Tag Archives: cream puffs

Weekend Cooking Plans …

… I actually have NO cooking plans for this weekend.

I slept in (it was wonderful) and woke to a gray, damp, miserable morning. The sun decided not to show up and after some more rain, I decided not to go grocery shopping after all. Tomorrow, I’ll have to go, but NOT today. I even passed up an anticipated trip to the city market cause I lost my enthusiasm for the outing.

With Easter three short weeks away, I’ve been thinking of making a batch of hot cross buns for Good Friday. Last year was my first attempt at a recipe which turned out just ok. I had higher expectations than something that was no better tasting than I’ve brought home from the local bakery. (Some things they make, just don’t impress me much like their overpriced and underwhelming fruit cakes. And who buys pound cakes at a bakery?)

I’ve asked for recommendations on FB for a good hot cross bun recipe, hoping for examples that people have made themselves and were proud of but, unfortunately, links to google recipes with no personal anecdotes is what was shared. It was disappointing.

For a foodie with a LJ/blog, seasonal/holiday inspiration is welcome especially when falling into the rut of trying to post something new on a regular basis. Depending on how I feel, I may or may not end up making the hot cross buns after all.

My sole cooking (not that I actually cooked anything) in the last few days was putting together a “shrub”. It has nothing to do with shrubbery but I’ll share the results after I go grocery shopping so I can do a proper presentation.

And so you’re not left without something pretty to look at, here’s a picture of a home made cream puff from the freezer, filled with ice cream and topped with some home made salted caramel sauce.

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Hot and Cooking Boring Stuff

No recipes … just lots of pictures. If you want recipes for something, let me know.

It’s been really warm and humid, and the A/C is labouring to deal with it all,  so I have been doing minimal cooking.

In fact, I bought a giant (28 piece) cheese and pepperoni shreds pizza and have been eating 2-4 pieces for lunch or dinner over the last week, while playing with some aspect of tried and true recipes.

Like trying a substitute for chicken stock in the form of a jar of “Better than Bouillon low sodium organic chicken base” and then using it to make egg drop/flower soup. The pinch of turmeric didn’t make the soup appreciably more ‘yellow’ than my usual recipe even though it’s supposedly a Chinese restaurant trick.

And then there was the boneless chicken breast that I sliced in half horizontally, pounded thin, and panko-breaded. I ended up with a cutlet and some chicken fingers which I baked. The twist was combining the egg/flour breading steps into a batter flavoured with mayo and mustard. The end result was super crunchy.

Chicken Finger/Cutlet Batter

1 egg
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard (or any other mustard of choice)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper

Place the Batter ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a fork until combined.

I pounded a boneless pork chop thin and treated it in the same manner.

I also made a batch of crepes (must remember to re-season my cast iron frying pan cause there’s a sticky spot), a dozen cream puffs and a half recipe of pastry cream. Instead of baking the cream puffs at the usual temperature (350 deg F) I tried the high/low combo that the classic recipe calls for. They looked great but about half the tray fell and I can’t account for it.

NEON PASTA ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, finally, I attempted the classic Italian pasta dish egg-yolk ravioli (Uova da Raviolo). I used beet pasta from the freezer, cause I didn’t want to bother making a fresh batch of plain pasta dough. I rolled the dough a bit too thin and, while I was cooking the ravioli, the fragile pasta tore open. I managed to salvage the 2 ravioli (that’s all I made) and, after dressing them up with a browned butter-bacon-sage sauce, ate a delicious dish with a perfectly cooked egg yolk.

The effort is worth the fuss. I used the rest of the ricotta-Grana Padano cheese filling to make some regular ravioli which I froze away.

I kneaded a bit more flour into the pasta from the trimmings used above for these ravioli giving me a paler colour.

All in all, it’s been a fun week. 🙂

Happy Easter!

After a modest meatless Good Friday meal, Easter is a celebratory occasion and this meal reflects that.

Soup was re-purposed from the salted cod, cannellini bean dip with the addition of egg noodles and ham broth.

Ham glazed with a plum balsamic reduction, mashed potatoes and peas with cherries jubilee

Washed down with strawberry lemonade.

I made a batch of crepes and paired them with the cherries jubilee sauce.

And drunken strawberries (strawberries macerated in sugar and Cointreau) over crepes with French vanilla ice cream.

And then, cause I had some cream puffs in the freezer and fresh strawberries, I sliced half open and filled them with sliced strawberries and sweetened whipped cream. I made a chocolate glaze to finish the presentation. Pretty but a bit messy to eat.

So, I piped the whipped cream into the rest of the cream puffs and served them with chocolate dipped strawberries.

Pick the one you want or eat one … or 2 of each.

Good Friday Meal Pan fried Panko breaded sole fillets, sauteed kale and a re-purposed white cannellini bean dip over dried salted cod. (No recipe cause I’m still working on getting it as good as my dad’s. After last year’s under-seasoned dish, this year, I didn’t soak the cod long enough and the dip needed to be baked longer as it was a bit too watery from the moisture in the cod. Eaten with the semolina sourdough bread, however, the saltiness was reduced somewhat. I started the meal with clam chowder.

