Strawberry–Pretzel Delight

strawberry-pretzel dessertThe recipe last week reminded me of this dessert; this has a shock factor, as people don’t often associate pretzels with something as sweet as this concoction!  I made this for a dinner with my husband’s work team and their spouses, and it was a huge hit – the salty pretzels are a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the strawberries.  You could substitute any fruit you want, and I’m sure it would turn into a smash hit too!

Strawberry Pretzel Delight

2 C. Crushed pretzels
¾ C. Butter, melted
3 Tbs. Sugar
8 oz. (225 gr.) Mascarpone (or cream cheese), softened
¾ C. Sugar
8 oz. (225 ml.) whipped cream (sweetened [American] or unsweetened [the European way!])
6 oz. (170 gr.) strawberry Jello (or plain gelatin + 1 tsp. strawberry extract and part of the frozen strawberry juice)
2 C. Boiling water
2½ C. Strawberries (frozen and thawed, or fresh – the freezing brings out their juices when thawed)

A few fresh strawberries, prepared for a garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons white sugar; mix well and press mixture into bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake 8-10 minutes, until set; set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl cream together the Mascarpone and sugar. Fold in the whipped cream. Spread mixture onto cooled crust.
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in (frozen) strawberries and allow to set briefly. When mixture is about the consistency of raw egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until set.  Garnish, and serve with a smile.

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Apple, Leek & Sweet Potato Casserole with Pretzel Crunch

PretzelsThis is an amazing combination – on the sweet side of savoury, but the thyme and leeks balance it well!  Add a few regular potatoes to expand the recipe if you need to, but try to keep the sweet and savoury balance as you do.  I made this last week as I had a few shrivelled apples to use up, and a ton of pretzels left over from the holidays.  My husband says it’s his new favourite, though that usually tends to last only until I concoct something new…

Apple, Leek & Sweet Potato Casserole with Pretzel Crunch

2 large leeks, washed and thinly sliced
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, or 2 tsp. dried
salt and pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg, or a dash or two of pre-ground
1 lg. sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1-2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized chunks

Sauce:

2 C. grated cheddar cheese
1 ¼ C. heavy cream
3-4 eggs, whipped

2-3 handfuls of pretzels, blended to a coarse crumble (chunks of pretzels remaining are good!)

Combine the prepared vegetables, apples and spices in a bowl and toss with a splash of your favourite oil.  Pour the mixture in a buttered baking dish.  Mix together the grated cheese, cream and eggs and pour over the vegetables.  At this point, you can chill it until you’re ready to pop it in the oven.  When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven as you sprinkle on the pretzel crumble and bake uncovered at 190°C (375°F) ~ about 45 minutes, until bubbling & golden brown.

Chinese Orange Chicken with Tempura Batter

Tonight I had a hankering for orange juice, and what better way to use it than with chicken?  I prepared the chicken and marinade in the afternoon, and by dinner it was ready to go!  This recipe officially serves 4, if you don’t have a hungry husband.  I do.  So consider it 2 servings, though it’s certainly easy to multiply.

Serve with Jasmine rice.  As a drink you could serve either orange juice, or a Tropical Coconut Smoothie.

Orange ChickenChinese Orange Chicken Wm

½ – 1 C. orange juice
4 Tbs. lemon juice
2½ Tbs. rice vinegar
5½ Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. grated orange zest
3 Tbs. soft brown sugar
½ tsp. minced fresh ginger root
½ tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbs. chopped spring onion
¼ tsp. red chili flakes (or sambal oelek – chili paste)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces or into thin strips

½ C. flour (optional:  Instead of this mixture, use Tempura – recipe below)
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

3 Tbs. Olive oil

3 Tbs. cornflour + 2 Tbs. water, mixed to a paste

Mix the first set of ingredients into a large Ziploc bag (tip:  Set it in a bowl for easy filling, and keeping the liquids together to cover the chicken).  Prepare the chicken; add it to the bag, seal, and massage all together well.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
When you’re ready to cook:  In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour, salt and pepper. Add the marinated chicken pieces, seal the bag and shake to coat.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium heat. Place chicken into the pan, and brown on both sides. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside.
Wipe out the pan, and add the sauce. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat.  Stir the cornflour paste into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken pieces, and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with hot Jasmine rice, or stir-fried rice with shavings of orange peel or ginger added.

 

Tempura Batter

1 egg yolk, beaten
1 ½ C. ice water or very cold club soda
1 C. (250 ml) all – purpose flour or rice flour, plus additional for dredging

Mix together; dredge your meat and cook as directed.