Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chewy Soft Pretzels**

I found this recipe on The instructions seem long and complicated at first sight, but they were actually pretty easy. I didn't have kosher salt, so I sprinkled mine with cinnamon and sugar after brushing them with butter. (The ones in the picture just have butter on them.) They were a great Sunday afternoon snack.

Makes 8 pretzels

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup (7-8 ounces) warm water*

1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water
2 Tbs baking soda
Coarse salt (optional)
3 Tbs butter, melted

Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat until well combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth, and quite slack. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70 g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn't, it will make the pretzels splotchy.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28-30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 8-9 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Only bake one baking sheet at a time and let the other rest while the first is in the oven.

Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you have used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that is what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.

*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 thin sliced smoked ham
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups crushed frosted flakes

Place one chicken breast in a plastic bag. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, pound chicken until about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with all four breasts.

Lay one chicken breast on a piece of plastic wrap. Layer Swiss cheese, then ham. Roll up the chicken, then wrap in the plastic wrap. Repeat with all four breasts. Refrigerate one hour. This will help the chicken retain its shape.

Bring chicken to room temperature.

Pour flour into a bowl. In another bowl, beat egg with milk to make an egg wash. Place crushed frosted flakes in another bowl. Unwrap chicken. Cover in flour, then egg wash, then roll in frosted flakes. Place in a greased baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until juices run clear.