Archive | dairy

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.

I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.

This is as simple as it gets:

  • Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
  • Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of honey
  • Eat!

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

Posted in breakfast, brunch, cheese, cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, gluten-free, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, raw, snacks, vegetarian, wheat-free0 Comments

Dorie’s Perfection Pound Cake | Look Ma, No Need To Tweak!

March has whizzed by. April is beginning to blur . It has been a very busy springtime.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, we’re organizing Bake For The Quake, an event where  bakers, collaborative sponsors, and the supportive Vancouver community come together to raise funds for Japan. There’s no question it’s almost like a second job to organize a charity bake sale event and I won’t even pretend for a second that we know what we’re doing, but we are doing the best we can. Just a couple of days ago there was a strong aftershock that rocked Japan at 7.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, with a few fatalities. Now more than ever, they need our help. So we continue to work hard for this cause. If you’re able and so inclined, please consider donating directly to our fundraising page (it will automatically go directly to Doctors Without Borders). We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word — you might have a friend or family here in Vancouver. Every tweet, link, and word passed along helps. Ah, and we have printable posters for download that would be perfect for posting at your local cafe spot, restaurant, community centre, school, or local community board — just ask for permission first before putting up. :)

Before these all happened, I signed up for an Introduction To Pottery course at the local Shadbolt Centre for the Arts — what this really means is that my schedule for the next 2 weeks is f*****d a balancing act of fragile porcelain. The first class was 3 nights ago and wow, was it ever a humbling experience to make what resembles like mere child’s play:

It doesn’t help that I was practically brain dead from exhaustion. It was a good 3 hours of fortitude, with my patience being counted to the minute. My classmates were a funny bunch, so that is definitely a plus.

I’m not even sure why I’m sharing these embarrassing items to you, but I’m hoping that in a few weeks time, just like when I started cooking, baking, and taking photos, it will eventually become better. One just have to stick with it long enough to make progress.

So while my pottery skills leave a lot to be desired or emulated, this Pound Cake recipe by Dorie Greenspan, is true to it’s name: it is perfection. No tweaking necessary.

I couldn’t ask for anything more after a long day if I’m looking for a non-alcoholic happy hour. Pound cake + tea = instant relaxation. Its soft crust and moist buttery cake goes well with jam. Or if it’s that kind of day, even vanilla bean and dark chocolate ice cream.

If you’re looking at your calendar and you have a busy week ahead, my best advice would be to make this on a Saturday and keep it for the week to nibble on. It will last at room temperature for 5 to 7 days and even those tight deadlines and running around like a chicken without a head would melt in an instant as soon as you take a bite of this.

DORIE’S PERFECTION POUND CAKE
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2006)

A tender buttery cake with a soft crust to banish a stressful day. This delightful cake will keep for up to a week at room temperature and is lovely to eat with jams and even ice cream.  – Joy

Yields: one 9”x5” or 8.5”x4.5” pan

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or 2 1/4 cups cake flour – creates a more tender crumb)
  • 1 teaspoon baking poder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven at 325°F with the rack positioned at the center of the oven. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or an 8.5″ x4.5″ loaf pan with butter. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or 2 stacked baking sheets.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Continue until mixture is pale and fluffy, about a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and reduce the speed to medium.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes with each interval. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl and beater to create a homogenous mixture. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until flour is in. This can also be done by hand by folding the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  6. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth and level the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check if it is browning too rapidly, and tent a foil over it if so. If your pan is 9″x5″, the cake needs to be baked for a total of 70 to 75 minutes. An 8.5″x4.5″ pan of cake would require a total of about 90 minutes.
  7. The cake is done when a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Transfer cake pan onto a cooling rack and let it rest for 30 minutes. Carefully run the back of a bread knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen out the cake before inverting out and propping it right side up directly on the cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before wrapping.

Storage: Wrapped in clear plastic wrap, this cake will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dairy, dessert, make-ahead, snacks7 Comments

Fuss-Free Fridays: You Say Guacamole, I say Dessert!

Some of you might find the concept of eating avocado outside the constricts of a vegetable salad or a Mexican dip bizarre. On the contrary, when I moved to North America in the late ’90s, I had a mental gag when I discovered that my beloved avocado was made into anything other than a dessert — fresh spooned out of the skin, as an ice cream or a filling shake. Worse, it was sometimes being touted as something really fattening. Yikes.

