Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cheesy Puffs (pate a choux)

The corner of this clipping is marked "Family Circle 12/11/84".  Goodness, a mere child and I was already clipping recipes!  Well, maybe not quite a child.  Actually, not quite a teenager even.  Ahem ... but enough of that.

This is a quick little ditty of a recipe and another one of those one pot deals.  Although they're quite tasty as they are I think a bit of bacon and chopped green onions or maybe diced jalapenos would be a nice addition.

The recipe indicates a yield of 8 dozen.  Perhaps in 1984 we ate more petitely, but by scooping out the paste in what I would describe as a heaping teaspoonful yielded me only 4 dozen puffs.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a colby-jack blend)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Combine milk, water, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large saucepan.  Bring to a full rolling boil.  Add flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a thick, smooth ball that leaves the side of the pan.  Remove from heat.  Stir in eggs one at a time, blending well after each until paste is shiny and smooth.  Add cheese and stir until melted.

Drop paste by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets spacing about 1 inch apart.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 10-15 minutes more until golden and puffy.  Turn off oven. 

Prick each puff with a fork and return to warm oven to rest for 5 minutes.

These can be made ahead and refrigerated in a tightly sealed container then reheat later in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or until heated through.
I still think one would be hard pressed to get 8 dozen puffs out of this.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Give us this day our daily

While the sourdough was rising, I decided to try a Rustic Bread from a recent issue of Southern Lady.  This one turned out to be an all afternoon affair, definitely a weekend only venture for me.  It has three stages of rising and resting but the result is a nice, crusty loaf, tender on the inside, and would be a great accompaniment to the pot of soup my husband Chris made earlier in the day - that is, if it lasts until soup time tomorrow night.  I halved the recipe due to running low on my supply of bread flour but it still made a nice size loaf.

Mixed and resting

1 3/4 cup bread flour
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt
2/3 cup cold water

Stir flour, cheese, yeast and salt together in mixer bowl.  Add cold water and mix about 2 minutes on low speed with a dough hook until dough begins to form a ball.  You may need to add extra water to get a good mix - I added about another tablespoon.  Let dough rest for 5 minutes.  Beat an additional one minute.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 2 minutes.  Knead until smooth.

After the second rising

Place dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise to 1 1/2 times its original size.  If in a warm place, this will take about one hour.  Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 90 seconds.  Return to bowl to rise another hour, then knead another 90 seconds.

Flour a baking sheet.  Shape dough into a loaf and place on sheet to rise another hour or until doubled in bulk.

Put a baking stone in a 500 degree oven to preheat.  Sprinkle stone with cornmeal.  Turn dough carefully onto hot stone and bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  Reduce temperature to 425 degrees and bake another 10 minutes.  Cool on wire rack. 

The result was a cute little loaf of bread that somehow developed a cowlick during the last rise.  I didn't use the cornmeal but it baked fine without it, although my baking stone may never be the same after sweltering at 500 degrees.

And while the bread was cooling my two guys were standing behind me with a bread knife and the butter tub waiting for a sample.  I don't think it's going to make it to soup time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's been awhile

since I've spent much time in the kitchen.  We're winding down football season and have completed three weekends of marching band competitions.  Their show is fantastic this year due in part to the tall, good-looking guy on the keyboard in the percussion pit, a.k.a., my baby boy.  He hates it when I call him that.  Our school system takes a two-week fall break so we worked in several lovely days in the mountains for relaxation including a visit with my college girl and attending her first choral performance which, of course, was wonderful.  Then, I came back to a desk full and an inbox full - my penance for taking three days off I suppose - and promptly developed a nasty cold.  I think my body is saying it needs to go back to the mountains.

Wouldn't you agree?  The Smoky Mountains were ablaze with the yellows, oranges, and reds of fall ... sunshine and about 70 degrees ... perfect.  One of the best places in the world to hang out.  It was also a productive road trip as I cleared out several magazines and added to my stack of recipe clippings to try one of these days.

A new recipe made the trip with us.  It's called "Wicked Chocolate Caramel Bars", borrowed from Joan's blog "Chocolate, Chocolate and more..." (follow the link to the left).  

Wickedly delicious!  We brought home crumbs only.

I made the weekly sourdough feeding this morning and will hopefully have some bread in the works tomorrow but for now, I just need some chicken soup, hot tea and a little more couch time.