Cooking in Cotonou

One of the things living in Africa is that, even with a new hypermarket in town, and access to Webgrocer, there are things you can’t find or can’t ship. So, you try to make them yourselves.

My first challenge – bagels.

Not my bagels!

I started here:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Homemade_bagel_recipe_Make_great_nadrolled_water_bagels__its_as_easy_as_baking_a_loaf_of_bread

But, the first batch I made, although they tasted fine, never really rose, never really browned, and were strangely wrinkled after boiling. My second attempt was this morning.  This time I pre-activated the yeast, gave the dough more time to raise both initially, and after forming the bagels.  I used a smaller pot of water so I could get a better rolling boil on the water. I increased the oven temperature to 450.  Finally, I baked them 15 minutes on a side instead of 10.  This batch came out much better, although a little over-browned.  I think I’ll cut back to 12 minutes a side next time.  Toppings were caraway seeds, onions (dried onion flakes browned up nicely in the oven), salt (I found kosher salt, but not not course ground — too bad) and finally Old Bay seasoning (which I’d never had on a bagel).  I had one for breakfast, and sandwich on one for lunch, and froze the rest for later in the week.

The second attempt of the day was pizza.  I used this recipe:

http://americanfood.about.com/od/pizzainsideandout/r/nypd.htm

for the dough, although I let my bread machine on dough cycle do the hard work.  I don’t have a pizza stone, so I greased and floured a metal pizza pan, stretched it to fit (more or less) and left it to rise in place 20 minutes.  Next time, I may give it 30. I oiled and spiced the crust (oregano mostly), added sauce (Prego from consumables) and cheese (local) and some more oregano.  No toppings this time, since I wanted to see what a plain cheese pizza would do.  Preheated the oven to 500 degrees (probably closer to 450, my oven runs a little cool) and cooked it for 10 minutes.  The crust didn’t look done so I gave it another 5 which burned the cheese a bit.  Still, the crust turned out well for a thin crust pizza.  maybe next time I’ll give it a short pre-bake without sauce and cheese, then finish up with all the toppings on.

I have enough dough left over for another pizza, or I may try to make a calzone.

Next on my list – half-sour pickles, but I need to accumulate some jars and find a source of small pickling cucumbers.

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