Monday, March 26, 2012

Torched (Or Tortured) Lemon Curd Parfaits

Pic from Mustard's Site

It started out as a desire to make a Mustard's Grill style lemon meringue pie.

A chef friend had brought it to a gathering late one night after his shift (apparently and luckily for all of us, the meringue didn't quite reach the advertised "ridiculously tall" mark and was deemed unservable.) What appeared to be a simple pie, was actually an epiphany.

Without having prior knowledge of the pie's reputation, (when we lived in Napa Valley, we were dirt poor so no Mustard's Grill dining for us...but I can promise in the next few months I will report back on the full experience.) I immediately knew this wasn't my mama's meringue.  It tasted faintly caramelized and I knew it was made with brown sugar (confirmed by said chef friend).

A whole new complexity in the pie component I had grown up not really even liking (maybe because my Texas family called it "calf slobber" for some unkown reason), made me decide I had to make it.

Mike's the Tall one!
I decided to debut it during a dinner we were hosting to say a belated thank you to our friend Mike who had helped us with this awesome Sonoma event.

Not understanding the science involved in making a brown sugar meringue and also wanting to make the crust Gluten Free I had unknowingly placed two challenges between me and my pie.

The lemon curd was a no brainer.  I have a crazy producing lemon tree so plenty of Meyer lemons for that and with the lemon curd instructions in step 4 of this recipe it's super easy.

I used a shortbread crust recipe that I immediately knew upon removing from the oven wasn't going to be what I wanted.  It looked more like a big cookie since the middle puffed up and the sides melted down (and I even baked it straight out of the freezer!)  So I knew adding a 1" layer of lemon curd was just asking for trouble.  I did discover a great shortbread cookie recipe, I think.  I'll try it again later using as that instead of a crust and let you know!

Now for the meringue...who knew that you have to be a molecular scientist to do this deed!  I Googled brown sugar Italian meringue since I felt the texture was more that style than a traditional meringue and found this, the equivalent to a "white paper" for making meringue  Being more intimidated than ever, I decided to simply use an Italian meringue recipe I had used before and substitute brown sugar.  Realizing I wished I had that science background, I had a very enjoyable nougat going, but it was too heavy and grainy for the top of a delicate lemon curd.  (But hey, come to think of it maybe I'll try that again, too, adding some almonds and pistachios for a true French nougat.) Saving that for a snack later, I was back at square one.

Cut to 5:30pm with Mike due in an hour, I had to figure this thing out and Stat!  Lacking the lab coat and candy thermometer necessary for the brown sugar version, I simply made the  meringue from this recipe with organic sugar. The shortbread "crust" became a crumble when blended with almond flour and thankfully my lemon curd set up beautifully.  Layered into ramekins and torched (or tortured as my youngest son still calls it.), it was just as delicious though not as "ridiculous".

I'm still wanting THIS pie though! Mustard's here I come! sum all this up into one long recipe (as a consolation for the length, some make-ahead tips:  Shortbread and curd can be made a day or two in advance. Parfaits can be assembled in ramekins early in the day then torch (or torture) just before serving either with a real-live-go-to-the-hardware store blow torch or place briefly under broiler.)

Torched Lemon Curd Parfaits
Make each component then layer Lemon Curd and Shortbread Crumble in eight 6-oz ramekins.  Meringue on top only.

Shortbread Crust turned Crumble:  

1 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (I use 1/2 cup each rice flour, tapioca starch and cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tbsp potato flour)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp butter, cut into pieces and very cold
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup almond flour

Lightly spray removable bottom tart pan(s) with gluten-free, nonstick cooking spray.

Put the sweet rice flour blend, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times to combine. Add the vanilla and butter pieces and pulse until the dough just starts to come together and form clumps. The dough will still be very crumbly -- gather some in your hand and squeeze it -- it should hold its shape when you open your hand.

