Some Fridays, You Just Need a Beer.
December 4, 2011 3 Comments
Sorry I’ve been MIA, people. I’ve been down for three weeks now, first with a humdrum sinus infection, but then that triggered a chain reaction of asthmatic lung inflammation the likes of which I’ve never experienced. I am now on Round of Drugs #3, and it seems to be working, but putting all that energy just into breathing for all that time has really drained my energy.
Anyway. Enough about my problems. Let’s see, where did we leave off… oh yes! My Black Friday Feast Day Dilemma. We went out to dinner and I had grilled shrimp… on top of a petite sirloin. Wednesday dessert was my birthday cake, a gorgeous, melt-in-the-mouth, denser-than-a-black-hole Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake, courtesy of Mr. Mackerelsnapper. I think that’s a google-able recipe if you’d like to try searching for it. This past Friday’s dinner was put together by the rest of the fam while I was on the way back from the doctor and the pharmacist (did I mention Round of Drugs #3?), a last-minute decision when I turned out to be too ill to go out to dinner, and we only had 3 slices of cheese left for grilled cheese sandwiches. So we threw together one of my favorite Friday meals: Pretzels Dipped in Stuff. See, I am a Philly girl, so I love me some hot soft pretzels. We can never get ours to be in that right Philly figure-8 shape like you buy from the street vendor who has nowhere to go to the bathroom or wash his hands. At least the whole “fresh from the oven” thing (and the fact that we have sinks and bathrooms nearby) makes up for all that lack. I also love that pretzels can be made so quickly and easily if you’re willing to skip the usual baking soda brine and just use an egg wash. By the way, please buy your instant yeast in bulk instead of in those silly little $8/jar “bread machine yeast” things. You will save big bucks.
Nowai! We got a picture of our dinner before we ate it all!
2 tsp instant yeast
1 ½ c warm water (just a leeetle bit warmer than you’d put your baby in for a bath)
¼ c packed brown sugar
4-4 ½ c bread flour
¼ c milk
Pretzel salt or Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 450F. In a mixer or food processor bowl, combine yeast, water and brown sugar, and let stand about 5 minutes until nice and frothy. Add 4 c of the flour and beat in with the mixer or food processor’s dough hook until smooth and rolls around in one ball. If the dough is still very sticky, mix in the rest of the flour until the dough ball is slightly tacky to the touch. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and milk. With floured hands, pull off tennis ball-sized pieces of dough and roll into ropes. Make each rope into a circle, twist the ends together twice, then bring the ends down to the bottom of the circle and pinch slightly. Dip each whole pretzel in the egg wash and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with pretzel or Kosher salt and bake at 450F for 8-10 minutes until nicely browned.
While these cool, make your…
Beer Cheese Dip
2 t finely chopped onion
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 clove of crushed garlic (or the equivalent of same in paste, powder, etc.)
2 T flour
1 12oz bottle of beer (Pretty much anything you have should work. No beer? Use milk.)
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: drops of your favorite hot sauce
In a saucier or saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the onion dry until it starts to get dark around the edges. Add the butter & olive oil (use both for a higher smoke point) and stir briskly over medium-high until golden brown. Add the garlic and the flour and heat until golden and bubbly. Slowly stir in the beer and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about a minute (to get rid of the alcohol factor), then add the cheese. Stir until smooth and add hot sauce, if desired. Pour into heat-proof mugs or bowls and serve with pretzels.
We had a bag o’salad with this meal to make sure we got some fiber. One little note I seem to forget when making pretzels: yes, you want them to be warm, but you also don’t want second and third degree burns, especially if you have kidlings to feed. So make the pretzels FIRST and make the dip while they cool. Speaking of kidlings, even our toddler helped roll out the pretzels & sprinkle on the salt. The school-aged children helped stir in the cheese for the sauce.
If you’ve ever made pretzels before, you know there’s supposed to be the aforementioned brining process, which I’ve used in catechesis as preparation for Lent… but as it’s not Lent, and we didn’t have time to brine, and as brining is a big pain in the tushie to begin with, we’ll save the pretzel-brine catechesis for Lent.