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Archive for the ‘sweets’ Category

Editor’s note. Oh, people. Were you expecting pictures? How about an update on the excellence of homemade ice cream? We’re sorry. It’s the best I can do to muster typing without errors. Thanks to a cheap-o wine glass turning into a razor sharp weapon in my right hand, mangling two of my fingers, I am out of commission in the kneading, dish-doing, and photography departments. Matthias is busy taking care of everything. We will be back as soon as I am back at 10 fully functioning digits.

This weekend sour cherries just went out of season at the Greenmarket and Hannah got three pints for $4 and four lbs. of cucumbers for $5. That means syrup and pickles!!!! Full list is below:

* Sour cherry syrup
* bread and butter pickles
* garlic dills
* blueberry jam
* eggplant parmesan with homemade sauce
* ciabatta bread
* mint juleps

And most importantly:
* ice cream.

What are you making this weekend?

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It is going to be another ambitious food weekend in our awkwardly shaped kitchen. Jam-making, pickling (with compromise),  the season’s first cherry tomatoes, and fire-escape grilling with friends are slated.

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Bread and butter pickles (for Hannah)

Pickled beets and eggs (for Matthias)

Blueberry jam

Ice cream sandwiches

Homemade pasta

Modified muhammara

Spiced beef kebabs

Chopped salad

and

Corn on the cob with compound butter

Pictures and a recipe will follow on Monday. Let us know what you’re up to in the kitchen this weekend!

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This weekend, we’re testing out new recipes and have lots of good things to make. And so, here’s the list of awesome summer things that we’re going to be making in the next two days:

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* Pickles

* Cherry Preserves

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* Sour Cherry Syrup

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* Beignets

homemade tortillas
* Flour Tortillas

* Frozen Peas

homemade lemonade
* Lemonade

CSA corn fritters and greenmarket salad (close)
* Corn Fritters

english breakfast
* English Breakfast (bangers, eggs, toast, roasted tomato)

First up: Breakfast.

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When we lived in Astoria there was a bakery called Saint Honoré, named for the patron saint of bakers, nestled inauspiciously right before the butcher shop on Ditmars Avenue, and frequented by customers who do not take sainthood lightly. It was a bare bones sort of place, not packed with rickety tables and chairs with uneven legs, but rather just two counters and a refrigerator with a glass door, partially blocking the kitchen from the cashier. There were no labels on the rows upon rows of tidy buttery cookies, patisserie, and impeccably towered cakes. And the proprietor and his sole staff member seemed to miraculously predict what it was that you would be inclined to order.

We used to walk often up and down the tree-lined streets of our beloved neighborhood, past the brick duplexes and their yards filled with statuary or small gardens with septagenarians shouting in Greek and smoking cigars, to the hill of Astoria Park sprawling generously to the East River looking across its grime from under the Triborough Bridge onto the endless ascent of Manhattan. Often these strolls would lead us back up Ditmars Avenue and on our way home the call of the creamy éclair (for me) or chocolate cigars (for Matthias) from Saint Honoré could not be muffled. And so, we indulged. Guiltlessly and with complete abandon, nothing could detract from the pleasure of their soft pastries filled with vanilla cream, at once so light and yet so very rich intermingled with the velvety chocolate smear those éclair seemed to wear like a beautiful scarf, effortless, and elemental.

squeezing out

We now live through days where strolls are not an option for safety reasons, no local business is remotely enticing, and our food arrives to our stomachs as a cumbersome burden lugged from Manhattan via an interminable stint on the L train. We yearn for those idyllic days in Astoria and the tastes, smells, and sights that made them so precious, but we are also armed with the tenacity to persevere and bring glimmers of joy to our Brooklyn home. And so, I learned to make pâte à choux, pastry cream, and chocolate sauce. These three became cream puffs, and we became happy once more.

open puff

They were all that we had hoped for. The pastry was neatly structured on its exterior, its small golden brown spirals rising to encase the hollow, webbed, eggy interiors soon to be injected with luscious, cool vanilla pastry cream. These cream-filled parcels were then adorned with a simple chocolate sauce drizzle, left to harden ever so slightly, and greet each bite in turn with lightness, richness, and depth. Or, as I like to think, they arrived at our lips as a little treasure from our cherished Saint. Honoré.

final puff 2

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Pastry Cream and Chocolate Sauce

Yield: 16 cream puffs

Adapted from Gourmet, March 2008, and Bon Appétit, February 1998

We recommend that you make the pastry cream first and get it in the refrigerator to chill while you are working on the pastry, this will seem to decrease the amount of time you have to wait to grace your lips with the finished product.

When the pâte à choux has cooled, inject the puffs with the cream using a pastry bag or a plastic bag fitted with a piping tip in its corner. Alternatively, you could use a serrated knife to slice open the puffs (keep the top and bottom still attached) and spoon in approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of pastry cream into each puff, replacing its ‘cap’ when it is full.

When the puffs are now cream puffs, begin the chocolate sauce. Drizzle with a teaspoon over each and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

For pastry cream:

  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Bring half and half (we used 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup heavy cream) to a simmer in heavy medium saucepan.

Whisk sugar, eggs, egg yolk and flour in medium bowl to blend.

Gradually whisk hot half and half into the medium bowl, in a steady stream constantly whisking so as not to scramble the eggs. Transfer back to the saucepan and whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to boil, about 5 minutes.

Boil 1 minute. Pour into a clean medium bowl. Stir in vanilla. Press plastic wrap or parchment paper onto the surface of pastry cream so that it will not form a film when chilled.

Cover; chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Makes 2 cups)

For pâte à choux:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Butter a large baking sheet.

Bring butter, water, and salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium, then add flour all at once and cook, beating with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from side of pan and forms a ball, about 30-60 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well with an electric mixer after each addition.

Transfer warm mixture to pastry bag (or a plastic bag fitted with a piping tip in the corner) and pipe 16-18 mounds (about 1 1/4 inches wide and 1 inch high) 1 inch apart on baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes total. Prick each profiterole once with a skewer, then return to oven to dry, propping oven door slightly ajar, 3 minutes. Cool on sheet on a rack.

For chocolate sauce:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (preferably organic fair trade)
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons heavy cream

Melt chocolate, butter, and cream in a small saucepan stirring until liquid and combined. You may use a double boiler, but it comes together so quickly that I confess not to have bothered with the extra dishes.


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