Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cauliflower & Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Cilantro-Mint Chutney and Raita

I'm not really a sweets kind of person; I rather prefer savory foods. When I hear people rave about their visit to the latest cupcake or pie shop, I can appreciate the appeal, but it just doesn't do it for me. But, put a piece of really great cheese or homemade chorizo in front of me, now we're talking. The same holds true when it comes to breakfast. While I would happily sit down to a breakfast of homemade pancakes with "real" maple syrup (not imitation flavor syrup), a savory pancake usually wins me over.

Thus, set out this morning before heading off to work (blah, much rather stay home and cook) to prepare a batch of savory pancakes. Purchased all the ingredients the day before, but when I woke up in the morning, was still not exactly sure what I wanted to do with them. After brewing a cup of coffee (everything is better after a cup of strong coffee), the wheels began to turn. Started off by cutting the florets into approximately 1/4 inch slices, tossed them in olive oil with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika, and then roasted them in the oven (25-30 minutes at 450°F), while I prepped the rest of my ingredients.

I have to admit, raw cauliflower really doesn't excite me much. But, when it's roasted in the oven and the natural sugars caramelize, the cauliflower takes on a completely different flavor and texture--toasty, a bit nutty, a bit smoky (due to the smoked paprika), and tender to the bite.

I used chickpea flour as the base for the batter, which is a nice alternative to wheat flour. Just make sure to incorporate the water well with the flour (otherwise your pancakes will be lumpy).

Also, decided that the two following sauces would pair nicely with my Indian inspired pancakes: 1) a mildly spicy cilantro-mint chutney, and 2) a cool raita.

Raita is an Indian yogurt sauce, typically seasoned with coriander, cumin, mint, cayenne, and other herbs and spices. Raita soothes the palate, especially when eating spicy dishes.

On a side note, like most of you foodies out there (still quite indifferent to the term foodie), I have an affinity for cooking shows, particularly Top Chef and Chopped. The contestants are always throwing around terms that I am not always altogether familiar with (e.g., raita, gremolata, coulis, gastrique), so I've decided to start a food glossary (coming soon), as I have a never ending quest for knowledge (that might explain the ridiculous amount of student loans I've amassed). I hope it comes in handy and will build upon it with time.

These made for an enjoyable morning and  nice breakfast; too bad I had to go to work afterwards :-(

Chickpea pancakes (makes 5 pancakes)
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup warm water
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 head cauliflower, roasted (with olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked hot paprika)

Mix the chickpea flour, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Slowly, stir in the water. Let stand 30 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower florets.

Heat a medium, non-stick pan over medium heat. Add ~1-2 teaspoon olive oil to the pan. When hot, add about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown, flip and cook another minute or two, until nicely browned on the flip side. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Add a little more oil to the pan, as needed.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 fresh mint leaves
2 serrano chiles, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon lime juice
sea salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender with 1/4 cup water. Blend to a smooth paste.

1/2 small-medium pickling cucumber, peeled and grated
1/2 cup yogurt (preferably Greek-style)
1 garlic clove, pounded to a puree
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 mint leaves, cut in chiffanade
pinch of cayenne
large pinch of cumin
sea salt to taste

Note: You can roast whole cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until they release their aroma (after a few minutes), and then grind in a mortar and pestle.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Briam: Slow Baked Vegetables

There is a definitive theme to Greek cuisine. Lots of homegrown fruits and vegetables, beans, fish, an abundance of olive oil, dishes slowly baked in the oven (the antithesis of our [American] fast food culture), and, of course, wine. After several trips to Greece, I have adopted many of Greece's culinary traditions as my own. It really doesn't get much simpler than this. Taking the raw ingredients as mother nature intended, manipulating them minimally (some slicing and dicing), and then slow baking in the oven.

The Greek table, Cretan in particular, is known for its use of fruit, vegetables (especially wild greens such as horta), pulses, whole grains, olive oil, and wine, much of which is grown locally, on the island.

I know I've mentioned my love of all things locally produced/grown/raised quite a bit. Besides their incredible taste, along with environmental benefits, support of the local economy, building relationships with local farmers, and, hopefully, lower medical bills down the road, there is one additional reason...

Consider the following Food for Thought:
Almost 96% of the commercial vegetable crops registered in 1903 are now extinct.

A handful of companies currently control about 1/3 of the global seed market; thus, there is far less diversity in what farmers grow today.

In the United States, over half the corn and almost half the soy come from just 4 major providers. 

90% of our food is now produced through only 15 plant and 8 animal species (scary). 

Once a seed disappears for good, there is no way to bring it back.

The only way to preserve genetic diversity, is to grow/raise it, buy it from farmers who grow/raise it, and to eat/cook it.

Life is too short not to enjoy good food! I also tend to get bored pretty easily, and am always searching for new flavors.

Many old varietals of fruits and vegetables, and even livestock, are being reintroduced by small local farms; many of which you will never ever see in a typical American grocery store [45 days and counting to the first outdoor Farmers' Market of the 2011 season].  

Ok, back to briam. This dish conjures up fond memories of lazy lunches in Crete, which often included a tentacle of grilled octopus.

1 1/2 pound potatoes (a variety of different potatoes is best)
2 large onions, sliced
3 large red bell peppers, sliced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 yellow squash, cut ~ 1/3 inch thick
2 zucchini, cut ~ 1/3 inch thick
8 whole canned tomatoes or 8 fresh small-medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika
 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

garnish with:
Drizzle of peppery extra virgin olive oil
Chopped dill
Smoked hot paprika
Pinch of coarse sea salt
Feta cheese (optional)

Feel free to change up the vegetables according to what's in season (eggplant would be a nice addition; I especially like the Japanese variety).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the onions, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the onions, vegetables, herbs, salt, pepper, paprika. Toss to combine. Transfer to a large baking pan. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup water. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the potatoes are tender.

Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped dill, smoked hot paprika, pinch of course sea salt, and feta cheese.

I like to prepare this dish over the weekend, and let the flavors marry for a day or two. Thereafter, you have a great meal already prepared, and ready to bring to work for lunch for several days.

A little bit of feta would be a nice addition. Or, although not traditional to Greek cuisine, I like to put a little garlicky aioli on top.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Swiss Chard and Portobello Enchiladas with Five-Chile Salsa

Blue Chicago
The end of March and, not surprisingly, it still feels like winter in Chicago, with temperatures predicted to hover around 30 degrees for the next five days. Blue Chicago, not for the music scene, but for the weather, which is making me feel very blue. When many parts of the country are beginning to see signs of spring, not Chicago; the winter continues to linger. Where is spring? I can't take it any longer. Am tired of eating vegetables that have been shipped across the country [and taste akin to cardboard]. I want spring asparagus, peas, onions...from my local farmer's market (sigh). 

This weather puts me in the mood for spicy food (well, maybe I'm always in the mood for spicy food). Lately I have had a thing for casseroles. I've lightened up the traditional casserole with lots of vegetables and a modest amount of cheese.  I've packed the tortillas with lots of swiss chard, portobello mushrooms, roasted poblanos, and goat chese (chevre).                                                                            

Since tomatoes will not be showing their pretty little heads for several more months, I've been experimenting with dried chile salsas. Used five different dried chiles in this particular salsa, which produced a well-rounded and complex flavor profile. The salsa is truly the star of this dish. When baked in the oven, the salsa takes on an almost nutty, earthy flavor.The pulla chiles contribute a nice amount of heat, but are not overpowering. If you want more heat you can add a few chile de arbols; for less heat, you can alter the ratio, using more guajillos and anchos and less pulla chiles.

The Chile Lineup photo from bottom to top:

Ancho means "wide chile pepper" and is the name for a dried poblano. It's mild, has a fruity, raisiny flavor, with a heat index of 2 to 3 (on a scale from 1 to 10).

Guajillo means "little gourd" and belongs to the Mirasol family of chiles. It is dark red in color with purplish tones and has a heat index of 3 to 5.

Pulla are narrower and hotter than the guajillo. They offer a light fruity flavor. It's medium-hot, with a heat index of 6 to 7.

Chipotle Meco (brown) is a smoke-dried jalapeƱo, also known as a chile ahumado. It's dull tan to coffee brown in color, smokey and sweet in flavor, with hints of tobacco. It has a heat index of 5 to 6.

Morita means "little blackberry" in Spanish. It's a smoked jalapeno, dark, purplish in color, with a heat index of 5.

