This Week’s Baking Project was Gougeres – a cheesy version of Pate Choux. In this version the Pate Choux is made with Fat Free Milk instead of water and there is also the addition of Cheese. I used Gruyere but Parmesan or other types of semi-hard or hard cheeses can be used. This Project was fun and seemed to have been participated in by more members than any of the others. At least there certainly was a lot of feedback and posting of photos. Not only was this one fun but it was relatively simple and took very little time as compared to the first few projects that we did, especially the Lemon Chiffon Cake (which I loved). The recipe for the Gougeres is posted in the recipe section of this blog but it came from the book “Tartine” which was named after the Restaurant of the same name.
For anyone who has not made Pate Choux before or even for those of us who have, it is always fun to see the marvel of the Choux Dough Puff Up and form these marvelous pockets which can be filled with anything from an Appetizer, to a Main Course or Dessert. I used mine for Sunday Morning Breakfast with Herb and Tomato Scrambled Eggs along with a Fruit Salad dressed with Fresh Basil and Sweet Mint.
Below are the preparation photos:
The Recipe calls for 1 cup Skim (Fat Free) Milk – I had only 2% so used half milk and 1/2 water. I may have gotten better height in the Puffs if I had only used water.
The Milk or Water (whichever you use) is brought to a boil along with the Butter over medium heat. Then the Flour is added all at one time and vigorously beaten until the mixture all comes together. At this time, the mixture is then placed in a Standing Mixer Bowl and the Eggs are added one at a time. If you don’t have a mixer, this can be done by hand with a wooden spoon, but it will take some energy to do so because the Eggs need to be thoroughly beaten into the Dough.
You can also use a Food Processor, but I have found when making Pate Choux n the Food Processor that you usually end up using 1 less Egg than called for. This is because the speed of the Processor is so fast that the ingredients get incorporated more thoroughly and at a faster speed.
Once all the Eggs have been incorporated then you add the Cheese, Chopped Herbs and Pepper. Beat these items in by hand with a wooden spoon.
Next you can form the Gougeres on a lightly greased (I don’t usually grease the pan because there is plenty of butter in the dough but the recipe in mention does say to do so. You can also line the pan with baking parchment or use a Silicon Baking Sheet, which is my preference.
The Puffs are baked at 350 degrees for at least 25 minutes but if you want a darker and crisper puff 45 minutes is recommended. (The older recipes call for a 400 degree oven but they do seem to rise alright at 350 degrees.
If you make the small size they can be eaten warm as Appetizers or accompaniment to Soup or Salad. If you make the larger ones, the tops can be cut off and they can be filled with a creamed mixture or scrambled Eggs as I did. I made Soft Scrambled Eggs using the double boiler and added diced Tomatoes, Baby Spinach and Cilantro just before the Eggs were done. Serve with Bacon or Sausage and a fresh Fruit Salad.
Below are the Members Photos.
May 10th is ‘National Shrimp Day’. Shrimp are absolutely one of my favorite seafood in any form or style. Below are a few recipes for you to try – one or all. Enjoy preparing them and then enjoy eating them.
Grilled Shrimp – marinated in Garlic, Basil, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil. These shrimp are delicious as an appetizer, main dish or in a salad. Good for any time, not just National Shrimp Day.
Coconut Fried Shrimp – great for a Backyard Luau or any Summer/Spring Meal. Served with an Orange-Lime Sauce.
Shrimp Fritters – a delicious and different way to eat Shrimp. For those of us who love Shrimp and who Fritters, this is the perfect dish. Shrimp Fritters can be served as an appetizer with Cocktail Sauce or as a main dish with a salad and or vegetable.
Update to Homemade Ricotta – In July and September I posted Blogs about making your own Ricotta Cheese. The first batch that was made used Lemon Juice to curdle it. The second batch I tried using Rennet Tables but that did not work so well, so here I am back using the Lemon Juice which works great! This batch of Ricotta like the first batch made was very delicious and on a par (if not better) than the expensive brand I usually buy. When I buy Ricotta I buy a whole milk product which has much more flavor and body than the lower fat one. I usually pay between $5 & $6 for it. The batch I made at home this time, cost:
Milk – $2.99
Cream – 75 cents
Lemon Juice – free (the lemons were given to me – if you have to purchase the lemons you will need 1-2 lemons depending on the size – also the price will vary from store to store and from State to State.
