Yummy Breakfast Bagels – New York Style!

Last night, S, his family and I were just sitting on the dinner table talking about all sorts of yummy food, after dinner, which made me feel hungry again.. Somehow we got talking about donuts. I loooved donuts! There was this absolutely fabulous donut shop in downtown Monterey, California called Red’s Donuts, that made the most amazing, fresh ones. They were pretty much sold out by 10 AM and shut shop at 1 PM.. Ohhh the days before calories really mattered! We would head straight to the donut store after a short gym workout and I would get the custard filled ones! And the chocolate cakes ones! And the plain chocolate ones! And the cinnamon sugar ones! If you saw me, you could tell I’ve definitely enjoyed a donut or two! 😀 Donuts are definitely my favorite kind of breakfast!

S preferred to have bagels with sundried tomato cream cheese, as a rare breakfast treat – just proving how opposite we really are! I thought bagels are the healthier breakfast option, perfect for a daily breakfast. But then again, I am comparing one bagel to 3 donuts..

S’s parents couldn’t help but remember the time they would take their twin granddaughters down the street to get some bagel and cream cheese, one of the twins’ favorite snacks! It seemed like there were many memories attached to bagels and since we don’t get them in Baroda, I decided to look into making some.

The first few recipes I researched were all traditional bagel recipes which needed a lot of proving time, a very specific starter yeast etc. Then I found this fabulous recipe which assured me I would have hot bagels on the table in under 2 hours! I cheated and even used instant yeast to get them faster and it worked! These bagels turned out chewy, yeasty and fresh! I even used all whole wheat flour to make them a tad bit healthier. Without any oil or butter, I could feel guilt free about eating these with some cream cheese and of course, butter!

New York Style Whole Wheat Bagels

Adapted slightly from here

Ingredients

2 teaspoons Instant Rise Yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/4 Cup warm water (you may need more)

3 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

2 tablespoons vital gluten

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Toppings

Kalonji, Crushed Pepper, Sesame Seeds, Chilli Flakes, Shahi Jeera (Caraway Seeds)

Method

  • Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.
  • Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add anywhere from a couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup of water. You want to result in a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.
  • On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.
  • Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms. Repeat with 7 other dough rounds.
  • Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

20150819_185450

  •  After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC / Gas Mark 7.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York Style bagel with this option).
  • If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” (listed above) to top the bagels.

20150819_190758

  • Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

20150819_194924

We enjoyed these straight hot from the oven and they were so good! I definitely recommend spreading some delicious cream cheese (either plain or flavored like we did). I do hope S felt like he was back in New York and his parents back in Toronto. I wonder how I can improvise these. I am quite sure if I use only all purpose flour or if I add some gluten the texture will change, hopefully fluffier and lighter compared to the denseness of these bagels.

In either case, we really enjoyed eating these for breakfast the next day as well!

Happy Baking!

My absolute favorite: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

We all have those one absolute favorite dessert that we eat even when we know we shouldn’t. I don’t think I can think of a combination more addictive and tastier than chocolate and peanut butter. Oh wait! Add some Nutella to it and it will drive me crazy!

I love cookies. I love chocolate. And I love peanut butter. What happens when you combine all of them? You get the most amazing, the most sinful and the most addictive things of all! I came across this recipe in 2010. We were young kids excited to be baking and wanted to make something sweet. All our previous attempts had resulted in something burnt or something spread out or something half-baked. But we weren’t disheartened. We were happy to scrape off the burnt bits and eat whatever little is edible or scoop it all up with a spoon. It was another ‘baking day’ and we found a jar of peanut butter in the fridge. Now, I LOOOVEE peanut butter! Give me a jar and some jelly and Nutella and I’ll be the happiest person on this planet. Anyway, we decided to try making these cookies and they turned out so good we gobbled up the first batch just out of the oven. Of course we had to make more and were more patient the second time around. From then on, when we bake these cookies, we always double the recipe and it has never lasted more than 48 hours.
image

