Jalapeño Cheddar Bagels

I am happy to report that yesterday’s reunion festivities were quite enjoyable, and I never felt awkward or left out, not even once.  As soon as we arrived on campus, we checked in at registration, then went to see one of Luke’s old teachers who lives on campus with his wife and children.

They are lovely people, and we had gotten together with them last year, so it was great to catch up.  The next part was the one I dreaded, the dinner with 5th Year Reunion Class.  I have been to enough Wesleyan reunions (thanks Dad) to know how these things go, so I tried to settle in and act natural.

Totally pulled it off.  Luke’s former classmates were happy to meet me, and quite surprised to learn that we’re getting married in three months.  I had many great conversations with people I had just met, and enjoyed myself very much.  After the dinner, we went with some of Luke’s closer mates to a hookah bar in New Haven.  We didn’t get home until midnight or so, hence the lateness of this post (my bad).

All in all, it was a good time, and I’m looking forward to today.

Ok, on to these awesome bagels.  I myself cannot vouch for their deliciousness, but Luke says they are phenomenal.  I can’t handle spicy food, so I made these for Luke as part of his birthday present.

I used Peter Reinhart’s method, and even though the process takes two days, it was totally worth it.  I’m going to use this method from now on whenever I make bagels.  I can’t wait to try out new flavors, but if you like this combo, these homemade bagels will really knock your socks off!

Jalapeño Cheddar Bagels

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Makes about 14-16 bagels, depending on size

For the sponge:
1 tsp instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) bread flour (you really should use bread flour)
2½ cups water, room temperature

For the dough:
½ tsp instant yeast
3¾ cups (17 ounces) bread flour
2½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups minced jalapeño peppers, seeds and membranes removed

To Finish:
1 Tbsp baking soda
cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and honey. Stir until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes.  Add the cheese and jalapeños during the last two minutes or so of kneading, and knead until evenly distributed. The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. If you have an instant-read digital thermometer, the dough should register 77 to 81 degrees F. If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems sticky or tacky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

Immediately divide the dough into equal pieces (each piece should weigh approximately 4½ ounces). Form the pieces into rolls.

Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 minutes.

Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment or silicone mats and mist lightly with baking spray. Proceed with shaping the bagels: Push a hole through the center of the roll with your thumb and stretch out the hole to 2½ inches in diameter, making sure that the resulting ring has a fairly even thickness all the way around.

Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. Sprinkle the bagels with the shredded Cheddar cheese as soon as they come out of the water.

When all the bagels have been boiled and topped, place the pans on the two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 8 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are only baking one pan at a time, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 8 minutes, or until the bagels turn golden brown.

Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.  Long process, but worth it!!!


Baked Cheddar Perogis

Luke and I have been doing research on universities in Massachusetts.  Turns out, if I want to get my Masters in the same discipline as my undergrad work, I have only two options.  In the whooooole state.

And yes, one of them is Harvard.  Ohhhhh boy….so really only one option, but a girl can dream.

I also registered for the GRE.  How I hate standardized tests, but we do what we must.

And I must share these perogis with you.  I can’t remember eating perogis before I made these, so I don’t have much basis for comparison, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The filling is made of mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese, and it’s encased in a simple dough then baked to golden perfection.  You could also pan fry them, but I was looking for a little less grease, while still maintaining a crispy shell.

And no, I didn’t forget: here’s your Hop Day with Izzy pic!  Happy Wednesday!

Nom nom nom.

Baked Cheddar Perogis

Adapted from The Bite House

Makes about 20 perogis

For the Dough:

 2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
Pinch of salt

For the Filling:

2 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar

chives and/or parlsey, finely chopped (I used scallions)
pinch of salt

 For the dough: Mix everything together with your hands or a mixer until you have a smooth dough. If needed, you can loosen it up with up to ¼ cup of cold water.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

 Meanwhile, make the filling: Boil the potatoes until thoroughly cooked, about 15-20 minutes.  Strain them and let stand for 5 minutes to let the extra moisture out.  Mash and add the cheddar, herbs and salt.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick. With a glass or dough cutter, cut out 3″ circles, saving the trimings.  Put about 1/2 tablespoon of filling in the middle of each.  Dip your finger in water and pass it around the edges so the dough will stick together nicely.  Close the perogis making sure they are completely sealed. You can crimp the edges with a fork to ensure this.  Set them aside on a pan.  Repeat the process with the rest of the dough, rerolling as needed.

