Cordon Bleu Pastry Pockets

Chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese are wrapped in pastry dough and baked to buttery, flaky perfection. The upcoming Super Bowl was my inspiration, but this hearty appetizer would be great for any party. They’re easy to serve and eat, and believe it or not, the first batch can be ready for the oven in an hour.

The dough is layered, but doesn’t require the trips back and forth to the refrigerator that puff pastry or croissant doughs demand. You simply mix it, roll and fold it four times, and then roll it out into a large, thin rectangle which is cut into 4-inch squares. Fill and bake. The dough resists tearing and stretches obligingly when you pull it over the filling.

I played a little bit and used dark beer in place of the milk in the recipe. It was actually very tasty (The Man was a fan of these), but I didn’t think they were as flaky . . . a little more pie crust than puff pastry. And the color wasn’t quite as pretty, though maybe a lighter beer would have made a difference. Still, you might want to give it a try, just for fun.

Cordon Bleu Pastry Pockets
Makes 20 Pockets
  • 1 cup finely chopped ham
  • 1 cup finely chopped chicken
  • 1 cup finely chopped Swiss cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream cheese (Optional. Makes the filling easier to handle.)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • Heavy cream OR 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water, to brush on pastries before baking
  1. In a small bowl, combine ham, chicken, and Swiss cheese. Mix in cream cheese if desired. (This will make the mixture a little sticky, making it easier to fill pockets.) Place in refrigerator.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Toss the butter pieces in the flour and cut in, using a pastry blender, just until pieces of butter are about the size of a large blueberry.
  3. Stir in cold milk until mostly combined. Some crumbs are fine. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and use your hands to shape and press down, forming a rectangle.
  4. *With a rolling pin, roll dough into a 12-inch by 5-inch rectangle. It will be messy and crumbly. Don't worry - just do the best you can. With one short end facing you (dusting surface with flour as needed), use a large spatula or dough scraper to lift the bottom third of the dough and fold it, so the short end is in the middle. Now lift the top third and lay it over the dough so the short end is at the bottom. You should have 3 equal layers of very crumbly dough. Turn the dough to the left so the long open edge is on the right (like a book)*
  5. Repeat from (*) to (*) three more times. Dough should be smooth, with small areas of butter visible.
  6. Heat oven to 425 F. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  7. On floured surface, roll dough. After trimming edges, you'll need a 20-inch by 16-inch rectangle, so roll it out a little larger than that. Trim edges to make it neat and mark it every 4 inches, then cut out 20 squares.
  8. Mound filling in the center of one square at a time, extending toward opposite corners. Pull the top corner down to the bottom one, tucking in any stray filling that tries to escape. Press firmly all around the edge, then use a fork to go over the edge again. Use a knife or pastry cutter (if desired) to neatly trim and straighten the outer edge. Poke once with the fork on the top of each pocket.
  9. Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between pastries. Coat lightly with cream or egg wash. (A paper towel dipped in wash works better than a brush.) Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove to cooling rack.

Combine finely chopped ham, chicken, and Swiss cheese. (Stir in a little cream cheese if desired, to make it easier to handle when filling pockets.)

Toss chopped butter into dry ingredients and combine with pastry blender.

Stir in cold milk (or beer!) Just until mostly combined.

Use hands to flatten (it will be a crumbly mess) and then roll as best you can to a 12×5-inch rectangle.

Use a large spatula or dough scraper to lift the bottom short end up to the middle, then the top short end down to the bottom to make 3 equal layers. Turn to the left and repeat 3 more times.

By the 4th roll/fold/turn it will look like dough. It’s okay to see blotchy butter spots.

To get a neat, tidy 16×20 rectangle, roll it a little larger, then trim. Throw away the scraps – don’t try to re-roll them.

Add filling to center, extending to opposite corners.

Press the edges firmly. Use a fork to go over them again. Trim the very edge to make it straight and pretty. Coat with cream or egg wash and bake!

Um. I tried making football shapes. It didn’t go too well. Be my guest – if you figure out how to do it, please let me know!

And here’s the beer version:

Dips are good. I used a Red Robin dipping sauce and ranch dressing with mustard and horseradish.

Since (once again) the Seahawks aren’t in the game, I’m not too excited about the Super Bowl. But if you are, and you have a crowd to please, give these a whirl!


