Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pretzel Baguettes, Miso Mustard Butter & Easy Cheesy Dip

When we found out we were expecting, Steven and I talked about what life would be like, what would change, what wouldn’t change. All pretty normal for life changing stuff. Like most new parents, we weren’t sure; we just became sponges soaking up advice. There’s a lot of new information that comes trickling in…by trickling, I mean like a tsunami. When it became obvious about 6 months in, people being the inquisitive beings we are, would ask all the cringing stranger questions- you know, when a complete stranger or someone you know peripherally asks you intrusive questions. I often found myself cringing inside, that little “Eek!” feeling a little offended.

Ladies, when/if you become pregnant, it’s almost as if you are not your own anymore- you are open field, with everyone petting you and staring, sometimes admiring and sometimes more as though you are a leper. There’s the whole hormonal thing, so it probably felt a lot worse than it truly was.

I am a shy creature, by nature, so all the intrusion was hard for me, probably more than the average human. Worse than the petting and the staring was the unsolicited advice I was hit with daily. I was surprised by what could only be described as negative energy from people after they realized we were expecting our first. I felt that the peanut gallery was planning my future and deciding how miserable we were going to be.

Excited parents are beleaguered with ominous comments. The most common, “Oh, you’re life is going to really change.” A particularly helpful comment... because we decided to have a child with the notion that everything would be the same…not. That one left my IQ feeling assaulted. And WHAT does that really mean, anyway? Or there’s the, “Oh Man, nothing will be the same after he/she born."                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I guess it was the “Oh Man” that did it for me. Oh man, that really sucks is what it sounded like. And the best one, “Are you ready for this?” What the F, am I preparing for war? A whole lotta scare tactics going on.

Not to fear, ladies, there are many congratulations and most people are genuinely excited well wishers with good advice and without foretelling. Still, the backhanded foretelling would smack me in the face, at work, at the grocery store, sometimes from friends or family.

That’s when we decided that all of that was crap. We don’t often do things in a traditional way, and that would not change. We would revel in it. We decided to make a conscious effort to bring our little guy in to our world. To adapt with him. To continue living our lives, not selfishly, but in a way that didn’t conform to these outdated notions that children change everything. With a lot more toys to step on.

Once we had made up our minds about our attitudes and what kind of life we wanted for the three of us, me being me…I made sure to give it right back to people. My favorite, when they started in, was to make sure to work in the not married part, if they hadn’t already glanced at my ring finger 15 times. SHOCK all over their face! Me, amused. 
"Well, you’re, you’re, you’re… going to get married, aren’t you?"
Hell no, I would tell them with a big smile. (In reality, my answer was, “Well, maybe, someday if life takes us there” but I wasn’t letting them in on any of the juicy, good stuff.) My consolation to their invasion of my privacy was the look of disgust and judgment as they walked away. Well, shouldn’t have asked then…. :)

Three years later, I can say that one thing definitely does change. My unsolicited advice for parents to be is...you will watch a lot of kid’s movies. The Power of the Parent is you can sometimes choose which ones. Think wisely before choosing the movie, because you will watch it 15 times in a row and then never again. So, I always go with something a little more adult. There was the Wreck it Ralph phase- I loved that movie…couldn’t wait to watch it 3 times in a row. I’m being serious.

And bringing it all around to the real point, right now, we are in the heat of The Lorax phase. I’m not complaining. I dig it. So one day I was home, had the house all to myself. I was cleaning up the Christmas Pageantry, watching the Lorax, of course… and Dr. Suess smacked me with enlightenment. “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”

I thought, what better quote to inspire people to try something new in the kitchen…something like…Pretzel baguettes ::gasp:: I know, it sounds scary. It sounds hard. I thought so, too. But then I looked at the flour, the water and remember Dr. Suess, “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.

Originally, I found this recipe on a great blog site called Table for Two. I was leery to give it a go because, as you may know, I hate following recipes. But, for a special New Year’s Eve appetizer, I figured I would start the New Year trying to follow the rules, for once.

I did it. I followed the recipe for the baguettes. Okay, I switched it up a little. Instead of two long baguettes, I made small ones for individual portions. They looked adorable. It helped me in the boiling phase, for an easier flip, double bonus!

The dish was devoured, served with a Miso-Mustard Butter and a Warm Cheesy Dip. Balancing the miso-mustard was a task that took lots of trial and error. In the end, guests loved it and the cheese dip was a crowd pleaser, too. 

Pretzel Baguettes

The full recipe for the baguettes can be found at the following link:


I want to give Julie of Table for Two a huge thank you. She provides many more great recipes and tips on her website and if ever you have questions or comments, she is quick and accommodating with her response! Great website and resource.

Below I have a step-by-step of how I approached the recipe, to show how actually pretty easy it was to make...pretzel bread:

Miso Mustard Sauce

You can use this recipe as a great fish or chicken marinade later in the week, killing two birds with one stone. Yay for efficiency!

1/3 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
2 tsp Miso Paste
1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Pickling Spices from pickle jar (pickled mustard seeds)
2 tsp Ground Whole Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp Ground Mustard Powder
1 ½ tsp Turmeric
1 ½ Tbsp White Onion, grated
½ tsp Granulated Garlic
Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

There are a couple ingredients that need a little attention before mixing everything together. Once you get everything measured, all goes into a mixing bowl and whisk it up.

Start by first measuring sour cream into mixing bowl.

Squeeze the juice from a lemon, add to sour cream.

Measure Miso paste, rice wine vinegar and add to bowl.

For the pickling spices, I drained the pickling spices that remain in the bottom of a good jar of pickles, like Nathan’s, and added those (not the actual juice) to the sour cream.

Add brown sugar to bowl.

Grind whole mustard seeds, you can use a coffee grinder or spice grinder. I used my mortar and pestle, and grinded just enough to break it up but not make a powder.

Add turmeric to bowl.

Grate onion and add to bowl.

Add granulated garlic to bowl.

Add some black pepper, start with ½ tsp and go from there. Little sprinkle of salt.

That’s it, give it a whisk and refrigerate.

Miso-Mustard Butter

This is the actual dip for the pretzel baguettes.

½ stick butter, melted
¼ cup soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp Miso-Mustard Sauce, recipe above

Melt ½ stick of butter. 

Add ¼ cup soy sauce plus a dash. 

Add the miso-mustard sauce and whisk all together. 

Refrigerate for about an hour, to firm up a bit. 

Take out of fridge 15 minutes before serving the warm pretzel baguettes, so it will be a soft enough for dipping.

Cheesy Pretzel Bread Dip

Great for soft pretzels, the pretzel baguette recipe from Table for Two, even served over broccoli or noodles for a quick Mac n Cheese. It is a versatile recipe with many uses, and easy to whip up in a pinch!

2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Flour
½ tsp Pepper
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Nutmeg
¾ Cup Milk
3 Slices Kraft American Cheese

Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat.

Add pepper, salt and nutmeg.

Warm in butter for about 2 minutes and then add flour. Let flour cook in butter on medium heat for about 5 minutes, careful not to burn. 

Add milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn heat down, and cook for 10 minutes. If it thickens too much add a splash of milk.

Whisk in cheese.

Serve warm in a little dish with warm pretzel baguettes and miso-mustard butter.

And of course ...Happy Cooking!!!


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