Tag Archives: comfort food

Pretzels

pretzels

Pretzels

As early as 610AD at a monastery in Southern France or Northern Italy, monks used scraps of dough and formed them into strips to represent a child’s arms folded in prayer. The monks offered the warm, doughy bread to children as a bribe if they memorized their Bible verses and prayers. They called it a Pretiola, Latin for little reward. The Pretiola then made its way into Germany where it became known as the Bretzel or Pretzel. Today they are a typical street food in the U.S.

1 ½ cups warm water (110 to 115° F)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
22 ounces flour (about 4 ½ cups)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
sea salt for sprinkling

Combine the water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan. (If you’re making rolls, roll into approximately 5×3-inch sections.)

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large spatula or spider and return them to the sheet pan. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 14 minutes, giving the pans a spin half way through. Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 pretzels
(Perfect recipe by Alton Brown)

Machacado con Huevo

machacado con huevo

Machacado con Huevo

The word machacado means crushed or shredded. Machacado con Huevo is a traditional northern Mexican dish of eggs and dried shredded beef. It is the ultimate comfort food and reminds me of Sunday mornings growing up. I’m convinced this dish is the reason my husband proposed.

6 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup machacado
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 serrano peppers, diced
1 cup tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoon avocado oil

flour tortillas for serving

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the machacado and saute until the beef begins to brown.

Add the sliced serrano peppers and tomatoes. Lower the heat and cook until the tomatoes release their juices, about 5 minutes.

Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and whisk. Add the eggs to the shredded beef mixture and stir until combined and cooked through. Serve immediately with warm flour tortillas.

Serves 4

Chicken Tikka Kebabs

chicken tikka

Chicken Tikka Kebabs

Chicken Tikka is a popular Indian food. In this recipe the meat is marinated in yogurt and spices, the soul of Indian food.

Cardamom is the dried fruit of a perennial herb indigenous to South India and Sri Lanka. It is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla. Cumin probably originated in the Eastern Mediterranean region and is now grown in India, Japan, China and Indonesia. The first century Roman naturalist Pliny paid cumin a high compliment by saying, “when one is tired of all seasonings, cumin remains welcome.” Ginger has been cultivated in Southeast Asia since antiquity and it was among the most highly prized of the eastern imports to the Roman Empire, prized for its medicinal properties.

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breast
½ cup plain whole yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger (from 1-inch piece)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 wooden skewers
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the remaining ingredients. Add to the chicken, cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Soak the skewers in water so they don’t burn when you’re ready to grill. Preheat a grill to high heat and lightly oil the grill.

Thread chicken onto skewers, alternating with the cherry tomatoes, and grill until the juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Serves 6

Matzo Ball Soup

matzo ball soup

Matzo Ball Soup

In celebration of Passover, only unleavened bread may be eaten to commemorate when Egypt’s pharaoh agreed – after 10 plagues – to let Moses’ enslaved people go. The Jews left their homes so quickly that they didn’t have time to prepare bread for the journey. Instead, they ate an unleavened mixture of flour and water that turned flat, hard and cracker-like when baked. The cracker, called matzo, when ground into a fine meal and mixed with other ingredients, became the comforting matzo ball, a type of dumpling cooked in soup.

The chicken soup is adapted from the Empire Kosher Chicken Cookbook. Matzo balls adapted from Andrea Watman’s recipe for Zabar’s.

For the chicken soup:
one 6 to 8 pound chicken
4 large onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 celery stalks
6 to 8 large carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half
20 sprigs parsley
20 sprigs dill
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons peppercorns

Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, dill, garlic, salt and peppercorns in a large stockpot. Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 ½ hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and chill. Once chilled, remove the surface fat to use for the matzo balls.

For the matzo balls:
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or chicken fat
¼ cup seltzer
1 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, oil, salt, pepper and matzo meal. Stir in seltzer. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours then form the balls by rolling the mixture in your hand. Dip your hands in cold water to keep them from getting too sticky. Bring the chicken broth to a boil, drop the matzo balls into boiling broth, reduce the heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes. The balls will double in size and begin to float to the top when ready. Serve hot. Delicious.

Serves 12