|What your food photo looks like if your first photo didn't take and you have to use the bit of congealed soup that your daughter didn't want (she mostly sipped the broth)
Winter is still here. We woke this morning to several inches of accumulated snow (ok, 2 inches) and gales still blowing, so my husband took this as an excuse to sleep in and I attacked the kitchen in between chapters of reading a novel on my kindle (turns out reading about South African apartheid makes you want to pause between sections and distract yourself in order to recover from the trauma of those tales). I made hot cross buns this morning, Christopher made muffins this afternoon, Robert and I scooted/plowed a mile to swimming and then back again, and finally Michael took the younger two off to our local germ colony of soft play while I figured out dinner.
A friend introduced us to Bross Bagels a few months back, and having stocked my freezer with their Everything bagels last weekend (and foolishly telling my husband about this supply) I now found myself running low on stock. Having had an, er, incident last year with my bike in slippery conditions, I was not keen to cycle in snow the three miles to the bagel shop, so decided it was probably about time I made my own. No, I wouldn't have the delightful mix of seeds, garlic, and salt that adorns their bagels, but I would be able to make ones taster than the supermarkets provide, and ones that my kids would happily eat.
So I began working the dough. A tight crumb is what you want with bagels, so that meant actually kneading the dough for the full 10 minutes all bread recipes ask. More kneading = smaller holes.
|This wrist was broken, but now it is whole. And able to knead.
|Some slightly overpoached fish. Oops.
|Rise, my child.
Nothing terribly complicated - onions, fish, poaching liquid all cooked up together to soften the potatoes, then a ladle full taken away while you puree the rest with milk.
My husband recently said to our kids that every dinner we ate from now on would have a green vegetable. That's two nights now we have managed this goal. Tonight was possible because I found these green beans which would have died in the vegetable drawer otherwise. If you have any green vegetable ideas, please send them to my husband.
So I shaped it, poorly, into rings and let them rise a bit. I then prepared a cauldron of water with a tablespoon of baking soda/sodium bicarbonate thrown in to make the bread more bagel-like. For the first one I dropped in, I slipped it off the square so as to minimise the crushing of yeast bubbles, but I didn't really bother to do that with the rest, as it didn't seem necessary. I was using a massive pot, so managed 4 at a time in the end, but most normal pots can only fit 2. They swell up a LOT while cooking, so just because you can fit 4 in raw, doesn't mean they'll fit nicely together once they are ready to come out.
A minute on each side, with a fish slice to flip them over, then out onto the baking tray they went.
This is a step that lots of sites will tell you kids love to help with and watch. But we had hit the hour of screen time in our house, so frankly I was enjoying the peace and tranquillity of this period too much to invite the little people to take part. Next time, perhaps.
A final egg white wash and they were ready to go in. Some were lucky enough to be sprinkled with coarse salt, but not the kids' ones. Not because I am an anti-salt overbearing mother, but because they just like things plain.
|Our final, rustic meal
500g undyed smoked haddock, skin on
A bay leaf
Knob of butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 leek, washed and cut into chunks
2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks
500ml whole milk
Chives, chopped, to serve
1. Put the fish into a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, and cover with about 300ml cold water. Add the bay leaf, and bring gently to the boil. By the time it comes to the boil, the fish should be just cooked – if it's not, then give it another minute or so. Remove from the pan, and set aside to cool. Take the pan off the heat.
2. Melt the butter in another pan on a medium-low heat, and add the onion and the leek. Cover and allow to sweat, without colouring, for about 10 minutes until softened. Season with black pepper.
3. Add the potato and stir to coat with butter. Pour in the haddock cooking liquor and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potato is tender.
4. Meanwhile, remove the skin, and any bones from the haddock, and break into flakes.
5. Lift out a generous slotted spoonful of potatoes and leeks, and set aside. Discard the bay leaf. Add the milk, and half the haddock to the pan, and either mash roughly or blend until smoothish.
6. Season to taste, and serve with a generous spoonful of the potato, leek and haddock mixture in each bowl, and a sprinkling of chives.