Fast-forward to a couple of years later, I still love the simplicity of this recipe and they are my comfort cookies. I stopped making them with all-purpose flour and make them now with whole-wheat flour. The texture does change, they aren’t as chewy, but I’m willing to make that little bit of a compromise to eat a little healthier. The ingredients are easy to stock and I began using brown sugar in baking only after discovering this recipe. I sometimes add a little Nutella and cut back a little bit on the peanut butter for an extra flavor kick. I also tend to sometimes add creamy peanut butter and other times, add chunky peanut butter. Either ways, they taste good.
image

These are super rich cookies and very indulgent so they’re excellent as a treat. I would bake these and take them as a gift for someone who loves peanut butter. I can’t praise this cookie recipe enough and I don’t want to experiment with it at all! If you do try making it, please let me know what you think!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Canary Girl

Ingredients:
• ½ cup of butter (Use unsalted to control the saltiness in the cookies)
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• ¾ cup Peanut Butter (creamy gives a better texture)
• 1 cup flour (I used whole-wheat)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• a pinch on salt
• 1 cup chocolate chunks
Method:
• Pre-heat oven t o 375 Fahrenheit or 175 Celsius. Line a cookie sheet with grease-proof paper and set aside
• Cream the butter and both the sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, with an electric beater if possible. Make sure the butter is at room temperature to speed up the process.
• Add the egg and vanilla and beat them in the mixture.
• Using a wooden spoon beat in the peanut butter until well incorporated in the butter-sugar mixture.
• Next, add the flour, salt, baking powder and stir to combine.
• Add the chocolate chunks and mix them in the dough.
• Drop spoonfuls of the dough on to the cookie sheet, leaving some space between each cookie because they will spread.
• Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly golden.
• Remove them from the oven and allow them to rest on the cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

These taste best when they’re warm with a glass of cold milk on the side. Happy baking everyone!
image

Baked Falafels in Whole Wheat Pita Pockets with Lemon Tahini and Hummus

Falafel sandwiches are my favorite things in the whole wide world! A few years, I was with my family in Dubai. For the whole week, I ate nothing but falafel sandwiches for lunch and dinner! I was in heaven. I did not need anything more! Back home, I tried a bunch of places and the falafels were obviously slightly adapted to Indian standards.

Cream Center and New Yorker in Bombay are two absolutely legendary restaurants. They have been around for years & years and for a lot of Bombayites, the first taste of international food. They serve Nachoes, falafel sandwiches, pizzas, burritos, enchiladas and pastas. This is the place where I tried my first nachos, first pizzas and yes, my first falafel sandwiches. All the food here is adapted to serve the Indian crowd and it has its own unique appeal. I suspect it’s still super popular because a lot of people want to bask in their nostalgic days. My parents still talk about their samosas, Russian salad sandwiches and cold coffee.

A few years ago, Lebanese and Mediterranean food became big in Bombay just the way there is a Japanese food fad right now. Never the less, I am thankful for the Lebanese food boom because now I get to enjoy my favorite foods in a whole bunch of restaurants! A lot of places the falafel sandwiches are too dry, in other places, too soggy. I am pretty sure a lot of places skip on using tahini in their hummus or use less of it, but in either case, they accompany the sandwich with some delicious sauces. One of the best parts about falafels is the yummy pickled vegetable salad that comes along with it. I still have to figure out how to make it but I was super happy with my version!

I love bread, especially the smell of freshly baked bread. I had tried a few times to make bread at home and for some reason, I just could not get it right. I finally went for a bread making class where I picked up a few techniques. I always try to use whole-wheat flour and maybe that is one of the reasons I never got light and fluffy bread. Someone told me to use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour instead of all whole wheat flour to give the bread a better texture. That’s exactly what I did for these pita bread and they turned out quite well. I have been looking for fresh yeast in my city, but none of the usual places I know have it in stock. So I’m using packaged yeast and am quite happy with the results.

