Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate Pastry Cream

I had never made pastry cream in any other flavor than vanilla...I thought it must be too complicated...Was I wrong!!!
To make this pastry cream, just make a regular cream and add this case...chocolate!

Creme Patissiere au Chocolat

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
A pinch of salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbsp butter

Bring the milk to a boil.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until thick. Add the cornstarch and the salt. Mix again until well blended.

Add about half the hot milk to temper the yolks, and mix. Add the remaining milk and combine. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Bring to first boil and keep on the heat for 1 or 2 minutes. The cream should be thick. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (do not boil the water, it would cook the chocolate). When melted, let cool for a few minutes and then add to the the cream. Add the butter and mix it in until melted. Let cool completely. The custard should be smooth and silky.

If you are not going to use the cream immediately, cover with a plastic film and refrigerate.

You may may make the cream up to three days ahead. Keep refrigerated, covered with a plastic film.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pate a Choux

This is a basic recipe that you will use for the Eclairs, cream puffs or even a Cheese Gougere.

It makes about 100 puffs or 75 eclairs.

Pate a Choux

1 liter water
400 grams butter
1 pinch of salt
600 grams flour
15 to 16 eggs

In a large sauce pan, boil the water, salt and butter. When boiling, add the flour all at once and mix with a wooden spatula. Reduce the heat to medium low and keep stirring for another one or two minutes, to dry the batter a little.

Remove from the stove and set aside to cool.

When completely cooled, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. The batter will separate when you first add the egg but will come back once the egg is completely mixed in.

When all the eggs have been added, let rest for about 30 minutes.

Use according to recipe directions.

Basic baking directions:

Preheat the oven to 425.

With a pastry bag, pipe the puffs on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375and bake for an additional 7 minutes. Turn the oven off and slightly open the door, blocking it with the handle of a wooden spoon. Keep in the oven for about 5 more minutes.

When baked and cooled, fill with flavored pastry cream.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oven Roasted Chicken Legs with Lemon

My mother spent the Holidays with us and decided that one night she'll do the cooking. A simple dish of chicken legs were one of the best chicken I had ever had! Yes we do roast whole chicken with lemon and herbs regularly but this was something else entirely. It came out almost "confit", or "candied". The meat was coming off the bones and it was so tasty!
As I am allowed to share the it is!! You will love it!

Oven Roasted Chicken Legs with Lemon

Serves 6

12 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached)
2 lemons
2 tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the chicken in one or two baking dishes, close together.

Press the juice off the lemons and pour over the chicken. Then cut the lemons' skins into eights and place on the chicken, randomly. Cut the tomatoes in 1-inch pieces and place on the meat as well.

Bake for about 1 to 1 1/2 hour at 410F, turning the chicken legs after one hour.

Serve with potatoes or rice!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

I had to add a post on 1/11/11!!! Funny date! And today I will share the recipe for the soup I made last night. It was a big success! And since it was planned as just an appetizer, I had to fight Dylan who wanted seconds and thirds!
This soup is easy and fast to make...another great weekly dinner recipe! OK...I cheated, I bought the butternut squash already peeled, seeded and cut!

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 8

About 2.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 carrots
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 sticks of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 qt chicken stock
1 to 2 Tbsp ground Jamaican allspice

In a large Dutch oven (my winter favorite!), heat the oil. Add first the squash and the carrots. Saute for about 8 minutes. Add the celery and saute for another 5 minutes. Do not let the vegetables stick to the bottom. Add the apples.

Add the stock, the spices and cook, covered, for about 30 to 45 minutes, until the squash is tender. The apples will get mushy but it is ok!

When cooked, puree with an immersion blender, or a food processor. You may add more stock if too thick.
Season with salt.

Serve with a sprig of thyme or two for decoration!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Endives and Ham in a Cheese Bechamel

Happy New Year!!!
I am sort of happy the Holidays are over... We did eat too much...too rich, but it was all so good I could not resist!!!
Time to scale back and go back to healthy eating! least half healthy!
We have had roasted chicken and made soup out of the carcasses. Excellent! Worth spending the time to cook the bones down and the lemony taste was refreshing!

This recipe for Belgian Endives is quick, easy to make and not too rich...! A Bechamel is a white sauce that can be very thick and heavy, but this one is really light. I used 1% milk and made it a bit thinner than most recipes.

Endives and Ham in a Cheese Bechamel

Serves 6

12 large Belgian Endives
24 thin slices of ham (Virginia, Black Forrest, but not maple!)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups milk (aproximately)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese

First you want to blanch the endives:
Bring water to boil in a large pot. When boiling, add the endives and cook for about 5 minutes, until a bit tender.
Drain ans set aside.

Prepare the Bechamel:
In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil and butter on medium high. When the butter starts to sizzle,reduce the heat to medium low and add the flour and whisk until well blended, about 2 to 3 minutes (this is also the starter for a roux, which cooks longer and gets darker). Start adding the milk, a little at a time, whisking well to avoid lumps. As soon as it thickens, you add more milk until you have reached the desired thickness. Add the nutmeg, about 3/4 cup of cheese and season with pepper to taste.

Wrap the cooled endives in 2 slices of ham. Place in a baking dish. With a large spoon, pour the sauce over the endives. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and bake for about 45 minutes.