Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Weather Outside is Frightful, but the Kitchen is So Delightful!

I absolutely love snow days. There is an atmosphere about them that is so unique it really doesn't compare to any other type of day. The brilliant comfort of a snow day is built on the fact that you can't possibly have any plans. I always feel like I have a mile long to-do list, a thousand places to be, and I rarely get to treat myself to time spent on tasks I've longed to tend to for my own personal satisfaction. Snow days, however, are not like real days. They are like an extra day thrown into the year, like Mother Nature saying, "Screw the real world, do whatever the hell you want!" And so today I am doing just that.

I was woken up at about 6 by my brother who so graciously informed me that school was not something I needed to worry about on this particular Wednesday. I was so incredibly excited about the prospect of having a day open to do whatever I wanted (which, inevitably, was try out a few recipes) that falling back into a snow sent slumber wasn't an option. I was a little disappointed that on a day with so much potential I was getting up earlier than I would on a school day, but now that I've spent my morning I'm thrilled with the way it turned out!

So by the time I dragged my butt downstairs at 6:30 in the morning, cookbook in hand, I had already decided that a completely open day called for a good challenge. This particular recipe was one I was eager to try and was ecstatic to find an opportunity to test run. My father, who was quite befuddled that his teenager daughter was wandering downstairs so early in the morning by choice, met my ambition with a considerable amount of doubt.

I've never been a huge fan of everything bagels, but having never heard of homemade bagels, I found the recipe screaming "MAKE ME!" And I don't ignore screaming recipes. So when I eagerly told my father I was making bagels he responded by saying, "Molly... I think bagels are the type of thing that you make once and then you realize why you buy them." I AM NEVER BUYING BAGELS AGAIN!!! Except maybe when I don't have roughly two to two and half hours to make my own. But seriously, bagels have always just been alright in my book. Turns out that when they come fresh out of the oven the combination of a browned crust and a soft, warm interior is nothing short of orgasmic.

You may be wondering, as I did when I first flipped to this recipe, what in the world goes into the making of a deliciously fresh homemade wonder bagel? The recipe starts out much the same as any other bread recipe, activating yeast and kneading in lots of bread flour with a little sugar, salt, and whatnot. The recipe says to mix most of this together with a dough hook, which is a nifty device that slips into a standing mixer, but since I don't have a big $200 KitchenAid mixer, I got mine together with a considerable amount of elbow grease. After the dough rises for an hour or so, it's divided, rolled into strips, then formed into the typical bagel ring which is allotted another 15 minutes of rising time. Then 6 quarts of water is brought to a simmer with 1/4 cup honey, 1 T sugar, and 1 T salt. The bagels are simmered in the water for roughly 30 seconds on each side, 2-4 bagels at a time (I did 3 and managed quite well). The only bagel recipe in the book I was working from was the everything bagel recipe which, although I could probably adapt to easily accomodate any type of bagel, called for a mixture of satueed onions, poppyseeds, sesame seeds, and kosher salt as a pre-baking topping. After rubbing on an incredibly aromatic "everything" topping, I popped them in the oven for half and hour and found my labor was well rewarded.

Everything Bagel

By the time they came out of the oven it was around 9:30 and the rest of my family, clearly more sane than I, was just beginning to roll out of bed. Even though the bagels seemed to be coming along fantastically, I felt they could use a partner in crime if they were to perfectly grace the breakfast table. I love to chop, so it wasn't much of a surprise that I might have gone a little overboard with the onion I was mincing for the bagel topping. I reserved half the onion bits and mixed them into some scrambled eggs. I sliced my chosen bagel in half and put the eggs in the middle and LOVED IT.

Bagel Breakfast

My brother stole half the eggs and added some cheese and ham in the middle of his bagel, which after a few minutes of cheese-melting time in the oven seemed like a fantastic idea. The whole family loved them, and you will too! Although the recipe sounds a little funky, it's quite simple besides being a little time consuming. But believe me, the time and effort are a small price to pay for a bagel you will enjoy more than any other!

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