Press the dough into prepared pan(s) evenly on the bottom and up the sides. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup to help even out the bottom. Prick the bottom and sides of the dough all over with a fork to keep the dough from puffing too much while baking. Place the crust into the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the chilled tart crust for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the crust is golden brown. Let the crust(s) cool completely in the tart pan(s) before filling. (Only here is where I had to detour...I broke off half after it cooled and ran it in the food processor with the almond flour.)

The shortbread crust can be baked a day ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. 

Lemon Curd:
4 extra-large eggs
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup Meyer lemon juice
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Pinch of kosher salt

Whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, and lemon juice together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, alternating between a whisk and rubber spatula (see note above), until the lemon curd has thickened to the consistency of pastry cream and coats the back of the spatula.

Remove the lemon curd from the heat. Add the butter a little at a time, stirring to incorporate completely. Season with the salt. Let the curd cool about 8 minutes, and then strain it into a small bowl or jam jar and cover with plastic wrap or into a pre-baked shell if making a pie or tart.

1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 large eggs)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch fine salt
Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a standing mixer's bowl above the water.

Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch (135 degrees F) and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the whites at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to high and continue to beat to make a stiff, cool meringue, about 10 minutes. Spoon or pipe on top of the curd.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Asparagus is here!!!

Today's Box:
  • Murcott Tangerines
  • Yellow carrots
  • Leeks
  • Spring Onions (Hard to see but behind asparagus)
  • Cilantro
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
I also had left from last week:
  • Arugula
  • More cauliflower (never used what I had from last week)
  • Celery
 I love asparagus season because  I love asparagus.  And I always feel like I'm cheating on my farm if I buy it any other time, plus I can't stand the fact that it's been shipped in from South America.  So with great discipline I wait it out (except for a two small slip-ups when it was dirt-cheap at 99 cents a pound.  I'm sorry Riverdog!! I felt like a cheater the whole time!  And it wasn't as good!)

So I can finally eat it guilt-free.  This batch is smaller than pencil thin and will probably be sauteed for less than a minute with some garlic, spring onions and lemon then tossed with pasta.  The bigger spears when they arrive get a little more love in the form of piggy goodness...but with the first spears, I'll go lighter.

So here's what I'm planning for this week:
  1. Roasted Whole Chicken with Arugula and Bacon Salad
  2. Asian Salad (Use the Peanut Slaw recipe in this post)  - Shredded Cabbage, cilantro, spring onions,  shredded (leftover) chicken and peanut dressing
  3. Leek and Potato Soup with Cheese and Spring onion garnish 
  4. Veggie or Chicken Pad Thai: More cabbage and spring onions (Not authentic but this recipe is basically a Pad Thai recipe that our local Asian store gave me then I add whatever greens I have to amp up the nutritional value...this time, shredded cabbage. Skip the ginger if you don't have it.)
  5. Asparagus, Leek and Lemon Pasta - Simpy sauteed leek and sliced asparagus tossed with hot linguine or spaghetti, olive oil, lemon zest and juice.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parmesan.
  6. Grass-fed Burgers with Caramelized Leeks - Make your favorite burger recipe and top with leeks that have been caramelized with butter and white wine.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Greens & Leeks - This Week's Menus

I've been pondering it for awhile, but it's time.  From now on, you can count on Thursday being Menu day.  I'll list what's in my veggie box and then what I plan to do with all of it.  Sometimes (actually most of the time) this will include other veggies I've picked up along the way since we tend to plow through the box contents pretty quickly.

If you live in the Midwest or North, you may have to print this and start a notebook to have menus for next month.  In California, due to our more temperate climate, we generally have seasonal veggies a little earlier.  Those in the deep South such as Texas and East may find that we are a little behind your season.  Regardless, my site has recipes for all seasons, so you can always do a search for whatever you have on hand. (Look midway down on the right column for the Custom Google search box.)

