Sunday, September 28, 2014

Oktoberfest Soft Pretzels, Beer Cheese, and a fun Giveaway from Author Joyce Tremel!

Please join me in welcoming author Joyce Tremel. Joyce hails from "Someplace Special," as we say back in Pittsburgh, PA. Today she's sharing two wonderful Oktoberfest recipes along with news of her brand new cozy mystery series. She also has a fun comment-to-win giveaway. More on that below. For now...

Take it away, Joyce!

~ Cleo Coyle

* * * * * * 

Author Joyce Tremel
Follow her on Twitter here.
Visit her on Facebook here.
I am so thrilled to be here! Thanks so much to Cleo for inviting me and giving me the first opportunity to let yinz guys (as we also say in Pittsburgh) read a little about my upcoming series.

My cozy series is called Brewing Trouble, and the first book, To Brew Or Not To Brew will be released from Berkley sometime in the fall of 2015. My main character, Maxine “Max” O’Hara is a brewmaster and in the process of opening a brew pub called the Allegheny Brew House in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. When she finds her assistant and chef dead in one of the beer tanks, Max is determined to find out who killed him. There are some quirky characters, like the woman who owns the bakery who’s a rabid Steelers fan, and a World War II vet who usually has something cranky to say (he’s my favorite). And of course, there’s Max’s love interest, a hunky ex-hockey player who becomes her new chef.

That’s enough about that. You’re here for the food, not my ramblings! Since Max learned how to brew beer in Germany, and it is Oktoberfest right now, I thought some homemade soft pretzels and beer cheese sounded good. I hope you agree!

The pretzels aren’t hard to make, but they do take some time. And they sure beat the ones in the freezer case at the grocery store!

* * * * * * * * * * *

SOFT PRETZELS by Joyce Tremel


1 ½ cups warm water

1 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 pkg. or 2 ¼ tsp. yeast

4 ½ cups flour

¼ cup canola oil or melted butter

Directions: Combine water, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. 

When it starts to foam, add the oil and flour. Mix well. If you have a mixer with a dough hook you can use that, or just do it the old fashioned way, like I did. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic—about 5 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl. 

Cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in size. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 450F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly oil the parchment paper.

Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water, add 2/3 cup baking soda, and bring to a boil. (Note: be sure to use a large enough pot. The bubbles from the baking soda water kind of make a mess. Fortunately it cleans up easily!) While waiting for the water to boil, divide the dough into eight pieces (this makes big pretzels, if you want smaller ones, feel free to break into more pieces). 

With your hands, roll each piece into a rope about 2 feet long. Hold the ends and make a U, then cross the ends over each other and twist to make the pretzel shape. 

When all your pretzels are formed, put each pretzel one by one into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon or spatula and place on prepared baking sheet. 

Brush with a beaten egg, then sprinkle with pretzel salt (if desired). I left mine unsalted. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until they’re a nice, dark golden brown. 

by Joyce Tremel


12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar

1 ½ tbsp. cornstarch

1 bottle of beer (12 oz.)—I suggest using a dark lager or a brown ale.

5 oz evaporated milk

1 tbsp Dijon or brown mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot-hot sauce (Really. Is there any other kind?)

Salt to taste.

Directions: Toss the shredded cheddar with the corn starch and set aside. Whisk together beer, half & half, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan. Heat until steaming, whisking frequently so it doesn’t scorch. Add cheese, stir until melted and bubbly. Add hot sauce and season with salt. Serve warm.

(Note: When I make the beer cheese again, I’m going to reduce the amount of mustard. It kind of overwhelmed the flavor of the cheese. I also think I may use two cheeses—cheddar and swiss—the next time just to see how it tastes.)

Since Oktoberfest 2014 runs from September 20th to October 5th, I suggest serving the pretzels and beer cheese with your favorite Oktoberfest beer. 


Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. She lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband and a spoiled cat. Her debut mystery, To Brew Or Not To Brew will be released by Berkley Prime Crime in Fall 2015.

Visit Joyce on Facebook here.

Follow her on Twitter here.

Coming Fall 2015

To Brew Or Not To Brew

Someone doesn’t want the Allegheny Brew House to open, and Maxine “Max” O’Hara is determined to find out why.

