Monday, July 26, 2010

Cream Puffs and Kings of Pastry

As those of you who have been following my Twitter know, I have recently undergone surgery for thyroid cancer. It appears to have been very successful and I returned to work recently.

However, as I continue to heal I am taking a lighter approach on my blog for a few weeks, featuring some old family favorites…the kind of recipes you turn to when you want something simple, yet still delicious and family pleasing.

First up is Cream Puffs made with the simplest of ingredients. Once the technique is mastered, cream puffs are quick and easy to make and sure to please.

What is the nutritional value of a cream puff?
Zero, unless you are starving and need the fat and sugar to keep you alive.
Its History is a Mystery
The truth is, nobody knows for sure who can be credited with creating the lovely cream puff. What we do know is that as early as the 13th century in both southern Germany and France, chefs were creating lovely puff pastries that they baked until the pastry puffed, after which they sliced the pastries open, and filled them with various cheese mixtures.

Chefs at this time had begun experimenting with dough mixtures that included four simple ingredients: flour, water, fat, and egg, the same ingredients used today for cream puffs or choux pastry. They had become fascinated with the delightful results that occur during baking: as the pastry puffs, it creates an airy hole in the middle which just invites a delectable filling.

Cream buns, called pate feuillettée in France, and butter pasted puffs in England, were becoming popular in the early 1500s, using the same famous four ingredients. The filled treats were popular among the wealthy people of that time.

By the mid 19th century in both France and England, the cream puff had become known as the profiterole. Often created in elaborate shapes by skilled pastry chefs, elegant Victorian diners could find cream puffs shaped like swans or pyramids of tiny, fragile chocolate or vanilla filled puffs to nibble on with the dessert wine, tea or coffee. In the United States, the first recorded mention of the cream puff on a restaurant menu dates to 1851 at the Revere House Restaurant in Boston.

What leavens cream puffs?
Cream puffs are leavened by the eggs included in the batter.

Serves 6
Profiteroles au Chocolat (Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce) mise en place

For Choux Pastry:
½ cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 egg, slightly beaten for glazing

Unsalted butter for baking sheets

You can find the recipe for Profiteroles au Chocolat (Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home.
Tasting Notes
To bite into a freshly baked cream puff filled with real whipped cream is to experience sheer delight. The humble four ingredients have now become a light, puffy holder for the delectable filling, creating the perfect, subtle combination of taste and texture. As the cream dribbles down your chin, you’ll find yourself wanting another – and another. . .

"A cream puff is something very basic.
You have to keep it basic.
It's beautiful without doing too much fou fou stuff around it.
Let cream puffs be what they're supposed to be."
—Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, contender for MOF (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, France's highest honor in the art of patisserie)
designation as profiled in the documentary, "Kings of Pastry"
to be released September 2010
Kings of Pastry documentary
Kings of Pastry article
Profiteroles au Chocolat (Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce)
Peppermint Cream Puff Ring...Swan

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    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    3-Star Michelin Event + Demo for Ceviche = Memorable

    Watching Chef Jeremy Bearman from Rouge Tomate in New York demo this recipe on the terrace overlooking the ocean at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island was very memorable. Here's a great demo of Chef Bearman making this Ceviche for a Michelin video:

    Ceviche (seh-VEE-chay) uses fresh, raw fish that's marinated or "cooked" in citric acid, such as lime or lemon juice, which turns the fish an opaque color but keeps its firm texture and fresh, raw taste.

    A key flavoring in this recipe is the kaffir lime leaves that are steeped in sunflower oil, which is the same oil used in the cooking of the Michelin Primacy MXM4 luxury tires.

    And here's the recipe for the Ceviche!

    Recipe for Ceviche of Local Fish with Tropical Fruits and Kaffir Lime-infused Sunflower Oil

    Serves 4 people

    8 pcs Shrimp deveined with head and tail removed
    8 oz Sliced Sushi Grade Fluke
    8 oz Calamari cut into small pieces
    ½ cup cucumber diced
    ½ cup red onion sliced
    2 jalapenos julienne
    Juice of 3 limes
    ¼ cup diced mango
    ¼ cup diced Pineapple
    ¼ cup diced kiwi
    ¼ cup diced papaya
    ½ cup sunflower oil
    5 leaves kaffir lime
    1 tbsp chopped cilantro
    1 tbsp chopped mint
    Sea Salt
    Micro Cilantro to garnish
    ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds to garnish

    For the Shellfish:

    In a hot sauté pan, add about 1 tbsp of sunflower oil. Wait until the oil is just about to start smoking then turn flame off and add the shrimp and calamari. Season with salt and pepper then Cook for just about 10 seconds or until seafood is just barely cooked. Remove the seafood from the pan and cool quickly on a plate in the refrigerator.

    For the Ceviche:

    Add the chilled seafood along with the fluke to a bowl. Add the cucumber, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, mint and two tablespoons of the kaffir lime oil. Season well with salt; toss all together then let sit for at least 5 minutes. Plate the ceviche equally amongst four bowls and garnish with the pieces of tropical fruits, micro cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds.

    For the Sunflower Oil:

    Place a ½ cup of sunflower oil in a very small pot or pan. Bring the oil to a temperature of 180 degrees farenheight and toss in the kaffir lime leaves. Let the leaves steep in the oil until there is a strong flavor imparted. Strain out the leaves and chill the oil.

    This recipe was specially created by Chef Jeremy Bearman for the Michelin Primacy MXM4 tire launch event.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    3-Star Michelin Event + Kicking Tires = Worth a Special Journey

    Not only can Michelin cook tires, they can cook up a great event. {This is part two about my recent trip to South Carolina to taste Michelin-starred food and kick tires. Click here to read part one.}

    After arriving in Charleston, I was handed the keys to a luxury Audi 4 fitted with Michelin's new MXM4 tires. I was driving in style with a moonroof, a GPS to get me to the hotel via a scenic route, snacks, water and even a CD of driving music. For someone who drives a mini van now and whose first car was a Volkswagen Bug, this was luxury on wheels.

    60+ songs to enjoy while driving on these luxury tires:
    Running On Empty (Jackson Brown)
    Riders On the Storm (The Doors)
    Drive (The Cars)
    Little Red Corvette (Prince)
    Baby You Can Drive My Car (Beatles)
    Take the Long Way Home (Supertramp)
    On the Road Again (Willie Nelson)
    Fast Car (Tracy Chapman)

    Click here to read more about this 3-Star Michelin Event!

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    BlogHer and The $100 Question

    I'm participating in the BlogHer $100 question contest today. Go to BlogHer and answer my question for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card from BlogHer.

    My question: What location in the world does (or would) renew your spirit and invigorate your soul?
    • Your answer needs to be entered by 5:00 p.m. Monday, July 5 in order to be eligible.
    • Both US residents and Canadians are eligible to win!
    • Comments must be made at to be eligible for the prize.
    • Commenters must be registered users (and all you need is an email address to register).
     Looking forward to seeing your answers!

    Dancing on a Bridge over The Seine River / Eiffel Tower