Hot Pretzels

 

If you make mustard, of course you need pretzels to go with them!

These are wonderful soft pretzels, better than the mall, and without questionable origins!

Top them with just salt.  Or poppy and sesame seeds.  Dip them in cheese sauce, or mustard, or even peanut butter

Your mouth will thank you!!

 

Recipe : (adapted from the wonderful Alton Brown)

3/4 C warm water

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp yeast.  Active dry or instant, it makes no difference here!

1 tsp salt

11 oz(approximately 2 1/4 C) all purpose flour

2  tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted

5C water

1/3 C baking soda

1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp water

coarse salt

 

Combine sugar, water, salt and yeast in a bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes, or until the yeast begins to foam.  Mix in the flour and butter or oil, and knead by hand or in a stand mixer, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Place the dough in a covered bowl and let it sit for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 and grease a baking pan.  Combine the baking soda and 5C water in a pot and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, punch down the dough and divide it into 6 equal parts.  Roll each part into a rope, shape it into a “u”, and then take then ends, twist them once, and press the ends down on the bottom of the “u”.  Voila, pretzel shape!!

Now take the pretzels one by one.  Gently transfer a pretzel to a large, flat spatula and lower it into the boiling water for 45 seconds.  Carefully lift the pretzel out with the spatula and put it on the baking sheet.  Repeat until all the pretzels have been boiled.

Brush each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle on some salt.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until they are delicious and golden brown.  Try to resist eating them until they are cool enough to handle!!

Makes 6 pretzels


Homemade Mustard, any way you like it!

Last week I had a sudden urge to make mustard.  I love that I’m the kind of person who has a sudden urge to make mustard, and the ingredients on hand to do it with.  I’m weird.  Very strange things make me exceptionally happy.

And, really, it’s probably one of the easiest things to make.  Certainly worth the payoff in amped-up sandwiches and salad dressings for the next month or so.   The only drawback is you absolutely must let it age at least a couple of days before you use it.  Otherwise it might burn your face off!  It needs to age to allow the more volatile compounds(what mustard gas is made of-you don’t want to eat that!!) to escape.  If you taste the mustard and it is too hot, let it age a little more,  it may help.

If you make this mustard today, it will be more than ready for the soft pretzel recipe I’ll be posting Friday.

 

Recipe:

1/2 C mustard seeds, a mixture of yellow, brown, and/or black(remember, the darker the seeds, the hotter your mustard will be)  I used 3/4 yellow and 1/4 brown for a moderately bitey mustard after a few days of aging.

1/2C vinegar  Plain white is perfectly fine, but different vinegar can add nuance-try red wine vinegar, or malt vinegar, or rice or sherry wine vinegar.  Whatever tickles your fancy!  I used plain white vinegar

1/4C other liquid-you can use water if you want a straightforward mustard, but a dark beer, or white wine, or apple or raspberry juice all make different very interesting mustards.  I used guinness in this one

1 tbsp-1/2C honey or brown sugar, depending in how sweet you like your mustard.  I used 2 tbsp-not terribly sweet, just enough to temper the sharp edge of the mustard.

 

Combine the mustard seeds, vinegar, and liquid of your choice in a glass bowl.   Cover and allow to sit for 4-8 hours, or even overnight.  You want the mustard seeds to absorb the liquid.  Just don’t add hot liquids-heat will kill some of the flavor elements in mustard and that is not what we want!!

Once the seeds have soaked up the liquid, put them in a food processor(for coarse mustard) or a blender(for smooth mustard) with the sweetener, and a touch of turmeric, if you want bright yellow mustard(I don’t bother, but it is pretty)  Blend or process until the mustard is the consistency you want.  Spoon it into a glass(metal or plastic will cause the mustard to develop off flavors) container and allow it to age in the fridge, at least three days.

Makes about 1 cup.  Keeps in the fridge indefinitely.


Ebony and Ivory bean salad

Here’s another recipe from Passionate Vegetarian.  Again, with a few changes.  Terribly delicious, this salad is a whole meal, and a very substantial one at that.  Cheese and beans and vegetables, served in endive or romaine leaves.   It’s called “Ebony and Ivory” because it is made with white and black beans, but it can be made with an equal amount of any bean or combination of beans and it will be just as good.

