Beer and Pretzels {Recipe}

What else is the weekend for if not hanging out with friends and drinking a couple of beers? And, what goes better with beer than pretzels?
This is exactly what happened yesterday. It was a planned, semi-thought out gathering of friends.  We had gone to the beer/wine/liquor store near us to pick up some drinks for a different occasion a few weeks ago, and knew that we needed to go back and try some others that were recommended to us. There were so many different types of beer that we wanted to try, we decided to make an event out of it. Since we knew that we wanted to have a beer tasting,  making pretzels to go with it was a no-brainer.
So let’s get started!
Gather all of your ingredients. Cook’s tip: mix the yeast and water together first to be sure that the yeast you are working with is still active. We had some old yeast that was not foaming up in the proper amount of time (it should only take about 5 minutes) so we bought some new yeast. This was truly a test of “best of” dates on packaging since the old yeast we had said that it was good ’til August of this year.

After gathering ingredients it is time to mix the dough.  Once the ingredients are mixed and all incorporated together, the dough will look shaggy and will be a little sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The way that we made sure that we were not adding too much more flour than what the recipe called for, we mixed the dough using the minimum amount of flour, 3-3/4 cups, and saved the last 1/4 cup for kneading into the dough as needed. We used that last 1/4 cup flour to dust the counter and on top of the dough instead of mixing it all in from the very beginning.
The dough will become less sticky and more smooth as you knead it on the counter. Once it is completely smooth, about 8-10 minutes of kneading, return it to the bowl and let rest, covered with plastic wrap,  in a warm spot for 45 minutes. The kitchen we were in was cold, so we had preheated the oven while gathering and mixing the ingredients and then turned it off and put the bowl in the off oven.  After this resting time, the dough should have bulked to twice the size and should be soft to the touch. The dough is now ready for shaping.

To shape the pretzels, divide dough into 8 equal pieces. One at a time, roll dough piece into a rope about 22-24 inches long. Make a U-shape with the dough by bringing the two ends up but not touching each other. Cross the ends of the rope near the top (about an inch away from the top). Twist the ends once and then pull down, connecting the ends of the rope to the bottom of the U-shape. This can also be done by twisting the dough in mid-air, but that is definitely the more tricky way. You might also want to make pretzel bites, which is really easy; all you have to do is cut rope of dough into 8 equal parts. We did this since we were sharing with a large group of people and each recipe only makes 8 large pretzels.

P1000435 (Sorry for the blurry picture, I was unable to edit these.)

I watched this video to help me figure out how to do this: http://www.saveur.com/article/Video/Video-How-To-Twist-Pretzels

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Once the pretzels are shaped, place them on an oiled baking sheet and let rest for another 20 minutes. While the pretzels are resting, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and start heating the water and baking soda. Bring the water and baking soda up to a boil. Once pretzels have rested and water is boiling, boil the pretzels, about 3 at a time, until set, about 3 minutes. You might want to turn the pretzels half way through; we used chopsticks to do this. If you don’t have chopsticks, tongs work just as well. This is what gives the pretzels their typical crust and chewy inside, just like a bagel. Place boiled pretzels on sheet pan lined with oiled parchment paper. This is important: pretzels WILL stick to baking sheet if not placed on parchment. (Trust me, as we learned this the hard way) Brush boiled pretzels with egg wash (or leave off for vegan pretzels) and add salt (or other toppings) as desired. Other topping ideas would include (but  is not limited to): sesame seeds, shredded cheese, or poppy seeds.

Place baking sheet with topped pretzels in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool and enjoy! I’m sure you already know this, but pretzels are good with mustard, or hummus, or plain and just a little warm. And, of course, I recommend beer as a wonderful thing to drink with them!

Sorry for my lack of pictures with this recipe; I am out of practice of taking pictures of the major steps of recipe, because, as you may have noticed, I  have not posted a recipe on here in a LONG time.

Recipe adapted slightly from Joy the Baker:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sugar
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)

1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pretzel salt or other toppings

1 heaping Tablespoon baking soda (add it to the boiling water just before throwing in the pretzel dough!)

Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110°F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (Dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).

Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)

Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.

Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling, add heaping tablespoon of baking soda.

Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.

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Box of Delicious! {Foodie Pen Pal June & Coffee Brownie Recipe}

This month, as a part of the Foodie Pen Pals, I received a box from Heather and sent a box to Dustin.

A few weeks ago, I gave you a peek inside the box I got from Heather. Now it is finally time for the reveal!

Here’s what I got:

In case you can’t read all the labels, it’s Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar-Caramel with Black Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate (filled with) Speculoos Cookie Spread, Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups, Artisana Pecan Butter, Jessica’s Vanilla Maple Granola, Artisana Coconut Butter, and Trader Joe (Jaques) Fleur Del Sel Caramels. (Heather did say she loves Trader Joe’s in her note, which, by the way, is the card with the cherries on it in the background.)

Thanks, Heather for the yumminess and for making me want to visit my local TJ’s! :)

For Dustin, I used some of the coffee from last month’s box to make brownies. I really like the idea of using something from the last box to forward on to the next one. Just a fair warning for the other foodie pen pals reading this right now.

I forgot to include the recipe in Dustin’s box, so I am putting it here:

Adapted from Epicurious: (original recipe)

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 tablespoons (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal pan with nonstick spray. Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, ground coffee, and salt in large metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until butter melts and ingredients are blended (texture will be grainy). Remove bowl from over water; cool mixture to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour over and fold in.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool brownies in pan.

Note: the original recipe includes pecans in the brownies and a mocha frosting, but I thought the brownies were good as is.

Fabulous Food Festival

Yesterday, I went to the Fabulous Food Festival. It was a bunch of booths of free samples and demos and other giveaways, but mostly businesses trying to sell their products to the masses. I think this picture explains it pretty well (if not, check out the picture at the bottom of this post.):

I tried some olive oils, and some fudge, along with some interesting things, such as tea infused chocolate. I even networked (sorta) by talking to the people who were selling chocolate bars and other chocolaty items. I did get this one guy’s business card who said that I should call him when I do start up my own business and that he would give me samples of his chocolate to use. I also found this company that rents out commercial kitchen space to caterers and bakers, and other chefs that are trying to start a business, but don’t have the money for kitchen space yet. I think the most random item being sold at the food festival was sheets. I didn’t get what that company was doing there. There were some other non-food but food related items there, such as “pies” that weren’t really pies, but little ornaments that looked like pies, but had things inside them that made them smell like pie, but then they also had other scents that I wouldn’t want to associate with pie, such as lavender. Is it me, or do flowers just not belong in food? I mean sure, one could argue that fruits are flowers, too, but don’t get me started there. I also tasted fennel pollen for the first time. Sure, it was mixed with other spices that you would generally use with apples, such as nutmeg, and cloves, and I wasn’t really sure what exactly fennel pollen was, and it was pretty much masked by the other flavors, but I guess it was good. I also bought some honey sticks, which are meant to be eaten kinda like pixie sticks, you just bite off the end, and then suck down the flavored honey. I guess you could also squeeze it into some tea, I guess it is probably just the right amount.

I also bought chocolate covered caramel, which had sea salt on top, which, since I like sweet and salty together, was good, though this was a little too salty for my taste. Overall, an interesting experience at the festival.

Today, I was going to do some volunteering down at the Food Bank, but then had other plans, but then those plans got changed, so now I am left with just hanging out in my apartment with nothing to do. Perhaps I’ll end up baking something, and therefore blogging about it later, but we’ll see.