This is my all-time favorite way of eating avocados: sprinkled with sugar and powdered milk (preferably Nido) and straight into my mouth. Creamy, dreamy dessert!

I'll eat you without dieter's remorse.

Have you tried this before? What other food do you eat differently than others do?

On a sweet avocado related note, I was more than thrilled to learn that avocado can be used as the chocolate fudge cake icing in a raw diet. It does taste so rich and good as a ganache!

Sorry Fuss-Free Friday was late. I have to admit that the day just crept up on me this afternoon. If you have other fuss-free recipes to share, please leave the link in the comments section. Thanks and enjoy your weekend!

Posted in dairy, Filipino dishes, fruits, Fuss Free Fridays, quick & easy7 Comments

Mamon (Filipino Sponge Cake) with Coconut Lemon Buttercream

Did you find our blog through Saveur.com? Welcome, welcome! We are honored to be featured on The Daily Fare and hope you find this recipe useful. You can download the PDF recipe for it further down this post. We also have a mocha-flavored sponge cake that is a delicious knockoff of the Philippines’ Goldilocks version. You might also want to check other cakes and baked goods. Quick links to recipe categories are available on the main page. To subscribe to our RSS feed, just go here Thanks for dropping by and please come again!

Before I start talking about food, let me just assure you that you are on the right website. We just got a face lift. I’ve been wanting to have a new design for ever but never found the time until now. You know how the full moon makes you do crazy things? This was mine. Part of the reason I couldn’t blog, aside from training for my first 5K (perhaps I’ll tell you about that some other time) and working too much, I just couldn’t stand the old layout. Let’s just say I could breathe easier now.

We’d love to get some feedback. If you don’t like something, please let me know what and why. If something’s not readable, definitely stop me in my tracks here, via email or on Twitter!

The sideblog of links has been revamped. We now have an FAQs page, which also addresses the missing-in-action monthly newsletter. There’s a link to our OpenSky shop, and I promise we’ll add more to the store after the busy IFBC weekend. What? Yes, you heard me!

International Food Bloggers Conference 2010

Woohoo? WOOHOO!

Can you see me jumping in excitement?

I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and learning from them this weekend. We will be eating well, too. So much fun! See you there in a wink!

* * * * * * *

Now that’s out of the way, I’d like you to meet my brother’s Mamon with Coconut Lemon Buttercream birthday cake:

“Mamon” (pronounced as ma-mon’ as if saying c’mon) is a common snack or dessert in the Philippines. It is a soft and moist sponge cake that’s lightly sweetened. They are commonly sold as small cakes, with fluted sides similar to brioche, and come in flavors such as mocha, ube, and pandan. Instead of making small cakes, I created one big cake for my brother’s birthday.

This sponge cake is not as airy as its smaller counterpart; but delicate without falling apart. The toasted coconut adds a taste of the tropics and complements the texture of the silky frosting. It’s light enough to pair with a piña colada or white wine on a hot summer day, or a warm cup of floral tea or dark coffee.

I’ll tell you what else this cake partied with in my belly: I ate it with Caramilk Liqueur. {ducks} {giggles}

It’s no secret that I enjoy putting a Filipino/Asian twist to my cooking and baking, and this one’s no different. This cake tastes like Hawaii meets California on a hot summer day. Surf’s up and let’s eat!

Get the recipe for this Coconut Lemon Frosted Mamon Cake

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dairy, dessert, experiments15 Comments

Let’s Keep It Simple: Easy + Absolutely Delish Yogurt Cake for Relaxing on a Sunday

After the recent website troubles, I finally got some decent sleep (aka passing out beside the cat after a hearty dim sum lunch) and now it’s back to things that adults need to do: taxes! Before I get knee deep into that, I thought I’d share with you what has now become a favorite recipe the past 2 weeks, from which I’ve baked 3 successful and well-devoured cakes.

Don't you just love it when a recipe works each time you make it? I do. Not everyone has a backup plan...or a backup recipe for lazy Sundays.

