Sunday, August 31, 2008

DB: Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

This months Daring Baker's challenge was Eclairs. As a big fan of cream puffs this challenge really excited me. We usually fill or cream puffs with pudding or whipped cream so I was unsure what pastry cream was and how I would like it. I also wanted to do something besides chocolate as amazing as it sounds I was just a little tired of chocolate at that point. Instead of chocolate I choose to use some of my Black and Blue Berry sauce for the filling, much more summery. :) Unfortunately my camera had an off week and all I have is this blurry picture, Trust me though very very nice.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup water
• 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.

6) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Berry Pastry Cream

• 1.5 cups whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 4 tbsp sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 1/2 cup mixed berry sauce
• 2½ tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk and berry sauce to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

The berry pastry cream turned out a chalky purple color and was way to rich for my taste so I added some Black and Blue berry sauce to the eclair when assembling it and used a plain chocolate ganache on top. My eclairs ended up being about 3 bites long, but they were so rich that I really didn't want any more.

Temper's Take:
Puff pastry is always good in my book. But after this challenge I have decided that whipped cream is my filling of choice (though I haven't tried Ice Cream yet). The berry sauce made a very nice counterpoint to the richness of the cream but the cream was just way to rich for my taste.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

R2R, Tamales

This month Recipes to Rival challenge was Tamales hosted by Debyi of The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. Let me just say great choice! Last Xmas was the first time I was convinced that Tamales might be worth the effort. I immediately went out and looked up a recipe... and just as quickly decided I was better off buying from a professional. let me tell you there are alot of places to get tamales in Texas, but only a few worth the money. So this challenge was a welcome surprise.

The recipe from the challenge can be found here There were lots and lots of options, which is good for me. The recipe as written says it makes 24 tamales. I made half a recipe and got more then that, and my masa layer was thicker then I liked so I could probably have gotten twice what I did.

Tamale dough:
6 cups of masa harina flour
5 cups of water or veggie stock (For my stock I boiled some onion, garlic and a dried pepper in some water.)
1/2 tbsp. of salt
1.5 cups of vegetable shortening
1/2 tbsp. of baking powder
24 dried corn husks
Water to soak the husks

1. Warm the stock. Combine the masa harina flour with the salt and baking powder. Stir the vegetable shortening rapidly until it is creamy.
2. Pour the stock into the masa mix and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Beat the moist masa mix into the shortening until you have a paste that will spread with a knife without breaking apart. You should end up with a semi-thick paste. If you do not have this, you can add more stock in ¼ cup amounts to the mix until you have the right consistency.
3. To check the consistency, spread the masa on a corn husk and if it spreads easily while staying together, you have the right consistency.
4. Soak the corn husks for at least 2 minutes. (Some husks may still have the silks in them, make sure you remove them before using)
5. Spread masa paste over the top half of a corn husk (the top half is the wide half.) Spoon a line of your filling of choice in a line on one side of the masa paste. Roll the tamale from the filling side to the other side. You will end up with one half of the roll that has masa paste and one that does not. Fold the half that does not have the masa paste against the tamale, folding it in towards the flap of the roll.
6. Repeat this process with the rest of the ingredients.
7. Steam the tamales for 45 minutes. If you have a lot of tamales and a tall steamer, you can place the tamales vertically in the steamer.

I choose to do the Black Bean Chipotle filling for my official tamales and two others for some variation.

Black Bean Chipotle Tamale Filling:
16 oz. of black beans, rinsed
½ cup of shredded carrot
½ of a red onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. of chipotle powder
1 tsp. of whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. of whole coriander seeds
½ tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of olive oil

1. Shred the carrot. Mince the onion and garlic. Rinse the beans. Combine all of these together in a bowl.
2. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds on a medium heat in the 1 tsp. of oil until the coriander seeds start to pop or the cumin seeds turn a deep brown color, whichever comes first.
3. Mix the chipotle powder, New Mexico chile powder, cumin, coriander, and salt together. Toss this into the veggie mix.

Filling two was BBQ pork a friend had made that while excellent in texture was to spicy for me to enjoy, so I added some taco seasoning and it was excellent. Filling three was left over smoked sirloin and corn from the Texas Land and Cattle steak house, sauteed with a little peppers and onions, It was a little mild and I really should have used more meat.

And since tamales with out sauce is a very dry thing indeed I made a chipotle sour cream sauce to go with it.

Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce:
1 container sour cream
Chipotle Salsa to taste
stir over low heat until bubbly.
easy and good.