This week's veggies (unless otherwise noted these are in my veggie box):
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Leeks
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Turnips
  • Tomatillos (picked up on deep sale)
  • Cilantro (picked up on deep sale)
  • Jalapenos (picked up on deep sale)
Since carrots, oranges and tangerines go straight into school lunches, it doesn't leave me much to work with for a full week of menus so it's going to be a challenge.  I may end up supplementing with whatever I find on sale this week at the supermarket since Farmer's Markets are not open yet.
Here's what I've got so far (in no particular day order):
  1. Smoky Chicken Soup (Avocados are on sale for 2/$1 and I have frozen corn.)
  2. Grilled Steelhead Trout with Roasted German Butterball Potatoes and Garlic Sauteed Arugula.
  3. Cream of Cauliflower Soup (I will probably add in the turnips with this.) with Fried Leeks -Slice well-cleaned leeks and fry in 1/2" of light olive oil.
  4. Spinach and Bacon Salad with Grilled Chicken
  5. Reuben Sandwiches and Buttered Potatoes (for St. Patty's Day)
  6. Chilaquiles (Tortilla strips with tomatillo sauce and cheese.)
Enjoy and please let me know what you come up with for your seasonal veggies each week.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cocoa Date Truffles

I've been promising for days.  Cocoa Date Truffles. I finally got around to it and could kick myself for waiting so long.

They are so ridiculously good.

My sister was telling me about a friend making cocoa date truffles for a girls' night and how awesome they were.  I've been doing this cleanse off and on for weeks now and rather than eating sugar, I've been trying to eat fruit or drink tea.  Dates are one of those things that most people love in this situation but since I don't have much of sweet tooth, they are too sweet and have no complexity so I don't like them.  That left me with a pound of them in my cabinet.

I'm venturing to say that by the end of this week, that whole pound will have been transformed into these truffles.

The one thing that my sister said that I adhered to is that her friend added extra cocoa powder, so when I looked for recipes, a lot of cocoa powder was my main criteria.  Then I also didn't want to buy anything to make them.  I found this recipe and as usual did my own thing with it.

The result was a dark chocolatey flavor with a tropical undertone from coconut oil and shredded coconut.  It reminded me of a more virtuous Almond Joy.  (My still favorite candy bar.)

Coconut Rolled Truffle - My favorite!
With no sweetener other than a couple of tablespoons of agave nectar, I feel great about my kids having them for snacks. For my cleanse, they are a great afternoon pick-me-up since I've been avoiding coffee in the afternoons.

CWYG Items

The List Items - coconut, cocoa powder, almonds, dates and coconut oil (last two are not on the list, but should be and I will add them soon.)

Cocoa Almond "Truffles"
12 dates (soak in boiling water for 30 minutes)
2/3 cup whole almonds (I used roasted and sea-salted almonds since I like a little salt in my sweets)
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil or softened butter
2 tbsp agave nectar
chopped almonds, shredded coconut, cocoa powder for dusting

Place soaked dates (reserve soaking liquid), almonds, coconut, cocoa powder, coconut oil and agave nectar in a food processor and run until all the ingredients are well chopped and come together in a very thick paste.  (Add reserved date liquid if too thick to allow machine to run well if necessary.)

Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or until firm.  Scoop with a 1/2" cookie scoop or teaspoon and roll into balls.  Roll in chopped almonds, coconut or cocoa powder to finish.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Monday, March 12, 2012

Aloo Patta Gobhi - Potato and Cabbage Stir Fry

After almost 5 years of receiving my veggies in a farm box, there are still times when I think..."Really, more __________ (ubiquitous veggie of the season)?"  But eternally thankful for the opportunity to have easy access to food harvested only 45 miles away, I have learned to deal with it and find new ways to make ____________.  After getting two heads of cabbage within a 2-3 week period, I knew that the obvious coleslaw wasn't going to work more than one night and due to several rounds of the "Cabbage Soup Diet" in the 80s I can't stand cabbage in soup (especially the smell!!).