I’d like to keep it simple today. No complications. This cake is straight up mix and bake. Add the syrup if you want to do something a little fancy, but this cake can shine on its own. I love that I have the option to do the least possible work, and add some spark to it when I’m feeling a little fancy. I suggest you make this right now. It’s really easy and you will find it a good complement to a restful and lazy Sunday. Even if your Sunday is hectic, it’s nice to know that with a few strokes of the hand and 15 minutes in the kitchen, you’re all set for a satisfying snack or dessert.

Go. Make it. Now.

I plucked the recipe out of my new favorite food magazine, a new find: Waitrose Food Illustrated. I will talk more about that publication on a separate post, because I love it so. If you’ve ever chanced upon that at your bookstore or magazine spot, know that the higher price tag is worth it.

HAPPY SUNDAY!

P.S. If you haven’t yet, check out the “A(wesome)-List” on the right, where I constantly add recipes and food-related blogs that I’m currently digging. Share the good karma and say Hi to them when you hop over. I think you just might find a treasure and a treat. :-)

   Get the recipe for this Easy Yogurt Cake

Posted in baking, cakes, dairy, dessert, snacks18 Comments

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I was told a while ago: ‘Every dish tells a story.‘  At the same time, food is meant to be savored with every bite. Since leaving the FoodBuzz event last week, I have had more desire to achieve more than I had since starting this blog.  Joy’s been an incredible inspiration for my cooking and I hope that this is a trend that continues.

Upon my return to the office, there was a flier posted next to the time clock, “Holiday Potluck!’ So I figure, Cool! I’ll make something simple, easy, and enjoyable. My first thought was a simple garlic mashed potato dish. A few days after that posting, the HR manager asked me what I was making for the potluck because she knew about our little journal from previous discussions.

I’m going to keep it simple, garlic mashed, I think.

“What? Don’t be boring! I’ve seen the stuff you guys make! Give us something more gourmet!”

A challenge, huh? I was game. So a few more nights passed, then it hit me. Of all the things of a Thanksgiving meal, there is not much that is not considered ‘comfort food’. Then I started thinking about the various comfort foods of a meal that could not only serve 30 people, but have the flavor and memories that follow with each taste.

I would stick with the potato idea. I browsed various sites for perfect dishes but nothing was out of the ordinary.  Then it hit me. Crème fraîche Loaded Whipped Mashed Potatoes! Yeah, try saying that to your guests at your next dinner party when you make this dish.

So, I decided I would not have a toungue twister and simplify it to “Gourmet Loaded Potatoes“. It is a relatively simple dish, but its attention is needed. If you stick with it, you’ll have an incredibly tasty, rich, and flavorful new spin on the potato.

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I took this challenge head-on and I am proud of the results. I got rave reviews at the pot luck and I look forward to serving this dish again soon.

-Daniel

Gourmet Loaded PotatoesDownload PDF recipe for Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

Ingredients [Serves about 30, as a side dish]

  • 10 lbs of Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 lb of thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 ½ cup of heavy cream, with extra just in case
  • 1 7.5 oz package of crème fraîche
  • 1 3-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (seasoned salt preferred)

Equipment

  • Large bowl or strainer for holding the cooked potatoes
  • Electric mixer

Preparation

1. Prepare the potatoes by submerging them in cold water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add salt to the water and bring the pot to a boil uncovered. When you get to a rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. At the end of the 10 minutes, try piercing a potato with a fork. If it goes straight through, it’s done. If not, cook another 4-5 minutes and check again.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan in medium heat and cook the pancetta. You’re looking for a total crisp, nothing undercooked or limp. This cooking time will change depending on your pan, heat, and if you used any oil to help cook. Remove from the heat and pat dry any excess oil or grease with a paper towel.

3. Drain the potatoes from the pot completely and set them aside. Put the pot back onto the stove.

4. Add ingredients into the pot in this order: butter, crème fraîche, cream cheese, heavy cream. Grab the cooked pancetta and crumble it as much as possible. Then add the potatoes back into the pot. By the time the potatoes get into the pot, the butter should be completely melted and the cream cheese should as well.