Cheese Cloth – about $2.00 worth (but I was able to wash it and will be able to reuse it again)
So, my fresh batch of Ricotta which tasted delicious and was made right in my own kitchen cost me about $4.00 to make, not counting the gas and the hot water for washing the pot. Maybe it was as much as I pay for the finished product but it was well worth it as it is delicious. For the directions for making the Ricotta, please visit Adventures in Cheese Making
Now, what did I do with this batch of Ricotta. I made Cannelloni for dinner tonight and was able to freeze half of them for another meal. If you have four or more eating dinner, the whole recipe will be sufficient for 4- 6 people, depending on appetites. If teenage boys are involved, then you will have dinner only for four. If like us, there are only 2 people at the meal, then you will have at least 2 meals out of it and maybe more.
While the Ricotta was draining I made the Crepe Batter for the Cannelloni Shells and then refrigerated it. Crepe batter needs to rest for at least one hour after being made. For the recipe see Crepe Batter
While the Crepe Batter was resting, I started the Meat Sauce that was to go over the top of the filled shells. Next, I shredded the Mozzarella Cheese that was to go over the Meat Sauce. If you need a recipe for the Meat Sauce you can just use my Fresh Tomato Sauce but start out by sauteing a pound of ground beef, chicken or veal before you add the other ingredients. Or you can use only Tomato Sauce.
After the Crepes are made and the Sauce is simmering, prepare your Ricotta Cheese by adding an Egg, some freshly shredded Parmesan, Basil and about 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper or whatever your taste buds decree. The Basil that I added was actually a combo of minced Basil and Garlic in Olive Oil.
Set the Crepe Shells out on a flat surface and place 2-3 Tablespoons of the Ricotta filling on each Crepe (depending on the size of the Crepe). Fold in the sides and then the top and bottom.
Place each filled and rolled Crepe in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled with Olive Oil. Place them close together. When all the shells are filled, wrapped and placed in the baking dish top with the Sauce and some shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot and the Mozzarella Cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with a mixed Green Salad and fresh Italian Bread, if so desired.
This dish will serve from 4-6 people, depending on appetites. We had enough leftover for a second meal and half the Manicotti went in the freezer for a third meal. Of course, we are only two people and so we are lucky enough to have more than one meal out of this dish.
Baking is one of my favorite Kitchen Activities and I especially love making bread and the Winter Months are the ideal time to do it. Not only will the result be a delicious product but your kitchen and your home will be warm with the fresh fragrance of baking bread and the communal warmth your family will feel when sitting down to the table and enjoying freshly buttered bread with their meals.
I love to watch the dough raise up and the smell of freshly baking bread is indeed heavenly. When a fresh loaf comes out of the oven your taste buds perk up and your mouth waters for a slice of that hot, buttered bread!
One of my favorite type of breads is Ciabatta. Ciabatta is Italy’s answer to the French Baguette. It was created in 1982 to stop the influx of French Baguettes into Italy. The Bakers there were afraid that the use of the Baguette would hurt there business. Ciabatta is a crusty bread with a chewy inside texture. It is fairly simple to make, although it does take a little bit of time but if you do spend the time, the dough is so nice and easy to work with it is actually fun, not work to make this bread. And when you eat it with melting butter it is so good you can practically swoon over it.
So let’s go through the actual steps of making Ciabatta (the complete recipe is at Recipe for Ciabatta
- You have to make a starter that is called a Poolish. The best time to do this is the night before you plan to make the bread as it has to proof for at least 10 hours.
- Once the Poolish is proofed, add the Olive Oil and mix it in with a Dough Spatula, if you have one; if not, then use the next best tool that you have – perhaps a Wooden Spoon.
Then you add the remaining ingredients and knead the Dough; a standing Electric Mixer fitted with the Dough Hook is the best to go but if you do not have one, then just make use of your Elbow Grease and knead the dough by hand.
