Bagels

I’m not at all sure why but generally at Christmastime the supermarkets like to sell big packets of smoked salmon. As much as I love the stuff, I wasn’t aware of it being a traditional Christmas thing. So after Christmas, these packs of salmon go on sale and I decided to take advantage and have my favourite breakfast, bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I used the recipe in Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ as she is an absolute genius and I love her. So much so in fact that I ended up purchasing the same dressing gown she wore in one of her shows – decorated with a map of Venice, partly because I loved it and partly because I want to be her. The recipe makes 15 bagels which I didn’t need so I actually quartered the recipe though I made half the amount of bagels which probably explains why they were a bit smaller than what I was expecting. Also, I think my yeast might need replacing as they didn’t rise as much as the last time I made them where the hole in the middle almost completely closed up. The method below is correct though and as you can see, I still got pretty decent bagels so it’s pretty foolproof.

Makes 8 bagels

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp oil and more for greasing
  • 250ml tepid water
  • 2 tbsp malt vinegar (or sugar)

Method

1.) Measure out the water into a measuring jug and sprinkle the yeast on the top. Leave to ferment for about 10 minutes.

2.) Into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or you can do this by hand) add the salt, sugar (1/2 tbsp) and oil to the bottom of the bowl.

3.) Weigh out the flour into the bowl.

4.) Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer, connect the bowl and pour the fermented yeast on top.

5.) Put onto a low setting for about 10 minutes. (It will take longer by hand as it is quite a dry dough).

6.) Take the dough out of the bowl, drizzle it lightly with oil. Put the dough back in and turn around to coat the dough with the oil.

7.) Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

8.) Knead and divide the dough into 2 pieces.

9.) Roll each piece out into a rope and cut into 4 pieces.

10.) Roll each piece out even thinner, form a circle and squeeze the ends together.

11.) Boil a kettle and pour the water into a pan. Add the vinegar and turn the pan onto a simmer.

12.) Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper. Grease with oil. (I did forget this step but I can’t imagine how this wouldn’t improve the bagels)

13.) Place 2 bagels at a time into the water, they should float, leave for 30 seconds then flip over to poach both sides.

14.) Put the poached bagels onto the baking paper, spread out. They’ll be a bit puffy from the poaching.

15.) Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C. Leave the bagels for 20 minutes, covered with a tea towel.

16.) Bake the bagels for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool before serving.

Furikake Devilled Eggs

Around the holidays, sometimes I like to make a few things to nibble on rather than a normal ‘meat’ and 3 veg meal. I clearly was taken with Asian food this year considering the Korean pinwheels and these Japanese flavoured devilled eggs. In case, like me, you were wondering why they’re called devilled eggs, to save you a google search, devilled was a word to describe anything highly seasoned back in the medieval times and the normal recipe does usually contain cayenne pepper or paprika. This version’s a bit more of an interesting take on the classic devilled eggs containing furikake and Kewpie mayonnaise which is a Japanese mayo and is well worth taking the trouble to find over normal mayonnaise. Furikake is a Japanese seasoning with a mixture of different things such as seaweed, dried fish and sesame seeds. I honestly can’t really tell the difference between this and togarashi so if you have that, use that instead. If you don’t have it, it’s also well worth finding as it makes anything you sprinkle it on delectable. I saw the recipe on BBC Good Food, I didn’t have wasabi so I subbed it with miso paste.

Makes 12 egg halves

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp kewpie mayonnaise
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 tsp miso
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp pickled ginger (I unfortunately had to omit this due to lack of stock at my local supermarket)
  • 3 tbsp furikake

Method

1.) Boil some water and pour into a deep pan. Put the eggs into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until hard boiled.

2.) Leave to cool or put in some ice water if you want to speed up the process.

3.) Peel the shells off the eggs and chop the eggs in half.

4.) Scoop the egg yolks out with a spoon into a bowl. Slice finely the spring onions and add to the bowl. Measure in the mayonnaise, miso, sesame oil and ginger.

5.) Mash everything with a fork until you get a paste.

6.) Spread the furikake seasoning onto a plate and press each egg half lightly onto the seasoning so that it sticks. Sprinkle the egg yolk holes with the remaining seasoning.

7.) Spoon the egg mixture into the recess where the yolk was (or pipe if you want to be fancy and you don’t have 8 Harry Potter films to get through over your holiday break).

Kimchi & Cheese Pinwheels

So if Yorkshire Puddings are one of my favourite things then Kimchi is definitely another. Kimchi is a popular side dish in South-Korea (probably North too but I haven’t visited there!) and comes free with every meal. It’s just cabbage fermented in Korean spices and is absolutely delicious and apparently really good for you too. Unfortunately, I can’t claim this recipe as a health food as cheese and puff pastry are also in the mix but I can claim that it’s delicious. On the BBC Good Food recipe I used, there is 70g kimchi. This didn’t really seem like so much as I really wanted the kimchi flavour to come through so I used a large jar, picking up the pieces of cabbage with a fork to avoid the juices soaking the pastry.

