Monday, February 11, 2013

Cookbook Project Weeks 2-5: Soft Pretzels

I'm the kind of girl who will buy herself something pretty when she gets the case of the gloomies. Of course the stomach flu that both T and myself came down with just took us down and it was a straight week of the high-grade fever gloomies-hence the dress. I really thought that in the first month of this project I was going to fall behind which made me feel even more awful. And I did, just not with the baking, moreso with the posting. So please excuse me.
For my second week, I made Olive Oil Pound Cake from Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. I buy my olive oil from this great local store and this particular variety was blood orange flavor. I whipped up this incredibly quick pound cake and served it with lightly whipped cream and blackberries. This book also inspired my new OriginalCinn class on March 1st at Whole Foods in Cupertino--Simple Sweets and Everyday Baking where you will not only get some great recipes, but the science and technique behind making staple desserts you can whip up in no time.
The third week of January, before it got really gloomy in this house, I made Scallops with Linguine, Avocado and Lime from Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist. I actually have a signed copy of this book from a demo she did in San Francisco. I watched her cook, got her to sign my book and I feel deeply in love with her southern accent. She is flawless... right, sorry, well this dish was incredible. I never thought I'd like this combination but like the rest of the recipes in this book, it has amazing flavor.

Then there was the return of the NHL. There was a 3 month lockout which meant no hockey. For my hockey-loving fiancee, this was pretty much torture. But now that I was back from flu-hell, I made a super snack for our first game. I got this recipe from my Good Housekeeping book and looking around, its not really available anymore...unless you want to pay $120 for it, which I don't really recommend so here's the recipe. It will make some really tasty soft pretzels. I served it with Cheddar Beer Sauce and it made for a really great first game snack. Go Sharks!!!

Soft Pretzels
2 cups Warm Water (about 115 degrees)
1 packet Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon Sugar
4+ Cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon Kosher, Sea Salt or Coarse Pretzel Salt

1. In a large bowl, add 1 1/2 cups of warm water and sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes or until it becomes foamy.
2. Add 2 cups of flour and the salt and mix until combined. Gradually add the remaining flour until it becomes a soft dough and is no longer sticky.
3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until firm and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning the dough over so the entire surface is greased. Cover bowl with plastic and set in a warm area to double in size. This will take about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease 2 large cookie sheets. Punch down the dough and cut, one by one, 18-24 inch long strips.
5. Combine the last 1/2 cup of water and baking soda. Stir to dissolve.
6. Shape dough into loop-shaped pretzels and dip into the baking soda. Place the pretzels on the sheet, 2 inches apart and sprinkle with salt.
7. Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pans about 12 minutes into baking, until browned. Cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.

Oh yeah, then I made ice cream. Oh delicious ice cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. By this point, I have developed more recipes than I have found in a book, but I owe it all to this project. I didn't just make Lemon Ice Cream...I added a blueberry swirl that I scented with lavender. Whenever I get asked the question, "What's your favorite thing to make?" I always say Ice Cream. Because you can do a million different things with it, but its still ice cream. I am a happy girl with ice cream!

Thanks for reading this awfully long post. But I've been up to a lot of baking! Cheers.

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