I currently work in the heart of downtown Vancouver in the Financial District. This is a bit of a double edged sword- on the one hand, there are countless restaurants, lounges and pubs within spitting distance… on the other hand, this means I end up spending far more money on meals out and drinks with co-workers than I would otherwise.
Another pro is that I can run almost any errand(s) over a lunch hour: banking, groceries, clothes, library visits, gifts, heck- I can even fit an esthetics appointment or two into my lunch hour. It’s supremely convenient. Too convenient– it also means I end up window-shopping (which often leads to actual shopping) way more than I would otherwise. Sure, I’m just popping in to the mall to get out of the rain, but then I saw this skirt… and these shoes…
Robson Street, prime window shopping territory, is littered with hot dog stands. Now, I’m usually pretty diligent about bringing lunch from home (one of the perks of co-running a food blog), but walking past that cloud of grilled onions… smoky meat… the spluttering sound of mustard. It’s cold and rainy but under the umbrella of a hot dog stand, the colours are bright and the banana peppers call my name. How many different kinds of mustard do they have?! I must try them all.
But I don’t. Because I brought my lunch. I will eat the leftovers I brought to work and save money.
It did give me one hell of a hot dog craving though, and every time I passed a stand over my lunch hour, the craving got worse.
I touch base with Colin Tuesday afternoon to tell him my plan.
Finn: “Hot dogs for dinner tonight!!”
Colin: “Haha okay, if that’s what you want. I’ll pick up champagne!”
F: “CLASSY. Hot dogs and champagne on a Tuesday night! Love it.”
C: “… you know it’s our wedding anniversary, right?”
F: “… …Yeah! (I didn’t) No, of course! Gourmet hot dogs. With… homemade buns. Pretzel buns! Fancy hot dogs. And… champagne. Yeah, no, this is all part of the plan. I wanted to save making pretzel buns for… a special occasion (I didn’t. I just had a pretzel bun sandwich the other day and became enamored with the idea.)”
(Good save, Finn. He bought that, right?) (He didn’t. But he let it slide anyway because he’s the best.)
To be fair, this is pretty par for the course for us. In all our years together, I have no idea what we have ever done for Valentine’s Day, I’m pretty sure we completely forgot our dating anniversary this year, we had very last minute steak and pasta for Colin’s birthday last week (and cheesecake cupcakes!), and I’m pretty sure I spent my entire birthday this year in pajama pants.
Meh, the way I see it, if we do sweet things for each other randomly throughout the year it more than makes up for arbitrary days of celebration. You know what we do celebrate regularly? Friday nights. It’s a once a week occurrence involving really, really good food and wine. Friday nights are sacred- we can go out or stay in, but it’s always a dedicated treat day.
Back to the hot dogs. These pretzel buns were so good coming out of the oven, I ended up eating a few of them just dipped in mustard- perfect amount of sweetness and chew. With my lack of a sweet tooth, these are my equivalent of gooey brownies.
The perfect compliment to a chewy, slightly sweet pretzel bun- a double smoked smokie, juicy and blistered, literally ready to burst. All of a sudden I realized this wasn’t just your average Ikea or Costco hot dog (although I do really love those). I was building a flavour profile.
Honey mustard (grainy mustard would also work really well!), some tartness and acidity from a bit of sauerkraut, grilled onions….
So simple. So good.
At the end of the day, we ended up getting some good German beer to enjoy this with instead. The champagne we’re rainchecking for Friday 🙂
|German Smokies in Fresh Pretzel Buns|| |
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 package Instant Active Dry Yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups flour
- Boiling Solution:
- 12 cups water
- ¾ cup baking soda
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water
- All beef smokies
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- Honey mustard or grainy mustard
- Pepperonccinis (optional, for added heat and tang)
- In a small saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add milk and heat through until warm but not hot.
- In a large bowl, combine milk, butter, yeast and brown sugar. Stir in salt and 2 cups of flour and mix until well combined. Gradually add the remaining flour until the mixture becomes a dough. Knead dough by hand or using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment until the dough is smooth and elastic- roughly 10-12 minutes. Place dough in a large bowl greased with a bit of oil, lay a damp tea towel over top and let it rise until doubled in size- this should take about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large pot, combine boiling solution ingredients and heat to a boil.
- Punch dough down and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log shape. Boil each log for 2 minutes, flipping them over half way through if they seem to just be floating on one side. Using a slotted spatula, remove the boiled buns from the water and place on the parchment lined baking sheet.
- Take a sharp knife and gently run a couple diagonal lines across the top of each bun. This is mostly aesthetic, but I also really like how the dough splits apart and becomes easier to rip this way. Brush each bun with egg wash.
- Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 10 minutes until the buns are evenly browned. I find pretzel buns are best really fresh so if you can, eat them within a day or two or heat them up again before enjoying them.
- Saute onions in a bit of olive oil until they are lightly browned and sweet smelling.
- Using a sharp knife, cut a series of diagonal lines into the tops of your smokies. Once again, this is mostly aesthetic, but I also really how the skin blisters around the incisions and adds some texture. Cook on a barbecue or frying pan on high heat until glistening and lightly browned.
- Place smokie, sauerkraut, sauteed onion and mustard together on a fresh pretzel bun and enjoy!