Tag Archive: Breads

Weekend Scraps

Well, the weather was terrible this weekend, and the Eagles lost again, but it was Aeney’s birthday and my fantasy team is about to move up to 4th place, so it wasn’t all really bad.

I also cooked a lot. A preview for this week:

Local eggs, for Saturday's breakfast

 

Kale Chips

 

Vegetable Soup with Barley

 

Skillet Cornbread, to go with the Sunday dinner gumbo

I’m writing up recipes now…it was a very productive weekend in the kitchen!

Oktoberfest: Just in time for Doc-tober.

NOT the Phightins on the TV...unfortunately.

The Phillies won last night! They are now sitting at 102 wins for the season (a franchise record) and they ride into the postseason to take on the Cardinals on Saturday for game 1 of the NLDS. Thank goodness I have the winningest Phils in history to distract me from the train wreck that is Andy Reid and the Eagles.

In the meantime, it’s time for Oktoberfest! I found a recipe a while ago on an Oktoberfest website and gave it a try mainly to shut C up about wanting to go to the real Oktoberfest and get real Bavarian pretzels (I’m so sorry you have to live your life in sunny Southern California, pal!). I was so happy with the way they turned out! The baking soda in the water is the key. I’ve been making them since then, and it’s kind of a tradition that we have them with Oktoberfest beers when that seasonal comes out. We like the Sam Adams stuff best. We make a thing of it, and have brats and spicy mustard and stuff. But no sauerkraut. Or lederhosen. Anyway, they’re delicious.

I made these pretzels again last weekend to accompany all the beer I was drinking to console myself after the Eagles lost in spectacular fashion to the New York Football Giants. At home. Their first home game of the season, in fact. With their dream team and all-star corners (safety? why would you need safeties?) and the $100 million dollar man with a concussion and a broken-not-broken-hand. But I’m totally over it and not bitter at all. Really.

Let’s have some pretzels, shall we? Go Phightins!

Bavarian Pretzels

1 Pkg Active Dry Yeast

1 1/3 C Warm (105F) Water, Plus 2 Tbsp

1/3 C Dark Brown Sugar, packed

2 1/2 C All-Purpose Flour

2 C Bread Flour

Sea Salt (or Kosher Salt)

Baking Soda

Water

Dissolve the yeast in the water in a big mixing bowl, and let proof until foamy (7-10 minutes). Add sugar, stir. Gradually add in flour until mix is well-combined. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, then cover and let rise for at least 30 minutes.

almost done....!

Next, heat the oven to 450 F, and break out a baking sheet. Sprinkle salt over the sheet (I like to put parchment paper down on mine first, but whatevs). Fill a large saucepan or deep saute pan with water (3 or 4 inches’ worth). Add in about 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every cup of water you use. Stir to dissolve baking soda, and bring the water to a boil.

While your water is heating up, start forming your pretzels. Break off chunks of dough a little bigger than a golf ball (a small handful should do it). Roll it between your hands to flatten it, then roll it on a clean surface to lengthen it. You want to be at least 12″ long.

Shape the dough into a pretzel by starting with a straight line. Take each end, cross them over each other, twist, and press the ends into the opposite side of the dough. Your pretzels will probably be in the neighborhood of 6″ across. Obviously, if you want bigger pretzels, use more dough. Set your lovely pretzels aside and let them rise again for a few minutes. The next part moves pretty quickly, so you’ll want to have them all ready to go.

straight-ish line

Place the pretzel in the simmering water and cook for 15 seconds or so. It will start to turn yellowish, and this is your cue to take it out! Place it on the salted baking sheet, and sprinkle with a little more salt. Repeat the process until your sheet is full of delicious, salty pretzel goodness. Then bake them for 6-8 minutes (or longer, my oven is the devil and cooks everything at warp speed).

giant pretzel. what, I was tired of rolling out all those little ones!

soaked, salted, and ready for baking

delicious pretzels.

 

Enjoy them hot, with spicy mustard and, of course, Oktoberfest beer!

dinner of champions?

Prost!

