Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cream Puff Shells

In Julia Child's book, The French Chef Cookbook,  from her long-running TV series, there are two recipes for cream puff shells: one the regular recipe and one for a slightly larger batch.  I made the larger batch, which made 48 puffs.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Butter two cookie sheets/half sheet pans and set aside.  Be sure your oven racks are in the upper and lower third of the oven.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
9 Tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon)
5-6 eggs

If you are making sweet cream puffs, you can add 2 teaspoons of sugar to this batter.

Put the water, salt, and butter in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring.  When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat, drop in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.

When all the flour is absorbed into the water (or vice versa!), return the pan to the stove over medium heat and stir until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.  REMOVE PAN FROM HEAT AGAIN.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and drop in one egg at a time and stir vigorously again until each egg is absorbed, then drop in the rest, one at a time, until they are all absorbed into the flour mixture.  I used all 6 eggs since I could not tell if the batter was the right consistency or not...

While still warm, use a teaspoon to drop 1-inch across and 1-inch high globs of batter, set 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart on the BUTTERED pan.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, checking at the end to be sure they are not over-cooking.  Remove from oven and put on a cooling rack.  With a sharp knife, puncture each shell near the bottom where you might want to cut for a hole for filling them. 

You can go OCD and check the interior of the puff to see if there is any "wet stuff" in the middle.  If there is, just pull it out with the handle of a teaspoon, but...not necessary in my book.  Particularly since it was just the family eating them.

Once the puffs are cool, you can fill them with pastry cream of many varieties, sweetened whipped cream, or any number of savory filling.  You can also make them much larger and use them for creamed savory fillings like Turkey a la King, etc.  If you do make them larger, cook them for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F then lower the heat to 325 degrees F. and bake another 15 minutes or so then check one to see if the inside is cooked.  If not, push back in and cook some more.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Own White Bean Hummus/Dip recipe

My Own White Bean Hummus or Dip

6 cups cooked white beans
1 teaspoon chopped chives
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Soak 2 cups white bean (Great Northern is the kind I used) overnight in a large pot of water to which you have added 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Drain  and rinse beans then cover with water about an inch over the top of the beans until bean are soft.  Allow to come to room temperature.

Put all ingredients into a large Cuisinart and process until smooth.  Serve with vegetable sticks or chips or crackers or....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Ice cream is a lovely treat any time.  It is even a greater treat on a hot day in the summer.  Several years ago we were given a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker like this one.  I LOVE Freecycle!  People are so generous with their stuff...well, it is always stuff they don't want anymore but they could just put it in the trash.  This lady got the ice cream maker as a wedding gift, used it twice and decided she preferred to buy ice cream.

So yesterday was the day after our anniversary (a day I had planned to make the nice ice cream but was too tired at the end of the day) so I made it.

Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk (I used skim but anything will work.  I almost threw in some yogurt I had but didn't at the last minute)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon nice vanilla

In medium bowl stir together all the ingredients until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Take the cold part of the ice cream maker out of the freezer where it has been chilling  for 24 hours.  (If you are like me, you will just store the clean ice cream maker bucket in the freezer at all times so you can just pull it out when the grandkids come by and need a sugar fix...)  Carefully pour the cream mixture into the ice cream maker and assemble the other parts.  Turn on and eat your meal.  By the time you finish eating and visiting over a nice supper, your ice cream will be ready to eat.
Fresh vanilla ice cream.  Doesn't it look delicious?!

If you are not making this at the beginning of a meal to let the time go by without noticing it,  set your timer for 30 minutes.  Unless you failed to freeze the container for a full 24 hours, the ice cream will be ready in 30 minutes

If there are only two of you eating, there will be leftovers after having a serving apiece.  
Leftover ice cream in a one-quart container.

Homemade Salsa Verde

We came into a few tomatillas, jalapenos, and onions and harvested some cilantro from the garden...so what could I do by make salsa verde?!  It is nowhere nearly as good as the Herdez salsa verde we got hooked on in Mexico, but it is pretty good for a first try....especially since I watched a YouTube video and adapted the recipe to what I had on hand.

5 tomatillas, roasted in a cast iron skillet
1 onion thickly sliced and roasted along with the tomatillas
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, sliced and roasted along with the onions and tomatillas
1 jalapeno--should have used more
7 sprigs cilantro fresh from the garden
3 large cloves garlic, smashed then finely chopped
Juice of two limes
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Wash all produce the put the tomatillas, onion slices, and yellow bell pepper in large cast iron skillet over medium heat and roast until the outsides of the skins are blackened somewhat.  Turn everything over every so often.  Mine took about ten minutes until  I was comfortable with the coloring.

Put into a Cuisinart (or blender) with all the other ingredients, then put in about 1/4 -1/2 cup water and blend until completely blended.  Taste it to see if it needs more salt and pepper

First ever fresh salsa verde

This is what it looked like before I put it in the refrigerator to chill. I dipped a saltine cracker into for a taste--since we did not have any tortilla chips at the moment--and liked it. I then ate three teaspoonfuls out of the container just plain.  So yummy.  Needed more salt and more jalapenos.

This is the kitchen ready to clean after the salsa verde and applesauce projects.  And the breakfast and lunch projects...Instead I am writing this blog post.  Perhaps I will go clean now before I get too tired and bag it for the day.  If you look closely you can see the soap suds in the hot water.....

