Pretzels

Fresh German-Style soft pretzels

Fresh German-style soft pretzels.

Given how much I love beer, including German beers, I was surprised I hadn’t thought to make fresh pretzels before; they’re a perfect companion for beer and bready palate-cleanser when sampling beer styles.

These pretzels were prepared for a party where, thankfully, they were a popular addition.

For this recipe I had help from my companion, more experienced in bread-making than me. She prepared the dough based on this recipe.
For a double batch (about 16 medium-sized pretzels), we used the following ingredients:

  • doubled the ingredient quantities
  • substituted 1/2 whole wheat flour
  • used a biga-style preferment, i.e., soaked flour + water + small amount of yeast for about 4 hours
  • placed half the pretzels (on one baking sheet) into the freezer to firm before boiling

There are a lot of good video recipes online showing the technique to roll-out the dough, form the pretzels, boil, and bake, so I won’t describe the process here, but rather refer you to the recipes and videos linked below. (I especially liked this video.)

Some observations:

  • When forming the pretzels, be sure to stick the feet down (perhaps by moistening with a dab of water) so they don’t come loose while boiling and baking.
  • The more baking soda in the boiling water, the darker the pretzels will be.  We used about 2 heaping tablespoons in a large skillet to boil the pretzels three or four at a time.
  • It didn’t seem to make much difference whether or not the pretzels were cooled in the freezer for a short time before boiling.
  • Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt (or other coarse salt) before baking.
  • We baked them on parchment paper for 25-30 minutes in a preheated 410° F oven.
Pretzels baked on parchment paper.

Pretzels baked on parchment paper.

We served the pretzels with a coarse mustard (as god intended), e.g., Grey Poupon Country Dijon, and also a spicy sauce made of mayonnaise and Sriracha hot pepper sauce.

All in all these turned out quite nice and were safely boiled in baking soda water rather than the traditional, but caustic, lye solution.  I knew lye was used for pretzels and lye bread, but never knew exactly how until researching these pretzel recipes.

While we didn’t follow one specific recipe to the letter, here is the primary one we consulted (first), plus a number of videos demonstrating the preparation techniques:

This was a fun baking project; I suggest you try freshly homemade pretzels as well!

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Leftover Curry Frittata

Leftover Curry Frittata

Leftover Curry Frittata (chickpea, cabbage, and coconut) served with cumin rice.

I make a lot of curries; they’re flexible and amenable to creativity with whatever vegetables you have on hand.
I’m not a big breakfast person, but I do occasionally make a frittata; it’s easier than most might think (and you don’t bother with a crust like quiche), as long as you have a skillet you can move from the stovetop to the oven.

This Leftover Curry Frittata is simply a frittata made with your leftover curry from the night or nights before.
Here, I used a leftover curry made with cabbage, chickpeas, and coconut cream.
I bet you could even add a bit of leftover rice to the frittata, but rice also makes a nice side for breakfast.

Below are some related posts with preparation details for frittatas and vegetable curries.
Another tip is that I find that frittatas turn out fine with just egg and water (instead of milk), if you prefer to keep it dairy-free (or are out of milk, like me).

Asian-inspired frittatas are nice too, with chinese vegetables and a touch of hoisin and chili garlic sauce. Also, these are a bit less work than Egg Foo Young, that makes a great breakfast and reheats well.

Tomato Coconut Curry

Tomato Coconut Curry

Tomato Coconut Curry

Holy crap, apparently it’s been 2 years since I started this blog, and I haven’t even posted anything yet this year. I certainly have been cooking, and I did make a half-assed attempt at writing posts the last couple months but never published them.  I guess my enthusiasm was low – about blogging, not about life, the universe, and everything. That’s been good.  Anyway, here’s a new curry that I enjoyed and I’ll follow it up with a related breakfast idea.

This is a creamy, spicy curry spiced with the following: oil, turmeric root, black mustard seed, cumin seed, garam masala, cinnamon, minced fresh ginger, garlic, salt (to taste, later in cooking); to prepare: mix spice ingredients in the oil and cook over medium heat until seeds start to pop. Ingredients include: red bell pepper (2, medium diced), serrano pepper (1, finely diced, seeds included if you like it hot; I also added 6 dried red bird peppers), red onion (1/2 large, cut into thin strips), cherry tomato (1/2 pound, whole), water (adding small amounts as necessary to keep ingredients from sticking/burning, perhaps 1- 1/2 cups), green peas (1 cup, e.g., from frozen), fresh baby spinach leaves (1 6 ounce bag), coconut cream (~1/3 can or 4-5 ounces, to desired thickness/taste).

Cherry tomatoes cooking down for Tomato Coconut Curry.

Cherry tomatoes cooking down for Tomato Coconut Curry.

Cook until tender and the tomatoes can be easily mashed.
Add the peas when the curry is nearly done, so as not to overcook them, and add salt to taste.

Adding peas (frozen) to Tomato Coconut Curry.

Adding peas (frozen) to Tomato Coconut Curry.

Stir in the coconut cream and fresh spinach leaves last.

Tomato Coconut Curry finished with coconut cream and fresh spinach leaves.

Tomato Coconut Curry finished with coconut cream and fresh spinach leaves.

While this was being prepared, I cooked brown basmati rice in a rice cooker (cheating… soaked first in water, since this doesn’t cook as quickly as, say, chinese sticky rice), and served the two together for a delicious dinner.

Tomato Coconut Curry served with brown basmati rice.

Tomato Coconut Curry served with brown basmati rice.

I didn’t base this on any specific recipe – it was born of what I had on hand, but if you’d like a more precise recipe, here are two that are somewhat similar:

This is a great curry that is both and gluten-free and vegan. I hope you enjoy it!