The dressing is a strong, sharp vinaigrette, strong enough to flavor the beans without drowning them.  And it makes a lot, but it is a great dressing to have on hand for any bean/grain/vegetable mixed salad you might wish to make up.

Recipe:

The Dressing

1/2 C red wine vinegar

1/4 C good, grainy mustard

4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 tsp salt

5-6 grinds black pepper

3-6 leaves of basil

1 1/4 C good olive oil

Place the first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree.  Then, drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running until it is all combined.  Refrigerate.

The salad

1 (15oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained very well(if the beans lave any of the canning liquid still clinging to them their colors will blend and the salad will look muddy)

1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained very well

1/4 C  of the dressing above

2 ribs celery, diced

1 red or orange  bell pepper, diced

1/2 large red onion, minced

3 oz grated strong flavored cheese(I used extra sharp cheddar)

salt and black pepper. to taste

 

Combine all ingredients together and let sit for at least an hour.  Serve in romaine leaves or endive spears.

Serves 4-6 as a main course, 6-10 as a side


Cheesy Bread Pudding

This is one of the things I ate growing up.  It’s still a fallback meal.  Come home from a bad day?  Cheesy bread pudding.  Sick and nothing in the kitchen? Cheesy bread pudding.  Cheesy bread pudding cures all ills.  It’s delicious hot, cold or in between and all you need is a veggie or fruit to make it a meal, and can be eaten at any time of day.

I’m giving the basic recipe, but you can add whatever you want in the way of different cheeses, herbs and spices and so on and it will always turn out awesome.  A little mustard powder is great to point up the cheesiness, but not essential.  In the pudding pictured I used half cheddar and half swiss cheese, a small onion, chopped and sauteed,  a touch of mustard powder and smoked paprika and topped it with a sprinkling of sesame and poppy seeds.   Another good variation is swapping out some of the milk for tomato sauce, using parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, garlic, thyme and red pepper and topping it with a bit of shredded mozzarella.

Experimenting is encouraged!!

Recipe:

2tbsp butter

4C bread, stale or toasted, cubed(any fairly good bread works.  Just stay away from anything exceptionally airy or dense)

2C milk, warmed slightly

1 egg

1 tsp salt

a few grinds of black pepper

1 1/2 C grated cheese, any kind with a strong flavor

 

Preheat the oven to 350

Grease a pan.  I used a deep dish pie pan, but a large cast iron skillet, 8×8 square pan, or anything with a similar volume will work equally well.(it’s also great baked in muffin tins)  Layer in the bread cubes and cheese, and any other ingredients you would like to add.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg into the milk, and add the salt and pepper(and any other spices you choose).   Pour this over the bread and cheese and let it sit for at least 5 minutes, up to overnight.  You can add a topping, if you wish.

Bake until the custard is set and the top is nicely golden brown, 35-45 minutes.

Serves 4-6


Cheesy Green Onion Bread

Recently, I stumbled on this bread recipe.

How brilliant is that?  a loaf of bread stuffed with cheese and green onions, laced with poppyseeds and baked to awesomeness.  The only problem-half a stick of butter plus a pound of cheese.  Way too much indulgence.

My version is lighter on cheese, with more onions, seeds and spices, and less butter.  It’s still plenty indulgent, just more reasonably so.  Proof that you don’t have to rely on whole sticks of butter to make things delicious!

I also used half a loaf of presliced sourdough bread instead of preparing an unsliced loaf like she did.  It was more convenient, and super simple.  You can use whatever bread you want, you just want it to be a sturdier loaf, not light and airy.  Stale works just fine.

Recipe:

1/2 loaf of presliced bread, about 8-12 slices.

6 oz swiss cheese, shredded

1C sliced green onion

1 tsp smoked paprika

pinch cayenne, or more to taste(I like things on the milder side, a pinch is not spicy at all)

2 tbsp butter

1 Tbsp poppyseeds

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

 

Preheat the oven to 375.  Melt the butter and mix in the poppy and sesame seeds.  Set aside

In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, onion, paprika and cayenne.  Layer this mixture in between the slices of bread (doing this on the tinfoil you will later wrap the bread in is the easiest way).