Cream Puffs Revisited

Making cream puffs is one of my favourite ways of whipping up a quick and fancy dessert. It takes about the same amount of time to make the choux pastry as it does to preheat my oven to 350 deg F. Even though I prefer to fill them with a pastry cream, a sweetened whipped cream filling is much faster. You can make the cream puffs ahead of time, throw them in the freezer and then when you want to eat them, take out a couple and while they defrost, whip up the cream.

Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream Filling – makes 12 2″ cream puffs

1/4 cup unsalted butter (vegetable, olive and coconut oil works too)
1/2 cup water (or milk or half each)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put butter and water in a saucepan and cook on medium-high heat until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil. (If using milk, be careful that it doesn’t foam up and boil over.)

Add flour and salt all at once to the pan, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball. (Take the saucepan off the heat if you’re concerned about not wanting to add the flour to the boiling pan and then return to the heat.)

Continue stirring and cook another minute or so until a thin film just starts to form on the bottom of the pan. (This step “dries out” the mixture and helps with the incorporation of the egg. At least that’s what I understand.)

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the contents to cool for 5 minutes. You may transfer it into a medium sized bowl and spread it out a bit as well to help in the cooling process.

Beat one whole egg in a small bowl and then add it to the mixture. Beat vigorously with the wooden spoon from above. (You can use a sturdy whisk if you want to but why dirty another utensil and it’s harder to get the batter off the whisk than it is off the wooden spoon.) It will look all lumpy and disgusting at first but the egg WILL incorporate into the batter. Add a second beaten egg and beat some more. Again, it will look pretty lumpy but it will smooth out.

The mixture should be fairly stiff but will fall off the spoon leaving an inverted triangle-like bit hanging from the spoon.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet with butter or line the sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.

Pipe or spoon out the cream puff batter by filling one teaspoon (from your cutlery set) that you’ve dipped in cold water and scraping it out with a second wetted teaspoon. Leave at least 1 inch between the puffs. Try to make sure all the piles are a similar size and more or less circular in shape.

I piped this batch because I felt like it.

I used a wet finger to pat down the pointy tops of the piped choux pastry.

You can brush the tops with a whole egg beaten with a tbsp of cold water if you want a shiny top. However, if you’re going to sift icing sugar over the top, or glaze with a chocolate mixture, there’s no point. 🙂

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is browned and when you pick them up the puffs feel light. Tapping the bottom of the puffs lightly gives you a hollow/dull sound.

Cut the puffs open and fill with sweetened whipping cream, or a scoop of ice cream. Or, use a piping gun to fill every last hollow inside and get a neater cream puff.

Cheese Puffs (Gougeres)

I love cheese and have come home having spent $20 or more on an small assortment of the fattening goodies. When the cheese monger at the farmer’s market closed up shop a year or so ago, I was very sad. The meat/deli vendor next door bought their stock and started carrying the top selling 20-25 varieties but the pricey specialty varieties disappeared … like that black truffle filled Brie that I only had once.

Recently, I came home with a 4 oz chunk of creamy blue cheese, similar to a Cambozola, a combination of Camembert and Gorgonzola cheeses.

I have been having a cream puff craving lately so I made a batch.

But I also made a batch of gougeres, which are a savoury version of cream puffs in which cheese is mixed into the choux pastry.

And because one batch of 12 puffs only used 2 oz of the blue cheese (I crumbled in some Parmesan shavings from my fridge as well), I thought about making something else with the rest. However, I ended up doing another batch of gougeres with vegetable oil in place of the unsalted butter. I also played with the way I formed the gougers and the baking temperature: one batch was spooned out and baked at 425 deg F for 15 min, and then the temperature was reduced to 375 deg F for 15 minutes, while the other batch was piped and baked for 42 1/2 minutes at 350 deg F.

Cheese Puffs (Gougeres) – makes about 12 2″ puffs or 24 mini puffs

1/2 cup water, milk or half milk/half water
1/4 cup unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1/8-1/4 tsp salt1/2 cup all purpose flour, presifted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (~ 2 oz) grated sharp cheese (cheddar, gruyere, or crumbled blue cheese)
1 tsp freshly picked thyme leaves  or 1/8 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp freshly coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or use a Silpat sheet.

Bring the water, salt and butter to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Pour in the flour all at once and beat in using a wooden spoon until it’s well incorporated and has formed a ball. Cook for a couple of minutes longer to make sure that the raw taste has been cooked out of the flour.

Scrape out the dough mixture into a glass or metal bowl so that it cools faster, add the thyme and pepper and mix well.

In a small bowl, break and egg and beat it well with a fork.

After 5 min, turn the beaten egg into the flour mixture and beat well with your wooden spoon until the egg has been incorporated into the mixture. Break a second egg into the bowl and then add it to the flour mixture. Beat well until the mixture is smooth.

Fold in the cheese. (Reserve some cheese for the top if desired.)

Scoop a rounded teaspoon of the choux pastry mixture using a wet teaspoon and scraping out onto your prepared baking sheet with a second wet teaspoon.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 35-40 min. Depending on the cheese used, you may want to extend the baking time to make sure the middle dries out.

Rewarm leftover gougeres for 5-10 minutes in a 350ºF oven.

Alternate gougere variations – cheddar and bacon; smoked bacon (2 cooked strips diced) and some gr black pepper/pinch nutmeg, sage (1 tsp minced fine) and 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola

Turn a simple ham and bean soup into an elegant meal by serving a couple of these cheese puffs on your good china to family, friends and company.