Homemade Bagels

It is time for July’s Kitchen Challenge from Love and Olive Oil.

kitchenchallenge-july

The challenge is bagels and I was very excited to see this.  It has never crossed my mind to make my own.  I have made pita bread and I have English muffins and croissants on my to-do list, but never bagels.

Like the past challenges (mozzarella, ginger ale, and macarons), there are a number of different recipes that can be used, some with very different methods.  I didn’t want to do anything crazy complicated so I found this recipe from Food Network.

Things started off ok.  And that quickly ended.  I have to say, I was not crazy about doing this as I got more into it.  Although there is rest time for the dough, it just seemed to take a lot longer than I anticipated.  And then there is the mess.

I felt that things weren’t going right when I was kneading the dough.  I just couldn’t get it to not be sticky.  I did eventually get it to a consistency that I was happy with.

bagel dough

And then the dough had to rise for an hour.  Although I had the air conditioner one, I think the heat and humidity was just too much for this dough.  It seemed to have tripled in size in less than an hour.

dough risen

Once it rose, it was ready to be broken up into pieces to form the bagels.  The dough was still pretty sticky so once it was time to form them in the shape of a bagel, I had to keep flouring my hands.

IMG_4171

Again, they rose very quickly.  I lost the hole in the middle!  But I still kept going as fast as I could before the rose too much.  I boiled them and prepared them for baking.

bagels pre-boil

bagels in water

IMG_4178

I was pleasantly surprised at how good the bagels looked when I took them out of the oven.

IMG_4180

And they taste good!  I didn’t put any toppings on them or anything in them.  I didn’t want to make this process any more complicated than I needed to.

baked bagels

They aren’t as soft as what I am used to.  But they have a nice crust on the outside and are chewy (maybe just a tad too chewy).

bagel with cream cheese

As glad as I am that these bagels were somewhat successful, this is not something I am going to rush to do again.  I don’t mind involved recipes but this is not a favorite of mine.  Also, I think the recipe could have been a little more detailed and that would have been helpful.  I am perfectly happy buying bagels at the market or coffee shop.  But at least I can say I can make homemade bagels!

Homemade Mozzarella

I was very excited to see that Love and Olive Oil’s June Kitchen Challenge is mozzarella.

kitchenchallenge-june

Mozzarella is something that’s always in the house so I knew giving this a try would be worth it. Looking at various recipes, I was a bit intimidated.  I had never heard of half of the ingredients, such as rennet.  So I bought a kit where everything I would need would be together.  I got it from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.  Buying the kit made me feel like a cheater, but it’s really no different from buying everything separately.

IMG_3825

Reading recipes, including the one that came in the kit, I found that the type of milk you need to use is very specific. It can’t be ultra pasteurized.  I just got a name brand rather than the grocery store brand.  It didn’t say ultra pasteurized so I hoped for the best.

I quickly got to a step that was not going right.  What I had going on the stove did not match the picture in the recipe book or on the website.

IMG_3826

I am supposed to be able to slice through the curd but it didn’t really solidify.  It stayed loose and chunky.  I think this is where using milk from the grocery store became a problem.  I didn’t stop though.  I figured I would just keep going and hopefully the cheese would turn out to be edible.

IMG_3827

I am glad I kept with it.  The cheese just came together towards the last step.  Talk about excited!

IMG_3828

Once I stretched it out and put it in an ice bath to hold its shape, it was ready to go!

IMG_3829

I am so glad I didn’t give up on making the cheese when I realized something wasn’t exactly right early on.  I will definitely try this again with milk from a local dairy farm.  I think that will help with the curd.

Matt and I first enjoyed the mozzarella by making made paninis with it along with bacon and tomato on ciabatta bread.  Delicious!  Sadly I don’t have a picture because the bread burnt just a tad and that is just embarrassing.

I am so glad I took part in this month’s kitchen challenge.  I love making food homemade rather than buying it at the grocery store.  It always is so much easier than you think (usually!).  I’ve also made my own pumpkin puree, mozzarella sticks, ranch dressing, marshmallows, ginger alecaramel sauce, and pita bread.  Also, I recently got the book Classic Snacks Made From Scratch.  I can’t wait to jump in and try the various recipes in it.

If you want to try and make your own cheese, check out the New England Cheese Making Company website.  They have tons of recipes with photos and they are broken down by level of difficulty.

I can’t wait to see what July’s challenge is!

Cookie Dough Whoopie Pies

What is the best part about making chocolate chip cookies?  That would be eating the cookie dough.  Of course we all know that doing this is not very healthy.  Luckily, Lindsay of the blog Love and Olive Oil created a cookbook that allows us to eat all the cookie dough we want without getting sick.  What could be better than that?!

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook is filled with all different types of sweets with cookie dough as the main ingredient.  With all this apple and pumpkin baking going on, I really wanted to make something chocolaty (did I spell that right?).  From the book, I decided to make the Cookie Dough Whoopie Pies.  I actually bought the ingredients to make this about 2-3 months ago and never got to it.  I am glad I finally did!

So first you make the cookies.  These are made with dark cocoa and espresso powder.  I have never baked with espresso powder before and I think I have used dark cocoa once.  These two ingredients give the cookies a great flavor you don’t normally taste in whoopie pies.

And now for that wonderful cookie dough filling…

The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of filling per whoopie pie.  It is enough to fill the cookies, but I think it could use a tad more.  Who doesn’t like extra?  The next time I make these, I will double the filling recipe :).

These are absolutely delicious!  And it is a great dessert to bring somewhere because you get quite a few!  I got 18 whoopie pies out of the recipe.

If  you are a cookie dough lover, and really, who isn’t, this book is for you!  And if you love whoopie pies, you will think these are fabulous!  Pick up the book to try these and check out the blog Love and Olive Oil!