Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I can make this at home???? French Onion Soup and Philly Soft Pretzels.

I was surfing the net this morning and found a couple of recipes I really wanted to try. They aren't necessarily sweets but MAN OH MAN are they good! I just had to share.

First of all. Both of the things I made today are things that I normally buy. One of my favorite things to eat out is French Onion Soup. The simple fact is that I'd never made it and with the whole crock, melted cheese, crusty bread thing... I honesty thought it was too much work. I've been converted. I'll post a photo tonight after dinner. For now... the broth is EXACTLY what I love about eating French Onion Soup at a restaurant.

Okay... I ate 3 bowls of it at dinner. Can we say "portion control"? It was sooo good though. The one thing I hate about eating French Onion Soup at a restaurant is when I get it and it is super salty. This was PERFECT! Even Matt who has NEVER ordered it said "I might be a convert". SCORE!!!

French Onion Soup

* 1/4 cup unsalted butter (I used Land O Lakes Light)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 cups sliced onions
* 1 (10.5 ounce) can chicken broth
* 2 (10.5 ounce) cans beef broth
* 2 tablespoons good red wine (optional but I think it needs it)
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* salt and pepper to taste
* 4 slices French bread
* 4 slices provolone cheese
* Grated Parmesan cheese


1. Melt butter with olive oil in an stock pot on medium heat. Add onions, stir, cover and cook on medium low heat stirring occasionally. You want a translucent yellowing looking onion. Do not brown!
2. Add broth, wine, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oven broiler.
4. Ladle soup into oven safe serving bowls and place one slice of bread on top of each (bread may be broken into pieces if you prefer). Layer each slice of bread with a slice of provolone sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Broil until slightly browned and melted.

NEXT is the Philadelphia soft pretzel. I tried once before to make these from scratch but I had a "flawed" recipe. You know... it wasn't my fault they didn't turn out! (wink wink)

Well, thank you Martha Stewart! I used her recipe (tweaked a little) and I have some YUMMY in my tummy fresh from the oven soft pretzels. Now before I go any further, my favorite part of a soft pretzel is the knot. So... my soft pretzels are miniature versions. In essence, the whole thing is a knot. Gotta love that!

Soft Pretzels

- 2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
- 1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg
- Coarse or pretzel salt
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Pour warm water into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook*. In a small bowl, combine water and 1 tablespoon sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into a 9-10 inch strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

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