BrokeAss Gourmet: Soft pretzels with IPA cheese sauce 

I'm not interested in diving too deeply into politics here. Not because I'm shy about them, but because I'm guessing you're here because you're hoping to briefly think about something other than what's going on in the news.

Of course, it's not as easy as simply changing the subject. Sure, I could tell you about what's new with me, how married life is going so far, about the books I have coming out this year, and the new season of Young & Hungry. But not only does that feel incredibly tone-deaf and insensitive, it's also not really reflective of how I feel on the inside right now.

Lately, I have been granting myself little breaks from worrying about absolutely everything. Cooking, of course, is an excellent stabilizer, and gives me an opportunity to nourish the souls and bodies at my dinner table with wholesome, satisfying food. My recently acquired running habit has become my favorite way to spend an hour not thinking about anything other than putting one step in front of the other and not getting hit by a car. When things get really bad, I'll treat myself to a half-hour episode of Sex and the City, where the worst thing I have to deal with is the utter lie that man-child Big could ever be an acceptable boyfriend for Carrie (don't even get me started on their eventual marriage in the movie versions).

Until then, I'm making soft pretzels with decidedly decadent, gooey IPA cheese sauce for dipping. It starts with my favorite staple: pizza dough.

Dig in. Forget your cares for a few minutes.

Then get back to the very important job of standing up for what you believe in.

Serves 8-10

click to enlarge brokeassgourmet_pretzel_ipacheesesauce.jpg

Ingredients

flour

2 pounds store-bought or homemade pizza dough

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 tablespoons sea salt or coarse kosher salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup IPA

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon spicy brown or dijon mustard (optional)

regular salt, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper or a silpat) 1 large or 2 medium baking sheets.

Set a large pot of water on the stove and whisk in the baking soda. Bring water to a light boil.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into 20 10-inch ropes and fold each rope into a pretzel shape.

Drop each piece of dough into the water, boil for 10-15 seconds each, until they float, and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet(s).

Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tops of the pretzels with the 4 tablespoons of melted butter.

Sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pretzels are golden brown.

While the pretzels bake, make the cheese sauce. Place the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium pot on the stove over medium heat.

Add a tablespoon of flour and whisk until a sticky dough forms.

Add the milk and beer, continuing to whisk until a smooth and creamy sauce forms.

Stir in the cheese, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.

Add the mustard, if using, plus the salt and pepper to taste, and whisk until incorporated.

Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.

To serve, transfer the finished, warm pretzels to a serving plate and serve with the hot cheese sauce for dipping.

BrokeAss Gourmet caters to folks who want to live the high life on the cheap, with delicious recipes that are always under $20. Gabi Moskowitz is the blog's editor in chief and author of The BrokeAss Gourmet Cookbook and Pizza Dough: 100 Delicious Unexpected Recipes.

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