Finish making the Dough and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
Next comes the fun – stretching and folding the Dough to develop the gluten. This is a four step process, although you can shorten the process by eliminating any of the subsequent stretching and folding turns. (If you do this, your bread won’t have the true Ciabatta texture – somewhat like the texture of sour dough but without the sour taste) I figure that if you are going to make the Ciabatta and if you have the time, it is well worth it to go through the whole process and not eliminate any of the stretching turns)
A – Flattened Dough before Stretching
B – Bottom and Top Folds (fold from the side closest to you)
C – Sideways Folds – fold from the right side to the middle and then from the left side over the right side fold
D – Complete fold – cover and let rest 20 minutes before flattening and folding again
Once the stretching process is finished, then you allow the dough to rest for another 50 minutes before placing it on your baking sheet for baking. The Dough can be made into a loaf or cut into rolls – whatever you do, unlike most yeast breads, do not flatten the dough – just gently transfer it to your greased and floured (use cornmeal or Semolina on the pans) baking sheets.
In the photo below left, the loaf is on a Pizza Paddle and below right, the loaf is on a Baking Stone.
The traditional way to bake Ciabatta is to place it on a greased and floured pan and bake it in the middle of the oven with a pan of water on the rack under. The steaming water helps to give the bread its chewy crust. The Baking Stone is an alternative way to bake the bread. It still comes with a nice crusty exterior.
The other day my husband said “you know what you haven’t made in a long time and I would like to have”. No, what? “Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast’. Now, quite honestly, I have never ever made this particular dish for him. However, I did make it once or twice for my sons’ Father. Well, I don’t like it now and I didn’t like it then. But I do know where their desire for this dish came in. This is one of the few dishes that they both remembered from their Navy days. Why, I don’t know.
So, I told my husband that I would make it for him for dinner the next night. “Dry Chipped Beef” anyone? I don’t think it exists anymore except maybe in ‘camping stores’. I went to three markets and no one had anything close. Then, I figured that if I am going to make this dish, I would make as close to a Gourmet Version as possible. So I purchased some Rare Roast Beef from the deli and went home and made Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast for dinner.
I sautéed some diced Onion and Celery and some sliced Mushrooms in a combination of Olive Oil and Butter.
While the vegetables were cooking, I cut up the Beef into small pieces. Once the Vegetables were done, I added 3 Tablespoons of Flour to the pan and stirred it all around until the Flour had absorbed the Fat and coated the Vegetables. Next I added 1 ½ cups of Milk and Half & Half and stirred and cooked until a thick Sauce (Béchamel) had formed.
Next I added 1 cup of Petit Pois (baby peas) and the Beef. I seasoned this mixture with my ‘Basil Salt’ and White Pepper. I kept this mixture on low heat while we made the toast and put together a salad.
Since I had just made a ‘Country French Bread’ the day before we decided to use it for the toast. This was dinner, one of my least favorite ones, but Ev loved as did Arnold before him. I did tell him though that he would have to wait a long time before I made it again – at least one year. I can’t think of anything that I would like to eat less.
The Roast Beef would have been so much better as a sandwich with olive spread, mustard, mayo and tomatoes! Actually I did save a few pieces and that is what I will have for lunch tomorrow while Ev eats the leftover Creamed Beef!
Stir Fry is one of my favorite dishes to cook and to eat. You can literally clean out your refrigerator and almost always come up with enough items to make a delicious Stir Fry Dinner. Beef, Pork Chicken or Fish or even Tofu will serve as the Protein. Vegetables such as Cabbage, Celery, Carrots, Onion, Spinach or Broccoli will complement your protein items. Asian Condiments such as Soy Sauce, Bean Sauce, Hoison Sauce and even Oyster Sauce will add the flavor enhancements. A Stir Fry Dish can be served with either Rice or Noodles.
The Noodles that I prefer with Asian Stir Fry are Rice Noodles which only need to be cooked or soaked for a short time. (This will depend on the manufacturer and the directions on the package they come in)
This particular night we had decided that we wanted Stir Fry Shrimp. While I had the Shrimp in the freezer I did have to go out and purchase a few of the Vegetable items for the Stir Fry. The Vegetables that I did have on hand were:
Broccoli Stalks – I love the crunchiness of the stalks – peel the stalks and then slice thinly.
