Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Jan 22, 2013

Soft Pretzels & Spicy Mustard

Libations used: 1/3 cup white wine
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so celebrate your craftiness of making your own mustard by polishing it off with friends...
When I was home for the holidays, our family went into a baking frenzy, which I loved.  One of the things we made were these homemade soft pretzels and spicy mustard.  At least once a year, the Lush Chef's parents get together with friends and make soft pretzels.  I grew up in a German tourist town in Michigan, so this is a rather normal occurrence.  At these parties, they make the pretzels with lye, but frankly, we were all kind of terrified to deal with the stuff.  Who wants to deal with burns and covering every kitchen surface with garbage bags?  Yes, it gives your pretzels that beautiful golden-brown and glossy look, but we found that using baking soda still did the trick.  I mean, these look pretty golden-brown to me...

After making soft pretzels, I can see why they're perfect for parties!  The ingredients are incredibly inexpensive and once the dough has risen, it's so easy to just cut up some strips, lay them out for guests and let them start forming the pretzels.  Don't be skimpy on the salt because it tends to absorb after you've dipped the dough in boiling water and baking soda.  The pretzels only take about 8 minutes to bake and taste best when they're fresh out of the oven.  Serve them with some German beer and various mustards, such as this spicy mustard from Emeril Lagasse.  You'll need to start the mustard a day in advance and once you realize how simple it is, you may stop buying it from the store!  If you want it less spicy, then cut down on the brown mustard seeds and add more yellow.

Soft Pretzels - makes 10-12
  • 2 packets active dry yeast (about 4 Tbs)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (100-115 degrees)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt 
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar in warm water.
- Let it stand for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar and salt.
- Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and vegetable oil.
- Mix and knead the dough until it's smooth (about 7-9 minutes).  The texture should be slightly tacky.  If it feels too dry, then add 2 Tbs or more of water.
- Form into a ball and place into a large bowl lightly coated with vegetable oil.
- Turn and coat the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it's double in size.
- When you're ready to make the pretzels, pre-heat the oven to 450.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and dissolve the baking soda.
- Keep a lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- In the meantime, turn dough onto a lightly oiled surface and divide it into 10-12 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a long, 1/2 inch rope and form into a pretzel shape.
- Using a large, flat spatula, dip each pretzel into the boiling water for a few seconds and place onto the baking sheet.
- Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they're golden brown.

Spicy Mustard - makes 3/4 cup
  • 3 Tbs yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 1/2 Tbs brown mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup white wine (we used an already open bottle of Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
- In a non-reactive bowl, add all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Transfer the mustard mixture to a blender and process until you have the desired texture and thickness.  Ours was pretty chunky, which we preferred.
- Store in an airtight container and this stuff will last up to 2 weeks.


Susan said...

I love soft pretzels and make them often--this recipe reminds me that it's time to make some today just because it's so dreary outside:-D