fried bagel fattoush

It’s been a very bagel-y few weeks! Which I’m extremely proud of, given the distance between the place where I sleep and the closest true bagel. On Super Bowl Sunday, I journeyed home from Montreal with enough wherewithal after a late night of poutine-ing and discoing to carry back half a dozen St. Viateur bagels and arrive just in time for our party; just this Wednesday, I flew from New York to Sarasota with a Sven-cat-sized pile of hot Ess-A-Bagels that almost got swiped by the man sitting behind me who kept eyeing them; and I’ve officially lined up my local bagel making teacher for this summer after I go on a salmon fishing trip to Alaska where I’ll be collecting the ingredients to make lox. (Hi, Dave!)

Living in a bagel-less world is hard, but it makes me appreciate good bagels even more. And since I so rarely get the chance to eat a good bagel, I never ever feel guilty when the regular bagel eater next to me orders it *scooped out*. #ohmyg. 

But so we got a bagel place in Fargo! Have I told you that? Bernbaum’sIt’s been open for a year or so already, it’s in a midcentury modern furniture store, it’s so great, they have labneh (!), and last week for Valentine’s day when Eggboy and I drove the Eggparents to Fargo for a flight, we stopped for romantic bagels. Which are the same as regular bagels but you eat them on Valentine’s day. And they were so good and chewy that we couldn't not get half a dozen for later.

They brought so much bagel-y joy into our house and later that week I figured, well, I’ve actually been doing pretty well with my New Year’s Resolution of no fried foods during the week, so I gave myself a break and fried them. And I fried them in olive oil so that I could still be kinda healthy (did you know that you can fry in olive oil?), I also put them on a bed of yogurt and vegetables so that I could up the healthy ante, and came up with this salad that I now make almost every day, it’s a fattoush-type thing.

A fattoush is like a middle eastern panzanella, or a salad that you make with stale pita that’s been brought back to life by frying or toasting it. It typically includes cucumbers, greens, and herbs, and is heavy on the sumac. I love sumac, it’s so lemony, I put it on everything. This version with the bagels is cool because the torn pieces end up being plumper and not flat like pita, so the outsides get crunchy and fried and the insides are still chewy and soft. The produce here is all stuff I can get pretty reliably in the dead of winter in the upper Midwest: english cucumbers, fresh herbs, purple onions, and Kristin always brings me preserved lemons when she visits so I have a steady supply of those on hand. Speaking of Kristin, everybody congratulate her on her engagement!!!!!!

Of course, if you have other vegetables that you desperately want to add, do it. Radishes and micro greens would be great, tomatoes would be greater, and add allllll of the fresh herbs that you can get your hands on. Mint was made 4 this salad. 

Lastly, use good olive oil that you can fry with because you don’t want to fill your house with smoke and you also want it to taste good since one layer of this salad is a good drizzle of olive oil. I’m using California Ranch’s Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but really any of their olive oils will work, since they all taste great and have a sky high smoke point.


fried bagel fattoush

makes 2 servings

ingredients

california olive ranch olive oil

1 everything bagel, torn up (it can be day-old)

1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped

1/2 small purple onion, chopped

4 slices preserved lemon (you can also just squeeze a heavy hand of lemon juice and add some zest)

heaping 1/2 c Yogurt

2 small handfuls of greens

Kosher salt and pepper

2 good pinches of sumac

Tahini sauce (below)

And for added protein, throw in some crispy chickpeas or a fried egg

A handful of cilantro

A handful of mint

clues

Heat a nice healthy layer of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. when the oil is shimmering, add the torn bagel pieces to the skillet and heat, stirring occasionally, until they're hot and crispy and golden brown on the outside.

in a medium bowl, toss together the cucumber, onion, and lemon.

spread the yogurt between two shallow bowls. top each with a handful of greens, half of the cucumber mixture, a drizzle of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, a few turns of pepper pepper, a dusting of sumac, half of the fried bagel, and a good drizzle of tahini sauce. top it with chickpeas or an egg, if using, and then finish it off with the fresh herbs. 

Enjoy! 


tahini sauce

ingredients

1/4 c tahini

3 tb water

1 tb lemon juice

Kosher salt and pepper

ingredients

combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. mix until thickened.


-yeh!

thank you, california olive ranch, for sponsoring this post! 

winter farm scenes

but what happens on the farm in the winter?? is a question i get a lot, and a question i still kind of have when eggboy spends the whole morning at our kitchen table looking at a lot of numbers and symbols and government-y looking forms, drinking all of the coffee and eating the whole batch of caramel rolls that farmer chad and anna delivered.

i talked a bit about this during my modern farmer takeover this weekend, but i'm gonna expand on everything now!

