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Miniature Soft Pretzels

22 Jul

In a recent post, I discussed food memories.  I can safely say that soft pretzels are a food in my life that may be in the top running for “Most Memories Associated”.  There are just so many varieties!  There are the soft giant thick pretzels almost like mini loaves of bread that we would get after elementary school field hockey practice in Philadelphia.  There are the Mickey Mouse shaped pretzels with cheese sauce at Disneyland, the size of your own face.  There was the soft pretzel I ate literally first thing off the train once my friends and I arrived in Germany, the home of soft pretzels.  There was also the pretzel I begged my dad to buy me from the street cart when we visited New York City when I was 12.  It tasted like burnt garbage.

Needless to say, I LOVE soft pretzels (I also love the hard sourdough ones, as well, but that’s for another post).  I don’t think I ever dreamed I would be making them at home for myself, but here we are and I just ate a pretzel made by my own hand!  As I always say, it never fails to surprise me that it was easier than expected.

Don’t be afraid of working with yeast and rising dough–you literally just mix it up and walk away from it.  How easy is that?!  So pull out some Trader Joe’s Hot and Sweet Mustard and get to making these pretzels!

Miniature Soft Pretzels
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 32 miniature soft pretzels

  • 2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt (not table tiny grain salt!)
  1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast (DON’T STIR–the yeast will stick to the spoon), and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
  2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast and mix until combined. Add salt, melted buter and 4 cups more flour and mix until combined.  Add another 1/2 cup flour and knead with your hands. If dough is sticking to your hands as you knead, add 1/2 cup more flour; knead until combined.
  3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour (about 75-80 degrees), or until dough has doubled in size.
  4. Heat oven to 450°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with non-stick spray).  Set aside.  Punch down dough to pop bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice to form an evenly sized ball.  Using a chefs knife, divide the dough into 32 equal pieces (if you want larger pretzels, cut only into 16 pieces).  I make sure the pieces are equal by dividing the ball of dough into 2 halves, then divide the halves into quarters, then so on and so forth.  I guarantee your pieces will all be evenly cut this way!
  5. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes or else you will have a heck of a time trying to roll out the dough.  After the rest, on a clean separate surface, roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip.  Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel.  Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
  6. While the pretzels are rising again, fill a large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add baking soda (but be warned that it will foam up and might splash up); add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side.  Transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
  7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

 Notes: Don’t put them into an airtight container until they’ve been cool for quite a while or else the pretzels will get soggy.  Also, thanks to Annie’s Eats, she figured out that you can freeze your progress at a few different points in the process.  You can freeze the pretzels after you shape them but before boiling; go straight from the freezer to the boiling water and add 15 seconds to boiling process and a few extra minutes to baking time.  You can also freeze them after baking, defrosting and reheating them without the texture suffering too much.

First Organic Produce Delivery!

22 Jul

So this first post this morning isn’t a recipe; I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing the wonderful box of goodies that showed up on my doorstep yesterday afternoon!

I signed up for Farm Fresh To You, a service that delivers a box of organic local produce to your home.  Now, for months I searched for exactly this, but only found services that were too expensive and gave more produce more frequently than I would be able to eat before the next delivery.  Farm Fresh To You, however, has a LOT of things going for it:

  • You can choose to get deliveries every week, every other week, or every 3 or 4 weeks.
  • You can choose the size and variety of your box–small, regular, large sizes and you can choose to get just fruits, just veggies, both, or even options beyond those, like only “grab and go” fruits and veggies that you can pick up on the way out the door and eat just with your hands.
  • You can choose what exactly comes in your box.  I know some people might think this is cheating since, after all, part of the fun is figuring out how to use the produce that week.  But there are some people with allergies (I should have said no apples, since I am indeed allergic to apples, but I love cooking with them and giving the treats away) and there are some people who don’t want to let food go to waste if they already know they will not eat them (I, admittedly, said no beets and no celery).

So back to the first box:  it was a bumper crop!  1 head of green leaf lettuce, 3 stalks of broccoli, 2 slicing tomatoes, 1 yellow onion, 1 pound of yellow squash, 1 avocado, 1 cantaloupe, 2 doughnut peaches, and 1 pound of lemon cucumbers.

If any of you out there have ever had a lemon cucumber, then you had me beat.  I’d never even heard of them!  Turns out they look like a small yellow tennis ball, but taste exactly like your average every day cucumber.  The only difference is that the skin is just ever so slightly tougher–but we ate the skins anyway and only barely noticed them.  What an experience!

I absolutely suggest you find a service like this in your area.  You may be surprised to find that they do exist in your area, especially since the locavorism trend has begun to take off in popularity.  I can say this much…you guys will definitely benefit from these produce deliveries.  My head is already churning with recipe ideas for how to use everything!  Except the peaches–those will be a delightful little breakfast on the way to the office tomorrow.

Bonus–if you live in California, check out the Farm Fresh to You website and see if they deliver to your zip code.  If you want to give Farm Fresh to You a try, use code “6164” for $5 off your first box. Mention my name and I get a treat too!

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