Drizzle the seed and butter mixture over the top and wrap the whole thing tightly in tinfoil.  Place it on a baking sheet and bake  in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Unwrap the top of the loaf and bake another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy on top.  Transfer to a plate and serve as soon as it has cooled enough to be handled.

 


Spinach and White Bean Hummus

Sometimes you just need something fast, and resorting  to junk food isn’t an option.  This is my latest emergency healthy food creation-between a dog rescue event that went longer than planned, and my sister’s dance recital I had 20 minutes in which to have dinner.  Oops!  Throw a can of beans and some other things in the food processor.  Cut up some veggies.  Dinner is served!

I love hummus of any type, really, but this is a particularly nice version.  Green and bright and very tasty, I bet this would be a fantastic sandwich spread, as well as a dip.

Maybe I should make some more tomorrow!

Recipe:

1 can cannelini or navy beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp tahini

1-2 garlic cloves, peeled

3 green onions,  sliced

juice of 1 lemon

1 C spinach leaves, loosely packed

4 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Put all ingredients in the food processor.  Process until smooth.  Done!

 

Makes about 1.5 C


Pot Pie

What do you think of when you think of a pot pie?  Vegetables in gravy surrounded by a flaky pastry crust, right?

Well, this isn’t that pot pie.  This is something entirely different.  Thick wedges of dough simmered in broth with some veggies.  Not noodles, not dumplings, but something entirely their own.

This is one of the recipes my grandmother would make.  It’s old.  It’s what women would make on wash day(when wash day meant the whole day full of back breaking work).  They’d simmer meat and bones(chicken, beef, pork, whatever they had on hand) all day, then remove the bones at the end of the day and add the vegetables and dough-presto, dinner!!  It’s the kind of thing people are awed by, but it is cheap and takes very little effort.  Oh, and did I mention it’s delicious?  Seriously, wonderfully delicious.

You can add whatever veggies you want to this-I think peas and asparagus would be amazing.  Or sweet potatoes.  Use whatever you have on hand.  Your ancestors will be proud :)

Recipe:

For the soup-

1 batch golden broth, or 6-8 cups of your preferred vegetable broth

1 onion, chopped

2 potatoes, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp poultry seasoning(like Bell’s)

 

For the dough-

4 cups flour(whole wheat tends to make these tough, sadly, so use a maximum of 1C whole wheat pastry flour), plus extra for dusting

4 tbsp(1/2 stick) butter

1 tsp salt

1.5-2 C milk.  Occasionally a bit more or less.

 

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and saute the onion for 2-3 minutes, or till it starts to go limp and a bit translucent.  Add the rest of the soup ingredients, turn the heat up to medium-high and make the dough.

Combine the flour and salt, and cut in the butter.  Slowly begin to stir in the milk-the amount will vary depending on the day, your flour, the weather, but what you want is a dough that is soft enough to roll out easily, but dry enough not to stick to everything.  It’s not precise-if it gets too wet, add a bit more flour.  If it’s too dry, add some more milk.  It’s very forgiving.

Dust your counter and roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thick, or a little thicker.  Cut it into squares about 2×2 inches, sprinkle a little flour on top and rub it into the surface of the dough(this will thicken the broth and also help keep the noodles from sticking).

Now check your pot.  Is it boiling?  If not, wait til it is.  If so, start adding the dough pieces one at a time while stirring(this is important. If you do not do this they will all stick together and be gross).  Once all the dough pieces have been added reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.  Let it cook for 25 minutes, then pull out a dough chunk and check for doneness(if you cut it open and can see a line in the middle, it’s not done yet)

Once they test done, you’re done!  Time to eat!

Serves 4-6


Honey Mustard Dressing

Salad Dressing.  It comes in so many forms.  You can make it, you can buy it, and there are so many different kinds.

