Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pate a choux

Pate a choux
or as I know it,
cream puffs.

This is the first assignment in the free
baking school I signed up for.
It lasts twenty days.
I figure I can make it through 
twenty days.


At least I made it through days one and two.
Yesterday was learning all about eggs
and how to crack them with one hand.
I had no idea I was doing it wrong!

Today was putting those egg cracking skills
to work baking pate a choux.

I've never had luck making this dough.
I failed miserably with gougeres.
And then again with souffle
which requires pate a choux
for the base.

This recipe was a two part process.
The first on the stove with a wooden spoon,
mixing and cooking the flour, water and butter.
The second part used the mixer
to incorporate eggs into this doughy ball
which magically turns into silky batter.

It is then baked with three
different temperatures.

And poked with a toothpick to release the 

I was excited to open the oven
and find real cream puff shells.

Off to buy a vanilla bean and whole milk
for pastry cream, I 
pulled chocolate ganache sauce
leftover from the Turtle Mud Pie
out of the freezer.
Finally, cream puffs.

I drove them to my brother because 
we both have the fondest memory
of our mother making them,
but only twice, no matter
how much we pleaded.
"Too much trouble."
And they probably were doing 
all the mixing by hand.
This mixer method is so simple.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Vanilla Macarons

Here they are!
My first attempt at macarons.
A few had the all important "feet"
and then sank while cooling.
I think the first tray wasn't baked long enough.
The second batch maybe too long 
because they cracked.
Boy, these guys are finicky.
I used Thomas Keller's recipe in
Bouchon Bakery.
It was hard for me to understand
the level of stiffness for the final
folding of the mixture.
I know now it was definitely too stiff.
Keller said better too stiff than too soft.
Whatever their feet shortcomings and
cracked tops, they are delicious.

I just used Trader Joe's almond flour and 
pulverized it in the mini food processor as Keller instructed.
Here it is added with the powdered sugar to sieve out the almond skin bits.

These are the bits left behind.
I can see how it would ruin the smooth texture.

That's all the pictures I have because honestly,
I had to keep my wits about me.

The recipe wasn't difficult, just so different
than what I'm used to, more generalized.

The sugar and water is boiled on the stove 
then poured straight into the soft peak egg whites while
the mixer is whirling.  It wasn't difficult and the meringue
whipped up beautifully. 
I filled them with leftover chocolate ganache
from Woody's Brownies.

My hat is off to Kim, Faithy, Patricia and Milagritos 
for being able to make these very fragile cookies.
I have enough almond flour to have another
go at it.
It was getting the courage to actually try it.
Thanks Baking Bucket Buddies!  

Oh, and the name Almond Cream Pie
is named for our family's favorite pie
that my mom used to make.
It was her signature dessert
and at the very top of my bucket list.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gutsy Cooks Minestrone

It's been bitterly cold recently.  Making a pot of minestrone soup could not have been more timely.  Not only was it easy to put together, but really an enjoyable venture.  I love a good minestrone soup and now I know how simple it is.  I did add garlic powder and next time will throw in a few fresh cloves.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spanish Vegetable Scramble

This was good.  This was very good.  The Gutsy Cooks Club made Spanish Vegetable Tortilla.
I made it into a scramble due to the absence of the requisite non-stick pan.  Peas, broccol, potatoes and onions gently cooked with eggs.  I added a light grating of cheddar cheese.  We thoroughly enjoyed this.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gutsy Cooks is pulling me kicking and screaming into the land of dough.  And hollandaise.  It is so much fun!
I'm starting to like this pie dough/tart dough stuff.  On the menu this week were mushroom tarts and vanilla custards.  Both turned out to be delicious!  Next time, and there will be a next time, I plan to skip the hollandaise and top with grated cheese.

The custards were perfect and couldn't have been simpler to whip up.  I thickened a can of sour cherries with sugar and cinnamon.  Big hit!  Highly recommend both recipes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Empanadas and White Bean Soup

This week's Gutsy Cooks made empanadas and white bean soup.  Both were a first for me.  

The soup came together easily, especially since I took a shortcut with canned cannelloni beans, only because I forgot to soak them overnight.  I'll make it again with dried beans and maybe not puree it so much with an immersion blender.  The texture was ultra silky.  Being a vegetarian, I left out the pancetta.  It had a nice mild flavor.

I've always wanted to give empanadas a try.  The dough didn't look promising at all after I pummeled it but surprisingly rolled out quite easily.  I opted for spiced potatoes.  I'll try this recipe again using a recipe for samosa filling, which is a favorite thing to order at Indian restaurants.  I think it will work well with this dough.

So this was a fun challenge for me working with dough!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ricotta and Basil Roulade and Quindim

My first meal with the Gutsy Cooks gang!  This was so much fun to make. I was surprised how utterly easy the recipes were to put together.  The dessert takes literally minutes.  The roulade a bit longer, but still quite easy.  Except for spilling the chopped spinach and sun dried tomatoes all over the floor.  Plan B.  Go pick the last of the basil in the garden. It was fantastic. This is definitely a do again recipe.

I opted for toasting regular, not fresh, coconut.  It was fine. We all loved these. I'm making another batch
with only the cream of coconut for my coconut phobic husband. He likes the flavor but not the texture of coconut.

Already Gutsy Cooks has gotten me outside my macaroni and cheese comfort zone.