Archive | November, 2013

Pretzels!

17 Nov

For October’s beer dinner I decided to go with an Oktoberfest/Fall Beers theme. I knew I wouldn’t be there with the Germany sausages but still I wanted something…Oktoberfest-y. So…pretzels!

Now these things are the craziest  I think I’ve ever made. Once you form the pretzel you boil them before baking. Plus you get to play with yeast and rising! (I’m looking to start playing with bread soon, too. Yeast is cool.) Essentially the pretzels were pretty much twisted bagels but they were really good and surprisingly fun and easy to make.

First you combine a package of yeast with some brown sugar…

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….and water and let it stand until it starts to foam. Then, you add some more brown sugar and water and mix it up.

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Next, add some of the flour and salt and stir until blended.

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Then, add the rest of the flour a cup at a time. The original recipe said to do it by hand but I wondered if I could have used the dough hook on my mixer. I think I’ll try it next time.

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Once all the flour is incorporated, the dough needs to be kneaded 5-7 minutes. The first time I tried making the dough I didn’t get all the flour mixed in and there were little fleck but the second time I kneaded longer and that seemed to take care of the problem. After that you want to transfer the dough back to a bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise for 40 minutes.

After the dough has risen, you divided it into piece and then roll each into 1/2″ thick  ropes. The first time I made the pretzels I divided the dough into 12 sections and the second time into 16, smaller sections. It just kind of depends on how big you want your pretzels to be.

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Next you shape the dough into pretzels. I had trouble deciding how exactly they looked so the first time I just folded/criss-crossed them and the second I kind of tied the ropes in a knot. Go with what feels right. You can also connect the rope end to end to make a bagel. Cover the shaped pretzels with the tea towel and let rise again for 20-30 minutes.

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OK here comes the totally weird and fun part – you boil the pretzels in water and baking soda! Basically you plop the bagels in water (they float!) and let boil for one minute, then flip, and boil on the other side for another minute.

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They come out kind of spongy and a little cooked. Totally crazy.

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Next, top with salt and pop in the oven to make 10-12 minutes!

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When they first came out of the oven I ate my pretzel plain. The next day I dipped one in some Nutella and  another in mustard. So good and fun! Enjoy!

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Hot Soft Baked Pretzels by Julievr at Babble.com

Everything You’ll Need:

  • 1 pkg. (2-1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour

Directions:

  1. Combine the yeast and half the brown sugar (1/2 T) and 1/2 cup of water, then let stand 5 minutes until it starts to foam.
  2. Add the rest of the brown sugar (1/2 T) and water (1 cup) and mix.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour and the salt (1 t) and stir until the flour is blended in. Then, add the remaining flour (3 cups) one cup at a time, mixing until fully mixed.
  4. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-7 minutes, then transfer to a bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 40 minutes.
  5. Once the dough has risen, divide into even pieces on a floured surface and roll the pieced into long ropes, about 1/2″ thick.
  6. Shape the pretzels, then cover with a towel and let rise another 20-30 minutes.
  7. Bring a pot of water with 1/2 t of baking soda (if available) to a boil and drop the bagels in. Allow to cook for 1 minute before flipping and cooking for another minute. Remove from water to a baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle pretzels with salt and bake for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees.

 

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September Beer Dinner

15 Nov

September Beer Dinner was fabulous. I’m just saying.

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It was my first dinner in my new place and I was nervous because it’s a little squashy. Usually there’s just enough room at dinner for me, my sister and brother-in-law, and their oversized dog. Although, the dog takes up the equivalent of three people…so having eight people over for three-courses was a bit nerve racking.

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Since it was the tail end of summer I decided we’d taste Fruit Beers. Which is kind of funny because I don’t totally love fruit beers. My favorite of the tasting was the Lost Coast Raspberry Brown.

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There were a few off-theme beers there, too, which I loved even more. The Blue Moon Pine in the Neck was awesomely hoppy and the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale – wow.  I’ve had beers aged in bourbon barrels and they’re always just a little too syrupy for me but this one was amazing!

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I packed the fridge in preparation of great food, too!

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We started with Caprese Polenta Stacks paired with Paulaner Hefe-Weizen.

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The second course was a lemon and veggie pasta bake. I think I tried this at least four times before deciding on the final recipe but it was worth the recon. This I paired with the Exquisite Kolsch by Ruhstaller.

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Finally, we finished with a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and Lindemans Framboise.

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Such a great first meal in the new place!

Caprese Polenta Stacks

15 Nov

Life has been busy. I don’t think I realized when I started this blog (almost a year ago, gasp!) just how bored I was with my life and work. I mean, I knew I wasn’t 100% satisfied sitting in an office for more than half of my days but I was looking for an outlet. Now that I’ve been back to teaching full time for three months I realize how totally exhausting it is, but also how completely engaging. Thus, my painfully, painfully behind posts.

Now that it’s November a post about an amazingly fresh, summery caprese salad is a bit out of date but it was so yummy that I wanted to share. Plus I’m getting just enough distance from the 100 degree days that I’m missing summer a bit. I was inspired by Melissa at madeinmelskitchen.com.

Start by slicing up a polenta log. Sprinkle each slice with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and then cook in olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Next, flip and cook 2-3 minutes on the other side. For some extra deliciousness you next sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on one side, flip, cook for a bit, then flip and melt the cheese on the other side. With this alone I would be satisfied!

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I let the polenta cool then stacked them with alternating slices of farmers market tomatoes and mozzarella.

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Top with basil and a balsamic vinegar reduction (thanks Trader Joe’s!) and serve. Super easy and you look like an amazing and talented cook!

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