Thursday, September 3, 2015

Soft Pretzels : Bake-Along #86

The theme for our Bake-along #86 is "Yeasted Pretzels", chosen by Lena to bake together with Zoe, myself and everyone is invited to bake-along with us.

I could not decide whether should I make savoury or sweet pretzels, so I made half of each!

My puffy pretzels! Looks more like buns! Haha! 

About to go into the boiling bicarbonate of soda solution. 

After boiling in the bicarbonate of soda solution for just under one minute, and they are a little out of shape after that! For the sweet pretzels, I've sprinkled a mixture of cinnamon powder and brown sugar over the top. And for the savoury pretzels, I've sprinkled a mixture of garlic powder and dried oregano. (I did not sprinkle the top with coarse salt as per instructions in the recipe).

Sweet and savoury, which one do I prefer?

These pretzels are soft, chewy and the one with the cinnamon-sugar over the top, is really nice. Makes a wonderful snack with a cup of tea.

The recipe says to serve the pretzels with some grainy mustard. I have not tried that before!

Surprisingly, it was really good eating the savoury pretzels with grainy mustard! I like them both, both the sweet and savoury.

Soft Pretzels with Grainy Mustard
(adapted from "Williams-Sonoma : Home Baked Comfort", Kim Laidlaw)
makes 12 pretzels
1 cup (8fl oz/250ml) warm water (110F/43C)
1 package (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
3-1/4 cups (16-1/2oz/515gm) all-purpose flour (I use bread flour)
1 tsp kosher salt (1/2 tsp sea salt)
1/3 cup (2-1/2 oz/75gm) baking soda
coarse salt for sprinkling
grainy mustard for serving

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, the flour, and kosher salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches (45cm) long. With each rope positioned horizontally, bring the 2 ends up and toward the center as if forming an oval, cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan, spacing them evenly.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450F (230C). Fill a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups (56fl oz/1.75liter) water, stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, top side up.

Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard.


Do stop by Lena of Frozen Wings and Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

For our next Bake-Along, we will be baking "Chocolate Pots de Creme" (from Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, pg 356, or here). Please do join us, and link your post to our linky which will open from  17th till 26th September. Everyone is welcome to join us! Only current post please.


A friendly reminder when linking to our linky :
1. Please mention Bake-Along event in your own post linking direct to any of the hosts' post (JoyceLena or Zoe)
2. Please link only new and current post, PLEASE FOLLOW THE BAKE OR THEME provided by us. Unrelated post will be deleted.
3. Feel free to display our Bake-Along badge in your post.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken

"August 2015 IHCC Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs ((IHCC). For Potluck week, we have the option to cook with any of IHCC featured chefs (past and present) recipes. And for this month's potluck, I've made Nigella Lawson's, Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken.

Chicken pieces are slow-roasted in the oven at a moderate temperature, for about 2 hours 45 minutes. For the first two hours, the chicken pieces are covered with foil and the remaining 45 minutes, without the foil, until the chicken pieces are golden brown and the lemon chunks have begun to scorch. 

I have used an extra head of garlic, well, we love garlic, especially when roasted till they are soft, mushy and creamy, and always, the garlic cloves would be gone by the end of the meal! And I've added some salt to taste, mixing it in with the chicken and the rest of the ingredients. Nigella did not mention any use of salt, both in the recipe and the instructions, but from the photo in the book, it looks like some coarse salt is sprinkled over the cooked chicken. I do not fancy biting into coarse salt at the table, so I have added some sea salt to the chicken pieces before roasting. Thyme is used in the recipe, but I've used fresh rosemary from my garden pot instead. More than half a cup of white wine is used, and the chicken pieces are sitting in the white wine during the long slow-roasting under the foil. The chicken pieces gets cooked in the steam under the foil, and gets really moist and tender. At the end of two hours, the foil is removed, oven temperature is increased, and continue to roast until the chicken is golden brown.

The chicken is very soft and moist. Very lemony dish! I was thinking that it might be less lemony with one lemon instead of two. While this chicken dish is tasty enough, I thought that it wasn't as good as Nigella's Zaa'tar Chicken with Fattoush which I made a while back. But that being said, this makes a nice dinner.

Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken
(adapted from "Nigella Fresh", Nigella Lawson)
1 chicken (approx. 3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces
1 head garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves (I used 2 heads)
2 unwaxed lemons, cut into chunky eighths
small handful fresh thyme (I use fresh rosemary)
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 tablespoons white wine
black pepper
salt to taste
3 potatoes, cut to chunks

Preheat the oven to 300F.
Put the chicken pieces into a roasting pan and add the garlic cloves, lemon chunks and the thyme; just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later, (and some salt to taste). Add the oil and using your hand mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin-side up. (Place the potato chunks at the sides of the roasting pan).
Sprinkle over the white wine and grind on some pepper, then cover tightly with foil and put in the oven to cook, at flavour-intensifyingly low heat, for 2 hours.
Remove the foil from the roasting pan, and turn up the oven to 400F. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelize at the edges.
I like to serve this as it is, straight from the roasting pan ; so just strew with your remaining thyme and dole out.

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week,
August 2015 IHCC Potluck

 photo 77951578-1914-4b72-8eda-9e40a91183ac_zps331eb4b4.jpg

Friday, August 21, 2015

Garlicky Romaine with Croutons

"Salades et Vinaigrettes", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). It's salad/or salad dressing week with Jacques Pepin, our current featured chef. 

I've made JP's simple yet so good Garlicky Romaine with Croutons. A video of JP making this salad can be found at Rachel Ray show's website, here

It is a simple salad and takes only minutes to prepare. Recipe uses stale sourdough bread, but I have used regular white bread instead.  I bought a pack of baby romaine, and the rest of the ingredients are pantry ingredients ; whole-grain mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and I have used extra-virgin olive oil. In the video, JP has used peanut oil.

Bread is cut to cubes and then toast with a little olive oil in the pan for a few minutes until brown all over. The salad dressing is mixed together and toss with the salad leaves just before serving, top with the toasted bread cubes.

This is a simple and very tasty salad. I like the garlicky mustard dressing! And I have always love breads in salads. I've made this salad twice already and will definitely be making it again. 

Jacques Pepin's Garlicky Romaine with Croutons
(source from here)
Croutons :
3 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
2-1/2 cups 1-inch pieces stale country bread

Dressing :
1 tablespoon crushed and finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grainy mustard, such as Meaux
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup peanut or corn oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)

1 large head romaine lettuce, damaged leaves removed, the remainder cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces, washed, and dried (about 10 cups lightly packed)

For the croutons :
Heat the oil in a large skillet, when it is hot, add the bread and saute for about 4 minutes, until nicely browned on all sides. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

For the dressing :
Combine the garlic, salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar and oil in a bowl suitable for serving the salad.

When ready to serve, add the lettuce to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with the croutons and serve immediately.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week,
"Salades et Vinaigrettes"


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