Five-Chile Salsa 
1 pound cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or 1 pound medium-sized tomatoes sliced 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick)
Dried chiles (5 ancho/pasilla, 5 guajillo, 5 pulla, 2 chipotle meco, 2 morita)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 canned chipotle (just 1 chipotle, not the whole can)
1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder
Sea salt to taste
1 1/2 cups water

Preheat the oven to 300F. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they begin to shrivel and most of the liquid around the tomatoes has evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Using kitchen shears, cut open the ancho, guajillo, and pulla chiles, and remove the seeds. Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. When hot, heat the chiles, pressing down with a metal spatula, about 10-15 seconds per side. Rehydrate the chipotle meco and morita in boiling water for about 30 minutes. Combine all the chiles in a food processor and process until they are broken down into small flakes (you may have to pulse for several minutes). Add the roasted tomatoes, water, garlic, salt, dried chipotle powder, and canned chipotle to the food processor, and process until all ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside (you can prepare the salsa in advance, and it's great with tortilla chips too).

You can fill the enchiladas with any number of ingredients: chard, kale, collard greens, spinach, potatoes, peppers, poblanos, corn, black beans, mushrooms, cheese, squash/chayote, creative.

5 to 6 corn tortillas
2 poblanos
1 large bunch of swiss chard
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced ~1/4 inch thick
Goat cheese (chevre)
Squeeze of lemon
1 teaspoon chile powder, (used combination of guajillo and ancho)
Shredded melting cheese (such as Chihuahua, Monterey Jack, or mild cheddar)
cheese (for topping, such as Queso fresco, goat cheese/chevre) (optional)
Thinly sliced onions (for topping)
Cilantro, chopped (for topping)

Preheat the oven to 400F.

If you have a gas oven, you can roast the poblanos directly over the open flame, turning every few minutes as the skin becomes charred. Or, you can roast them in the oven, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides. When cool to the touch, cut the poblanos open and remove the seeds. Slice into thin strips. Set aside.

Remove the stems from the chard and chop into thin strips. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the chard. Season with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon, and chile powder (optional -- I used guajilo and ancho powder). Cook, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more olive oil, and saute the mushrooms (in two batches, making sure not to crowd the pan). Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Okay, now all the hard work is done. Time to assemble the enchiladas and pop them in the oven -- and enjoy a hoppy India pale ale (IPA).

Place a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of the baking pan (used a 9-inch square pan). Warm up the tortillas in the oven for a few minutes so they are soft and pliable. Take the first tortilla, and layer some chard, poblano, mushrooms, goat cheese, and a small amount of salsa. Roll up the tortilla and place in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Sprinkle any remaining chard, poblano, and mushrooms, between the enchiladas. Cover with the remaining salsa and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning up the oven to broil for the last 7 minutes of cooking.

Serve with thinly sliced onion, chopped cilantro, and goat cheese (if desired). Best enjoyed hot.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homemade Energy Bars

I like to call these 'everything but the kitchen sink energy bars' since they have a little bit of this and that -- dried dates, pecans, peanuts, almonds, peanut butter, dried coconut flakes, and cocoa powder. The dates are the "glue" that hold these bars together. There is no other added sugars or sweeteners, just the natural sweetness from the dates. The peanut butter adds a nice nutty flavor, but you could easily substitute other nut butters (like cashew, almond, or even tahini).

I like to pack a bar for long bike rides, hikes, or runs. They are so incredibly easy to make and require no baking; just throw all the ingredients into a food processor and mix to incorporate. Then form them into bars, and they're ready to go. You can easily mix up the flavors by adding different combinations of spices (such as cinnamon, pumpkin spice), extracts (such as mint, vanilla), or just about any combination of seeds, nuts, or dried fruit.

Happy running, biking, swimming, hiking, rowing...

Energy Bars
Makes 8 bars (each ~3 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 1/2)
12 dried dates, seeded
1 cup chopped nuts, used combination of peanuts, pecans, and almonds
1/2 cup dried coconut
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter (or tahini, almond butter, cashew butter)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Add dates to food processor and process to smooth paste. Combine the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process until evenly incorporated (do not overmix).

Line a 9x9 pan with plastic wrap. Transfer date mixture to the pan. Flatten mixture and place plastic wrap on top. Spread out mixture, so that it is about 1/2 inch in thickness. Press against the corners of the pan to form square edges. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so. Cut into individual bars. Will keep longer if stored in the refrigerator.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Salmon Tartare with Wonton Wrapper Crisps

I love shopping for food. Usually go grocery shopping most days of the week. Typically, I start with a recipe, and then get the requisite ingredients; sometimes, I find an ingredient that inspires me and build upon that. This is usually the case when the farmers' market is in season; see what’s available that day, and then create meals based on what looks and tastes best. Only 52 days [and eagerly counting] until the first outdoor farmers' market -- cannot wait for spring peas, asparagus, fava beans [yum], ramps [double yum], morels....