With her brand-new brewmaster certification in hand, Max has been working twelve hour days getting the abandoned Steel City Brewery up to code, perfecting beer recipes, and learning the business. A lot of work, but she’s sure she made the right decision—until things start to go wrong. She’s not too worried until the minor annoyances get progressively worse. And when she finds the body of her assistant brewmaster and chef in one of the beer tanks, she knows that batch wasn’t brewed according to Reinheitsgebot.

Oktoberfest Giveaway!

Comment-to-Win These Fun Coasters

I don’t have books to give away yet, but I wanted to do something to thank everyone for stopping by today. So one lucky commenter will get this cute set of coasters from Crate and Barrel. 

Leave a comment on this blog 

by 12 Midnight Monday Night 12/29.

Winner will be announced here.
Good luck!


  1. I can't wait to read your series! My husband and went to Pittsburgh and had a great time. We ate at a German restaurant (that was on a hill) that I think had a brewery. The food and beer was delicious. The next day we went to Oakmont to visit the Mystery Lover's Bookshop. I'm looking forward to "revisiting" Pittsburgh through your series!

    1. That must have been Penn Brewery. I haven't been there for a long time, but they do have good food and beer.

      Mystery Lovers Bookshop is the best!

  2. I am intrigued by the series and Max's love interest. Thanks for sharing the recipes, am going to be trying my hand at them soon.

    1. Let me know what you think about the recipes when you try them. The pretzels aren't hard, but they do take some time!

  3. OK, now I'm hungry for soft pretzels and warm dipping cheese! :) The recipes are great --- thank you! I am looking forward to reading To Brew or Not To Brew. It sounds great. (....and a hunky ex-hockey player as a chef is an added bonus!)

  4. Hi Diana! Yes, I know how you feel about those hunky hockey players, lol!

  5. These recipes sound great! Of course, I spent a chunk of my life around Philly, so I'll have to wait and see how they turn out. (You don't need to enter me in the drawing.)

    Think we can revive Oakmont? If we all promise to show up and buy lots of books? Maybe we can start a petition.

    1. I really hope MLB has the Festival of Mystery next year. I really miss it!

  6. Welcome to MLK, Joyce! What a great post.

    Congrats on your new series. Much much better and more fun than going to jail!



    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Sorry. I couldn't let the typo go! Thank-you! (It's pretty bad when I can't even type thank-you correctly.)

  7. I 'be never tried making soft pretzels but when I was a kid we used to go to NYC and my dad always bought me a hot soft pretzel from one of the street carts.

    1. I've never had one from a cart, but I bet they're good!

  8. Can't wait for this series.

  9. Thanks for the recipes. I have another easy one, but will have to try this one..and the beer cheese too.

  10. Thank you for sharing this yummy recipe. Thank you for this opportunity to win these awesome coasters! :) I LOVE Pretzels! :)

  11. A lovely recipe and delightful giveaway. Thanks for this post and feature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  12. The Pretzels would be greatly enjoyed and are simply the best ever treat. Wonderful series which sounds unique. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. The pretzels are sure to be delicious. I would squirt more yellow mustard on them. There's never too much mustard. I will look forward to your book.

    1. You'd probably like that beer cheese if you like mustard. I thought the mustard flavor overwhelmed the cheese.

  14. Joyce, congrats on your new release! Wishing you all the good luck. I loved Oktoberfest back in Germany. So enjoyed the beer (when I could still drink it). Now I'm celiac, alas! I drink gluten-free beer. Some good choices, by the way. Check a few out for your next mystery. Thanks for joining us on MLK!

    Daryl / Avery

    1. Happy to be here! I think someone just opened a gluten-free brewery here in Pittsburgh. I believe the name is Auroch's. Hmm, maybe Max will have to brew a gluten free beer in one of the books.

  15. The pretzels & cheese ( cheese makes everything even better) look so good I could eat them off this page & drink a good beer also!! Can't wait until next year this time for your book to come out����

    1. Thanks! The pretzels didn't last long here. I think they were gone by the next day!

  16. Looks like a great new series! Craft beer is a staple in my home, in fact my brother even brews his own! Looking forward to this one!

    1. Thanks! We have a refrigerator that's almost exclusively for beer.

  17. We love pretzels. My daughter insists on buying one when we go to the mall. And yes, Frank's is the only hot sauce worth mentioning (and great for wings, too). Best of luck with the series - can't wait!