Monday, June 15, 2009

Kicking off the Summer

My peonies have bloomed and wanted to share them with you. They fill my rooms with such sweet perfume. I'm a bit obsessed at the moment. 

We had some friends over for dinner for some grilling. One of our friends brought over their infamous rack of lamb that had been marinated in a miso marinade that were grilled. Our other friends brought over Tiger shrimp brined and marinated with a pepper rub ready to be grilled. And I made the sweet chili wings that Julie made for us in Laguna Beach. I moved my oven rack to the top 1/3 of the oven. Made sure not to overcrowd the roasting pan. Put in the fridge until we were ready to grill. I reheated the wings on the grill. And they were delish! Used chives in my garden instead of green onions. If I had only taken some pictures because we ate very well that evening. To end the meal we made some cream puffs together. I premade the pastry cream which came out a little runnier than I wanted but still super tasty. I should cook it further than I did, I think.
Here's the recipe for them. I usually make them the size of baseballs but this time we  made them bite size (like pingpong balls) which actually worked out very well. 

Pastry Cream
From Chez Panisse Desserts
Makes 2 1/2 cups
2 c. milk
1/3 c. flour
6 T. sugar
6 egg yolks
1-2 T. unsalted butter
Vanilla bean or 1-2 t. vanilla extract
Scald the milk (heat it just under boiling. when you start seeing steam come up from the surface)Add vanilla bean here. Mix the flour and sugar in a separate saucepan. Beat egg yolks until thick and light colored in a mixer. Whisk hot milk into the mixed flour and sugar saucepan. and cooke over medium heat until it has boiled for a minute.
Whisk a little of the mixture into the egg yolks to warm them. Stir them back into the flour mixture. Mix well and cook over medium heat until it begins to hold its shape (first time you make pastry cream use a thermometer and make sure it gets to 170 degrees. then you will know what it should look like finished). Remove from heat and stir in butter. Add vanilla extract here. Put in storage container. Cover with plastic wrap. Cool in refrigerator until you are ready to fill tart, cake or eclair. If its too stiff out of the frig, just whip it up a little in a mixer. I've also folded in whipped cream to make it even lighter and thinner. I always make the pastry cream the day before to manage my prepping time.

Cream Puffs
From Chez Panisse Desserts
Makes about 26 small puffs
1 c. water
6 T. unsalted butter
1/8 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
1 c. flour
5 large eggs
Heat water, butter, salt, and sugar in saucepan. When boils, remove from heat, add the flour all at once and quickly stir until smooth. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring, until dough makes a ball in pan. Heat a minute or 2 to cook the flour thoroughly. Remove from heat and pour into mixing bowl or kitchen aid. Add one egg at a time while beating until mixed in. Add rest of eggs one by one.
Use parchment paper and put dough in pastry bag and pipe mounds 2 inches apart. You can also just spoon heaps onto baking sheet. Preheat to 400. Put in the oven and immediately turn heat down to 375. Bake for 15 min or until they are golden brown and puffed up. Prick each one with tip of a sharp knife on the side. Put them back in oven for 5 min to dry out the inside. Cool.If you are not using within the hour, crisp them in  375 for a few min before filling.

Chocolate Fondant
From All American Cookies
1/2 water
2 T. light corn syrup
2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 t. vanilla extract
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (melts faster)
Bring water and corn syrup to boil. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour over unsweetened chocolate and mix until all chocolate has melted. Drizzle over filled cream puffs or pipe on top for the perfect eclair. If it cools it gets stiff so add a couple drops of hot water, stir and use warm. This can also be warmed on the stove. I'm sure 8-10 seconds in the microwave also works with thorough stirring after being nuked ;)


Blogger Jer said...

Gorgeous peonies! Makes me want to plant some .. like now! We have some peonies in the kitchen right now. Maura had them at the shower and they were absolutely beautiful. I love them.

Those cream puffs look delicious. How easy/hard??

17 June, 2009 19:41  
Blogger Elaine said...

Easy! My mom taught me to make my first cream puff from the NYTimes cookbook. Restaurants pre-make them, freeze them and then reheat them before serving.

17 June, 2009 22:15  

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