Last weekend, made a trip to one of my favorite Korean grocery stores, H Mart. Picked up sea urchin and clams for a pasta dish, along with an assortment of Asian greens, oyster mushrooms, and a couple other finds. Then I spotted quail eggs, and had to get them. So incredibly cute; like miniature dinosaur eggs, or at least what I would expect a dinosaur egg to look like.
That just made me think of an episode of 60 Minutes I saw a few months ago. According to paleontologist Jack Horner [upon whom the main character in Jurasiac Park was based], chickens evolved from dinosaurs. Horner has plans to reverse engineer a dino-chicken within the next five years -- Chickenosaurus Rex -- really?!?

Hmm, what to do with quail eggs? They taste like chicken eggs, just smaller in size. Then the idea hit me...salmon tartare [with some avocado, ponzu sauce, chives, sesame seeds, and quail egg to bind it all together] with wonton wrapper crisps. Simple and delicious. And for those of you who don't like labor intensive dishes, this is the perfect recipe, as it requires just a bit of chopping and mixing.

Salmon Tartare
1/2 pound wild sockeye salmon, skin and pin bones removed 
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon ponzu (recipe below)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 quail egg yolk
Squeeze of lemon
Sweet fish roe for garnish
Sesame seeds for garnish

Chop salmon into small dice-sized pieces. In a bowl, mix the chives, cilantro, olive oil, ponzu, and lemon. Fold in the salmon. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the sliced avocado on a plate. Place the salmon on top of the avocado. Form a small hole for the quail egg. Crack the quail egg on top of the salmon. Garnish with fish roe, cilantro, chives, sesame seeds, and the wonton wrappers. Drizzle some ponzu over the salmon.

Mix the quail egg with the salmon.

cup fresh lemon juice
1/6 cup lime juice
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup mirin
1 2-inch piece kombu
1/4 cup bonito flakes
Pinch of cayenne pepper

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Let sit for 2 hours or overnight. Strain. Just before using, you might add a small squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. Cover and refrigerate. Will keep for at least several days.

Note: Ponzu is also a great base for a vinaigrette. Just add equal parts of ponzu to olive oil (5 tablespoons of each), a teaspoon of finely grated ginger, and 1 large clove of garlic (smashed with sea salt) and some freshly ground black pepper; makes about 1/2 cup dressing and is perfect with salad greens.

Wonton Wrapper Crisps
Wonton wrappers
Sesame seeds or
gomasio (mixture of sesame seeds, sea salt, and seaweed)
Olive oil for brushing
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut wonton wrappers in half on a diagonal. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Lightly oil the foil. Place the wonton wrapper halves on the foil. Lightly brush the tops of the wonton wrappers with oil. Sprinkle with sesame flakes or gomasio and freshly ground pepper. Bake in the oven for 3 minutes, rotate and bake another 3 minutes until golden brown. Let cool.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beef ♥, It's What's for Dinner

The Butcher & Larder is a new addition to Chicago's Noble Square neighborhood. Butcher & Larder is a throwback to the old-time butcher shops of years past, albeit with a more contemporary approach -- local, humanely raised, whole-animal butchery. If you're seeking quality meat and care about how your food is raised, appreciate knowledgeable, friendly staff and great customer service, prefer locally sourced, custom cuts of meat, homemade charcuterie, sausage, bacon, ham, pastrami, etc., then I highly recommend the Butcher & Larder.  

Meet Rob Levitt, butcher/owner of the Butcher & Larder and formerly chef/owner of Mado restaurant.

Rob Levitt
Many lovely cuts of meat to choose from today, but I was on a mission--to acquire beef heart. Had beef heart prepared by Rob at the annual Green City BBQ last summer [where many of Chicago's top chefs prepare small dishes using food grown/raised by local farmers]. Hands down, it was the best thing I had at the barbecue that day, and up there with one of the best things I have ever eaten. Levitt braised the beef heart in red wine, and they were so completely tender, just melted in your mouth.

You may be wondering what exactly does beef heart taste like? I've heard it described as tasting "beefy" and a bit "irony." To me, it tastes like a really tender cut of beef (didn't think it was overly irony like other organ meats). I'm even willing to go as far and say that in a blind taste test, I might have difficulty distinguishing it from beef tenderloin.