Green Cabbage –
Orange Carrots – Carrots can be had in a variety of colors these days – Red, Yellow, White or even Purple.
Garlic – an absolute necessity when it comes to Stir Fry
Eight Ball Zuchinni – an interesting shape – this is a round zuchinni just about the size of a pool table ball ‘8’ ball.
Ginger Root – adds amazing flavor – a little zing! Cut off the amount you need (usually a piece about the size of a quarter) and peel. This can be done with a teaspoon as the skin has a contrasting texture to the Ginger itself. Then mince before using.
Maitaki Mushrooms – these are also known as Beech Mushrooms which also come in a white variety. They grow together in a cluster which you can cut apart at the base leaving tiny mushrooms on a slender stem.
The Vegetables that I purchased for this dish were:
Bean Sprouts – I usually use Mung Bean Sprouts – just add them at the very end – these also need very little or no cooking
Chinese Pea Pods – wash and remove the strings – they need very little or no cooking
You will want to marinate whatever Meat you are using in your Stir Fry; Shrimp or any other Seafood should not be marinated for more than about 20 minutes. Chicken, Beef Pork or Lam on the other hand can be marinated for several hours or even overnight. For our Stir Fry this night I did use Shrimp. For the Marinade I used:
Hoison Sauce – 1-2 Tbsps.
Black Bean Sauce – 1- 2 Tbsps.
Fish Sauce – 1 Tbsp.
Peanut Oil – 2 Tbsps.
To make your Stir Fry start with the Onion; sauté in a wok or large sauté pan just to soften and then add the Garlic. Next add the Vegetables that would need the most cooking, starting with the Cabbage and then the Carrots and lastly the Zuchinni which needs very little cooking.
Once these Vegetable are almost done (about 2-3 minutes) remove them to a covered dish and then Stir Fry the Shrimp. Stir Fry the Shrimp in the same vessel as the Vegetables were cooked in – Shrimp should take 3-4 minutes to cook. Add the Noodles (if the Noodles have stuck together, just rinse them with some warm water) and combine with the Shrimp Mixture.
Once the Noodles have warmed and been coated with the Sauce, add the cooked Vegetables along with the Pea Pods, Bean Sprouts and the Bell Pepper.
Once everything is combined and hot serve immediately. This is a great one-dish meal or can be served as a second course after a soup or salad starter.
Just about one year ago, I blogged about our Food Odyssey on the Hawaiian Island of Lanai. This year we spent our tropical vacation on Maui and did eat some very good food so I am going to talk about it here and display some photographs. Maybe even give some recipes. Hope you will enjoy this tropical respite.
Since we live on the west coast of the United States during the Daylight Savings time we are 3 hours ahead of Hawaiian time or Pacific Standard Time. Our plane left Los Angeles at approximately 8:30 PDT and arrived in Maui at 10:30. Even though we had eaten at the Airport and had some snacks on board, my husband was still up for breakfast. We stopped at the Azeka Plaza and ate our Sunday Brunch at Amigos Mexican Restaurant. Ev had the Banana/Macadamia Nut Pancakes (definitely Hawaiian style) and I had the Shrimp Ceviche. Ceviche is very similar to the Hawaiian Poke (a marinated fish dish) so I really was right in keeping with the tropical food theme. The pancakes huge which made me glad that I didn’t order them because I would only have been able to eat about half. The Avocado Shrimp Ceviche was perfect for me.
After eating we went to our Condo Complex and checked in. Fortunately, even though we were early our unit was ready for us. We had a fantastic garden and ocean view with palm trees waving and two fountains operating. After unpacking and resting a while, we went out to pick up some food essentials for our stay here. Before shopping, we decided to eat dinner and ended up in a small place called King’s Chinese Barbecue. We had delicious Roasted Duck and Vegetable Chow Mein. The seating was outdoors and was right across the street from the beach, so again we had the ocean view and the palm trees waving, even though there were cars driving down the street in front of us.
