1) Cheddar & Beer Soup
When cold weather strikes, soup definitely becomes a hot commodity (pun intended) to many people. As a kid I wasn't a huge fan of soup, probably because my mom primarily made vegetable soup, and it lacked any excitement to me at the time. Now as an adult, I discovered a recent love for soup, vegetable soup included. I especially love creamy soups.
Pictured above is the soup Bethany and I made during our weekend of cooking. We made Gourmet.com's recipe for Cheddar & Beer Soup. It was full of flavor, very hearty, creamy, and of course my favorite edible quality, cheesy.
I like to cook listing to Pandora Radio, and attempt to pair the foods I am making with complimentary music. For this meal, it was a bit tricky, as I initially tested a German Polka. The Polka made me feel a bit anxious, as the tunes were too high energy for our focused kitchen activity. Once I realized the meal was more Irish than German (pretzels to come), with the Irish cheddar and Irish beer we used, I felt much more satisfied with my music choice: Irish Traditional. The dreary fall weather added to the ambiance of our cooking experience.
Cheddar & Beer Soup:
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic (I forgot to add the garlic)
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter (we only had salted, so I didn't add the salt listed below)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz) (I used a vegetarian chicken broth)
1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass (we used the Finnegan's Bethany brought for me to try)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt (omited due to use of salted butter)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups)
4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled (vegetarian bacon)
Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Discard bay leaf. Serve sprinkled with bacon
6 - 7 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups milk, slightly warmed
1 cup water, slightly warmed
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
7 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda
In a small container, mix yeast with warmed milk and let rest for 10 minutes.Whisk 5 3/4 cups of flour and teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.
Add canola oil and warmed water to yeast mixture. Pour into bowl with flour and salt. Knead in the bowl until dough is mostly smooth. Only add more flour if your dough cannot be easily handled. The dough will be somewhat stiff. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and put in a warm place to rise for one hour.
Punch down dough and knead in bowl for one minute. Cut dough into 15 pieces. (Cut more pieces if you would like smaller size rolls.) Form balls by pulling the dough under. Place on a well-greased surface. Let the dough balls rise for 15 minutes.
While the dough balls are rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get the pretzel "bath" ready. In a large pot, bring water, salt, and baking soda to a rolling boil. Plunge three dough balls into the water and let them "poach" for 1 minute total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a well-greased baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut 2-3 lines across each roll and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pretzels are a rich brown. These are best eaten the same day they are made.