Some people will undoubtedly find the mere mention of beef heart completely weird. I think this is partially due to the fact that we [as a society] have become completely removed from the origins of our food supply. Beef heart, like any other cut of meat, comes from a formerly living, breathing cow. Cow = beef. Keep that in mind the next time you peer into your grocer's refrigerator case stocked with shrink wrapped and nicely packaged cuts of meat. I love that Rob displays and utilizes the entire animal: deeply marbled cuts, lean cuts, overlooked cuts, organs, bones, and all. And, it's especially important to me that when I do consume beef, that it come from free-roaming, pasture-raised cows (vice CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations]). Otherwise, I'd rather do without.

Beef Heart
What else do you want to know about beef heart? Let's see, beef heart has very concentrated levels of CoQ10, B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and amino acids. At $4.62 for 3/4 of a pound, it's a steal. Have I convinced you to give it a try yet? Just a small bite??

Had the butcher, who waxed poetic about beef heart, trim two pieces (and remove the thin layer of fat surrounding the heart). Each piece weighed in at about 6.5 ounces, and was about 3/4 to 1" thick (plenty for two people). Since I did not have the time to braise the heart yesterday, decided on a quick sear.

Very simple to do. Take the beef heart out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Pat dry. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is smoking hot, cook the meat for 2½ minutes per side. Let meat rest about 10 minutes.

Easy as that. See, you don't have to spend all day in the kitchen to have a memorable dinner.

Paired the beef heart with a side of garlicky broccoli, a side of radicchio, some nice crusty bread and olive oil, and a glass of earthy red wine -- an Italian varietal, uva rara.  A very nice Sunday dinner.

Next time, will braise the heart to compare the difference in taste/texture...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Homemade Multigrain Bagels

I rarely eat bagels anymore. It's not that I don't like them, on the contrary. Rather, authentic bagels are simply not available in Chicago. However, last year, I was in Philadelphia visiting family, and made a special trip to the Bagel Hole (a quintessential "hole-in-the-wall") in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to get a dozen bagels to bring back to Chicago [I could smell them on the plane the whole way home]. Now, that's a bagel -- nice crispy shell with a soft, chewy interior. Simply perfect!

If you do not have the good fortune of living in the New York metropolitan area, then chances are you may not be able to find a true bagel either. The ones made by the likes of Einstein Bros., Panera, and other unmentionables do not deserve to be called bagels. Why? Because, many baking companies have switched to steaming bagels instead of boiling them to save time (and money). Omitting this critical step results in something that lacks the texture and taste of a genuine bagel. Instead, you wind up with a soft, doughy roll. Same old story, quantity over quality, at least for corporate America.

The health/nutrition aspects of food are certainly important, though, in my book, taste is equally important (if it's healthy but doesn't taste good, who wants to eat it?). I was curious to see how the bagels would come out using a mixture of whole wheat flour and other grains (millet, amaranth, flax seeds, and cracked wheat). I like the texture of mulitgrain and the nuttiness that these grains/seeds impart. As this recipe is from a well-established baker, Peter Reinhart [Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor], I was confident that the end product would be well worth the effort.

These bagels pair well with the wild sockeye salmon I've been curing in the refrigerator. If only locally-grown tomatoes were in season...

The following recipe has quite a few steps, though it's actually very straightforward, and not as time consuming as you might think. Definitely something best suited for the weekend, as there are several steps that require long ferment times, but luckily the dough (and not you) is doing all the work.

DAY 1: Prepare the Soaker and Biga (started this on Friday @ 5:00 pm)

SOAKER: A non-fermented pre-dough containing grain, along with water or other liquid, and sometimes salt. Soaking the grain initiates the enzyme activity in advance of fermenting the dough.
2/3 cup (3 ounces) whole wheat flour (used King Arthur's white-wheat flour)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) any combination of cooked and uncooked grains (I used a combination of flax seeds, millet, amaranth, and cracked wheat)
½ teaspoon (.14 ounces) salt
2 tablespoons (1.25 ounces) barley malt
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) water

Step 1. Mix all the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated. Let the soaker rest for 5 minutes, then mix again for 1 minute until the ingredients form a thick, porridge-like dough.

Step 2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours.

BIGA: The Italian name for pre-fermented dough. It is usually a stiff dough with a small amount of yeast and no salt.
1 ¾ cups (8 ounces) whole wheat flour (used King Arthur's white-wheat flour)
¼ teaspoon (.03 ounce) instant yeast
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) filtered or spring water, at room tempera ture

Note: I used Chicago tap water (instead of filtered or spring water), hopefully this will not deter from the taste
Step 1. Mix all the biga ingredients together in a bowl to form a ball of dough. With wet hands, knead all the dough in a bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated (dough should feel tacky). Let the dough rest 5 minutes, then knead again with wet hands for 1 minute. The dough will become smoother but still tacky. 

