Monday, 13 October 2008

October Feast with Martha

I admit, I have a soft spot for Martha Stewart Living. In considering paring down my magazine subscription list, I took a long hard look at Martha. True, I am neither crafter nor cleaner - should Martha be renewed? Then the October issue arrived in all of it's Autumnal Halloween splendour. Beautiful glossy pages of warm colours and fabulous dishes. Martha, can you ever forgive me for considering letting you go?

For this week's Magazine Mondays I made Martha's October Feast. (Oktoberfest) Complete with soft pretzels, grilled sausages, sauerkraut, three gourmet mustards, grapes, apples and cucumber. Don't forget the beer, lots of it. Oh yeah, this one is a husband pleaser.

I have made soft pretzels once before but this was a different recipe than what I had tried then, and I was anxious to try it. I added some sesame seeds to the tops for a little extra flavour. They were delish, but I don't have to tell you that, do I? It's bread and it's Martha. All is well.

Soft Pretzels - Martha Stewart Living

Makes 12
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (1/4 ounce)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil, for baking sheets
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pretzel salt (I used kosher salt and sesame seeds)
Assorted mustards, for serving

Mix yeast, coarse salt, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl, whisking until sugar dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Mix flour and cayenne in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Slowly pour yeast mixture over flour mixture, stirring to combine. Using your hands, gather dough together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it is no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Cut dough into 12 pieces, and roll each into an 18-inch rope. Form a U shape with 1 rope, and twist ends together twice. Fold twisted portion backward along center of U shape to form a circle, then gently press ends of rope onto dough to seal. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet, and repeat. Let rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add baking soda. Boil pretzels in batches until puffed and slightly shiny, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to wire racks to drain. Return to baking sheet, sprinkle with pretzel salt, and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Pretzels will keep, uncovered, at room temperature for up to 12 hours. Rewarm in a 250-degree oven if desired, and serve with mustards.

About the mustards - I have to admit, I was eager to make a meal like this to showcase some of the gourmet Canadian mustard that I picked up at Kozlik's in the St. Lawrence Market, downtown Toronto. If you ever get a chance, stop by the kiosk for a mustard sampling. You will wonder what you have been missing all of your life.

Magazine Mondays was created by Cream Puffs in Venice as a way to make sure us foodies are cooking from all of these bookmarked recipes! Are you a foodie magazine addict? Click here to find out how to join us. Haven't been to Cream Puffs in Venice in a while? Check out what amazing treats this lovely lady has been baking this week.