Cream Puffs

Today I decided to take on a new baking challenge.  Cream puffs can be difficult, but if you follow the directions carefully they are a delicious treat.  The texture is light, fluffy, sweet and creamy.  I will be seeing Jonathan tomorrow and I will try my best to save a few for him. (Yes, they are that good!  I ate four after I had finished arranging them on the plate.)

The recipe I used was from the Joy of Baking – a classic resource for all kinds of recipes.  I followed the directions and out of the oven came perfectly golden little puffs of pastry.  An added touch was a new bottle of Madagascar vanilla extract that I used for the cream filling.  The flavour was delicious!  For a garnish I chose fresh raspberries that added colour and complimented the flavour of the cream puffs perfectly.

My best tip is to watch the puffs carefully so they do not burn.  After you have turned the heat down to 350F if the puffs look golden and crisp after 20 minutes, you can turn off the oven and leave the door ajar for them to cool.  I doubled the recipe below because 12 cream puffs is not enough, especially if you love sweets and pastries!

Ingredients:

Choux Pastry:

1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) (57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup (120 ml) water

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Glaze:

1 large egg

Whipped Cream:

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste

Garnish:

Powdered (Confectioners or icing) sugar

Instructions:

Choux Pastry: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter or spray the pan with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a bowl sift or whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. (Make sure that the butter melts before the water boils to reduce the amount of evaporation.) Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or use a hand mixer, and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about a minute). Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon). Spoon or pipe 12 small mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. With a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with a lightly beaten egg. 

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Continue to bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Turn the oven off, poke a couple of holes in each puff and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells completely cool (and dry out). 

Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and whisk in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. When chilled, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form. 

To Assemble: Split the pastry shells in half and fill (or pipe) with whipped cream. Place the top half of the pastry shell on the whipped cream and dust with powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar. Leftover Cream Puffs can be stored in the refrigerator.

EPIC Veggie Burgers

My friend Emily requested a veggie burger recipe for my blog.  When I began to research the ingredients and possible recipes, I was a bit skeptical about how a veggie burger could be as epic and delicious as an old-fashioned beef burger.  Once I tasted the burger I simply had to name it the “EPIC Veggie Burger”.  You will find that it truly lives up to its name.

I love portobello mushrooms so that seemed like the logical place to start when devising this recipe. Jonathan had the wonderful idea to add cornmeal, which really gave a wonderful, crispy texture to the outside and helped make the patty stay together.  The garlic and shallot gave a beautiful subtle flavour to the rest of the ingredients.

When we took our first bite into the burgers we were extremely impressed by the provolone cheese that was perfectly melted, and not overpowering.  It was in that first bite that I realized how truly delicious a veggie burger can be.  These burgers are not just the average veggie burger, and taste nothing like the veggie burgers from the frozen aisle.  I will have to admit I have only had a veggie burger once, and this was because they were out of beef burgers at a camp barbecue.  It was rather disappointing biting into one of those frozen veggie burgers.  My sister Laura has several friends who are vegetarian and has been to many vegetarian restaurants in Guelph, Ontario.  She assured me these burgers are even better than the burgers she’s had at these places!

For the topping we decided on fresh tomato slices and tzatziki.  Jonathan wanted to make his burger a ‘hypocrite’ burger and add bacon on top, but I wouldn’t let him. (Though, maybe we’ll make tempeh bacon to go with these next time!)  This recipe is going into a folder marked “favourites.”  I am positive Jonathan and I will be making these again soon!

Ingredients:

6 Portobello mushrooms, sliced into quarter inch pieces

1 small can white mushrooms chopped

2 cup shredded provolone cheese

3 eggs

1 cup cornmeal

¼ cup rice flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 small shallot finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ciabatta baguette

1 large tomato, sliced for the top of burgers

Tzatziki, your favourite recipe or store bought

Instructions:

1.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until evenly combined.  The ingredients should come together so you can form patties with your hands.  Makes approximately 8 patties.

2.  Add a generous amount of canola or olive oil to a fry pan at medium heat. (It’s important to use a generous amount to ensure that a crispy ‘crust’ forms) Add patties and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. It was raining here today, but you could also pop them on the barbecue for a few minutes after frying them to add grill marks and barbecue flavour.

3.  Place on sliced ciabatta baguette and top with tzatziki and sliced tomatoes.

4.  Enjoy!

Shish Kabobs, Civic Holiday Weekend and Kayaking

Jonathan and I have been busy cooking, swimming and kayaking.  So I haven’t had time to bake any new delicious creations.  I promise to make time for a loaf cake, cupcake or muffin recipe soon.

Last weekend was a Civic holiday in Ontario, so it was a three day weekend.  My parents, Sarah, Jonathan and I were at the cottage enjoying wonderful weather.  Mom made delicious shish kabobs on the barbecue.  Kabobs are an easy meal to prepare and taste delicious.  All you need is: one sliced red onion, one red pepper, one yellow pepper, diced chicken breast, shish kabob sticks, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsalmic vinegar.  First, start by marinating the diced chicken breast in olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Dice your red onion and red and yellow peppers.  Assemble on the shish kabob sticks alternating.  Place on barbecue until cooked fully.  Enjoy with either: rice, warmed pitas, naan, a green salad or combination of a few of those options.  Another important step is to soak the shish kabob sticks in water for about ten minutes so they don’t burn on the barbecue.

The Civic holiday weekend was the end of my parents week of vacation and they seemed a little sad that it was over.  However, they enjoyed the coming and going of cottage neighbours, neighbours from home and their lovely daughters.  Our neighbours from home came up to the cottage and Roger caught a 3.5 pound pickerel, which was fried up on the stove top.  It was a tasty and fresh treat.

I taught Jonathan how to kayak at the cottage.  He seemed to be a natural at it.  I tried to put both of us in the kayak at the same time, but that ended in disaster – resulting in us being tipped in the lake.  At the very least, Jonathan learned how to safely exit a kayak in open water.  Hopefully being tipped into the lake won’t discourage Jonathan from continuing to enjoy the kayak.  Two separate kayaks would have been a better idea.  I think Jonathan is warming up to the kayak, we aren’t ready for a week in Algonquin Park or anything, but maybe some day.

Beau is always on his best behavior at the cottage because he does not want to be left behind.  Here is a picture of him standing beside Jonathan’s new water shoes.  (Yes, Jonathan is starting quite the collection of cottage gear.)