1. we can fly places! like hawaii. and next month, berlin. the winter is a farmer's summer, so around now is when we're able to plan in advance and get away for more than a couple of days. in the summer, there are quieter times when eggboy is able to leave for a few days at a time, but it's impossible to tell more than a week or two in advance, so all of our little adventures in the summer are to places like fargo or bemidji, that we can plan last minute and then get to in our buick boat.

2. taxes. ok i'm not sure if this is eggboy just getting *really* excited about paperwork and numbers like the weirdo that he is, or if this is a normal farmer thing, (or maybe a general business owner thing?), but he spends tons of time on paperwork and hanging out with his accountant. paperwork literally takes up about half of his work hours.

3. equipment maintenance. over the farming season, if a tractor breaks down, there may not be time for a full on repair, so eggboy or eggpop will fix it just enough so that it will work through the season, and then over the winter they can give it the full attention it needs. all of the tractors need oil changes, bubble baths, and software updates so that they can be good as new for spring planting.

4. school! there are a lot of farmer workshops in the winter, about technology, soils, marketing, and so much more. you can tell you're at a farming workshop when the parking lot is full of pickup trucks that are twice as tall as you. (and then there's eggboy in his buick boat that he refuses to get rid of.)

5. grain gets hauled to the mill and then turned into flour. unlike sugar beets, which need to go to the processing plant as soon as they're picked, grain gets stored on our farm and brought to the town mill at various times throughout the winter, depending on the markets.

6. eggboy plays trombone. every day! and comes to the gym with me almost every day too. we're getting ripped! 

7. eggboy sleeps in. just kidding, he wakes up at 6:30 every morning no matter what. tofu the rooster does too. 

8. macaroni slow down their egg laying. there were a few months this winter when we were only getting one or two eggs every other day :( luckily now since there is a teensy bit more sunlight, we're now up to three or four a day and i can have my new favorite breakfast, a ketchup and macaroni egg taco. 😁 

9. sven cat and ole cat continue to be sven cat and ole cat. they cuddle, roam, hang out on the tractors, receive belly rubs, do general cat things as if it were any other time of the year. 

-yeh! 


last photo by chantell quernemoen

valentine's day almond cake

well. you win some, you lose some, and sometimes you get possessed by an imaginary six-year-old while you’re decorating your annual valentine’s day cakes and they turn out looking like something that even a mask of seven vsco filters couldn't salvage. it's like valentine’s day of 2012 all over again. 

i’m cursed, i’m definitely cursed. not only do these look like [that] but they’re also kind of dry?! which is likely because i over whipped the egg whites, baked them for too long, and/or made miniature versions. and then after i baked these i went on to burn a loaf of challah in the oven. and then beyoncé didn't win album of the year. and then i lost my mandoline blades. someone please send help.

it all started when the dryness of these poor cakes set an ominous tone for the rest of the weekend. i baked them on saturday and they had such a hard time wiggling out of the muffin pans, so the outsides looked ugly because of it. i took one bite and they tasted like an icky sponge, not the moist almondy airy-yet-dense amazing perfect cake that i look forward to every year. i thought i could maybe save them with enough whipped cream, but still all of my inspiration was sucked out of me and all night that night i tossed and turned because i didn’t have a clear plan for how i would decorate them. i thought about making princess cakes, or mini versions of valentine’s cakes from past years, or committing to only using all-natural decorations (since i’ve been on a freeze dried berry kick, and because a whole box of quin candy arrived last week with the most delicious heart lollies and gumdrops), but i couldn’t decide and i tossed and turned until finally i was like,

molly, you’re being a stupid head for stressing out this much about cake decorations. it's supposed to be fun. 

so i just dove in on sunday morning with all of the pink things and heart things i had lying around, as well as the leftover frosting from saturday’s cookie decorating event at kittsona, and i had a lot of fun. and then when i took a step back to emerge for air, i was like, lol oh no these look like shit. oops? 

what do we learn from this:

-don’t make this cake miniature. it's clearly best when the soft innards are maximized. maybe some cakes that are slightly more prone to dryness are just not meant to be miniature. but if you must: use a jumbo muffin tin with parchment liners and be careful not to over bake them. i’m tempted to say add a little more sugar and less flour, too. but i’m too haunted by this experience to test it again, so for now i’m sticking with a regular 9" or 10" cake.

-don't over whip your egg whites.

