 at a time into the boiling water. As the bagels surface, turn them over and cook about 45 seconds longer. Skim out and place on an ungreased baking sheet coated with:
Press the tops of the bagels in a combination of
Caraway seeds
Kosher salt
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds
Minced granulated garlic
Cracked black pepper
in a 1:1:1:1:1:1 ratio. (1 part of each). Bake 20 to 25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

* I had to use a lot more flour. I think it may have been humid in my kitchen. That happens a lot.