06 September 2015

Trial By Fire Recipe, With Recipes

Trial by Fire went quite well.

The only mishap was that the camp oven that I used, basically a metal box that sat on top of the Coleman® stove, reflected a fair amount of heat back down.

The stove took a beating, it literally cooked the label off, and I had no need to pump the stove after startup, because the fuel tank heated up enough to self-pressurize.

The stove is still quite functional, Coleman® stoves are built like tanks, but it did melt into the plastic table.

Once I moved the stove and oven onto an expanded metal grill, everything went well.

As an update to my bagel experience, I did do the bagels with white fluor, and it worked a lot better.

It is much easier to work than the whole wheat, it comes together with the water better and faster, and it does get that marvelous glossy coating.

In any case, my recipes, and documentation, follow the break:

Neufchâtel/Cream Cheese

  • 1 quart whole milk (Neufchatel) or cream or half & half (Cream Cheese)
  • 1 package (1/8 teaspoon) Mesophilic starter culture
  • ¼ Tablet Rennet or 2 Drops liquid rennet
  • Butter muslin (fine cheese cloth)
  • Sea salt to taste (optional)


Heat cream until lukewarm (80-85° F).

Use a glass container to hold your cream.

Add rennet tablet to ¼ cup water and stir until dissolve.

Sprinkle in the starter culture into the cream and wait until dissolved.

Add rennet and stir gently to incorporate.

Loosely cover (not airtight).

Leave on countertop 12-24 hours to culture (It goes longer with a higher percentage of cream).

It's ready when it somewhat resembles yogurt.

Cut the curds into roughly ½" bits, and ladle into a colander lined with 2 layers of butter muslin, and then pour the remaining whey though the cloth.

Allow whey to drip out at least 12 hours (the longer it drips, the firmer your cheese will be)

Scrape out of cheesecloth and lightly salt to taste.


The cheese comes from Normandy, and has a protected designation from the EU1.

It is believed that it is the oldest cheese made in Normandy,2 but the earliest definitive documentation found thus far is from the Saint-Aman Abbey of Rouen3 in 1543.



  • 1 tablespoon (0.75 oz / 21 g) barley malt syrup, honey, rice syrup or agave, or 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) diastatic malt powder
  • 1 teaspoon (0.11 oz / 3 g) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (0.37 oz / 10.5 g) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz / 255 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
  • 3 1/2 cups (16 oz / 454 g) high gluten unbleached bread flour (Vital gluten can also be added)

Poaching liquid
  • 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt


Starting and proofing the dough:

To make the dough, stir the sweetener, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water, and give 15 minutes to activate.

Place the flour, and 4 tbsp vital gluten if you are using it, into a mixing bowl and blend the together with a whisk or fork.

Pour the liquid into flour.

Mix with hands or a big honking spoon and stir until it can form a stiff, coarse ball. If the flour is not fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water a tablespoon at a time.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Knead the dough on a very lightly floured surface until the dough is stiff.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour in a lightly oiled bowl covered with saran wrap.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and coat lightly with spray oil.

Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces and form each piece into a ball on a work surface. Do not flour this surface. If the dough slides too much, add a little bit of water to the surface.

Shape the bagels by rolling them into cylinders about 10" long, and then wrap the tube around the hand and wet one end, and place both ends together in the palm and roll until the ends are joined. (Some people will poke a hole in the dough ball and stretch it out, but this is an abomination)

If it slides, add a bit of water as listed earlier.

Let the dough rings proof in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours.


Make up the poaching water, and heat until lightly simmering

Remove the bagels from the chill chest, and check if the bagels are sufficiently risen by placing a bagel in a bowl of cold water. If it floats, it is ready, if not, wait 15 minutes and repeat. Dry off the bagel.

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt.

With a slotted spoon, gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, and allow to poach for 1 minute, then flip and poach for another 30-60 seconds.

Remove from pot and place on baking dish lined with parchment paper which has been lightly oiled, place in the oven, and lower the temperature to 450°F.

Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.

Cool for 30 minutes before serving.