So wracking my brain to get inspiration, I picked up the newsletter that comes in our box.  It had a cabbage and potato fry recipe with several spices.  Remembering my Indian cooking lessson, I decided to find an authentic Indian recipe.  My search led me to this blog and then I added my spin to it.  I had freshly dug potatoes, so that was one ingredient down.  There were also spring onions and cilantro in my box so I made a quick herb raita to accompany the dish.  Not being a fan of carb upon carb, we didn't do rice, but you certainly could to stretch this recipe.  The blogger from whom I borrowed the recipe also adds frozen peas (which I would have totally done if I'd had them.)  And with pea season approaching, the fresh version would be even better.

Not a curry fan? Don't write this recipe off!  It uses whole spices (If you don't have them, I'll give you subs.)

CWYG Items

Seasonal Veggies - cabbage, onions, potatoes, cilantro, spring onions

The List Items - butter, bay leaves, yogurt, salt, garlic, coconut

Aloo Patta Gobhi
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced  to make 3 cups
1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes (any young potato will work, just not russets)
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsps butter (coconut or olive oil are fine, too.)
2 tsps cumin seeds (or 1 tsp ground cumin)
2 tsps brown mustard seeds (these mainly provide crunch, use a little mustard powder for the faint flavor if you want)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp turmeric (if you have curry powder and not turmeric, use it here.)
1/4 cup unsweetened and toasted coconut
sea salt and lemon juice to taste
Herb Raita, recipes follows

Heat the butter in a skillet until melted and bubbly.  Add the seeds and cook until they pop them add the onion.  Cook until it turns golden then add the fingerlings, bay leaves, turmeric and a teaspoon of salt. 

When the potatoes have begun to soften a bit, add the cabbage and another sprinkle of salt.  Stir fry until the cabbage wilts a little. 

Add the toasted coconut then squeeze a half a lemon or lime over it.  Taste and see if there is a balance in the spices, sweetness and saltiness.  If not then adjust with salt, lemon and/or spices if necessary.

Serve with the Herb Raita.

Herb Raita
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup each chopped cilantro and green onion
1 clove garlic, minced finely
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

Mix the yogurt, herbs, garlic and half of the lemon juice.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt then taste.  Add more lemon and salt to make it taste good for you.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Friday, March 9, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

 I'm raising gourmands.  The youngest is already a meat connoisseur.  Slap it on the heat until barely seared and very red on the inside and he's happy.  He's 8!  My oldest has created his own spice blend that we are bottling locally for sales to family and friends and hope to have it to a place to market regionally soon.

They know why we don't go to McDonald's and after viewing several Jamie Oliver productions and other food industry documentaries like "What's On Your Plate", they are totally good with that and in agreement about it.  They even report to me about the quality of food at school.

All this to say, it is rare for me to pick up any prepared foods from the freezer section and it makes a big impact when I do.  My meat boy noticed them right off as he looked in the freezer to see if any ice cream had appeared.  "Mom, why do we have Sweet Potato Tots?"  (The green monster was rearing its ugly head since he disdains savory foods that taste sweet.  The question he wasn't asking was "Mom, why did you buy these for you guys and nothing for me?")

I explained that we received a free coupon from Alexia foods as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program to try out one of their products.  Since my oldest was eyeballing the sweet potato tots at a local fast food place, I decided why not try Alexia's Sweet Potato Puffs instead.  They were free and the tiny order of SP tots from the fast food joint would have been $1.75 at least.  The bag from Alexia was enough for 4 reasonable servings, so even at full cost of around $3-4 they aren't a bad deal.

So to accompany the tots, I grilled some drumsticks (with my son's spice blend) and made a quick coleslaw of shredded cabbage (from veggie box), lime juice (limes from a friend's tree)and kosher salt. 

Food Note:  Lime juice and sweet potatoes are such a great combination.  The lime cuts the sweetness of the tubers and ironically brings out the earthy nature of them.  I highly encourage you to try a squeeze next time whether trying out the Alexia sweet potato products or slicing up and roasting your own.

As for my peronal opinion of the tots, for a frozen product they were reasonable.  The outside was really crispy and the inside was soft.  With the lime juice component, I did find them a bit addictive.  Without the lime juice they would have passed for dessert in my book as they do have added sugar so for that reason I'm not a huge fan.  (I'm definintely a cheese for dessert girl.) Quality wise, they are not organic and potatoes of all kinds are on my "Buy Organic Always" list so that's a bit of a negative, too. 

As for the rest of the family, my oldest son loved them as well as my Swedish husband with the unrelenting sweet-tooth. (I think Swedish is misspelled...every Swede I've met has a giant sweet-tooth.  "Sweetish" would be more approppo.) Meat boy did not like them at all, as expected, but with an extra drumstick, he was happy, too! Win-Win!

So overall, I would have to say, if I were at gunpoint and had to have a frozen potato product RIGHT NOW, I'd choose Alexia over others.  (After all, moderation is my life-message about food to my boys.)

That said, whole sweet potatoes cut into wedges with my son's spice (or simply chili powder and salt) roasted at 400 degrees until crispy will always win over any prepared product.  (And the time difference is literally 5 minutes between cutting them up and cutting open a bag.) 

Don't forget the squeeze of lime.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Monday, March 5, 2012

Grilled Steelhead Trout Tostada

Growing up in Texas, Mexican food was really our native cuisine.  I cut my teeth on Tex-Mex and that WAS Mexican food as far as I knew.  I added hot sauce and jalapenos to my food even as a preschooler.

It wasn't until my husband and I were at a resort in Mexico and happened to see the workers eating something different than was on the buffet for breakfast that we truly discovered Mexican food.  They were eating fried tortilla strips coated in a thin verde sauce and crumbly white cheese.  (Chilaquiles...I now know the name of the dish...YUM!) We asked them to make it for us and upon the first taste, our search for authentic Mexican food began.

Not having Food Network at the time, PBS was my food network.  I found Rick Bayless' shows and was hooked.  I bought one of his books.  I  found others at the library.  I read Diana Kennedy's books.  I studied it all and though I have not been back to Mexico, I have relearned what Mexican food really is.

Surprisingly, to my Tex-Mex honed tastebuds, Mexican food isn't all carbs and cheese.  There are loads of fresh fruits and veggies.  Tropical fruits, jicama, cabbage, lettuce, radishes, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, chiles.  Grilled meats and seafood abound in the coastal areas.  Just as with the US, the middle states tend more towards meat and carbs due to being landlocked which also explains the Tex-Mex phenomenon.  It started on the border which is completely landlocked.

Now in California, I've discovered Cal-Mex which is where the fish taco/burrito thing started.  And I've learned more about the importance of fish to the Catholic Lenten season.  So this is the perfect, seasonal time for this recipe.

This recipe is a nod to Cal-Mex with the white sauced cabbage on top, but the salsa is more on the Mexican side since it's cooked.

I've used Steelhead Trout because it has many of the same benefits as wild salmon, but it's a bit less expensive.  It's also a best choice (download the pocket guide for more info on all fish)for seafood.  You can use wild salmon, mahi mahi or any other "best choice" or "good alternative" firm, flaky fish.

Seasonal Items - cabbage, cilantro, garlic, onion, steelhead trout

The List Items - canned tomatoes, chipotles, corn tortillas, peanut oil, brown sugar

Grilled Salmon Tostada

1 lb steelhead trout
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp each ancho chile and cumin
1 tsp sea or kosher salt
1 tsp each smoked or regular paprika
1 can whole tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
1 chipotle chile in adobo
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 small head cabbage, shredded
1/2 yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp cumin
salt to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
8 corn tortillas
peanut oil to shallow fry

Preheat grill to high.  Remove any pinbones from salmon.  Mix sugar, spices and salt together.  Coat the salmon in the rub then grill until salmon is firm and flaky.  Remove skin and any remaining bones then flake fish.  Keep warm.