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

Adapted from The Fresh Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 packet yeast. (About 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 ¼ cups – 1 ½ cups water at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter

Method:

  • If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to activate the yeast. Remember to reduce the quantity of water to be used in the flour mixture accordingly.
  • If you using instant yeast, like me, add the flours, sugar or honey, yeast and oil in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the water, about 1 ¼ cups first and mix using a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • All of the ingredients should form a ball. If all of the flour does not stick to the ball, add some water gradually.
  • Once all the ingredients are incorporated in the ball, move the ball to a work surface like the kitchen counter or a large dish for about 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix on a low-speed for 10 minutes.
  • The purpose of kneading is to thoroughly combine the ingredients and to break down the flour so that the dough will become stretchy and elastic and rise well in the oven. A simple hand kneading technique is to firmly press down on the dough with the palm of your hand, fold the dough in half toward you like you are closing an envelope, rotate the dough 90 degrees and then repeat these steps, but whatever technique you are comfortable using should work.
  • When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly covered with oil.
  • Form a ball of the dough and place it in the bowl. Roll the ball  of dough around the bowl so that it is lightly coated with oil all over.
  • Cover the dough with a damp kitchen cloth and set aside until it has doubled, about 90 minutes.
  • When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the air.
  • Divide the dough into 8 pieces. 
  • Roll each piece of the dough into a ball. Cover them with a damp kitchen cloth and leave aside for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it in the middle rack of the oven to allow it to heat. This will be your baking surface. (I had never heard of this idea and it is totally fabulous!!)
  • After the dough has relaxed, roll each ball into 1/4″ thickness.
  • Open the oven and place as many Pita breads on the baking surface as you can and close the oven door. The Pita will need to be in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  • Once the Pita bread is puffed and slightly browned, its ready!

Keep the pitas aside while you make the falafel.

I found this recipe for baked falafels and since I am scared of deep-frying anything, I was happy to come across this recipe. While making it from this recipe, I realized it is important to NOT cook your garbanzo beans. I used to make this mistake and always found my mixture to be very wet. To combat that and to help me create a proper falafel bullet, I would invariably add more flour to the mix. In short, it would be one heaping mess! This recipe is much easier and the falafel bullets taste perfect right out of the oven. However, these don’t stay well overnight or if re-heated. Make this and eat them immediately in my advice!

Baked Falafel

Recipe adapted

from Chow Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilly flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (add gradually)
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180o C (or 350o F)
  • Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Put in a blender and pulse till the beans are very coarsely grounded.
  • Put the coarsely grounded beans in a medium mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients except water. Add only 2 tablespoons of the at this stage.
  • Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, try to see if you can make a falafel patty from the mixture. If the mixture seems to dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • If the mixture feels too wet, add a little more flour.
  • Once you are happy with the consistency, form small balls of the mixture, about 1½ inches in diameter. Flatten slightly.
  • Place the balls on a well-oiled baking pan. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes on each side. With the baking process, only the side that touches the baking pan will be browned.

Once ready, keep aside.

Lemon Tahini

Recipe from Mollie Katzen

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Sesame Tahini
  • 5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 small to medium clove of garlic
  • 3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups of water (depending on desired thickness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of salt (depending on the amount of water being used)
  • a tablespoon of finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika or Cayenne pepper

Method:

  • Place the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. (You can also use a blender.) Begin to process.
  • Keeping the motor running, slowly drizzle in the water, checking every now and then to monitor the consistency. When it is as thick as you want it, turn off the machine.
  • Transfer to a medium-small bowl or container, and season to taste with salt, parsley, and cayenne. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready for use. If you’re using this as a sauce for steamed vegetables, serve at room temperature over hot, freshly cooked vegetables (any assortment!) 

Hummus is my favorite dip. I love the fact that it is so healthy and I enjoy eating it with some sweet carrots. Many evenings, I crisp up some pita bread and sit down happily to eat my hummus. I have to confess, I love my hummus super-garlicky and that’s what I prefer to eat it all alone! Haha.

Hummus 

Recipe adapted from RoyHobbs

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup dried gabanzo beans, soaked in water overnight and cooked the next day.
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons plain yogurt

Method:

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl.

Assembling the Falafel Sandwiches

  • Take a pita bread and split it in half to create a cavity.
  • Take some hummus and spread it on the pita bread.
  • Next, take 2 baked falafels and place them in the readied pita pockets
  • If you like, place a cucumber slice and a tomato slice with a little lettuce in the pocket as well.
  • Finally, drizzle some of the lemon tahini sauce on the pita pocket.
  • Your super yummy falafel sandwich is ready!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. I know the pictures aren’t the greatest, but I think I am improving!

Happy cooking everyone!