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A Case of the Mondays & a Recipe for Herbed Cheese Knots

It’s a late-March Monday morning and the sun has not yet come out. There’s a heavy, grey shade ahead, and delicate snowflakes are starting to land on the pine trees outside my window. If all goes as forecasted, there will be a foot or two of the icy flakes blanketing the forest floor by the end of the day.

Herb & Cheese Knots
As I sip my hot cup of coffee, I picture the temp on Office Space telling me, “sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays…

So I gulp my last bit of coffee, put on my apron, and I bake. Everything else can wait.

I stir the yeast into the warm water. I grate the cheese and chop the fragrant herbs. I measure the flour, and stir the dough. I mix it up with my hands, and hastily wipe them on my checkered apron. As the dough rises, the fresh scent of the chopped herbs gets stronger, richer.

Chopping Herbs
The snowflakes continue to fall, and the wind picks up; the trees sway and creak in rhythm with the blowing air. Indoors, my kitchen is warm and smells of fresh-baked bread, herbs, and cheese. Everything is as it should be – sans a “case of the Mondays.

{Note: these knots are best when eaten within a day or so of baking. They freeze well, so if you plan to freeze them, do so as soon as they’re at room temperature. Alternately, the recipe can be easily halved}

Herbed Cheese Knots
Herbed Cheese Knots
Makes 32

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water (95-100 degrees Fahrenheit)
2 packets active dry yeast (4 ½ teaspoons)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup grated cheese, divided (cheddar or mozzarella)
½ cup finely chopped assorted fresh herbs (chives and dill were used in the pictured knots)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
Scant 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar over the warm water and let it rest for 10 minutes, or until nice and foamy. Add 1 ½ cups grated cheese, the herbs, butter, sour cream, and salt and stir until combined. Add the whole wheat flour and stir until incorporated, and then add the all-purpose flour. Stir as well as you can, and then use your hands to mix the dough until all of the flour has been worked in. Alternately, use a dough hook attached to an electric mixer on low speed for 1 or 2 minutes; the dough should be soft and sticky. Transfer to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

2. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets. Punch down dough and stir with a large wooden spoon for 1 minute. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled surface and divide dough in half. Cover one half with a tea towel, and divide the other half into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch long rope, and then tie into a loose knot. Transfer knots to one of the prepared baking sheets, and repeat with remaining half of dough.  Sprinkle the reserved ½ cup grated cheese over the knots, cover with tea towels, and let rest in a warm, draft-free spot for 45 minutes.

3. 15 minutes before the knots are finished rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the knots for 20-25 minutes (rotating after 15 minutes), or until crusts are golden and hollow sounding when tapped. Let cool completely on a wire rack before storing.

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