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Croque en Bouche Part 2: Pâte à choux

Hi there, and welcome to my big-croque-en-bouche-comeback-challenge! If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, make sure to take a look at the introduction and part 1! To be honest, I should have posted this some while ago. Everybody must get tired of me saying this, but I’m going to try harder to maintain this blog! Having said that, I’m very pleased to tell you that my pâte à choux (also known as choux pastry) turned out remarkably well! That is to say, it rose the way it was supposed to, I still have a lot of practice to go before I can use a pastry bag the way I’d want to. Fun fact: if you’d make a literal translation of the dutch word for pastry bag, namely “spuitzak” you’d get “squirting bag”. But enough with the kinky talk, lets get cooking!

Ingredients

  • 250 ml water or milk (I used milk)
  • 150 g flower, sieved
  • 100 g buter
  • 4-5 eggs
  • a pinch of salt

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 225°C (which is about 440°F)
  • Bring your milk/water to a boil with a pinch of salt and add your butter.
  • Leave your pot on your heat source and add all the flower at once, making sure you’re stirring vigorously.
  • Using a spatula, keep squishing your dough until seems pretty dry and sticks together as a bal.
  • Transfer your dough to a mixing bowl and let it cool down a bit. (crumble it apart to let it cool down more quickly)
  • Once your dough has cooled down, beat in the egg one by one. You might not need the 5th egg. You want a dough that’s quite firm, but liquid enough to go through a pastry bag.
  • Fill up your pastry bag and start squirting on a baking tray that’s lined out with some baking paper

Don’t forget to check out the slideshow for step by step instructions!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PS: A nerdy update! I’ve decided to start using the wordpress slideshow instead of the flickr one. This is more convenient for me as it needs less work to post, and also, the flickr one uses flash whereas the wordpress slidshow relies on a combination of javascript and css (yes, only nerds understand what I’m talking about). This means that starting with this post, you can visit your favourite food blog using any device (including mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) and still be able to enjoy those marvelous slideshows!

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Croque en Bouche Part 1: Crème Pâtissière (pastry cream)

Here’s part 1 of my big comeback challenge! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go ahead and take a look at the previous post. To start off with, we’re making our pastry cream, or as the french like to call it crème pâtissière. (I’m not the biggest fan of the French language, I do like it more since I stopped having it in school so I apologize if you catch me using too much french words). There are about a billion different ways of making this, I’m showing you my way, which is a slight variation on the original recipe I found. Don’t worry, it turned out great! ;)

Ingredients

  • 1 l whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100 g flower, sieved
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar (about 8g)
  • 4 eggs

Method

  • Put the milk in a large sauce pan.
  • Cut the vanilla pod in half (lengthwise), scrape out the seeds with the blunt side of your knife and add it to the milk. For extra flavour, you can add the emptied pods to the milk as well. Bring the milk to a slow simmer. Give it a whisk now and then.
  • While your milk is simmering, whisk together your flower, sugar, vanilla sugar and eggs until you get a smooth texture.
  • When you think the milk is ready, take out the emptied pods  and poor the milk onto your egg mixture. Make sure your whisking while doing this, we don’t want to cook the eggs!
  • Transfer the mixture back to the sauce pan and bring it to a short boil, while whisking vigorously (you don’t want it to burn).
  • When you cream has been brought to a boil, turn of the heat and let it cool. While it’s cooling it will continue to thicken so don’t worry if you think it’s slightly to liquid.

TIPS

  • You can replace the vanilla pod by some vanilla aroma (not essence!)
  • You can spike your cream with some extra flavour, I used a shot of rum but you can use coffee, toffee, chocolate (although this will change the color), orange blossem water,… go ahead and experiment some!
  • When you’re letting the cream cool down, you can press some plastic wrap on it so it won’t create a milk-skin.

Check out the slideshow for step-by-step instructions!

