Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vegan Homebrew Party

So, we've been making beer.

To inaugurate our third batch (a rich Oktoberfest brew - our last kit, so says I) we threw a Beerfest party.

So the question was, what are the perfect snacks to accompany a night of beer drinking and movie watching? The answer: soft pretzels and cajun boiled peanuts.

Recently while taking my daily gander at Tastespotting, I came across this recipe. I'd been craving a pretzel for months, so it was an easy sell - but I really wanted to cut the dairy out. Worried about the (smallish) fat content in soymilk, I figured I'd use some soy margarine as well. The results, while extremely puffy, were delicious. Expecially smothered in yellow mustard.

Vegan Soft Pretzels, adapted from Onceachef

1 tsp. yeast
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. iodized salt
1 cup soymilk mixed with 2 tbsp. soy margarine, warmed to 100-110°F
kosher salt
1/4 cup baking soda
4 cups water

Get a bowl out, pour your yeast and sugar into it. Warm your soymilk to "hot to touch" in a small saucepan and melt your soy margarine in the same pan.

In another, larger bowl, mix your flour and salt. Make a well in the center, and while stirring, add your milk/yeast mix. Knead this for a while - I used my recently thrifted Sunbeam to great effect here, but good ol' hand'll do just fine. You want a soft, pliable dough with a minimum of stickiness - I found I had to add another 1/4 cup of flour to achieve this.

Grease another bowl with olive oil and plop your dough ball in there. Cover with a towel and let rise for an hour and a half, until your dough is about doubled in size.

Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to about 1.5-2 ft long. If you underestimate the length, as I did, you'll end up with Pretzel Rolls, which are delicious, but not quite what you're going for. Fold them into a pretzely shape. Set aside on a floured surface.

Preheat your oven to 425.

Dissolve your baking soda into a largeish pot of water and bring to a boil. Throw the pretzels in there, 20-30 secs a side, then flip, and boil again. I set a colander over the sink to drain them for 10-15 seconds, then sprinkled them with sea salt, and placed them on a well-oiled baking sheet. Repeat until done.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. 

If you end up with pretzel rolls, don't fret - they taste as delicious as their skinner counterparts and make AWESOME sammiches:

The peanuts were easier - all you need is a crock pot, a day, a bag of fresh nuts, and salt. I used "cajun salt" mixed with iodized salt, and the result was just enough heat, just enough salt. Perfect.

Cajun Peanuts

2 pounds raw peanuts
1/4-1/2 cup iodized salt
1/4-1/2 cup cajun seasoning (such as this stuff)
3-4 quarts water

Wash your 'nuts well in a colander, and stick 'em in the pot. Mix 1/4 cup each of salt and seasoning with 2 quarts water and put the mixture in the pot. Fill the pot to the top with additional water - the peanuts will float for the first 4-5 hours, don't worry. Now taste your bath. I like a salty boiled peanut, so my bath was salty ALMOST to the point of overwhelming - but not quite. Your peanuts will absorb a lot of your bath's salt as they cook, but not all of it - so salt the water to a point slightly saltier than you'd like your 'nuts to end up.

Turn the pot to low and let cook for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Addicting.

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