We purchased Blueberry Muffins, Hawaiian Vanilla/Macadamia Nut Coffee, Half & Half, Turbinado Sugar (grown and processed on Maui) and a few other things such as juice and soft drinks.
The next day after a Breakfast of Cornflakes and Coffee we went to the Kealia Ponds which have been designated as a bird refuge. One of our major hobbies is ‘birding’ and when in the tropics (or any vacation for that matter) we try and see as many birds as possible. The last time were here, the ponds were half dry, but this time they were quite full. As a result, we saw many more birds this time than we did last time. After our birding venture we drove up to a Tropical Plantation that we like to visit when we are here. One of the reasons we decided to go this day (Monday) because my list of Farmer’s Markets said that they had one on Monday. Wrong, when we got there the sign said Tuesday. No loss though, because we did get to see more birds as there are plenty of ponds in this venue as well as beautiful tropical plantings. They also had a store where we could purchase tropical food items. One of the things which I bought was a bag of Pineapple/Coconut Caramel Corn – this was very yummy!
On the way back from the Tropical Plantation we stopped at an ‘Open-Air Market’ on Kihei Road and purchased some fresh Tropical Fruit which included Papaya, Maui Gold Pineapple, Apple Bananas, Baby Jicama and a lime which was almost pink in the middle. Our next stop this morning was the Market again where we purchased ready-made sandwiches (one thing we noticed this visit is that all the Markets and ABC Stores and Whalers Stores have a very nice Deli Counter and you can get almost anything for any meal. Competition I’m sure the restaurants don’t like) In addition to the sandwiches we purchased Cornflakes which managed to last us most of the 11 days that we were there.
For dinner we went to the Five Palms Restaurant which was just down the street from our Condo. Not only was the food delicious but the view was fantastic. In addition to the foregoing they also have a very good ‘Happy Hour’ that lasts from 3PM until 7PM. We got there about 5 PM and since it was so busy and the patio was full we were seated inside and had great comfortable seating and a great view.
We ordered California Roll, Coconut Fried Shrimp and Chicken/Lettuce Wraps along with Beverages. Not necessarily Hawaiian Food except for the Shrimp but nonetheless very good.
The next day for Breakfast we each had a half of a Papaya filled with cubed Pineapple and sliced Bananas sprinkled with a little Turbinado Sugar and sweet Lime Juice as well as Hawaiian Coffee.
To make the Fruity Breakfast simply slice a ‘ripe’ Papaya in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds (a delicious Salad Dressing – popular in Hawaii can be made from the seeds), squeeze a little lime on the fruit and then fill with fruit of your choice such as sliced Bananas and Pineapples or whatever your preference is.
Check back for more on our Maui Food Adventures.
December is National Fruit Cake Month and I am going to start if off by soaking my fruit for our Annual Fruitcake, something my husband loves. All the years of my Childhood and into Adulthood, my Mother made Fruitcakes every single year. She made enough so that my Father could take some to his Co-Workers and we still had more than enough for our consumption. I have actually never been a great fan of Fruitcake, but like Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, I still make Fruitcake and I still do eat it. So here goes. My Fruit Cake Making Saga!
Day One – Sunday December 1st – gather together all the Fruit that I am going to use and cut up what needs cutting – place them all together in a large bowl and pour some Wine over them. Brandy is the usual Liqueur to use but I have Marsala Wine and think I will use that. Strike that – went to the Beverage Store and purchased Gran Marnier – Brandy but Orange flavored and not too strong. For Non-Alcoholic Fruit Cake, try using Orange Juice or Sparkling Apple Cider. Both work quite well! I added just enough Gran Marnier to moisten the Fruit and then covered the Bowl and let it sit overnight.
Day 2 – I prepared the Batter and baked the Cakes.
Make sure the Fruit is in a LARGE BOWL so that you have enough room to incorporate the Batter into the Fruit. Before preparing the Batter, prepare the pans. Cut parchment paper or waxed paper to fit the bottoms of the pans. Spray the bottoms of the pans with a Vegetable Spray and then insert the prepared paper.
Next prepare the Batter and add it to the Fruit.
