CtBF Paris Paris

There are a few pastries with the name Paris…something. This time, these are supposed to be eclair shaped choux pastries with hazelnut praline pastry cream. Oh, and a little chocolate glaze.

This is really 4 different (relatively simple) recipes combined to create something more than the sum of their parts.

So. Hazelnuts. They are not my favorites, though iconically French. I was tempted to swap them out. Macadamias! Pecans! And truth be told, part of it is peeling them. Do not like. So messy!

I looked up methods online. Apparently, Alice Medrich showed the process to Julia Child, and it works!! A little disconcerting with the boiling and coloring, and while still time-consuming, it worked perfectly. Boil water with some baking soda, add hazelnuts, cooking for about 3 minutes, into a cold water bath, and then peel away!

The water gets purple! And it’s still a little labor intensive. But! As it turns out, the hazelnuts for our recipe were not supposed to be toasted, so this was perfect! Kismet. Needed to let those hazelnuts dry, so onto my choux paste.

I have been making (cream) puffs practically my entire life. But not these ones. My mom and dad hosted plenty of business dinners and fun parties in our small town in Michigan. It was back in the day when home entertaining for business was more prevalent. Plus living in a town with one small restaurant that today might be considered a coffee shop? Well, we had quite a number of guests from Europe and around the country. So my mom hosted many parties. One of her favorite appetizers (that I happily got to pass) we’re savory cream puffs. In fact, I’m sure I was an adult before I ever had sweet ones. Probably why I love, love gougeres of all kinds.

OK, so, while I might not be an expert, I still think choux puffs are easy. The biggest trick for me was the timing for baking. Finally I got it done. Butter, water, salt and sugar brought to a boil. Flour is added, and then cooked until it comes together and cleans from the side of the pan. Then eggs are added to the dough. I piped my puffs the easy way, though to be fair, even a teaspoon will work. The tricky thing was timing. At the end, I baked my mini-puffs as long or longer than noted for the larger eclairs in the book. Eventually they were nice and crisp. So. Next up. Hazelnut praline. Sugar is slowly caramelized. Once it’s caramelized, chopped hazelnuts are added, then cooked until nicely toasted, then dropped onto a prepared pan to cool and crisp.

Pastry cream? Did I say that I originally planned to divide this recipe? Since eggs for different recipe were 3, I would make a third. But none of the recipes were huge, so I made the full amount. This was ok. Maybe should have cooked longer. But the cream is made, then chilled covered closely. Next? The praline gets chopped in the food processor, a bit of the pastry cream added, then all folded together. The final component is a a chocolate glaze made with cocoa powder and confectioners sugar. The trick getting the right consistency. All that remained was assembling the Paris Paris puffs! I also used the ziploc bag trick to fill them. Then swathed in chocolate, the 36 puffs were done!!They needed to be chilled for an hour or so before serving.

So. The result? Initially, they were pretty sweet. Too sweet. And since hazelnut is not my favorite favor, well.. but. We shared with friends, and they were mesmerized. And the next day, not so sweet. Pretty delicious. I think oftentimes I’m overly critical. Over the few days that we’re told these will last in the refrigerator. Amazingly, they have disappeared!!

What I really am inspired to do is to make these again. Both sweet versions (pastry cream with fruit!!!) and revisiting savory varieties. Choux paste is so very fun. Mini servings are charming. And oh, I have more peeled hazelnuts tucked away, so it’s a bit easier to add them in. I

So many options, and this was a wonderful reminder of how wonderful choux puffs can be!

Visit the Cook the Book Friday’s link, to see what others thought about this recipe!

CtBF – buttermilk ice cream

This is some of the best ice cream I’ve made. Yes, I just said that.

I decided to get a new ice cream maker because a) it was on sale, b) it’s hot in Arizona so ice cream is good, and c) because everyone, but especially my mom, loves ice cream.