Blend tomatoes, chipotle and onion together.  Heat 1 tbsp peanut or olive oil in a pan.  With a lid ready pour part of mixture into pan and cover quickly.  Reduce heat and when spattering has subsided, add remaining mixture.  Cook for 5 minutes then turn off heat.  Add garlic, cilantro and sea salt to taste.

Toss cabbage with yogurt, cumin, lime juice and salt to taste.  Set aside to meld for a bit.

Heat 1" of peanut oil in a skillet large enough to comfortably hold at least one tortilla at a time.  With tongs shallow fry the tortillas until crisp.  Salt lightly and let drain on a paper towel.  Repeat with all 8 tortillas.

On each tostada, layer salmon, cabbage mixture and salsa.  Enjoy with a Pinot Noir, beer, or margarita!

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Friday, March 2, 2012

Roasted Shrimp with Spinach Pesto

The Cook What You've Got philosophy is second nature to me, but I always love seeing the process create a fabulous meal.

Fighting off a cold and doing taxes all day, I looked into the fridge only to find GREENS...a one-pound bag of spinach, a bunch of mature spinach, collard greens, cabbage, leeks, etc.  Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that I have fresh veggies from my local farm.  But bleary-eyed from staring at the computer all afternoon, they just didn't sound that great and it was getting to the dinner witching hour of 5:30 so I knew whatever I did had to be quick. 

Shrimp called out to me from the freezer.  A quick run under warm water and slipping off their shells allowed for a total cooking time of 8 minutes in a hot oven.  But Shrimp and greens wouldn't make dinner (at least not with three males who cannot seem to get enough food in my house.) The pantry housed brown rice pasta, polenta, rice, the usual suspects.  Pasta was the quick option, but I couldn't wrap my cloudy brain around a shrimp and collard green pasta.  Then it hit me, Spinach Pesto.  I make this for my Rock Star in the Kitchen class all the time.  (Get the recipes here.) I had the walnuts, garlic and parmesan I needed. 

CWYG is always a great payoff and this ended in a healthy meal that everyone loved. 

Ingredient Notes:  Use any kind of greens you have knowing that the more hearty the green, the more complex the flavor will be.  You will need to adjust salt and lemon accordingly.  Leave out the shrimp or use chicken instead.  Leftover roasted chicken would stand-in fine.

Roasted Shrimp with Spinach Pesto Pasta
1 lb medium shrimp (EZ peel or already peeled are best)
EV olive oil
kosher salt
red pepper flakes
1 lb brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat or regular pasta
1 cup spinach pesto (from Rock Star recipes)
parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. 

Toss shrimp with olive oil kosher salt and red pepper flakes on a cookie sheet.  Place in oven just after putting pasta in water.  Bake for 6-8 minutes until shrimp are curled and pink.

Add a big handful of salt to water then stir in pasta.  Boil until al dente, stirring occasionally.  Remove 2 cups of pasta water before draining pasta.  Drain pasta then place back in pan.  Stir in pesto, a handful of parmesan cheese and a little pasta water, stirring well.  Add water as needed to get the saucy consistency you want.   Serve in large shallow bowls dotted with roasted shrimp.  I don't add extra cheese to this just do honor the Italian "no cheese with seafood" ideal.  Feel free to do so, though if you would like to.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lunch In Paris & Gluten Free Chouquettes

If you see me reading, chances are there is a food theme involved.  (Unless you are sitting by me in a pedi chair, then it will be the Hollywood gossip mag from the front of the salon.)