5. Add the pepper, chives, cheddar, and the remaining salt.

6. Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer starting with the lowest speed and progressively working to medium, about 5 minutes. When everything is well mixed, check the consistency. If it’s not whipped and/or enough, add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and continue mixing for another minute. Serve warm and enjoy!

Posted in appetizer, cheese, dailies, dairy, dining, experiments, fun, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables12 Comments

Update: Dobos Torte

I dropped off the universe, didn’t I? And left you hanging about my Dobos Torte. It wasn’t intentional. I had just been busy with work, entertaining house guests, taxes (lovely), health issues, and catching up with friends. Sorry lovelies!

So finally, here’s a slice of the Dobos Torte shot to show off its fabulous layers. This gives me flashbacks (I almost said backflash…hmm) of the dreadful sinking feeling when I discovered that each layer will be baked individually. And in the process, perfect the technique to: quickly change the cookie sheets, run the hot one with cool water, wipe it dry, put new paper with the circular pattern to follow, and spread another layer of batter thinly…precisely. After baking the second layer in the oven, it began to feel like an assembly line and I was working in the kitchen from one counter to another in orchestrated moves. I really did not want it to end. But as with any Daring Bakers challenge, just when you start enjoying it, you move to the next one! Hey, I’m not complaining. I’m always relieved after I finish each challenge.

Dobos Torte

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel, although you may find variations with 6 to 12 layers. József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, invented it in 1885 and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was Download the PDF recipe for Dobos Tortea secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

The Dobos Torte or Torta entails baking the sponge sheets, making the caramel wedges, preparing the buttercream, and assembling the cake. As per the recipe and notes of our hosts, Lorraine and Angela, I heeded their advice to cool the layers in the fridge first, separated by parchment paper and well-wrapped. I made the buttercream while the layers were cooling, at three in the morning. That’s how I roll when I couldn’t sleep. Let’s make buttercream while the rest of the world is in deep sleep! As I said in my previous post, it was heavenly and I was pointing my toes as I walked in delight. I had to restrain myself from eating the bowl of buttercream. I wrapped the bowl and put it in the fridge before I could commit that sin.

Caramel wedges -- Dobos Torte

The next evening, I took out the best sponge layer to create the caramel wedges. This part is tricky and requires that your mind isn’t sleeping: you pour caramel made of sugar and water, with lemon juice, over on sponge layer, let it cool for a bit, slice, and fully cool. I cut the sponge layer into 12 slices first before pouring the caramel. I think that saved me half a woe of cutting. After the caramel solidifies enough to be cut, you use a heated and well-oiled knife to cut through the caramel. I didn’t heat the knife because I couldn’t think of how to do so, but I oiled it before making my first attempt at cutting. After a few light strokes, it had become evident to me that it would not work out because not only was the caramel sticking, it was breaking and the sponge cake was tearing apart. Look at the center of my caramel layer on the right (iPhone shot!) and you will see the slight tear in the middle right there.

The knife just won’t cut it, no pun intended. I had to think of another way to cut it without breaking it. My next brilliant idea: use a pizza cutter. Oiled.

And it worked! The oiled pizza cutter made cutting these wedges a breeze, if I dare say so! I wiped it regularly with a paper towel that’s been well-dampened with oil and it was like magic. So there…that was my A-HA! moment with the caramel wedges.

Once the wedges were cut, I placed 12 toasted and peeled hazelnuts/filberts on the top of the cake for the wedges to lean on. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect. I had to move them around several times.

Now onto the finished product.

You’ll notice from the first photo above that the butter cream looks shiny and gooey. I tried eating it cold (check out the cold cake with dull-looking buttercream) and at room temperature, and I’m all for the latter. It looks, tastes, and feels better in the mouth. The sponge layers are soft-er, and the flavor of the chocolate buttercream tastes like Christmas morning in your mouth: it will make you smile because it’s so smooth and rich. The chocolate layered with sponge cake creates a good balance of textures. The lemon-y caramel wedges were (I think) meant to counteract the sweet cake.

Dobos Torte

I have to say that the sponge layers were a bit dry. It could be my baking, the cooling, or something, but it lacked the softness and moisture that I wish was there. Even with the buttercream, it was lacking in overall cake moisture. The caramel wedges were a bit too tangy for me, but our house guests LOVED them. It was too strong of a contrast for me. Perhaps next time I make this (if I will), I will decrease the lemon juice, and add a dollop of crème fraîche when served. It’s already making me drool.