I’ve made quite a number of versions, and even bought David’s The Perfect Scoop. His vanilla custard style was actually my favorite. Up until now. There’s anew favorite in town.

It’s easy! Heat some cream with some sugar and a bit of corn syrup to make it creamier. That’s cooled (supposed to be for 8 hours in the refrigerator, but I cheated and did fewer in the freezer).

The tangy flavor of the buttermilk was fabulous. We had it with berries. I think it could be yummy with many other toppings. I’m even thinking maybe some sweet waffles or maple-something. I guess my idea is not fully baked.

But the texture is beautiful, even the next day. I did set it out for a few minutes to barely soften. Worked perfectly!

This was one of my favorites out of the book. Really delicious!!

ffwd – salmon tartar and waffles & cream

I’m combining a couple of recipes this week – something I don’t typically do – but, well, it happens! And what different recipes they are.

I was planning on making the waffles last week, but my week got away from me. Something that happens all too frequently these days. I did really want to try them though – one of the French ways of serving waffles. As dessert!

This week’s recipe is for Salmon Tartar. Kind of a layered salmon ceviche with tomatoes and avocados. Sounded pretty delicious, even if raw salmon isn’t my all-time favorite (unless of course I just caught it off the coast of BC).

I thought why not make a French Fridays meal of it? Start with the salmon, which should be light enough to allow for dessert waffles!!100_3951

This turned out to be one of the “fussy” recipes. Three different concoctions to create the layered effect. Two types of herbs, shallots, cherry tomatoes (in 3! slices), lime supremes, zest and juice, along with some sriracha and other seasonings. Salmon, avocado (mine wasn’t nice). Of course, it was made more difficult by tiny portions as well.

I decided to take the idea of layering in a glass. I can think of other glasses that would be even nicer, especially for an appetizer (champagne flutes, shot glasses…). I had the worst time photographing, but it did make for a fun presentation.



This was quite tasty. Even though I took care in choosing my salmon, this preparation really requires the best, freshest (and I would say leanest – so better wild than farm-raised – something like King salmon would be ideal, though Coho is still a favorite) salmon you can find. I thought that the flavors were great, and loved using the new chives and mint from the garden. But the salmon texture was a bit too soft for my taste, and I did not heed Dorie’s advice – the pistachio oil got away from me… and I used too much. All of that said, this really is a nice dish, and I can think of times when it would be fantastic – I like the idea of salmon tartar “shooters” on a buffet table (chilled of course), or as a small plate starter. About half the size of this serving. Very fun, very beautiful preparation – and if you’re in the Pacific northwest and can get great, really fresh salmon – totally something that would be on the list of preparations.

And now. The Waffles and Cream. One of the things I have found very interesting is the French way of eating some of the items that in America we would serve at breakfast. Now, I can never get with the idea of whipped cream and chocolate or all manner of dessert items on pancakes or waffles for breakfast – despite the prevalence of those dishes in American restaurants. To have something like a “regular” waffle for dessert was interesting. My mom used to make chocolate waffles for company desserts – but nothing like these. I really wanted to try them!

The batter is thinner than typical, and very rich with butter. But the egg whites folded in were not new to me. I’m pretty sure Fanny Farmer and Joy of Cooking recommend that preparation method for home-made waffles – and it does make for a light one! As noted, this recipe has more butter, and some additional sugar – and ends up being quite thin.


Dorie tells us that it’s ok to have a few lumps of egg white as well, I took her advice (this time!). The waffles are cooked in a Belgian waffle maker (ideally) to provide maximum surface area for crispness, as well as satisfying wells to capture toppings.


The suggested toppings were whipped cream and caramel sauce, or even ice cream – and maybe some chocolate sauce. Berries of course would be fabulous. I chose whipped cream and salted caramel sauce (store bought but delicious). In any event, a dusting of powdered sugar is suggested.