My always thoughtful husband brought me Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard to read on my recent flight.  I started it only to realize I had read it already, but I was hooked again after the first few pages.  (I have this amazing ability to forget happy movies and books enough to watch/read them again and again, sometimes even being surprised by the ending.  Weird?)

My favorite thing about the book is that it melds two of my favorite genres, chick-lit and cookbooks! Throw in the fact that it's in my favorite city and it's a hit!

My backyard view after rain.
It's finally raining today and after an abnormally sunny winter, it felt a bit dreary.Rainy Wednesdays are almost as bad as Mondays, so when I started the afternoon school taxi run, I remembered a Chouquette recipe in the third chapter of the book. The thought of Chouquettes and hot chocolate wouldn't escape my mind.  "Can we make hot chocolate?"  was my greeting as my youngest hopped in. The quick "YES! and we'll make chouquettes" from his normally sugar-shy mother probably shocked him.

"Mom, what are Chouquettes?" Easiest description (and what I told him):  cream puffs without the creamy filling.  Foodie description:  Little eggy pockets of air coated with powdered sugar.  "Like biting into a sweet breeze." Author's description after her new-found love returned with the warm breakfast pastries following a hunting and gathering expedition to the nearby neighborhood bakery.

See why I love this book.

Cream puffs, chouquettes, profiteroles, gougeres, zeppoli...they are all created from the same basic dough give or take a few flavoring agents.  It's what is referred to in chefland as Pate au Choux (Pat oh Shoe).  Cream puff dough is sufficient if you're not talking to a chef.  It's butter, flour, eggs, water or milk.  They're all in your cabinet right now, right.  Go make these little guys.  And don't forget hot chocolate for dunking.  (Quickest and richest version...2 tbsp chocolate chips melted with 2 tbsp boiling water.  Top off with  warm milk and stir to combine.)

Gluten Free Chouquettes (and friends, see below)

1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup rice flour (or unbleached regular flour)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk (use any kind of milk, dairy or otherwise)
4 eggs abundant powdered sugar for sprinkling

 Preheat oven to 425.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix salt, sugar and flour in a bowl.  Bring the cold butter, water and milk to a rolling boil.  Add the dry ingredients all at once and stir with a wooden spoon for 3-4 minutes until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides. 

At this point you can do the rest with the same pan and spoon or you can take a shortcut like I do...transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer. Either way, let the dough cool for a few minutes by stirring or running the mixer on low. 

Add eggs one at a time and mix well after you do.  (Crack each egg into a ramekin before adding to avoid shells.)  The mixture will look like its going wrong at first.  Just keep mixing after each egg.  By the time you add the last one, you should have a nice, thick scoopable dough.

You can use a small (1") ice cream scoop or place all the dough into a gallon ziploc bag and pipe little mounds onto the parchment covered cookie sheets.  Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes then turn down to 400 degrees.   (Switch pans at this point, too, so they will bake evenly.) Bake for another 10 minutes.  They should be golden brown and rolling around like Weebles and sound hollow.  Remove from the oven and using a sharp knife, poke a small undetectable hole in each chouquette so steam can escape.  Let cool slightly before eating.

My kids love to add extra powdered sugar.  I loved the slight sweetness ("sweet breeze") especially alongside the super-sweet hot chocolate.

Use the same dough for: 
1. Profiteroles:  Use this same recipe and fill with ice cream then top with chocolate sauce...Voila...Profiteroles.  Can make small ones and serve in 3's or make big ones as solos.
2. Gougeres:  Leave out sugar, add black pepper and a cup of grated Gruyere or parmesan cheese.
3. Zeppoli:  Fry the dough balls instead of baking and coat in cinnamon sugar. 
4. Cream Puffs:  Same as profiteroles except fill with vanilla pudding or pastry cream.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

Copyright 2012 TablaVie Personal Chef Service

All photos and recipes may not be used without express permission from Christi Flaherty, owner and creator of Cook What You've Got Concept and blog.
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