Somebody asked me how food on this site seem to look perfect, and if they are really perfect. The answer? They’re certainly not. The topmost picture? I didn’t even notice the dark spot behind the caramel wedge until I was resizing it. I did try to take a photo of the slice at another angle, but that didn’t turn out well because of the chocolate right here. Oops. But I’m showing it here to show you just one of the many food styling gaffs I make. When the chocolate softened, the wedge slipped and I had reposition it again and I didn’t even check the back. Hehe. I think I’ll have to check my camera in case I accidentally wiped chocolate on it!

Dobos Torte

Just like the headshots you see in magazines, these food photos are not as perfect in real life. I just try to emphasize the good features. :-)

Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, coffee buddy, dairy, Daring Bakers, dessert21 Comments

A Simple Breakfast of Yogurt with Fruit

Ok, I’d like to see a show of hands:

How many of you have procrastinated on something this week? Spill! :)

If you can only see me now, my hands and arms couldn’t be any higher! In August, my brain slows down, my discipline goes on vacation and I am stuck with a mid-summer love affair with someone called Procrastination or Cunctation. I call him CunkyPunky. (See? This is beginning to sound more fun than it really is.) I just have to accept that August is CunkyPunky time and I should just breathe and relax. Aside from procrastinating with CP, I’m also trying to balance bank accounts and to keep sane in the midst of paying even more taxes. I don’t even want to think about it, because aside from my already-planned trip to Blogher Food, there’s another event that I would love to attend: Foodbuzz in November. (I call it an injustice that they are both held in San Francisco! Woe is me, who lives across the north border.) Just when I need to “kick ass” in the making-money department, all CP wants to do is drag me to graze in the grass like spoiled cows living in a luscious Hawaiian ranch–that kind of downtime. I have to remind him that traveling involves money, which involves doing something.

Ayayay.

This super simple breakfast post was supposed to be up last week, but CP and I had a week-long rendezvous. I’m sorry. But I hope you’ll forgive me. It is very easy to do anyway:

Just cook berries in simple syrup of 1 sugar :1 water proportion, wait for it to thicken, then set it aside to cool down. Serve generously on top of your favorite yogurt.

Fage greek yogurt with blueberry compote

In my case, it’s the Fage 2% greek yogurt. That’s it. No theatrics, just plain and simple food. I eat this for breakfast, as a dessert or as a snack. It’s a great way to save berries that might otherwise go bad this summer, especially if you happen to haul big boxes of them from the farmer’s market.

Fage greek yogurt with blueberry compote

I’m still rallying to have Fage here in Vancouver. I have never seen it here. Hello– Fage?!?!?!

In case you were wondering– No, Fage isn’t a sponsor of this blog. I just happen to love it so much that I milk my parents, who cross the border several times a month, to bring me Fage. It’s that good.

Posted in cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, healthier choices, quick & easy, snacks20 Comments

Verrry Raspberry Fro-Yo

It took me a week to fully recover from my home-cooked birthday party and the blogathon, but it was well worth it. A huge thanks for my family and friends who came to celebrate with my mom and I for our July birthdays, and for those who sponsored me for Blogathon 2009 for the benefit of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. The party actually looked like a Facebook meetup, really, with my different groups of friends finally meeting each other after sort-of knowing each other on my Facebook wall and photos. Funny how this social networking goes. We had a fun party and I’m so glad that everybody was enjoying themselves and the food. That’s all that matters to me.

This Verrry Raspberry Frozen Yogurt was one of the desserts I made and served at the party. It’s so absolutely refreshing! Try it with (sweet) fresh blueberries…Oh my! Cold heaven in a mouthful. If you like a little bit of tartness with fruit, here’s your wish! It’s just a tad tart because of the yogurt complementing the yogurt’s tartness. A lot of our guest liked this over the sweeter and creamier flavor I made.

Verrry Raspberry Fro-Yo

And I know why: This is the Perfect “cure” for the heat wave!