At this point you can put them in a bag with a dash of flour and freeze them.

Put the perogis on a lined or greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then serve with desired condiments.

Apple Cheddar Scones

After today, I will be taking a short hiatus from posting (just a few days) as I go down to Philly to visit my grandmother.  Of course I’ll be bringing my computer, as I can’t be separated from it, and yes, she does have Internet, but sadly it’s a dial-up connection.  Tonal modem that cuts off the phone line and all.

I don’t even want to think about how long it would take to upload a photo onto her computer.  Let alone 5.  So, if I can find some magical bars of wireless somewhere, I’ll try and post, but if not, a few days isn’t so bad.

Hopefully these scones will tide you over.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they are the most delicious scones ever.  They are like crack scones.  They are seductive and enticing in all the right (or wrong) ways, and I had to freeze a large portion of them to keep myself from devouring the whole batch and depriving Luke of their amazingness.

Words truly are not sufficient to describe them; they are ineffable.  I’ve totally been waiting to use that word in a sentence.  Anyway, make these scones.  They will make your house smell great.  I would advise sharing them, otherwise you may fall victim to their spell and end up with scone crumbs all over the floor and a belly ache.

Apple Cheddar Scones

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 8 scones

2 firm tart apples
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs

Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease with cooking spray.

Peel and core apples, then cut them into one-sixteenths. (Chunks, not slivers.) Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. They will be about half-baked. Let them cool completely. (You can speed this up in the fridge.) Leave oven on.

Sift or whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.  Cut in the cold butter with fingers or forks until the butter is pea-sized.  Cut the apples chunks into bite sized pieces, and add them, as well as the, cheese, cream and one egg, stirring until just combined with a wooden spoon.

Generously flour your counter top and place the scone dough on top of it. Sprinkle with flour. Use a rolling pin to gently roll (or use your hands to pat) the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick, 6-inch circle. Cut circle into 8 wedges. Transfer them to a baking sheet that has either been greased or lined with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. With a spatula, lift them to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remember, you’ve been warned.


Cheddar Crusted Chicken Tenders

For about an hour yesterday, it seemed that Izzy’s stitches were bothering her a bit.  She would flop down on her belly and sprawl her legs out behind her, get up, and repeat in various locations inside her cage and pen.  It only lasted an hour, so I’m assuming it was just a passing itchy fit.  Poor bunny.  Is it wrong that I took advantage of her discomfort by taking cute photos of her?

Behind her is her foot, not her tail.

Little paw sticking out!

I know, I can be a bad person sometimes.  Let me redeem myself by offering up these tasty chicken tenders you can make at home without the use of a deep fryer.

The dredging mixture.

I don’t eat fast food, nor am I at all a fan of deep fried food, so when I saw this recipe on How Sweet Eats, (love this blog) I knew I was destined to make it one day.  I also happened to have a pack of thin boneless chicken tenders in the freezer and a package of finely shredded orange cheddar.  Oh yes, it was fate.

Well, I did have to go out and get the buttermilk, but close enough.  This dish lived up to all of my expectations.  The chicken was moist, and the breading was crisp and cheesy and delicious.

Of course I doused mine in ketchup like I do with most meats (don’t judge me too harshly) and was a very happy girl.  Luke ate his plain and was a very happy boy.  And with the leftover breading mixture…I made baked onion rings!

Cheddar Crusted Chicken Tenders

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Makes 2-3 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders

2 cups low-fat buttermilk

3 cups panko bread crumbs

1 cup seasoned regular bread crumbs

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

4 ounces of cheddar, freshly & finely grated

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

2-4 hours before serving (or even overnight), add chicken to a baking dish and cover with buttermilk. Let soak.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, flour, salt (quantity should be adjusted to taste given the amount of salty cheese), pepper, mustard and paprika and stir with a spoon. Fold in cheese. Lay a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray (if you don’t have a rack that fits, just line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat, or grease it with cooking spray).

Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk (it should have a layer of milk around it), and dredge through the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Lay on the wire rack and repeat. Before baking, hit each chicken tender with a spray of non-stick spray or mist of olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then gently flip using kitchen tongs and spray the other side. Bake for 10-12 minutes more, then remove from oven and serve with dips of choice.

The procedure for making baked onion rings is exactly the same as above, only you don’t have to soak the onion slices beforehand.  Just cut them up, dip them in buttermilk, dredge them through the breadcrumbs and bake for 10-15 mins at 400 degrees F.