Oktoberfest in October- Soft Pretzels. Wunderbar!

October 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Seattle- not to get behind the food trends, has a new tavern, created by the local favorite chef/restaurateur Tom Douglas, that features chewy, fluffy, beer boiled, brick oven fired soft pretzels!

Brave Horse Tavern has figured out a way to make pretzels hip by adding quirky dips like peanut butter bacon and clams with lager. It was love at first bite.

Growing up, my mother used to buy us giant boxes of frozen pretzels from Costco- 5 minutes in the microwave, a sprinkle of pre-packaged pretzel salt and BOOM! Pretzelpalooza. I found a recipe on Martha Stewart for beer boiled pretzels- I fiddled a bit and made a pretty addicting dip- both recipes below.

Mustard is always a great staple for pretzels- I also made a really yummy Onion Rosemary Confiturre (or jam as normal people call it). I served the pretzels with a great pumpkin beer from Trader Joe’s (Trader Joe’s?! I know, right?)

A pizza cutter made the perfect tool for cutting the dough.

My dad didn’t have any lager-style beer on hand so we improvised with Hefeweizen- it foamed a ton which was annoying but it was a good indicator when the liquid was getting too hot.

I threw together a Cheddar Habanero dip- so good! The dip had a rich flavor from the cheddar followed by a flash of heat from the pepper.

Pretzel Recipe, from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • Warm water
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packages rapid-rise yeast
  • 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 4 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, plus more for serving
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup pale ale-style beer
  • Pretzel salt
  • Mustard, for serving

Put it together

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups warm water, yeast, and 1/2 cup brown sugar; let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together flour and coarse salt using your hands. Add butter and continue to mix with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Add yeast mixture and, using your hands, mix until a shaggy dough is formed and water is absorbed.
  3. Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough on medium speed until dough is tight, elastic, and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator; let chill at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. Roll dough out into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut dough into one dozen 12-inch-long strips, each about 1-inch wide. Transfer to a large baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Transfer to refrigerator and let chill for 15 minutes.
  6. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out each piece into a 30- to 33-inch-long rope (about 3/4-inch thick), starting from the center and working toward the ends. Make a “U” shape with the rope and cross the ends over, pinching at the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel. Return to baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough.
  7. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a large saucepan, combine 8 cups water, baking soda, beer, and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, until pretzel floats, about 30 seconds; transfer to prepared baking sheet using a perforated spatula. Repeat process with remaining pretzels.
  8. Sprinkle pretzels with pretzel salt; transfer to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and continue baking until pretzels turn a chestnut-brown color, 4 to 6 minutes more. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

 

Cheddar Habanero Dip

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Habanero pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 c cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c sharp cheddar, thinly grated

Put it together

  • Combine ingredients, microwave for 60 seconds, stir, and cool. Serve and Enjoy!

 

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Design inspiration: Concrete Blonde

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Concrete Blonde is a new restaurant in Sydney. I’m LOVING the combination of the opposing elements…

wood vs. steel

organic vs. forged

warm vs. cold

Here are some pieces I found so you can re-create the look in your space for a fraction of the price.

 

  1. Cellar Wine Rack (3 shown)- $39.95 at CB2
  2. Felix Walnut Side Chair– $89.95 at Crate & Barrel
  3. Wood Slice Coasters– $11.99 on Amazon
  4. Cru Wine Rack– $157.50 from Umbra
  5. Pulley Pendant Lamp– $199 on CB2
  6. TORSBY Dining Table– $139 at Ikea

Chalkboard Chargers

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

A cheap, simple way to add a little versatility to your tablescape.

Plates from Goodwill- $2 each, Chalkboard paint- $6

Great alternative to place cards

… or write a special message! Customize for holidays, weddings, whatever. My plates were plastic which was not the ideal surface for the chalkboard paint- I’d suggest using glass chargers.

Maple Bacon Cake Pops

August 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

If you have ever been to Portland, know someone in Portland, or follow any food blog updated in the past year, then you’ve heard of Voodoo Doughnuts and their to-die-for Maple Bacon Bar, which is essentially a super-tasty maple bar with a couple of crispy slices of bacon on top.