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest like I am, you know how excruciatingly hot and painful to bear this week has been, especially if you don’t have A/C. So come on take out your ice cream maker if you haven’t already, and make this! Put yourself out of misery now.

This is easy to prepare for your ice cream/frozen yogurt maker:

Verrry Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

IngredientsDownload the print-ready PDF recipe

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3//4 cup water
  • 350 grams fresh raspberries
  • 500 grams 2% Fage Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cold milk

Preparation

1. Make a simple syrup by boiling water and sugar in a medium sized saucepan until all the sugar crystals are dissolved; no need to stir.

2. Add the raspberries and cook in medium heat until it starts to boil, then decrease to low-med heat. Stir with a heat resistant spatula, and occasionally pressing the berries against the bottom of the saucepan. You can mash it as fine or as chunky as you like. Cook until the mixture becomes thick, but not as thick as jam. Set aside to cool on a trivet first, then in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

3. In a medium sized bowl, pour all the (cold) ingredients and mix with a spatula first to avoid splattering, then with a hand mixer until well blended. You can add more fresh raspberries at this point if you like. Pour into prepared ice cream maker and mix until thick, about 30-35 minutes. You will notice that this does not thicken as fast as your usual creamy ice cream or frozen yogurt, but don’t worry.

Best if frozen at least 48 hours before consuming, but I won’t tell if you eat it right away!

Posted in dairy, dessert, frozen treats, fruits, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe13 Comments

Julia & Nora Cream Puffs (Profiteroles)

I have had several requests from friends to make cream puffs but kept putting it off (for almost a year!). I procrastinated until I found one more reason to: being featured on the Julie & Julia movie website, quite a compliment to foodies like us. I thought that made perfect sense. Waiting is a good thing, I tell myself…

Julia Child's Pâte à choux

It physically hurt me to take photos and wait patiently before devouring these.

…until I realized that I have been without cream puffs in my life for such a long time, and it all went downhill from there. Sensible eating begone as I questioned why I kept popping one puff after another into my mouth, and at the same time not really thinking about it. Don’t you have those moments? I can’t even tell you how many I’ve eaten, because I don’t know. A few friends were lucky enough to sample these, and God bless them for saving me from making a complete a Puff-woMan of myself (get it, Pac-Man?).

Julia Child's Pâte à choux

The cream filling I made is almost like Bavarian Cream. I can make an excuse that this is "healthier" than deep-fried donuts. A tiny bit? Right?

My history with cream puffs go all the way to when I was a very young child of six or seven. My mother (‘Mama’), once an avid baker, had three specialties: brownies with sticky and nutty tops, fruit tarts and cream puffs. [For all these, she used recipes by Nora Daza, quite possibly the Julia Child of the Philippines.] My mom even got orders for her baked goodies at school. I have vivid memories of our dining room looking like an assembly line of baked goods. Like pets waiting for their treats, us siblings hounded the table for the bowl and spatula leftovers of brownie batter, custard for the tart and the cream for the puffs. I was Mama’s Little Helper: from pressing the tart dough onto the metal molds to evenly placing the fruit pieces on the tarts’ custard, but when it comes to the cream puffs it’s an All-Mom Turf. Nobody messes with my mom’s cream puffs. On weeknights when she baked them for the school, I would finish off my homework early so I watch her as she carefully shaped each little mound of paste with her orange mechanical pastry bag (like this one). The craft fascinated me. The next morning she would be dressed up for work early and already filling the baked puffs (that’s already been glazed with caramel) with cream by the time we woke up to shower and get into our uniforms. Then she would drive us to school and I would be at the backseat with the big responsibility of keeping the army of brownies, tarts, or puffs nested in paper cups on pans from sliding off during the drive. Sometimes I would be allowed to eat one. I can still remember everything like it was yesterday. Come to think of it, a lot of my childhood memories include food.

You’d think that I had been baking since I was young all the way to Gourmeted.com. I didn’t. I’m a late-blooming cook/baker, like Julia, and had no interest whatsoever in anything that has do with the kitchen until my late twenties (I’m turning 31 next week). I have always enjoyed eating, though. :-)

As an homage to my two worlds of the East and West, I made cream puffs ala Julia & Nora. Also, as an homage to my mother, Mother of Cream Puffs (hehe) – it’s my mom’s birthday today!

