Monday, February 28, 2011

Rosemary and Sea Salt Soft Pretzels

Rosemary and Sea Salt Soft Pretzels

With the cold and wet weather this past weekend (as well as street closures due to the Oscars which created a traffic nightmare), I knew it would be a great time to stay in and get some cooking done. I wanted a fun project and since I haven't unpacked my books in my move, I turned to a book that was just sent to me a few days ago, courtesy of Amazon. I've long been obsessed with the Food Porn Daily site and drool over their luscious pictures and delicious sounding recipes, well, daily. I was so excited to learn the people behind it created a book that's just as beautiful as the website and with recipes! This was my first time making pretzels and while plain salted pretzels are fine, I loved the idea of kicking them up with rosemary and mustard seeds. I had a bit of difficulty transferring the pretzels from the pan to the boiling dish and back to the pan, but eventually I figured out a system. I loved the herbacious flavor of these, but at the same time, it's not overwhelming. In my opinion the best mustard to serve these with is spicy sweet, but by all means, figure out what works best for you. 

Rosemary and Sea Salt Soft Pretzels
(Adapted from Martha Stewart and Food Porn Daily)

Makes 12 pretzels

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons butter melted for brushing
Vegetable oil for baking sheets
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon mustard seeds

Assorted mustards, for serving

Mix yeast, kosher 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. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Slowly pour the yeast mixture over the flour, stirring to combine. Use your hands to gather the dough together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into an 18-inch rope. Form a U-shape with one rope and twist the ends together twice. Fold the twisted portion backward along the center of the U-shape to form a circle, then gently press the ends of the rope on to the dough to seal. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Let rise for 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Boil pretzels in batches until puffed and slightly shiny, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack to drain.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Return the pretzels to the baking sheet. Sprinkle each with some of the salt, then rosemary, and then mustard seeds. Bake 10-15 minutes until the pretzels are golden brown and cooked through. Brush each pretzel with melted butter and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with assorted mustards.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Farro with Garlicky Braised Kale and Prosciutto

Farro with Garlicky Braised Kale and Prosciutto

I originally intended for this recipe to be a quick weeknight dinner last week, but I am a busy girl lately and I don't even have time to make super fast recipes on weeknights now. So I saved it for the weekend and now the leftovers will be my work lunches for the week. The original recipe is by my friend Joy of the beautiful blog Gourmeted. Joy used pasta and ricotta to make this a bit more indulgent, but I want to simply things a bit so I switched out farro for pasta and skipped the ricotta. This is a great base recipe that can be changed up so many ways. A drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses would add a great sweet/tart component. If you are like me and find it difficult to resist putting a fried egg on everything, you could top this with a fried egg and the yolk. If you want something creamier, a dollop of ricotta or mascarpone mixed in with the farro will do just the trick.

Farro with Garlicky Braised Kale and Prosciutto
(Adapted from Gourmeted)

Makes 4 servings

1 cup farro, rinsed
Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 pounds kale, washed, leaves torn from the stem lengthwise
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Shaved Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan bring the farro to a boil with 2 cups of water and a large pinch of salt. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the farro is tender. Drain and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of the oil. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the kale and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir to combine. Cover and cook until the kale has wilted, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Spoon a mound of farro onto each plate. Top with one or two slices of prosciutto and then a mound of kale. Serve, topped with shaved Parmesan if desired.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

8 oz. Burger Bar

The other night I got together with friends to eat and plan. Of course when you're getting together with food friends, you have got to go somewhere good..especially when your friends let you take pictures of their food before they even dig in. We decided to use my Living Social coupon that was about to expire and head to 8 oz Burger Bar, Govind Armstrong's casual burger joint exactly in between the sane and not so sane sides of Melrose Ave.

We decided to skip appetizers and get a few sides to go with our burgers and sandwich. Elliott and Katy insisted on ordering the fried pickles. I've seen them on menus before, but never really thought to order them. These came out mostly crispy on the outside and bursting with juiciness on the inside. I really like pickles, but I think I prefer to eat them without a crispy coating. They weren't bad, just not for me.

Fried Pickles

On the other hand, I couldn't get enough of the chorizo mac and cheese. It's perfectly creamy and the Mexican chorizo just blends into the sauce and makes it smoky and meaty tasting without actual chunks of meat.

Chorizo Mac and Cheese

We also shared the Caesar salad which tasted way more of anchovies than any other Caesar salad I've ever had. Since I happen to love anchovies, I gobbled it up.

Caesar Salad

I ordered the Melrose burger. It's a 6 ounce patty with arugula, roasted tomatoes, and red onion marmalade. I have a difficult time having a burger without cheese so I had them top mine with white cheddar. I loved this burger. It's a great blend of salty, slightly spicy from the arugula, and sweet from the tomatoes, and onion marmalade.

Melrose Burger

Katy ordered the Three Little Piggies burger. It's an all pork burger with fun toppings like pickled onions, pepperjack cheese, and poblano relish. I may have to try that one the next time I go back.

Three Little Piggies Burger

Elliot is not a big burger person so she got the short rib grilled cheese. It's also a great blend of sweet and salty with onion marmalade and bel paese cheese.

Short Rib Grilled Cheese 1/31/11

I really liked the cool, casual vibe of the restaurant as well as the playlist which was loud enough to hear (and enjoy some of my favorite 90s alternative tunes), but not so loud that we couldn't hear each other talk. The staff was friendly and efficient, but didn't make us feel rushed despite how packed the place was on a Monday night. I'm looking forward to going back and trying some of the restaurant's burgers and sandwiches. I can already hear the fried olives calling my name.

8 oz. Burger Bar
7661 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 852-0028 

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