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quick and Easy Homemade Tortilla Chips

Our family loves tortillas and salsa...particularly fresh salsa.  A new rub has been that I have tried making homemade tortilla chips.  The exciting thing is:  they work!  and they are quick and easy.

We started with a bag of slightly older corn tortillas.  Well, actually, they were old enough that some of them were crumbly.  Those tortillas stayed in the bag!  For the rest, though!!!

To make the tortilla chips:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Get out a half sheet pan, or other large flat plan.

Place one tortilla on cutting board and brush top with olive oil then sprinkle with coarse sea salt...not a lot then cover with a second tortilla.  Brush that tortilla with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Place a third tortilla on top and repeat the process.

When you have brushed with oil and salted 8 tortillas, with a very sharp knife (I love to use my Chef's knife which is very sharp and works great for almost everything!) cut the tortilla stack into quarters then lay the quarters on the sheet pan so they do not overlap, if possible.  If they overlap a very little it is ok.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for ten minutes then turn over carefully.  Let bake another 5 minutes then turn off oven.  Check to see if they are a light golden brown.  If not, let them sit in the oven for another 2-3 minutes, checking at the end of each minute.  They CAN burn so do watch them.

 If they seem not to be crispy when they come out, do not worry. If they have been in the oven for at least fifteen minutes, they should crisp up as they cool...that being said, they taste fabulous warm with guacamole or fresh salsa.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Perfect Quick Guacamole

Wings Market had some soft avocados for 69 cents each on Tuesday so I purchased two of them with an eye to making guacamole.  When I got home I realized that I had already used the jalapeno pepper so I couldn't make the guac that day.  Yesterday was too busy...not one moment left.

Early this morning (3 AM arising this time!)  I was scanning guacamole recipes to see the variations that are out there.  Tonight I decided to go ahead an make ours before the avocados went by. 

Perfect Quick Guacamole

This is what I did:

2 ripe avocados
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup prepared mild salsa

Place diced onions and avocados in a medium bowl..glass being the best material.  Mash them together, leaving the avocado slightly chunky if you like it that way.  Add chopped cilantro,  lime juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir in  prepared mild salsa and mix well. 

Serve immediately with fresh tortilla chips.  Really yummy.

Kale is the best!

Sauteed kale with onions and garlic is a real treat.  This is what I did:

Start with a 12 inch well-seasoned cast iron frying pan/skillet (preferably one which has been in the family for generations so you can smile with love of family while you cook).  Add 1-2 tablespoons canola or olive oil and heat over medium heat until oil is hot. In the meantime, peel one yellow onion.  Slice it into moon-shaped slivers and put into frying pan.  Stir with a wooden spoon to break up the onion slivers into individual pieces.  Peel and smash then finely chop 2-3 cloves garlic and add to the sauteing onions.  Stir well to keep onions and garlic from burning.  When onions are partly translucent, add enough chopped kale to reach the top of the pan.  Stir continuously until kale is completely coated with cooking onions, garlic, and olive oil and is a lovely dark shiny green.  This will take about 4-5 minutes.  Cover pan and turn off heat.  Let sit an additional 5 minutes then serve with coarsely ground sea salt and Tajin original seasoning, if you can find it.

In our house this serves one person...as no other person will eat it.  Sad for them.  Happy for the one!  Of course, the one is not likely to eat all of this at one sitting.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Grammie Corwin and the Adder Snake

One summer day when I was perhaps ten years old I walked down the hill through the fields to Riverbow, the house where my grandmother Nina Belle Merrill Corwin lived as a widow, a trip of about three-quarters of a mile or a little less.  Grammie Corwin had a large garden of beautiful pansies which I loved. We had been out in the garden doing pansy maintenance and  had walked across the lush lawn back up to the house.  There we found a large snake at the bottom of the steps.  Grammie went back to the brooder house (where all her gardening tools now resided after the years of baby chicken being hatched there) where she looked around for a snake eradication tool.

She picked up a small hatchet and we went back to the house.  There she used the hatchet to whack the snake, but missed a telling coup de grace.  The snake headed across Route 110 away from the house, nearly covering one whole lane. Several cars came by and Grammie kept motioning the cars to drive over the snake, BUT NOT ONE OF THEM DID IT!  They all drove around the snake.  The snake, a spotted adder, got all the way across the highway then stopped and curled up, apparently worn out by its injuries and the trek across two lanes of traffic. 

Grammie and I went into the house where she gave me a glass of red raspberry Kool Ade which had been in the refrigerator in the beautiful wide-mouthed green ceramic pitcher she always used for Kool Ade. We played a game of Parcheesi together.

Later when we went back outside prior to my walking back up the hill home, THE SNAKE WAS GONE!  You can imagine how interested I was to head up that hill home again with an angry injured snake nearby!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fruit Smoothie. Is there any other kind?

Today I made a delicious fruit smoothie.

These are the ingredients I used:

2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups crushed strawberries
1 cup orange juice
1 1/3 cup plain fatfree homemade Greek yogurt

Put all ingredients into a large Cuisinart and process with metal blade for 1-2 minutes or until all the frozen chunks are smooth.  Serve in glasses with a spoon.

This recipe serves four very heartily.

It is easily made smaller if you want a lesser quantity of cold sweet treat...usually I just use one cup each of orange juice, frozen blueberries, fat-free plain yogurt,  and one banana...sometimes throwing in a handful of pulverized flaxseed as well.  The two berries was a special treat.

Blueberry-Srawberry Smoothie on Porch Railing