Those that have been around here a while probably know that Fall has long been my favorite season. With the shortened daylight, cooler air (right, San Diego?) and over-abundance of root vegetable mash on menus, comes fond Halloween memories of my time as a cub on Alaska's Kodiak Island. It's not easy to transform yourself into disguise when you're a 900-pound bear, but that's never stopped me from trying! Whether it's the Guy Fi-Bear-i costume from last year's special Halloween dinner or wrangling up all my pals to form a Miami Sound Machine tribute group, I've just always loved playing dress-up. I suppose it goes back to the first time my parents put me in a dress.
Mom and dad operated a small playhouse on the island, and every Halloween the whole camp would come to see their production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Something about bears chasing off humans really got the elders riled up, they'd say. So it goes on one All Hallow's Eve, our Goldilocks got violently ill after eating what she thought was a satchel of candy fish eyes. Well, it was my satchel, and they weren't candy. The show must go on, of course, which meant for one guilty cub of the now-desperate directors, the night was about to get interesting.
It was a pretty dress, with a loose collar and red ribbons, and ohhhh bear was it comfy. The show was a runaway success and the experience one of those defining life moments where everything changes. You could say it was a precursor for my days in the circus and all that was to come. But those are stories for another day. For now, on to some Fall recipes. Enjoy!
Twilight Pretzels: IPA Fondue
2 c bread flour
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t salt
7 g active dry yeast
1/3 c warm water
1 T squid ink
1 c whole milk
3 T unsalted butter
1 1/4 c water
1 T baking soda
12 oz. bottle IPA
3/4 lb sharp cheddar, grated
3/4 lb gruyere, grated
1 1/2 T cornstarch
salt and pepper (to taste)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with hook attachment, add the flours, salt and yeast. Add the water, squid ink and milk and start kneading slowly.
2. After 2 minutes, add the butter, bits at a time, and turn up mixer to medium-high. Continue kneading for 5 minutes.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover in cling wrap and let rise for at least an hour. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into five equal pieces.
4. Shape into pretzel form and place on baking tray for 20 minutes to proof.
5. Preheat oven to 400F.
6. Boil 1 1/4 c water and add the 1 T baking soda. Brush the water onto each pretzel. Sprinkle on salt and bake for 20-25 minutes.
(Cheese can easily burn so make sure to stir frequently)
1. Pour the bottle of beer into a Dutch oven or similar sized pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to simmer for a few minutes.
2. Sprinkle the cornstarch over your grated cheeses and toss to coat. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, to the simmering beer. Stir after each addition and allow each handful to completely melt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm over low heat.
1.5 oz. dark rum (Barbancourt if you can find it)
1/3 oz. fernet branca
3/4 oz. orgeat syrup
1/3 oz. squid ink (with dash of water)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
10 mint leaves, plus sprig for garnish
Combine the rum, Fernet Branca, orgeat syrup, lime juice, squid ink and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it like crazy and strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with one mint sprig and drink it up like you're on the high seas!