Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rosemary sea salt pretzels

We decided to try making pretzels for the first time. And while we were at it, we decided to make them just that much better by making them rosemary sea salt pretzels. Turns out, they were both simple to make and quite tasty, as our husbands/taste-testers were happy to report. Before beginning, it's very important to have your sister make you a delicous coffee drink with her fancy-shmancy espresso machine. Technically this step is optional, but on a gray March day, why would you want to skip it? I chose a fairly standard americano with half and half, but hers was some sort of white chocolate mocha deliciousness that was too pretty to not be photographed.

Here's what we made:
Rosemary Sea Salt Pretzels 
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (about 14 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt (we used rosemary sea salt)
  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and chopped rosemary to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).
  3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°.
  5. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. Place pretzels on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).
  6. Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a nonaluminum Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer. Gently lower 1 pretzel into simmering water mixture; cook 15 seconds. Turn pretzel with a slotted spatula; cook an additional 15 seconds. Transfer pretzel to a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining pretzels.
  7. Place pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Brush a thin layer of egg mixture over pretzels; sprinkle with rosemary salt. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pull up a chair

This is my husband Jesse. When he's not busy looking geeky/handsome, he sometimes likes to build furniture. Really nice furniture. I'm okay with this hobby of his. Recently we decided on a whim to put our fine-but-not-super-cool dining room table and chairs for sale on Craigslist, and when they quickly sold, we were left with no dining room furniture. So Jesse built us this beauty:
The top is made of solid walnut, with a natural finish.  We ordered the legs from, and I love the way they look.  For the moment we are living with the chairs from our patio table, until the checkbook says we can order ones we like better.  The stumps were actually drying out in our garage for a future project, but they're sort of growing on me, so who knows, they just might find a permanent home as stools.  "Rustic-modern," folks, that's what that is.  --Karen 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Well hello there

So we started a blog. And a business. (Well, just an Etsy shop. That we haven't actually started. But we did come up with the idea, and we're working on our designs.) We're on a roll!

Karen and I got together in her dining room (with her sweet new table - more about that in a future post!) and brainstormed and got crafty.