SOLSC Day Twenty Seven – Pâte à Choux

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If I wasn’t a teacher, I could easily be a cook or baker.

Pâte à Choux

the start of Pâte à Choux

This morning I started a pâte à choux for tonight’s dessert – a cream puff cake with a creamy topping and fresh strawberries. I’ve made this dessert before, and I think it was the favourite of my Friday night dinner companions. I typically don’t repeat desserts, but strawberries were on sale yesterday.

I grabbed 70 grams of butter from the fridge, poured 2/3 cup of water into the pan, and added 2 tablespoons of sugar. As the butter melted and incorporated with the water and sugar, I slowly stirred until it created a rich, golden swirl. This bit of brightness was exactly what I needed after a couple days of solid rain and darkness.

Once it came to a boil, I added 2/3 cup flour and stirred quickly until it pulled away from the sides of the pan. Eggs were next.

I took it off the heat and added 3 eggs, one at a time, and mixed them in until the resulting dough was shiny and smooth. I love how the eggs make the dough glisten and slide in the pan. Once it was all mixed and smooth, I poured the dough into a springform pan and set it to bake for 20 minutes.

Whenever I bake, I seem to forget that I’ve been baking and I’m always surprised when the timer starts beeping away in the kitchen. The pastry puffed up nicely, I poked some holes in it, and put it back in the oven for another minute. The result was a golden pastry, light and airy.

Now if I can only wait a couple hours while it cools before adding the cream cheese/heavy cream mixture and strawberries.

I should really make two of these whenever I make them, so that I could at least enjoy an afternoon treat before having to share it with friends after dinner.

-C

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SOLSC Day Seven – Budino

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The other day I received the following text from my brother:

Text from Clark

It’s wonderful having a chef for a brother, especially when you enjoy cooking and baking as much as I do. The usual problem I have with the recipes he shares with me is that they are oftentimes written to serve a crowd. For example, he sent me a recipe for pizza dough two weeks ago that would leave me with 3 pounds of dough….and I needed to have mozzarella whey on hand. I typically do a little math to figure out how much I’ll really be making.

This recipe, however, was just right. Chocolate budino is basically a flourless chocolate cake that is moist but forms a lovely crust and crumb on the outside while remaining just a bit gooey on the inside. It was the perfect way to spend an hour this afternoon.

After I converted the ounces to grams, I grabbed a bar of dark baking chocolate, a bar of milk chocolate, 250 grams of butter, 1/2 cup of hot coffee, and began melting them together in my makeshift double boiler. The two chocolates slowly formed a rich, dark liquid. I stirred slowly allowing the butter to incorporate. When it was all just about melted, I added the sugar and vanilla and then took it off the hob to cool.

While I waited I whisked the eggs and prepared the ramekins. I also got out my ladle and determined that 4 ounces was the exact amount that my ladle would hold. Perfect!

The addition of the whisked eggs made the mixture just a bit lighter, but it was impossibly smooth and rich. I filled one ramekin as a test and put it in the oven to see how long and how hot I would really need my oven to be. After 20 minutes, the budino was puffed up nicely and the smell was wafting out the windows and through the house. I put the remaining 9 in the oven.

I brought the 9 to dinner tonight and served them with ice cream and/or whipped cream. It was just the right amount of dessert.

And when I got home and checked my phone, I had a message from my brother asking how everyone liked the dessert.

They loved it. And I love that he and I can share this one simple thing across the miles.

-C

Friday Night Dinners

One of the best things about our new locale has to be the Friday night dinner. When we first arrived in Australia our house wasn’t quite ready yet, so we stayed with a family from church. These wonderful people opened their home to us, fed us, and showed us around for the better part of a week. They have three beautiful daughters who are so kind, helpful, and fun (they could have just been on their best behaviour while we were there but I absolutely adore them!).

While we were staying with them, they told us that every Friday night they fire up the barbecue and cook burgers (which is actually never hamburger – instead we’ve had chicken, steak, pork, lamb, and even kangaroo). They also said that we were always welcome to join them on Friday nights, and so we have. 

Their hospitality is overwhelming, so I’ve tried to bring dessert each Friday night. I’ve brought chocolate chip cookies, a strawberry cake, chocolate chip cookie bars, and, for tonight, chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.

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I used the Smitten Kitchen recipe here, but added two whole eggs instead of one egg and a yolk. And then I watched this Martha Stewart video on how to make an ice cream sandwich, even though I probably didn’t really need the instruction – it seems pretty obvious.

And here was my end result. Can’t wait to share it at dinner tonight!

-C

Converting Fahrenheit to Celsius and a Rice Pudding Recipe

Of all the things I wish I would have learned (better) in school, it would have to be the metric system. Since we’ve arrived, I’ve been doing more cooking and baking than I had been doing in the US. Perhaps it’s because I’m still technically on my summer holiday and I’m always looking for something to keep me occupied.  Or it could be because Pinterest just has so many good recipes that I want to try. Either way, I’ve been spending lots of time in the kitchen over the past month. I’ve found that it’s good to have my iPad with me so I can consult the recipes I find online and also Google things like “What is 375 degrees fahrenheit in celsius?” or “How many grams of butter are in a cup?” Thank you, internet, for answering all of my questions!

Last night I decided that I was in the mood for baked rice pudding. It is winter here, after all. So I began my search on Pinterest to find a good baked rice pudding recipe that a) required eggs (I like a custardy pudding) and b) required that the rice start out uncooked (who has time or the willpower to make a whole batch of rice and then wait to bake the pudding? Not me.) I couldn’t find out I really liked, so I improvised.  This is what I came up with based on the ingredients I had on hand.

Baked Rice Pudding with Coconut CreamBaked Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream

1 cup of uncooked, white rice
1 cup of coconut cream or coconut milk
3 cups of milk
3/4 cup of white sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C or about 300 degrees F

Butter an ovenproof casserole dish – I used a round one but a square or rectangle one would work just fine.

Combine the coconut cream and milk in a microwaveable bowl and microwave until hot – almost scalded.

Pour the cream and milk into the casserole dish and add the rice, sugar, and butter.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and butter has melted.

In a separate bowl, whisk the two eggs and then add a couple spoonfuls of the milk mixture to the eggs and whisk together – this will acclimate the eggs to the temperature of the custard without them turning into scrambled eggs.  Add the egg mixture to the casserole. Add the vanilla. Stir to mix.

Now you just have to wait for it to cook.  Bake the entire dish for approximately 1 hour (I use a forced air oven; if you use a different kind of oven, it might take longer) but stir the mixture every 15 minutes or so to keep the rice from sticking together.

When it’s done, cool on the counter and serve it up when it’s at a temperature you like.  If you are impatient, like I was, you probably will eat it when it’s still pretty warm.  It’s also good refrigerated the next morning for breakfast, which is how I had it today.  I think the addition of the coconut cream (which I had leftover from some green curry I made the other night) really made it fantastic. The bit of sweetness and the smell of coconut was just what I needed on a cool winter night.  If I had had some sliced almonds, I would have sprinkled those on top to give it a bit of crunch. Raisins or sultanas don’t appeal to me that much, but you could add those if you like that kind of thing.

Enjoy! I know I will!

-C