Ok,so pi day was technically Saturday, but whatevs. For those uninitiated to the work of being a totally nerd, Pi day is March 14, because the first three digits of pi are 3.14. This year it’s especially cool because the first five digits are 3.1415 and the date was 3/14/15. So naturally pi day means that I had to make some kind of pie. I decided on savory pie because I was not quite up for attempting key lime this weekend. After going through a number of different recipes I came up with this conglomeration.
1 cup flour
dash of salt
1/3 cup butter
Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until there are no significant sized lumps. If compressed, the dough should almost be able to stick together. Add water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and pliable, but cohesive and not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the filling.
1 small leek, halved and thinly sliced
2-3 smallish sunchokes (a bit larger than a golf ball), peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
2 large kale leaves, ripped into small pieces
3/4 cup grated comte cheese
2 large pinches dried thyme
Slice/grate/rip all the ingredients. Stick them in a big bowl and mix with your hands until they are thoroughly combined and all the herbs and spices are evenly distributed. Take the dough and divide it into two balls. Roll the first one out and stick in in a baking dish or pie plate. Dump all the filling on top of it, like a large mound. Roll out the second dough ball, and cover the mound of filling crimping the edges together with the bottom layer. It should look kinda like a little hill. Prick holes in the top and bake at 350 until the crust turns golden, 30-40 minutes. Serve warm.
This was freaking delicious. I can’t recall ever having eaten sunchokes before, and they are rather tasty. Kinda like potatoes, but with their own special umph. Good balance of everything – I’m pretty proud of how well this turned out, especially given that it was a amalgamation of random recipes and I didn’t really measure anything. I’m sure there are minor changes that could be made, but it seems unnecessary to me. Song of the week: Sunshine Highway – Dropkick Murphys. One of my favorite songs by this, one of my favorite bands.
Last week savory puffs, this week dessert puffs! Like I said last week, clearly I had to work on my puff-making technique. Obviously though it would be silly to make the same type of puffs. So I was mulling about it, and I thought the very basic base should pair well with something super intense, namely super-lemony lemon curd. I’ve made lemon curd several times, and I’d made the puffs before, but I never combined them, so I declared that it qualified as a new recipe.
1 egg yolk
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla
Beat the eggs, egg yolk, and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Heat the lemon juice, butter, and milk in a saucepan until almost boiling. Remove lemon juice mixture from heat and add to the egg mixture a little at a time – extremely slowly and carefully. Once they are all combined, return the entire mixture to the saucepan, and cook it on medium heat until it gets thick. Add the vanilla. Pour into a bowl, cover, and stick it in the fridge. While the curd is chilling, make the puffs.
Pate au Choux
2 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
Zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup flour
Heat the butter and milk together in a smallish saucepan. Bring to a simmmer, then turn off the heat. Add the lemon zest and stir. Then dump in all the flour and mix. It should form a fairly coherent, smooth dough. Let cool for a few minutes. Crack an egg into the pan, and mix it into the dough. That will be seriously difficult. Then add the second egg. It will be slightly easier, although still require effort. The dough might still be lumpy after awhile, but as long as the egg is thoroughly mixed in, it should be fine. Stick the choux paste into a quart-sized plastic baggie and cut off a corner. Squeeze some of the flavored choux past onto a baking sheet in a circular shape – maybe 2 tablespoons worth. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.
Ok, so this time these guys puffed really well – yay! but much like a souffle or a yorkshire pudding, it immediately collapsed once it was out of the oven. See, the plan was to cut them in half and fill them with the curd, but they were too hot to cut and fell too quickly. So I just dolloped some curd onto them, and then sprinkled the whole thing with powdered sugar. The result was pretty good. I mean, it was really good, but I love lemon curd and there are so many other things to do with it that I rather like more. Fortunately the above recipe makes a lot so I will be having my morning toast covered in butter and curd for a while. Mmmmmm. Song of the week: Why Do You Love Me by Garbage. Solid rock, with an actual woman singer – women rockers are constantly under-appreciated. And this song has just fit my mood perfectly for the past few days.
Ok, to clarify, this doesn’t mean that the puffs contain both cheese and hazelnuts. It means I made a cheese version and hazelnut version out of the the same basic recipe. I’ve been straying from baking lately. No particular reason beyond the fact I like to bounce around a lot between different kinds of cooking. But this week I wanted to do some actual baking. The original plan was to do some kind of dessert pastry, but somehow I got sidetracked into the land of of savory pastries. This time it was savory puffs, inspired by a recipe from the French Market cookbook. The basic dough, pate au choux (or choux paste) is a super basic and these puffs are in all probability endlessly versatile and can be adjusted to any number of flavors. But for the time being, we will stick with two – cheese and hazelnut
Pate au Choux
2 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
2 dashes nutmeg
1/2 cup flour
Heat the butter and milk together in a smallish saucepan. Bring to a simmmer, then turn off the heat. Add the nutmeg and stir. Then dump in all the flour and mix. It should form a fairly coherent, smooth dough. Let cool for a few minutes. Crack an egg into the pan, and mix it into the dough. That will be seriously difficult. It won’t seem like a doable prospect, but you’ll be able to make it work with persistence. Then add the second egg. It will be slightly easier, although still require effort. Mix the dough with the variation of your choice and stick it in a quart-sized plastic baggie. Cut the corner off the bottom of the baggie. Squeeze some of the flavored choux past onto a baking sheet in a circular shape – maybe 2 tablespoons worth. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.
To make the cheese version: shred 3-4 ounces of intense hard cheese. Traditionally you should use Comte or gruyere, but I used parrano, because it is my favorite intense cheese. Add the cheese to about half the above recipe of choux paste and continue from there.
To make the hazelnut variation: Take a dozen or so hazelnuts and stick them on a baking sheet. Stick them in the oven and toast them at 400 for maybe ten minutes. Pull them out and let them cool a little. Then chop them up, finely, and mix with the choux paste.
Solid recipe. The puffs were a bit less puffy than I had hoped, and a bit less circular than I anticipated, but I think that is a matter of practicing the technique as much as anything else. Certainly the hazelnut ones, which I cooked second, looked a bit better than the cheese ones. I think, for the sake of mastering the technique of course, that I should probably make more versions of these puffs in the near future. I liked the cheese ones a bit more than the hazelnut ones, but I like cheese more that hazelnuts so that isn’t saying much. Serve with red wine, preferably a European red. I had this with a Rioja Tempronillo, but I think any full but not overwhelming red would work. It is, after all, technically an appetizer and thus should be served with a not-too-heavy wine. Song of the week: Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest. One of the many one hit wonders who made life better with their hit. And it’s completely true, you can’t dance and stay uptight – music is magic like that