C’s Blogging Debut: The Eggplant Thing

So, C always talks about this eggplant thing he ate when he was deployed. I love eggplant, and every time I made some, he would say “oh, we should make that thing I had…” right after I had begun cooking said eggplant in a completely different way. I began to think he was a little too much talk and not enough action. Well, he has come through in a big way: he not only made the eggplant himself, but he then wrote up his recipe. It can be a main dish all on its own, or a side to roasted chicken or lamb kabobs or something. Like he says, it isn’t necessarily much to look at, but it is delicious. I had the leftovers with pita chips (of course there wasn’t any flatbread left!) and it was just as great the next day. So, thanks for the recipe, love! Now that you’re done writing, back to fetching me more snacks and wine…

Unfortch, I don't have any eggplant to photograph this week. (boo!) Stock photo courtesy of sxc

Craig’s Eggplant with Flatbread 

Salt and Sass life lesson: keep it simple, keep it delicious. I’m much less eloquent than my beautiful wife; however, we made a specific dinner recently at my behest and direction, so she forced me into blogging servitude. First Salt and Sass guest post EVER. I rock.

No shit, there I was. Northern Iraq, winter 2006, Border Fort 31 across from Syria. I was deployed as part of a Border Transition Team whose job it was to embed with an Iraqi Battalion (the Border Police, in this case) and train them on how we do business. The idea was that if the Iraqi forces across the spectrum could do what we do adequately enough then all of the US forces could leave and the Iraqis could take over from there.  Simple theory but you know how that goes. Anyway, to the point – this is about food, after all.

During this particular border trip I was looking for one of my team’s interpreters and found him in another room hanging out with some of the Jundi. They were cooking food for themselves on a little burner that kind of looked like a plumbing torch and offered to have me join them. Since I hadn’t had a problem getting sick with any of the food and generally enjoyed everything I had been fed, I thanked them and partook. In Iraq, especially out in the middle of nowhere, there’s nothing too fancy in the way of food, and this was no exception.

Ingredients: eggplant, onion and oil. Directions: chop up the eggplant and onion, cook it in the oil, break off a piece of flat bread, dip it into the heated eggplant mixture, make sure to blow on it and cool it off A LOT (or you end up with a giant mouth blister like my dumb ass), eat and enjoy. Simple, simple, simple… and delicious.

We’ll be a little more specific here for you at home but I hope my little vignette helps illustrate my point: keep it simple and you can still make surprisingly tasty meals.

1 Eggplant

½ White or Yellow Onion

4 Cloves Garlic

¼ Cup Olive Oil

2-3 pieces Flat Bread or Naan

Chop the eggplant into fairly small pieces, about ½ inch cubes. Dice the onion and mince the garlic (a garlic press works just fine). Dump (yes, dump is a cooking term) the oil, eggplant, onion and garlic into a sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Stirring regularly, sauté everything until the eggplant is fully cooked, about 15-20 minutes (if you have no eggplant experience, it’s fully cooked when it turns a little grayish and a bit mushy  – don’t let that scare you, though, it’s great). Add salt and pepper to taste, though it doesn’t need much. You can serve this however you want, straight from the pan (if you’re lazy like us), from a community plate, or on individual plates. Break off pieces off your flat bread or naan so they’re small enough to be bite size but large enough that you can grab some of your eggplant mixture, dip it in the eggplant, and eat. That’s it.

Feel free to adjust any of the amounts of the individual ingredients to fit your tastes or nutritional requirements. Simplicity allows you to easily modify recipes to fit your own needs. Also, I wish we had a flat bread recipe so you could make that part at home as well. There aren’t too many things better than freshly baked bread, in my opinion, and the flat bread they made in the Middle East and Afghanistan was amazing. Unfortunately, we haven’t found or made one that is to my liking thus far. On this particular night we used Trader Joe’s frozen Tandoori Naan, which is really pretty good, and is definitely an acceptable substitute to homemade. If we ever find a great recipe, however, I’ll be sure L lets you know.

Thanks, honey, for having me guest write, I hope I met your high standards. Salt and Sass faithful, I hope you enjoyed my musings and enjoy the eggplant. Tschüss.

-Craig

Hush Puppies!

I love hush puppies. They are the favorite culinary wonder I discovered when I lived in the South (well, cheese grits and Cookout peanut butter milkshakes also rank way up there…what up, G’boro!) and I cannot tell you how good they are with…everything. C is also a fan, and wanted to make some to have with his Cajun fish dinner recently. I am not too keen on deep-frying things, because it’s terrible for you and also makes an enormous, kitchen-destroying holy mess. We, of course, have no deep fryer and also no sense, apparently, because we made them. I kind of can’t say no to hush puppies, especially when C volunteers to clean up the aforementioned holy mess.