Photo from Food in Mouth

So I made Maple Bacon Cake Pops- I tried a few different combinations….

Maple in the cake, maple in the coating, peanut butter coating…

Luckily I have roommates to help out in my “test kitchen”…

… and the winner is maple and bacon on the inside, vanilla candy melts on the outside. Now you can enjoy all the flavors of breakfast in one bite! Recipe below.

Maple Bacon Cake Pops

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow butter cake, prepared and cooled
  • 3/4 can vanilla frosting
  • 1 package bacon, prepared and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs maple extract
  • 1 package white candy melts

Put it together

  1. Grind up cake into a large bowl, mix with frosting, bacon (reserving 2 tbs for garnish) and maple extract.
  2. Roll cake into quarter-sized balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper
  3. Place sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes to set
  4. Heat candy melts in a small, deep glass bowl in the microwave- stirring at 30 second intervals until melted, one to two minutes
  5. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the candy melts and stick into cake balls
  6. Dip cake balls into candy and dry by sticking vertically into florist’s foam, garnish with reserved bacon bits

Add a little pop to your party

July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve noticed popsicles have started popping up (ha!) in recent fashion blog postings and magazines. They are a great way to add color and flavor to any dessert feature/event. Have fun with it by using gourmet flavors and fun shapes. Here are some cute, quirky molds I found if you want to wander outside the traditional tombstone:

Guitar pops (Amazon- $9.70)- they are mini-sized so they could also be a cute drink garnish to add a flavor to a cocktail. I’m thinking mango puree pop to drop into your mojito…

Remember ring pops? $9.95 on Prairie Moon

And of course my personal favorite-  light saber pops! Not only do they light up, but the mold also comes with a recipe book with flavors like “C-3POrange” $34.95 at Think Geek

What happens when summer’s over and you can’t stop the pop?

Chocolate Chipsicles! $15.13 on Amazon

What to put in your pop? Start with your base be it mimosa, lemonade, chocolate pudding, sky’s the limit! Then, add some texture by dropping in solid pieces like fresh fruit, molded chocolate, or edible flowers. How fun would it be to make bright blue pops and drop in swedish fish!

Hint: if you are going to put solid pieces it requires a little babysitting if you want them spaced evenly. Freeze a layer of your pop, drop in your solid, then add more liquid, freeze, repeat.

Happy Friday! … and a little cake pop trick I just picked up

July 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Long overdue cake pop display I sold for a fundraiser- in purple and gold because the purchaser is a big Huskies fan (so is the baker!)

When I make cake pop displays I’m always searching for creative ways to cover up the floral foam anchoring the sticks. The popular way is with candy covered chocolate candies (aka m&m’s) but they are so expensive for something that’s not a feature. Today I found that tissue paper torn into strips and scrunched in between the sticks makes an easy, cheap presentation. I think I’ve found my new go-to for my displays!

Lavender on the menu

July 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lavender season is coming! Being from a small town, it wasn’t until college when I was introduced to the crazy idea of actually eating it. Lavender had always been something that comes in soap or lotion.

When I was 10 my Girl Scout troop made wands out of lavender which my mother proudly hung in my bathroom… and there it remained for the next twelve years before it  was eventually taken down, boiled, and made into a delicious cocktail. True story

Lavender Martinis! There is a bar in the artsy part of Seattle called Chapel that has what I believe to be the best lavender martini I’ve ever had. I convinced the bartender to share the recipe. The drink on the right had blackberry juices added to it, I do not recommend.

It’s all about the lavender simple syrup. The recipe made a ton so I’m hoping to experiment with other recipes (lemon squares with lavender or perhaps lavender-rosemary lemonade?)

Here’s the recipe- make sure and warn your guests that the drink is particularly deceptive. It’s much stronger than it tastes!

Lavender Martini

  • 1/2 oz Lavender simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice

Add to a shaker filled with ice, shake it up and serve in a martini glass. Sugar rim optional.

Lavender simple syrup

  • 3 tbs fresh or dried lavender
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

Bring water to a boil with lavender in a medium saucepan, stir in sugar until it is dissolved. Remove from heat and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Strain out lavender and serve. Makes about one cup syrup.