Once all the Batter is evenly mixed with the Fruit and the Fruit is evenly distributed throughout the Batter fill the pans about 3/4 full. As you can see from the Photo I used loaf pans. One 10″ TUBE PAN can be used instead.
Bake in a slow oven for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool on wire racks; be sure the cakes are completely cool before removing from the pan. Turn the pans over and the cakes should come right out. If the don’t, gently loosen with a straight-edged spatula and then try again.
Wrap the Cakes tightly in plastic wrap and allow to age for several days or weeks before serving. If liquer on the cakes is desired, place the each cake on a large piece of cheesecloth placed on plastic wrap. Lightly douse with Gran Marnier, Brandy or Rum. Wrap tightly with the Cheesecloth and then the plastic wrap. Finally wrap the whole thing in Aluminum Foil.
If desired, more Liquer can occasionally be added through the Cheesecloth. JUST REMEMBER, THE MORE YOU ADD, THE STRONGER TASTING THE CAKES WILL BE. HOWEVER, THE LIQUER DOES KEEP THE CAKE MOIST AND ALLOW IT TO LAST AND TASTE GOOD THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS.
For the complete recipe go to /holiday-fruit-cake/
The second Friday in October is ‘World Egg Day’. This is certainly fitting, because Eggs are probably the one major food that is consumed by people all over this planet. The majority of Eggs consumed are Chicken Eggs, but Duck Eggs are very popular in China and the South Eastern Asian Countries. The photo below was taken at an outdoor market in Thailand.
Also popular in Asia are un-hatched Eggs. As kids we used to love them in Chicken Soup but health laws forbid the sale of them here in the States, at least in California.
Quail Eggs are used in Gourmet Cooking, more for looks and ‘Eye Appeal’ than for nutrition as they are so small. In the picture below Quail Eggs were baked in Mini- Pate Choux Cups (Cream Puff Shells) by the Teen and Pre/Teen students in our Summer ‘Basics Culinary Camp’ at Let’s Get Cookin’ in Westlake Village, CA.
Turkey Eggs are probably consumed too as well as Ostrich Eggs which definitely top off the list of ‘large’ Eggs. One Ostrich Egg would probably feed a dozen people, if not more. Since this is World Egg Day, there will follow a short list of Egg Dishes consumed Globally by people all over the world. By far, the most popular use for Eggs is for Breakfast, but Eggs are one of those foods that can be consumed for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. The Egg is probably my all-around most favorite food. I can eat it any time of the day.
Brazilian Omelet -this Omelet is made with Cream Cheese, Bacon, Pineapple and Avocado. Different, but tasty. The Brazilian Omelet is good for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner.
Denver Omelet (USA) – made with Bell Pepper, Ham and Cheese. A popular Southwestern Dish.
Egg Foo Young (Chinese) – a popular dish in Chinese Restaurants – made with Vegetables, Bean Sprouts, and occasionally Shrimp. Sometimes served with a Brown Sauce.
French Omelet – usually folded in half and somewhat moist inside.
Frittata (Italian) – started in the pan and finished in the oven – the amount of ingredients in the Frittata make it difficult to turn so the top side is baked or broiled.
Thai Omelet – similar to Egg Foo Young – contains Vegetables and sometimes meat – fried in oil in a Wok or pan. Results in a thin, crispy, tasty omelet.
Salami Eggs (Jewish Deli Food) – salami cooked into the Omelet
Salami Eggs Cooking
Tortilla (Spanish Omelet)– in Spain, the Omelet is called a Tortilla – usually cooked with sliced Potatoes in it – the American version with Tomatoes and Peppers is not really a Spanish Omelet. The Spanish Explorers probably named the Flat Bread ‘Tortilla’ because it looked like a Spanish Omelet.
Whichever way you enjoy your Eggs or whatever kind of Eggs you like, do indulge. Eggs are a healthy food, which contain the best complete protein. Even though the yolks may contain cholesterol, they also contain lecithin which helps to reduce cholesterol.
Lastly, don’t forget that Eggs are essential in most baked goods. For more info about Eggs see ‘The Versatility of Eggs’ under Archives June 2013.