Temper's take:
Very very good, and much easier then I had expected. Left overs freeze well and are a cinch to heat up. I liked the fact I could make good fillings with leftovers and stuff from the freezer. Next time I need to make my masa layer much thinner and remember if I cram a bunch of tamales in one steamer it will take longer to cook. I am looking forward to doing this again, maybe next time I will make some sweet tamales I am thinking pineapple and bananas.

Indra's Take:
I told her I was making tamales, I got a ok, later she wandered by and commented that it smelled like 'real' tamales. I am not sure what she thought I was making but it apparently wasn't real tamales. The end result passed the Indra test and has been invited to make a reappearance. That and all the bragging she has been doing makes me think she liked them.

(unfortunately I was having a bad camera week and so only got the one picture.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I really need to sit down and figure out what I want my blog to look like, right now it is sort of minimalistic (which I like) but it isn't really consistant in the posts formatting. And it just seems like a little much. So I will think about it (and browse other places) and see if I can come up with something more visualy apealing and readable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cookie Carnival: Chocolate Pecan Biscotti

Sorry for the fuzzy picture but that is how I felt all week after making this. I started feeling bad Friday night but darn it I had plans and then I slept for a week. So by the time I figured out my pictures were fuzzy it was way past time to take another.

This months recipe from Kate at The Cookie Carnival was Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti. I have never made biscotti before, heck I have never eaten biscotti before so this was a real experiance for me.

I had some problems with the recipe. The biggest problem was heat both my internal and the external. The rest was a dough that was much softer than I think it should have been. If I had been capable of thought at all I would have chilled it so I could form it into loafs. But I didn't and it shows.

1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grind 1/2 cup toasted pecans in processor. Set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup whole toasted pecans, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2-inch-wide by 14-inch-long log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. (Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)

Temper's take:
They were my favorite kind of cookie, one that needs a big glass of milk. It was dry and rich and dense. Unlike alot of cookies, even though it soaked up alot of liquid it did not become mush and fall apart, a definite plus in a dunking cookie. I need to learn how to make them prettier and smaller. I will definitely try these again, or something similar.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Taste and Create: Chana Dal Parantha

My Partner For this month's Taste and Create is Simran of Bombay Foodie. Her blog has a wide selection of Indian food with the occasional cookie or other treat thrown in. Not surprisingly I was totally unfamiliar with alot of the dishes and ingredients. I still found plenty of things that appealed to me (and I wouldn't be to scared to make). I will admit it was a tough choice the Lemon and Mint Cooler looked like it would really hit the spot and the Biryani intrigued me. But I choose to go with the Chana Dal Parantha. I have been eyeing different versions of this ever since I started browsing food blogs. So I decided now was my chance.

I am pretty sure what I made doesn't qualify as a Roti Mela (not being real sure what that is exactly, I can't be positive) but it is close enough for me.

Here is the original recipe:
To make the parantha, boil 1/2 cup split yellow lentils until al dente. In a bowl, mix the lentils, one small onion chopped finely, a tbsp of chopped coriander, salt, garam masala, red chilli powder, cumin seeds and anardana (dried pomegranate seeds). Mix well to make your filling.

Knead one cup whole wheat flour with enough water to make a firm yet pliable dough. Let it rest for a while.

Take a small ball of dough (roughly the size of tennis ball) and roll out to a thick disc. Place 2 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of this disc. Gather the side and bring them together to form a filling-stuffed ball. Toss the ball in dry flour to prevent it sticking and roll it out to a thin parantha.

Heat a griddle and place the stuffed parantha on it. Cook for around half a minute, then flip over. Spread ghee over the parantha, flip back again and apply ghee on the other side. Cook the parantha on both sides until its golden in color. You will notice that chana dal will absorb a lot more ghee than any other parantha, making it sinfully rich yet delicious.

I of course changed it all up and had more of a southwestern parantha then an Indian one.

1 cup flour with enough water to make a firm but pliable dough (mine was a soft dough, but close enough)

For the filling I used
corn from a left over ear of corn on the cob.
chopped carrots
chopped onion
chopped garlic
left over sweet potato fries
chipotle powder
garlic salt
threw it all in the food processor to get rid of the big chunks and boy did it smell good.

I made my dough balls walnut sized and they rolled out beautifully. When I fried them up I didn't read the recipe right and used way to much butter. They were as good as I expected but something was missing.

So I sauteed up the left over filling and ate it like a taco with a little chipotle sourcream and it was devine. (chipotle sourcream is chipotle salsa and sour cream heated together until bubbly, then served right away as a sauce or cooled and used in place of sourcream.)

Would I make these again? With out a doubt. Next time there will be less butter though, and maybe some cucumbers and tomatoes in yogurt to go with them, and maybe something green.