Step 2.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Step 3. About 2 hours before mixing the dough, remove the biga from the refrigerator to take off the chill. It will have risen slightly but need not to have risen significantly in order to use it in the final dough.

DAY 2: Prepare the Final Dough (Saturday morning)

Soaker (see above)
Biga (see above)
2 ¼ teaspoons (.25 instant yeast)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) water, room temperature
5/8 teaspoon salt (.18 ounces)
7 tablespoons (2 ounces) whole wheat flour (used King Arthur's white-wheat flour)
Egg wash (1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt)
Toppings: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, course sea salt, dried minced garlic or onion [rehydrate garlic and onion in water]

Step 1. Using a metal pastry scraper, chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces each. Sprinkle a little flour over the pieces to prevent from sticking to each other. 

Step 2. Stand Mixer Method: Dissolve the yeast in the water in the mixing bowl, add the soaker and biga pieces and the salt, and mix on slow speed with the dough hook for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Add the 7 tablespoons of whole wheat flour and continue to mix on either low or medium-low speed for 3-4 minutes, occasionally scraping down the bowl. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is firm and not sticky. 

Step 3. Dust a work surface with flour, then roll the dough in the flour to coat. Knead the dough by hand 3-4 minutes, incorporating enough flour as needed to form a stiff dough. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl. 

Step 4. Resume kneading the dough for 1 minute to strengthen the gluten (dough should be firm when fully kneaded and pass the windowpane test) and feel supple and satiny (ended up kneading for an additional 5-6 minutes before the dough felt smooth to the touch).

Windowpane test: The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient. This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough and gently stretching, pulling, and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane. If the dough falls apart, continue mixing for another minute or two. It is very difficult to overmix bread dough.

Step 5. Form the dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl, rolling it to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes, until about 1 ½ times its original size. Meanwhile, prepare a sheet pan, by lining it with parchment paper or a silicon mat and dusting with whole wheat flour or cornmeal.

Shaping the bagels:

Step 6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide it into six or seven 4-ounce pieces. 

Roll the pieces into an 8-inch rope and shape it into a circle around your hand. Seal it tightly at the point where the two ends overlap by squeezing or pressing it into the counter. There should be a two inch diameter in the center (used this technique). OR, 
Take a piece of dough, poke a hole in the middle with your finger, enlarge a bit, and twirl the dough around your finger on the floured surface until the hole is an inch or two in diameter (next time will try this technique).

DAY 3: Sunday morning (you can do this step day 2, but I didn't have time on Saturday, so I placed the bagels in the refrigerate overnight, and finished them Sunday morning).
Step 7. Place the bagels on the sheet pan, cover loosely with a cloth towel and leave out at room temperature while you move on to the next step (you can also refrigerate the pan up to 24 hours if you plan on making the bagels later, cover with plastic). 

Note: if refrigerating overnight; take the dough out and let it come up to room temperature for about 1 hour (about the time it takes for the oven and stone to preheat).

Step 8. Preheat the oven with a baking stone (at least 1 hour) to 500°F.  Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 2 quarts (64 oz) water and 2 tablespoons non-diastolic malt powder or barley malt syrup to a boil (makes shiny shell). Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer. 

Step 9. The bagels should be ready to boil within 20-30 minutes of shaping. Place one bagel into the pot. It should float within 30 seconds. If not, boil until it does float and remove it from the water, but wait 5 minutes before boiling another, repeating the float test. When they pass the test, boil two to four bagels at a time, gently turning them after 30 seconds so they boil for a total of 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water.

Step 10. When all the bagels have been boiled, apply the toppings, using egg white wash [egg white from 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water]. 

Note: to rehydrate granulated garlic, use 2:1 ratio water to garlic (1/4 cup of granulated garlic to 1/2 cup of water, should be plenty for 1 batch of bagels). Let sit for about 20 minutes, and garlic will absorb most of the water. Drain any excess water. If you omit this step, the garlic will burn.

Place the bagels on the baking stone and lower the temperature to 450°F. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the bagels 180°F and bake another 10-15 minutes, until the bagels are a rich brown on the top and bottom. 

Step 11. Transfer the bagels to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Wow, you really can make great tasting multigrain bagels!

Enjoy, while they are still warm!!