-don't let this cake sit out uncovered for very long. if you need to bake it in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap as soon as it's cool and make sure it's air tight. freeze it if you need to bake it more than a day in advance. 

and how do we cure a case of dry cake:

-i’ve heard that brushing it with simple syrup helps, but this has always sounded too sticky to me.

-cover it with whipped cream or frosting. i did that and it did in fact help quite a bit. 

-rip it up and mix it into ice cream or a milk shake. i’m probably going to do this tonight. 

-make cake truffles. 

sigh. 

at least i had fun. 

for your reference, here are my valentine’s day cakes from past years. 2016's cake remains my favorite. 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010


valentine's day almond cake

serves 10-12

ingredients

cake:

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

whipped cream:

1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract 

assembly:

marzipan kneaded with red, pink, and purple food coloring
sprinkles of all sorts

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 10” springform pan and set aside.

in a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (i usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. mix in the vanilla and almond extract. gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. pour the batter into the pan and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.

to make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks.

spread the whipped cream on top of the cake and decorate as desired!


-yeh!

mahlab sugar cookies

welcome to my second of three valentine’s day posts. i really went all in this year because the excitement flowed like magma from my temporarily red-accented, almond-scented kitchen, and unlike last year, i didn’t have a book deadline to slow it down. so i’m letting loose because valentine’s day is the best, for these reasons:

-red foods, pink foods, almond foods, and chocolate foods are really good and have the potential to be really cute

-hearts are easy shapes to cut out 

-valentine’s day falls during a time when the streets are the slushiest and the days are the coldest and darkest

-heart shaped pizza!

i’m totes making heart shaped pizza tonight for friday pizza night.

i had three (3!) flights yesterday on my way home from aspen (more on that later!), and that’s when i planned to have these cookies posted but then i couldn’t stop reading the circle. have you read it? it’s so good. on all of my flights i hid under my blanket scarf and listened to nickel creek and busted through the second half of it, just in time to land in grand forks. lily recommended it to me, and she is now 2 for 2 with the a+ recs (where’d you go bernadette? was the last book i read, on her recommendation, and it was great. so lily, plz send over more recs). and you know what the best part about it is? ok, so whenever i get really into a book, i start imagining who would play the characters in a movie version, and then i usually end up googling to see if a movie will even be made of the book (i still google “night circus movie” every few months), and when i google searched for a circle movie, i found that the movie is coming out in april and it’s starring tom hanks and emma watson. that is truly the best possible scenario for this situation and i cannot contain my excitement. 

in other news, when i wasn't reading the circle this week, i was likely watching this is a dance video. i’ve watched it so many times and i think you might enjoy it.

today i am going to do emails, play some drum pad, lift weights while listening to the new unorthodox episode, and make a batch of these here cookies for a cookie decorating book signing tomorrow at our cutest town boutique, kittsona!! so to all of my grand forks homies, come over tomorrow between noon and 2pm, hang out, decorate some cookies, and maybe get a book for your valentine???

these cookies are soft and chewy! they are a fairly standard soft sugar cookie, but have the additions of almond flour and almond extract, and ground mahlab. which clearly i can’t shut up about. but here. try it for a new frontier of almond flavored baked goods. and if you're fresh out of mahlab, you can still make these and end up with a super great soft almondy sugar cookie.

i've decorated these with crushed freeze dried berries and crushed meringues (leftover from my cookie cereal). crushed freeze dried berries are like a dainty alternative to sprinkles and you can maybe feel slightly healthier about eating a cookie since there's fruit on it? lol.


mahlab sugar cookies

makes 30 cookies

ingredients

for the cookies:

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 c almond flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp mahlab, finely ground in a spice grinder

1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 large egg

 

for the frosting:

1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 c powdered sugar

1 tb whole milk

1/4 tsp almond extract

pinch of salt

 

freeze dried berries, for decorating

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, and mahlab.

using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. add the vanilla, the almond extract, and the egg. beat to combine.

add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat to combine.

(at this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 2-3 days, or you can roll it out and bake immediately.)

turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. roll it out so it's about 1/4" thick. using a 3" circle cookie cutter, stamp out cookies and place them on the lined baking sheets, 1" apart. re-roll scraps as needed.

bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, until edges just barely begin to brown. or not even. if you look at your cookies and you can tell that they're *thinking* about browning on the bottom in the next few seconds, take em out because then they'll be nice and soft once they cool. let them cool for about 10 minutes on the pans and then remove them to a wire rack. 

while the cookies cool, make the frosting. beat together the butter and sugar, and then add the milk, almond extract, and salt. 

cover the cookies with frosting and decorate with freeze dried berries. enjoy!


-yeh!