Makes about 12 – 14

Ingredients

  • 1 roll puff pastry (mine was about 340g)#
  • 2 spring onions
  • 150g mature cheddar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 large jar kimchi

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Grate 150g cheese. Finely slice the spring onions. Break an egg into a bowl and whisk it up with a fork.

3.) Prepare a baking tray with some parchment paper.

4.) Roll out the pastry onto the baking tray.

5.) Sprinkle the cheese and onions over the pastry. Dot around pieces of the kimchi.

6.) Tightly roll up the puff pastry.

7.) Slice up the roll of pastry, place the wheels flat on the baking tray.

8.) Brush the wheels with the egg.

9.) Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

10.) Leave to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before attempting to move the pinwheels.

Yorkshire puddings

Yorkshire puddings are one of my favourite things in the world and because I don’t often eat roast dinners every Sunday (or any Sunday apart from at Christmas really) like many of my country people I don’t eat them nearly often enough. There’s a bit of controversy over when you can eat them with some pedantic people (like my in laws) not serving them unless it’s alongside a joint of roast beef (or in toad in the hole). I say just ignore this nonsense and serve them as often as possible. This is Jamie Oliver’s recipe – I didn’t want to go wrong on Christmas Day!

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut fat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100ml milk

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C

2.) Add a 1/2 tsp coconut fat to each muffin hole in a muffin tin

3.) Put the muffin tin in the oven for 10 minutes

4.) In the meantime, in a measuring jug, whisk up the eggs, flour and milk until there’s no lumps.

5.) Carefully pour the mixture in the hot oil. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Port & Stilton Sauce

When I first met my now husband, we used to cook together on the weekends and he introduced me to port and stilton sauce which was an instant hit with me even though I wasn’t at that point fully sold on port (oh how things change). I decided to serve it with our Christmas dinner this year as I don’t often have a reason to make it as it’s a usual accompaniment to steak. It did go very well with our fake turkey joint though. I used the recipe from Waitrose but I thought it needed a touch more stilton. Maybe it depends on your blue cheese. We had a lovely port and stilton hamper from my sister in law for Christmas – it’s almost as if she knew our dinner plans.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 100g stilton
  • 200ml milk
  • 50ml port
  • pepper

Method

1.) Weigh out the butter, flour, stilton. Add the milk and port to a measuring jug.

2.) Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Stir to make a paste then cook off for a couple of minutes.

3.) Crumble in the stilton and melt in the pan.

4.) Add the milk and port mixture gradually until everything is combined, whisking out all the lumps and adding more liquid once the sauce thickens up.

5.) Season with pepper.

Faux Gras

I only tried foie gras once before before becoming pescatarian and though I did enjoy the flavour being that it’s basically a richer form of chicken liver pâte there was always the guilt of the method of production. We tried the foie gras in a French restaurant in Washington DC after explaining to the server that we had reservations over the cruelty and the French owner thinking that we were joking and serving it to us anyway. In the UK, foie gras has actually been banned now so there was at least one good thing to come out of 2021. This is what led the Michelin starred chef Alex Gauthier who is actually vegan himself to create a vegan version of foie gras. Obviously it’s not the same as the real thing but it’s still delicious coupled with Sauternes wine and it really still feels luxurious despite being very simple to make. The original recipe has beetroot purée in it which gives it the similar pink tone of the real stuff. You may want to omit this if you want it to be less reminiscent of meat.

Serves a lot in fact maybe half this recipe if possible

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter (vegan or normal if like me, you’re not vegan)
  • 1 shallot
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 18 button mushrooms (I used 9 normal mushrooms)
  • few sprigs rosemary
  • few sprigs thyme
  • few sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 200g lentils (makes about 400g cooked)
  • 150g walnuts
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp beetroot purée (I used 3 mini cooked beetroots)

Method

1.) Put the lentils in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked. Drain and place in the food processor.

2.) Peel and finely chop the shallot. Wash and slice the mushrooms. Strip the leaves from the herbs and finely dice.

3.) Melt the butter in a pan and cook the mushrooms and shallots until cooked.

4.) In the meantime, peel and finely chop the garlic.

5.) Add the garlic to the pan with the herbs and cook for one minute. Add the cognac and turn off the heat.

6.) Add the contents of the frying pan to the food processor.

7.) Toast the walnuts on a low heat until they’re starting to smell toasted.

8.) Add the walnuts to the food processor, along with the soy sauce and the beetroot. Blitz everything until a smooth paste is formed.

9.) Place into ramekins.

10.) Best served at room temperature with some crackers or bread and ideally some dessert wine.