I have to say, these were amazing. Very easy to make, and oh so light, but a terrific foil for any kind of topping. The waffles were crisp and light. I certainly think that this could be a great last-minute treat – when you’re looking for something more than just ice cream, but didn’t have time to bake a cake! And I just loved the idea of having this for dessert. The texture was different enough than a waffle served for breakfast, that it really worked. Certainly other flavors could be used as well (lemon poppyseed anyone?).

So a very happy French Friday dinner! If you would like to see how others made these recipes, you can find the waffles and cream, and salmon tartar as linked here.

ffwd – top-secret chocolate mousse

I’ve been waiting to make this recipe since getting the book Around My French Table. I’ve even been a bit surprised that we haven’t tackled it before. But it was a good choice for a busy week, particularly when I was going to have people over for dinner.

I have to say, this wasn’t my very best effort. I expected the recipe to be an easy one, and it is – but not so sure about my results (not that it wasn’t delicious). I’ve made mousse before, so wasn’t too concerned. With only 4 ingredients, how hard can it be??

Since Dorie’s story goes that this recipe came from the back of a bar of chocolate, I can’t imagine that I’ll get in too much trouble by providing you the ingredients here: 3.5 oz of bittersweet chocolate, 3 eggs, pinch of salt and 1.5 t sugar. I thought – wow, so simple, and really not that bad for you (if you subscribe to the idea of dark chocolate being a super-food).

The first step is to melt the chocolate. I always just use the microwave.

Once the chocolate was melted, the eggs get divided, and then it’s only a few minutes to having the completed mousse. I was quite proud of my melted chocolate – not too hot. but don’t know if that’s where I went wrong. Also, the room-temperature eggs were significantly more difficult to separate – good thing I had some extras!

The yolks get mixed into the chocolate. Then that mixture is lightened by the whipped egg whites (to which the salt and sugar have been added). My chocolate really seized up when I added the egg yolks, that made it difficult to fold in the whites.


It seemed that the mixture really reduced when I folded the whites in. It wasn’t as fluffy as I’d hoped. I may have over-whipped the egg whites, but I think it was really the thickness of the chocolate mixture. Once this was complete, the mixture was spooned into individual serving dishes.

I made mine a bit ahead, so put the dishes in the refrigerator. I was worried that there wasn’t much mousse for each person.

Not the best photo, but you can see – presented with just a bit of whipped cream on top. The consensus was that it was delicious. A very decadent shot of chocolate. I still think it could have been a bit lighter, but it was a great ending to a simple meal.

ffwd – peach melba

I’ve made plenty of peach melba-ish recipes – a lovely combination of peaches and raspberries. But I’ve never actually made the real thing. So I was looking forward to this recipe, even though I’ve been trying to hold off on decadent desserts. At least this is fruit! Right??

This is essentially peaches poached in a lovely syrup of vanilla and lemon. Then served with a raspberry sauce and ice cream. From there, well, you can add a lot more decadence if you want. But the ingredients are quite simple, and things I had on hand. I happen to love Chambord, so it’s fun to have an excuse to use some to ramp up the “yum” factor.

To start, the peaches have to be peeled first. I like Dorie’s idea of “count to 20” while the peach is in the boiling water. It worked well, they peeled easily. Once that’s done, a simple syrup is made, simmered with a bit of lemon and vanilla bean for a bit, to create the poaching liquid.

The peaches get poached in the syrup for about 10 minutes. Of course, as usual, I didn’t read the recipe correctly, so I halved the peaches. But I think it was ok anyway, as these were not the very best peaches (they smelled good, but not as much flavor as others I’ve had), so that allowed the flavor to permeate the peaches a bit more. Once the peaches have poached for about 10 minutes, they are put in a bowl and cooled and/or chilled.

Meanwhile, the raspberry sauce had to be made, and really couldn’t have been simpler. I don’t like making a zillion things dirty if I don’t have to, so instead of using a blender or food processor, and then straining the sauce, I just pushed the raspberries through the strainer. A little extra effort, but fewer dishes… It gets finished with a bit of the peach-infused syrup to give it a bit of sweetness. This gets set aside in the refrigerator.