Football Rye Crackers and Cheese Ball

football rye crackers and cheese ball The Rowdy BakerBring this dish to any football party and be a hero! A smooth, velvety, football-shaped cheese ball is surrounded by sturdy, homemade rye crackers…also shaped like footballs, because – well – football!

After a couple of attempts that yielded hard, very crunchy crackers, I finally got the knack for these.  Add more flavoring if you wish – I kept this pretty basic, preferring to let the flavor of the caraway seeds predominate . These are delicious warm out of the oven…you’ll see!

I tried two different methods for adding the lacing to the crackers. I like the appearance of the little dough laces best, but cutting out all those tiny pieces and pressing them carefully and firmly on each cracker takes a lot of time, so I won’t blame you one little bit if you go the easy route and just press the designs onto the crackers with a table knife – Especially when you consider the crackers will probably be consumed by people jumping and screaming at the TV, and not paying close attention to the detail on each cracker!

This dough is really very easy to roll out, especially if you roll it between sheets of floured parchment. If you want to skip the football shapes, simply use a pizza cutter to cut the crackers into strips and put them, parchment and all, straight onto your baking sheet.

And…in case you’re wondering, they’re delicious with peanut butter slathered on them.

You probably have your own recipe for a cheese ball, right? If not, I’ll tell you how I made mine at the bottom of the post.

Here’s my easy recipe for rye crackers.

Rye Cracker Footballs
The crackers can also be cut into strips on the parchment, and then lifted (without separating them) parchment and all onto an ungreased baking sheet. Follow instructions for baking.
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon caraway seeds (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • coarse salt
  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, buttermilk, water, and molasses.
  4. Stir in all-purpose flour, rye flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, garlic salt, onion powder, and caraway seeds. Mixture should be thick, and slightly sticky. If it's very sticky, add a little more flour.
  5. Lightly flour a large piece of parchment.
  6. Place dough on parchment, sprinkle lightly with a little more flour, cover with another piece of parchment, and roll very thin...about the size of a baking sheet. Thin dough makes light, crunchy crackers!
  7. Cut out shapes using a football cookie cutter, and place closely together on the prepared baking sheet. It's best to work with just one pan of crackers at a time, so wrap remaining dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator for now.
  8. There are two ways to create "laces". You can firmly press thin strips of slightly moistened dough onto each cracker, or simple press the lace design into the cracker with a table knife.
  9. Put crackers in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with melted butter (if you make "laces" on football shapes, you may have to gently pat the butter on the surface to avoid dislodging the laces) and sprinkle with coarse salt. Turn oven OFF. Open oven door for 30 seconds (count it: one-chimpanzee, two-chimpanzee...), place pan of crackers back in the oven, close the door and leave them alone for one hour. Don't peek - it will let out the residual heat.
  10. Move crackers to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  11. If you choose to do all of the crackers at once, test a cracker from each pan. If they aren't completely crunchy, return them to the warm oven for 15 more minutes.

Flatten lightly floured dough and cover with a sheet of parchment.

Flatten lightly floured dough and cover with a sheet of parchment.

Roll the dough thinly.

Roll the dough thinly.

Dough must be VERY thin for light, crisp crackers.

Dough must be VERY thin for light, crisp crackers.

If you lack the patience for gluing tiny laces on each cracker, use a knife and just press in the design!

If you lack the patience for gluing tiny laces on each cracker, use a knife and just press in the design!


Baked! Both option for laces are shown here.

Here’s how I made my cheese ball:

24 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 cups of your favorite cheese, grated (I used sharp cheddar and white cheddar.)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped green onions
Optional: a few drops of hickory smoke flavoring, garlic powder, hot sauce.
1 cup finely chopped TOASTED pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped crisp-cooked bacon

Mix together the cheeses and Worcestershire sauce until well blended. I like to use my stand mixer with the dough hook.
Add green onions and additional seasoning, if desired.
TASTE! Between the Worcestershire sauce and the cheese, you probably don’t need to add salt, but now is the time to give it a flavor test.
With damp hands, press the cheese mixture into the shape of a football.
Combine the pecans and bacon. Press onto cheese ball, covering completely.
Transfer to a platter and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve – then surround with lovely rye crackers!

Since I have you here, and you’re actually reading this, may I just say: