Saturday, May 28, 2016

RECIPE // Sourdough Rye Pretzels + IPA Cheddar Dip

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! If you aren't celebrating it at the beach, I'm sorry to hear it. The temperature has finally stayed above 70 degrees, and I've been doing cartwheels in my backyard to celebrate. Robbie and I will both be working, but we enjoyed our first warm weekend of the year our own way. Last night we made a dinner consisting of oysters, steamed mussels, and seared scallops, and tomorrow morning, we'll be doing yoga on the beach. We decided to make tranquility the theme of our weekend.

Now that it's finally warmed up, it's time to open up the windows, put on a Vampire Weekend record and start cooking my favorite summer foods. I'm especially excited to visit farmers markets and pick-your-own farms to get the best ingredients to share on here. To start summer off, I decided to make pretzels. For many of you, pretzels might make you think of autumn and Octoberfest, but for me, pretzels instantly take me to summer and the boardwalk. Even though they make you a target for seagulls, they still make the best treat on the beach.

I usually make all of my breads for the week in one day. When I went to make pretzels, I had also planned on making a loaf of rye bread. It occurred to me while I was feeding the starter to make both that rye flour would be a perfect addition to the pretzels. The trademark caraway seeds that normally appear in rye bread instead made their way into the cheddar cheese dip. Using a sourdough starter, rather than yeast, means waiting a little longer for dough to rise, but embrace it! Cover your dough and step outside for a few hours!

Sourdough Rye Pretzels + IPA Cheddar Dip

For the pretzels:
1 1/2 c of unfed sourdough starter
1 c dark rye flour
2 c AP flour
1 c lukewarm water
1 tbsp of salt (not iodized, preferably mineral rich)
Coarse sea salt
1/2 c baking soda

For the cheddar dip:
1 tbsp grassfed butter
1 tbsp AP flour
2 c grassfed milk
1/2 c IPA
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp of ground caraway seeds
1 c grassfed cheddar

Mix the sourdough starter, rye flour, AP flour, water and salt together in a large bowl. If there is any excess flour, add extra water, a tablespoon at a time, until all the ingredients are incorporated into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough by folding it onto itself and pressing down with the heel of your hand. Continue for 15 minutes. Move the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover, and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Begin to bring 10 cups of water in a wide pot to a boil over high heat.

When the dough has finished rising, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece between your hand and the work surface, until it is 18 inches long, with tapered ends. Twist the ends around each other once, and fold it back on itself to make the pretzel shape. Move the pretzel on top of a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

When the water has come to a boil and all of the pretzels are twisted, add the baking soda to the boiling water. Reduce the heat on the water to medium, and place the pretzels, two to three at a time, in the water upside down. After 20 seconds, flip the pretzels and cook for another 20 seconds. Remove them and place them on a towel to remove excess water. When all of the pretzels have been poached and drained, move them to a greased baking sheet, and sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they have reached a deep brown color. Cool on a wire rack.

While the pretzels bake, begin the cheese dip. Melt butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Once it begins to bubble, sprinkle in the flour, whisking constantly. When they have completely mixed, begin adding milk, whisking constantly. Turn the heat up just under medium high and continue to whisk. As the milk begins to bubble, add the IPA, caraway seeds, and mustard. Increase the heat to medium high. When the mixture reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium low and begin to add the cheddar cheese, whisking as you incorporate more cheese. Remove from heat, and serve!