Happy birthday Mama!

Now onto the recipes…

Julia, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, described choux pastry/paste or pâte à choux [pronounced paht ah SHOO, literally translates to "cabbage paste" as when made to the original method it resembles the vegetable] as a very, very thick white sauce into which eggs are beaten, which make the paste swell when cooked. It can be used for hors d’oeuvres when mixed with cheese, or for desserts as cream puffs when sweetened with sugar.

Julia Child's Pâte à choux

L-R: Cream Puff, Cream Puff with Blueberries (aka Blueberry Monster), Chocolate Dipped Cream Puff

Julia Child’s Pâte à Choux
Adapted from the book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1 by Julia Child, Louisette Berthole, and Simone Beck

Ingredients (makes 36-40 small puffs)

  • 100 grams unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 large eggs, divided (1 beaten in a small bowl, for egg wash)
  • 3  oz or 6 tbsps butter, cut into pieces; plus extra for greasing the baking sheets
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Extra butter to grease the baking sheets and 1 egg, beaten,

[Note: Julia suggested adding 1 tsp of sugar and reducing the salt to a pinch for dessert puffs. I opted to use salt as above to contrast with the sweetness of the cream filling.]

Preparation:

1. Boil water, butter and seasonings in a 1.5-quart heavy bottomed saucepan.

2. Remove from the heat and quickly mix the flour in one go. Stir vigorously and blend thoroughly. Continue to stir over med-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture separates from the sides of the pan forming one mass, and it begins to film the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.

3. Create a well in the middle of the paste and break an egg into it. Stir for a few seconds until the egg is incorporated and continue to add the rest of the eggs in the same manner. The third and fourth eggs will be absorbed more slowly. Mix until smooth.

4. Preheat oven to 425°F with one rack placed on the upper third of the oven and another in the lower third. Prepare two baking sheets by rubbing butter on the baking surface.

5. To create small puffs: You can drop the paste on the baking sheet with a spoon or pipe with pastry bag (with 1/2-inch round tube opening) into mound about an inch in diameter and half an inch high, 2 inches apart. Dip a pastry brush into the egg wash and lightly tap each mound with the side of the brush. Avoid dripping down the puff and the sheet, because that prevents the puff from rising.

6. Place the sheets in the preheated oven, one on each rack, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they puffs have doubled in size, become gold brown, and are firm and crusty to the touch. Take them out of the oven. Using a sharp knife, pierce the side of each puff to prevent the crusty outside from getting soggy. Return the baking sheets to the now turned off oven, with the door ajar, and leave for 10 minutes. Continue to cool the puffs on a cooling rack.

Freezing unfilled puffs: Wait for the puffs to completely cool before freezing. Just place in ziploc bags. Warm it up in a 425°F oven for 3 to 4 minutes to thaw and crisp before serving. When using a toaster oven for a few pieces, 400°F for a minute or two does the job as well.

Cream Filling
Adapted from Let’s Cook with Nora by Nora Daza

  • 1/3 cup sugar (you can increase to 1/2 cup if you like it really sweet)
  • 1/3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs yolks from large eggs, placed in a bowl
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a sauce pan. Blend in milk and stir until most of the lumps have dissolved. Using a whisk helps.

2. Cook in medium heat, stirring until it boils. Boil for 10 minutes then remove from heat.

3. In a separate bowl, stir half the heated mixture into the egg yolks. Mix well before adding back to the saucepan. Stir until well blended.

4. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes or until the mixture coats teh back of a spoon.

5. Cook the mixture and add vanilla.

To fill the puff shells: You can slice the puffs horizontally in half and spoon the cream into each, or you can use a pastry bag to puncture and fill each shell.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar, dip in chocolate, add fruits if you like. It’s all up to you!

For those of you who have been put off by the thought of making cream puffs because they are hard to make, don’t be! They’re not. They’re very easy to make, just take it one instruction at a time. Hands-on time for the puffs was probably 15 minutes or 20 minutes tops. You’ll be a pro in no time. :) Enjoy the recipes. Please let me know if you try them.

Posted in appetizer, baking, dairy, dessert, make-ahead, quick & easy28 Comments