But sometimes, simple is best.  Honey Mustard.  You might have dipped chicken nuggets in it as a child.  Or maybe not.  In any case, it is a comforting, spicy-sweet choice with which to top your salad.

You might think the dill is weird, but really, try it.  It’s not dill-y at all,  the dill just heightens the mustard flavor.  If you want a thicker or thinner dressing, feel free to adjust the sour cream to milk ratio however you want(with 3/4C total of both combined).  All sour cream makes a thick dip, for veggies or pretzels, 1/4C sour cream and 1/2C milk will make quite a thin dressing.

Recipe:

1/2C sour cream

1/4 C milk

3 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp grainy mustard

1/3 C honey

1/4tsp each onion and garlic powder

1/2 tbsp dried dill weed

 

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, and let it rest in the fridge for an hour at least to allow the flavors to meld.

This keeps at least a week in the fridge.  Probably longer, but it’s never lasted more than a week in my house.

Makes about 1 cup


Golden Broth

Everyone knows that homemade broth is the best broth, right?  Yep.  It totally is.  But so often, I don’t have enough different vegetables sitting around to make broth.  And who wants to go to the store just to make broth?  Not me.

This is why I love golden broth-All the ingredients are simple pantry staples.  It is delicious and vaguely chicken-y and will work in any dish calling for broth or stock.  Less than ten minutes of hands-on time, only two tablespoons of oil, and a great, mild flavor make this my favorite broth.

On Friday I will be posting the veggie-zation of an old family recipe that involves this broth.  It will be delicious!  Stay tuned :)

Recipe:

1 onion, very coarsely chopped(unpeeled will make a yellower broth)

1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half

1/2C yellow split peas

2 Tbsp oil

1 bay leaf

1 stalk celery(with leaves), coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 quarts(8 cups) water

salt(Lots!) and freshly ground pepper

 

In a large pot over medium high heat, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic and split peas until the peas are starting to brown a bit, and everything smells nice.  Add the celery, bay leaf, turmeric and water.  Bring it to a boil, and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 1/2 hour to an hour.

When it’s done simmering, strain out the solids and add salt(quite a lot-like any homemade broth) and black pepper.  proceed with making it  into something delicious, or store it in the fridge for later.

Less simmering time will result in a clear, golden colored broth.  More simmering time produces a cloudy(the picture is of broth simmered a little over an hour) but richer tasting broth.  Both are delicious.

Makes about 6 cups of broth


Coconut Bananas Foster. In tortillas.

A Mexican restaurant around here serves bananas wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried.  I though this might be an interesting way to present one of my favorite desserts, bananas foster.  But I didn’t have any regular rum.  Only coconut rum.

Solution?  Coconut bananas foster!  In a tortilla!

The coconut in this is fantastic.  Coconut and bananas are just right together, but the caramel is just over the top delicious.  You are going to want to use a virgin coconut oil for this-it is unprocessed and therefore still tastes like coconut.

This dessert is just so simple and delicious, it’s near the top of my “impressive but totally easy dessert” rotation.  With the added bonus of being a vegan dessert(if you leave off the whipped cream) with no artificial ingredients.

I used whole wheat tortillas, you use whatever you prefer :)

 

Recipe:

4tbsp coconut oil

1/2C brown(or raw) sugar

1/4C coconut rum

1/2 tsp coconut flavoring(optional)

1/2 tsp salt

4 flour tortillas

4 bananas

shredded coconut and whipped cream, for garnish

Cut the bananas and the flour tortillas in half, wrap each tortilla half around a banana half, and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add the tortilla covered bananas.  cook until they’re crispy on the bottom and flip over and let them crisp up on the other side.  remove them to a plate.

Now make the sauce-add the sugar and salt to the coconut oil remaining in the skillet(still over medium heat) and slowly pour in the rum,  stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut extract, if you’re using it.  At this point, you can set everything aside and finish it later, if you want a quick dessert to serve to guests.  Just reheat the sauce before moving on.

Now add the bananas back to the pan, until the bananas are heated through.  Serve topped with whipped cream, shredded coconut and the coconut caramel sauce.

Serves 4-8.