The first recorded reference to Bagels was in the town ordinances of Krakow, Poland, where it was said that they were to be given to pregnant women.4]




  • 3-4 lbs salmon fillets, skin on, all bones removed
  • 3 tbsp pepper
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 fresh dill. A sh%$ load, at least a cup, the more the merrier.
  • 4 tbsp Aquavit (I could not find any, so instead I added about 2 tbsp of caraway seeds)
  • 3 tbsp grated fresh ginger (because my significant other strongly recommended it)
  • 2 tbsp Grains of Paradise (Just because I am a culinary badass)


Cut the salmon into two equal portions and make sure that all the pin bones are removed.

Mix the salt, sugar, and all the spices but the dill together.

Sprinkle half the mixture over each fillet and rub it in with your fingers.

Line a glass dish with 1/3 of he dill, and place one fillet, skin side down., and place 1/3 of the dill on top of the fillet.

If you have it, drizzle the Aquavit on the fillet.

Lay the other half fillet on top, skin side up, and put the remainder of the dill on top of the 2nd fillet..

Cover with saran wrap, and place a glass dish on top of the fish and load up with cans to press the fish.

Place in refrigerator.

Every day, remove the weights, flip the fish, replace the weights, and place back into the refrigerator .

Repeat for 3-5 days.

To serve, wipe the dill and spices off the fish, and then pat the fish dry, and cut very thin slices.

Traditionally, it is served with a dill-mustard sauce, but I am making bagels and cream cheese, so why mess with that.


The word gravlax derives from the Swedish words for buried (cured) fish5, which denotes its origins as a buried fermented fish.

French Pralines


  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup water, or other suitable liquid. In this case, since I have a surfeit of liquid residue from cheese making, I have to do it my whey, so I am using the cheese making remnant.6

Place ingredients in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil, and then turn down to medium and stir frequently.

In 20-30 minutes, the liquid should boil off, and the mixture should become a "caramel" color.

Place syrup in a steel bowl over boiling water to keep it free flowing for assembly.

Assembling pralines

  • 1 lb almonds
  • 1 lb pecans (the pecans will be made separately, and are not a part of the competition, because while pecan pralines postdate the period, but it is an offense to nature do make a nut based caramelized confection without using pecans.)

Toast the nuts on cookie sheet lined at 350°F for about 10 minutes, then remove from oven, place in syrup, and stir until thoroughly coated.

Remove nuts from syrup with slotted spoon, allow excess syrup to drain, and then spread over a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper, and then cook at 350° F for 10 minutes.

To quote Ian Fleming, "When cold, devour".

If you have left over syrup, save it for later, it's good stuff.


Pralines originated in France, and were invented/perfected by Lassagne, officer of the table to Marechal du Plessis (1602 – 23 December 1675), duke of Choiseul-Praslin7, from whence the name is derived.

At the time, the word ‘praline’ had actually been used for centuries already, to address another type of candy, namely sugar-coated almonds. Clement Lassagne, chef to the French Duke of Praslin, César Gabriel de Choiseul, decided to dip almonds in boiling sugar in 1636. When asked what this tasty sweet was called, he named it after his master: Praslin. Later on these sugared almonds became known as ‘pralines’.8

1 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2013.316.01.0014.01.ENG
2 http://frenchfoodfool.com/2011/01/31/cheese-university-xii-neufchatel/ "In the year of the Lord 1035, the French nobleman Hugues de Gournay, a later follower of William the Conqueror, allowed a cheese to be used as a natural tax in the Bray valley in northern Normandy. It is by far the most ancient cheese of the region thrice blessed with so many products of excellence, and it was mentioned in documents of the Saint-Amand abbey of Rouen in 1543 as the grand fourmage de Neufchâtel, “the great cheese from Neufchâtel“. That’s what it is until today, a great cheese coming in a multitude of forms, call it by its proud name."
3 http://www.regions-of-france.com/regions/upper_normandy/food-gastronomy/neufchatel-cheese/
4 http://www.haruth.com/bagel.html
5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravlax
6 You know, whey. I'm using whey, or as I like to say, where is some whey, there is a will.
7 http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcandy.html#praline
8 http://www.discoverbenelux.com/?features=belgian-pralines-a-sweet-but-not-so-short-history


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