Once the components are ready, it’s a simple matter of assembly.

One peach half with some syrup, some ice cream, the other peach half, and then the raspberry sauce. It was suggested that whipped cream and toasted almonds would be good additions. While I agree, I decided that I’d go ahead with the simpler version.

This turned out to be delicious, and was still very nice in it’s purer version. That allowed the peach, lemon, vanilla and raspberry flavors shine through. I agree a bit of crunch would have been nice – but then again, there’s always next time!

This turned out to be a lovely old-fashioned dessert that still stands the test of time. It was fun to finally make the classic!

ffwd – double chocolate nutella tart

Really, I shouldn’t do two things, well, maybe three. I shouldn’t wait until the last minute to start a recipe. I shouldn’t try to do too many things at once. And I really should make sure I read the recipe… but I guess I knew that already.

I started a series of pottery throwing classes this week. I used to throw years ago, and even have a wheel and kiln, but they’ve been gathering dust for a very long time (and I really don’t have the setup to have them out at this point). But a friend in my book club bought a Groupon for a beginning class and that reminded me of how much fun it is to throw. It’s such a great process – another one of those kind of get-in-the-zone zen things, very much like sewing. Just messier! In a good way :).

So with that and some other things going on, I left making the chocolate tart until quite late (ok, last night!). I hadn’t really looked at the recipe, but saw enough to see the Nutella version. Since I’d be sharing this at work, I decided that that version made a bit more sense than the banana (though that sounded good too), since I’d be schlepping it around and it had to maintain its composure.

This is almost exactly like a tart that I’ve been making for years, and very similar to one that was part of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes. I hadn’t really thought this through. I forgot that Dorie’s sweet tart dough can be pressed into the pan directly (what I would normally do), and that it didn’t really have to be chilled or frozen. So I finally realized that it wouldn’t take quite as long as I thought.

The crust is really simple. Just some cocoa added to the typical sweet pastry dough. Dorie’s is simple because you just whirl the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, powdered sugar and a touch of salt), then add the cold butter chunks, and finally an egg yolk. So easy!

This mixture can either be rolled out, or just pressed into the prepared pan (Dorie’s suggestion of spraying the pan with something like Pam is great!)

This crust is chilled (or not, but I did) in the freezer. I did use some oiled foil, and some pie weights, but as I understand it, they are not really mandatory if you freeze your crust first.

Once baked, I spread the bottom of the crust with Nutella. That gets chilled too, so that it doesn’t mix in with the ganache when it’s added. Once that’s chilling, it’s time for the ganache. This is really one of the easiest things in the world to make – well, as long as you can read! Um, I wasn’t paying attention too much. I had 2c cream, not 1. Oops! It didn’t really look right… not dark enough. So I had to re-check my recipe. And, oh, another trip to the store to get another half-pound of chocolate. The upside… extra ganache in the refrigerator for something else!

Here’s how I do this – I heat the cream until there are a few bubbles, take it off the heat and add the chocolate and stir. It really doesn’t take long, even if you’re like me and your chocolate is in chunks. The middle picture is where I knew I’d gone terribly wrong. So easy to tell when it really looks right – creamy and dark chocolaty!

The ganache is spread into the crust over the top of the Nutella. It gets chilled a bit before it gets its final topping. In this case, chopped hazelnuts (I should have toasted them) and some gray salt.

This is incredibly delicious. I like the addition of the Nutella and hazelnuts. And the gray salt really sets the flavors off. The one I normally (used to) make doesn’t have the nuts. but they are a nice addition.

Other ideas: I think that fresh raspberries would be amazing – maybe even more so with a layer of preserves on the bottom. I could see grated orange peel as an addition as well. I’m excited to see what others have done, and if they used the bananas (which I still think would be great). If you’d like to see what they’ve come up with, visit French Fridays with Dorie to see their posts.