08 February 2012

Superbowl Snacks

Pretzels cooling on the rack...it took all the strength we had to not bite right into them
Here it is days past the Superbowl and I am just getting to this post. I think we're still depressed.

Football season is over. And while it will be nice to reclaim my Sundays, I will miss our weekly tradition of breakfast for the 10am game, run during halftime of the 1pm game, working on some baking project throughout the day, and making dinner during Sunday Night Football. Our Sunday routine makes me feel cozy and happy to be home.

We ended up hosting just a few friends for the Superbowl this year. Neither Shawn nor I was too excited about either of the teams, but I was ready for a good match up and of course great food. No chips could be found within a hundred yards of this house! It was all about homemade goodies, some ideas courtesy of Stacey's and my newest obsession, Pinterest. For example, these little fire starters: buffalo chicken rolls.

Thank goodness for bleu cheese dressing and veggies...oh, and sausage from Edelweiss Delicatessen, just because it's awesome
Since New Seasons was out of Frank's Red Hot sauce, she opted for our local Fire on the Mountain wing sauce. For some reason, they set my mouth ablaze. I can normally handle a moderate amount of heat, but holy cow, this was almost unbearable. Good thing I also made some bleu cheese dressing and cut up plenty of veggies.

I have been obsessing about homemade pretzels for awhile now and I finally felt like I was ready to take the next step in my bread adventures. It seemed simple enough and honestly, it was. Like most things baking, it just sounds like it's going to be hard. Most baking isn't that hard, but patience and reading instructions are musts. (I'll probably regret ever implying that baking is easy. That's just asking for the baking gods to smite me. Yep, smite.)

I got a little inspired by the addictive dipping sauces served at Hopworks with their pretzels and made some mustard, as well as cheese sauce. Given that we were celebrating the Superbowl, beer had to be part of the cheese recipe and I found a good one from Steve Reichlen, Shawn's barbequeing hero. I ended up using sharp cheddar instead of the medium or colby recommended for the cheese sauce. Next time I make the pretzels, I will definitely be cutting down on the honey by a bit and/or using some beer. They were a little sweet for my taste. That didn't stop me from having two, though.

Get the mustard recipe from the America's Test Kitchen Feed

Other than disappointing commercials, a sad loss for Stacey who was rooting for the Pats, and a strange halftime show, we had a great time! If nothing else, we had a lot to make fun of.

Cheese Sauce
Steve Reichlen

1/2 clove garlic 1 cup beer
2 cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely grated Colby cheese or orange cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

1. Rub the bottom and side of a heavy saucepan with the cut garlic. Place the garlic clove in the pan, add the beer, and bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Meanwhile, place the cheese and cornstarch in a bowl and toss to mix. Sprinkle the cheese into the boiling beer, stirring it with a wooden spoon. Let the sauce come back to a boil; it will thicken.

 3. Reduce the heat slightly, stir in the mustard, and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer gently until smooth and rich-tasting, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring steadily with the wooden spoon. The purist can fish out and discard the garlic clove; otherwise, one lucky person will get to eat it.

Soft Pretzels
Baking Illustrated

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon Salt
3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 cup warm water, (about 110 degrees)
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt, poppy seeds, or ­sesame seeds, (optional)

1. Place the yeast, salt, and flour in a food processor. Stir the water and honey together in a liquid measuring cup. With the processor running, add the honey mixture in a slow, steady stream (this should take about 30 seconds). Process the dough for another 40 to 60 seconds, or until a ball of dough forms. Remove the dough from the processor, place it onto a lightly floured surface, and loosely cover with plastic wrap. After letting the dough rest for 2 minutes, knead by hand to form a smooth ball, about 30 seconds.

2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn the dough to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Deflate the dough, cover, and let rise until nearly doubled in size again, 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pour 6 cups water into a 12-inch skillet, add the baking soda, stir, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray generously wih vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.

4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 2 ounces each). Roll each piece into a 20-inch-long, 1/2-inch-wide rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel and place on the prepared baking sheet.

5. Using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, gently place the pretzels into boiling water, top-side down (you should be able to fit 3 or 4 pretzels at a time), for 30 seconds. Using tongs, carefully flip the pretzels over and boil for 30 seconds longer. Remove the pretzels with a slotted spoon, drain well, and place back onto the prepared baking sheet (because the pretzels will not rise much in the oven, you should be able to fit all 12 pretzels on one baking sheet). Sprinkle with coarse salt or sesame or poppy seeds (if using) and bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until the pretzels are well-browned, turning the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Remove the pretzels from the baking sheet to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. yum. I was certainly addicted to those pretzels.

  2. Those pretzels look SO yummy. Nom, nom, nom.
    - Gina

  3. I'm agreeing with Gina. Nom, nom, nom. Mmmmmm, cheeeeese sauce.

  4. When I think football, I think homemade pretzels too. Looks like a great spread! We're still mourning around here :(

    1. Admittedly, I really hate the Patriots, so I was glad they lost, but I don't really care about the Giants, so I wasn't all that excited for their win. I am sad about football season, though. At least baseball is coming up!