So, we set out on a mission to acquire the pre-seasoned hush puppy mix (what? in addition to not wanting to clean, I also didn’t feel like making them from scratch! Yes, sometimes I’m that lazy.) We searched high and low at three different grocery stores, but no dice. I also looked online and was not overly thrilled with what I was finding. I finally went back to that ridiculous Martha Stewart cookbook, just to see if I could get some ingredient listings out of her (you may remember my complaints about the complexity of her recipe offerings a while ago. Many of them make me feel like I need an advanced degree.) and lo and behold, she has a hush puppy recipe!  And it wasn’t super-outrageously-complicated! So, we made them, kind of to her specifications (4 Cups of peanut oil?? No thank you). And they were everything I hoped they would be. Kind of depends on how big you make them, but this should serve 4.

Hush Puppies 

Vegetable Oil (or, fine Martha, Peanut Oil…I don’t have any because I’m not fancy like that. They were just as good.)

1 1/4 C All Purpose Flour

1 C Yellow Cornmeal

2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Sea or Kosher Salt (OR Cajun Seasoning…it usually has salt in it, and gives a little extra kick. If you do that, just use a dash of cayenne or omit it entirely)

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced

2 Large Eggs

1 C Buttermilk

In a big, deep-sided skillet (preferably a cast iron jawn) pour in about 1-1 1/2″ oil. Heat over medium until almost smoking (keep a close eye on it!). You don’t have to do this first, you can do it while your batter is resting. It kind of depends on how fast you can mix all this stuff up. It’ll take a few minutes to get it hot enough.

Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk, then stir in the jalapeno.

Stir the egg/buttermilk mixture into the flour mix. The batter will be kind of lumpy, but make sure it’s well-combined and you don’t have any huge clumps of dry ingredients. When it’s all mixed up and ready to go, let it rest for a few (5-ish) minutes.

Now comes the messy part. Using a table spoon (like, a spoon that you would use at the table) carefully drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil. Don’t do too many at once; you’re going to need to turn them and they like their space.

Let them fry until they are golden brown, being sure to roll them around in the pan so they cook evenly. When they’re ready, remove them from the pan, using tongs or a slotted spoon, and place on a several-paper-towel covered plate to drain. Eat!!

Breadsticks, Olive-Garden Style

I have a breadstick recipe that I really like, but C wanted something different. So, for our dinner party a couple weeks back, I told him to just find me a recipe and I would make it. He decided on the Olive Garden’s breadsticks, and set out on a quest to find the super-secret, double-probation recipe. Now, I like them ok, but I feel like they could use a little more flavor. More garlic, and probably some basil or something wouldn’t hurt. However, C is not a fan of modifying things, for the most part. Especially things he knows he likes already. And he loves Olive Garden’s breadsticks. So, while I was kind of disappointed that he settled on the decidedly unadventurous O.G. breadstick recipe, I wasn’t surprised, and I for sure knew that multiple additions and/or alterations to the recipe were going to be out of the question. I had to do some stealth modifying. I think the end result turned out pretty well. In fact, it was declared his “favorite thing” I’ve “ever made.” So there’s that.

I used this recipe (with a few changes, haha) and I have to say, it worked out great. Todd Wilbur does a great job replicating the O.G. recipe, especially in terms of texture. They were great with the spaghetti & meatballs that we made, but would also be awesome with stew, soup or just dipped in some marinara. Also, I can’t tell you how much I love Penzey’s Spices Garlic Salt. It’s awesome. Get some. Also, Challenge Tuscan Butter. So good. I will for sure be making these again!

Olive Garden-Style Garlic Breadsticks

2 Tbsp White Sugar

3/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast

1 C + 1 Tbsp Warm Water

3 C Bread Flour

2 tsp Sea Salt

3 Tbsp Butter, Softened

3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

To Serve:

2 Tbsp Butter, Melted

Garlic Salt

In a small bowl, combine sugar and yeast in the water, set aside and let proof. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt, then stir in butter. When flour mix is well combined, whisk garlic into yeast mixture and add to flour mix. Continue to blend until flour is absorbed. Then, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until dough is soft and elastic. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1.5 hours.

When dough is doubled in size, divide into about 16 equal pieces (the original recipe says 2-oz portions, but I am not a very good measurer of ounces. Shocking, I know.) Roll the portions out into 6-8 inch sticks, using your hands or a flat surface. When they’re ready, arrange the sticks on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover loosely and allow to rise again until doubled (about another hour).

Bake breadsticks at 400F for 10-12 minutes, until golden (and looking like the Olive Garden’s, duh.) To serve, brush with the melted butter and top with the garlic salt. Quickly eat them before anyone else gets to them they get cold.

behold, my messy and misshapen breadstick dough!

 

they were delicious despite their lack of uniform shape.