Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lunchtime Pretzels

We were watching a food show last night that sent me immediately to pretzel researching. After looking at a few recipes, I combined a couple to form this recipe below.  The pretzels turned out doughy, yet light and were best eaten fresh out of the oven.  Fabulous!

2 1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, between 106 to 110 degrees F

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups close to boiling water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Malden sea salt flakes
Cinnamon sugar

Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Whisk to combine.  Using the hook attachment, knead the dough by slowly adding the warm water in a steady stream with the mixer on low, # 3 speed.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.  
Remove the hook attachment, bring the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit to rise for about an hour. 

Heat oven to 450f.
Combine the 4 cups water with teh 1/2 cup baking soda in a 9" x 9" pan and set over the stove on low heat.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 8-10 equal sized pieces.  Roll the dough with your hands into a long rope, about 12-16 inches long.  Twist the dough twice at the end, then fold over onto the center to form the pretzel shape.  
Place the pretzels onto a large cutting board or pan as you complete them.
Carefully place each pretzel into the water and baking soda bath.  This bath is what makes the outside of the pretzels that deep golden brown color.  Use a large spoon and spoon the water over the pretzel a few times.
Remove the pretzel with a slotted spoon or spatula and place onto the baking sheet.
Once you have done this for all the pretzels, bake them for 5 minutes.

Remove and brush with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with either the salt or the cinnamon sugar and return to oven for another 3 minutes.
Serve warm.  I had mine with a little Maille moutarde au chablis from Paris and the girls had some fresh jambon with theirs.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Grilled Shishito Peppers

My neighbor Anne passed me this recipe for grilled shishito peppers the other day.  How did she know?  She must have read my mind.  I'd been looking for these peppers on and off since I had them at a restaurant some time ago.  I never came across them until, as fate would have it, the day after Anne handed me the newspaper article.  The peppers are not spicy, but have a slight sweetness to them and taste mild and bright.  Grilled and salted, they are tasty little treats to have with a cold glass of beer.  I made a slight alteration to the recipe which calls for chopped almonds.  Since I did not have any almonds, I used toasted sesame seeds instead.

8 oz Shishito peppers
1 tablespoon pure sesame oil
kosher salt
toasted sesame seeds

Heat your grill on high.
Toss the peppers with the sesame oil and a large pinch of kosher salt.
Grill the peppers until they are blistered and quite soft.
Return the peppers to the same bowl you tossed them in.  Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and additional salt to taste.

Simple and delicious.  We ate ours with a pan fried pork chop and white rice.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Chilled Pea Soup with Garlic Cream and Grilled Gulf Prawn

I had an excellent pea crop this year, but unfortunately, we were on our trip when they were at their peak.  When I harvested them the day we returned, I found most of the peas were over ripened, or past their sweet peak.  We had some for dinner the other night and with the rest, I decided to make chilled pea soup to bring to a Fourth of July party.  With the soup, I could mask a little of the bitterness some of the peas developed.  I served these in small glass jars to be had like a shot of soup.

For the soup:
6 Cups water
1/8 Cup kosher salt
4 Cups shelled peas
5 Fresh Basil leaves
5 Fresh Mint leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped spring onion
2 1/2 Cups reserved cooking liquid
Salt and pepper to taste
Large bowl of ice water to shock the peas

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large pot.  Add the peas and once the water comes to a boil again, cook the peas for another 90 seconds at a rolling boil.
Drain the peas, reserving the 2 1/2 cups of water.
Put peas immediately into the ice water bath.
Using a blender, purée the peas with the reserved water, basil, mind and spring onion.  You will probably need to do this in 2 batches.
Strain the soup through a medium meshed sieve.  I like a little bulk to the soup, so I don't use a fine mesh.  If you prefer a finer soup, use a fine meshed sieve.  Salt, if needed, and pepper to taste.
Put the soup into a container and seal.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Can be made a couple of days ahead.

For the garlic cream:
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 Cups heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt

In a medium pot, melt the butter over low heat.  Add the garlic and sauté until lightly browned.  Add the cream, sugar and pinch of salt.  Let simmer for about 8 minutes.
Purée in a blender.  Place into a container and seal.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Can be made a couple of days ahead.

For the prawns:
12 Extra large Gulf white prawns
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Peel and devein the prawns.  Skew each prawn length wise once through the tail and then through the upper body.  Brush each with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill until just cooked through.

To Serve:
Fill each glass with about 1.5-2 ounces of the soup.  Spoon a little of the cream on top and finish with the shrimp skewer laid across the glass.

The soup was a little thicker than I wanted.  Next time, I'll make it thinner as it thickened a bit once it chilled.  Other than that, delish!