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My big comeback/challenge

Hi there! I hope you all had a laugh with my little tribute to april fools day, but lets face it, I have some making up to do. Therefore I prepared a challenge for myself! I saw this a couple of months ago on a reality/cooking show and it’s called a “croque en bouche” which is french for “crispy in your mouth”. It is made out of profiteroles (the orbs), which is filled with crème pattisière (aka pastry cream), it is then dipped in chocolat icing and built up like a tower so it finally looks something like this:

In the picture above you can see the example we bought and ate a few weeks ago. We got this beautiful specimen at Schoenaers here in Antwerp. I always thought of Schoenaers as being one of the best pastry makers in Antwerp and was sure this was going to be a treat. I am however somewhat sad to say I was a bit dissapointed when I had my first bite. The profiteroles weren’t filled with crème pattisière, but with whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, but when your expecting something and find out something entirely different you can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.

So because of this experience, and because my egocentric self thinks it can do anything that one of the best pastry shops in Antwerp can (and possibly even better), and to make up for my long absence in the blogging scene. I introduce to you my challenge: I will make my own croque en bouche! And I will of course document and post about it every step of the way: the making of the crème pattisière, the profiterolles and the chocolat icing. I myself find this quite the challenge because I never made any of this, and I’ve always heard that pâte a choux (which is the dough the profiteroles are made out of) is one of the hardest doughs there is to make. But then again, what’s life without challenges?

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A new month, a new beginning!

Hi everybody! (cfr. Dr. Nick Riviera, The Simpsons)

It has been over a month since my last post and I would like to apologize for this misbehavior on my account by explaining what happened. It all started out february 22, the day after my last post. I was called by an american journalist, claiming to be a writer for Saveur Magazine. John (for that was his name) told me they were planning doing an in-depth story on starting bloggers and having just read my blog, he was wondering if I wanted to be a part of it. I was a bit skeptical at first but decided I had nothing to lose and went ahead with it. John would arrange a plane ticket for the next to day and have me flown over to the big apple, New York City. I NYC a bunch of us young bloggers were put into a restaurant and were given a green light to do whatever we wanted for a month. We named our restaurant “The Blog” and needless to say, we were a big hit in the culinary scene. We even had one of my idols Jamie Oliver dropping by to have taste, as he was in the neighborhood for his new tv show “Jamie’s Food Revolution”.  After a month we all left with tears in our eyes, but we all knew this was coming and are glad we had the opportunity to collaborate on this wonderful project. The story is expected in the April or March issue of Saveur Magazine; and there will also be a mini documentary series airing on the food network starting tomorrow!

greetings,

Attila

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A side dish with a history (“french” fries)

Yes, it has finaly arrived! A new recipe post! It’s been a while, but haven’t been lazy! (or atleast not the whole time) If you go back to the brownies post, you’ll see that I’ve updated it with a fancy smancy new slideshow. And you may also noticed that I’ve finally updated the Prague on the road part 1, part 2 and part 3 posts! Now lets get started on the actual post!

The dish we’re talking about today is fries. Did you notice how I left out the “french” part? That’s because my belgian pride prohibits me to say they’re french. Ok, that’s a bit exaggerated. But I do however have to tell you that I am a firm believer that french fries are actually belgian! And here’s why: “A Belgian legend claims that the term “French” was introduced when British or American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I, and consequently tasted Belgian fries. They supposedly called them “French”, as it was the official language of the Belgian Army at that time.” And since it’s on Wikipedia, it HAS to be true! But enough yammering, here’s how to make propper “french” fries ;)

Ingredients

  • potatoes (preferably with a high starch content)
  • salt

equipment: you can get a fancy smancy deep fryer, but if you don’t have one, you can just use a thick bottomed, wide pot and a couple of liters vegetable oil (like sunflower for example). After frying, when the oil had cooled down, you can strain it and keep it for another time.

Method

  • Peel and slice your potatoes to a desired thickness. I like mine quite thick, thicker ones also absorb less oil or fat, ergo are less thickening.
  • Give them a proper wash under cold water, twice if necessary.
  • Pat them dry and fry them a first time at 145° C (=290° F). Fry them until the soften, just take one out when you think they’re done to check.
  • Take them out and spread them out on some paper towels (the paper towels absorb the excess fat).
  • When the fries are cooled down, fry them a second time, this time at 180° C (=360° F). This time you’re frying them to get a crisp skin and some nice golden yellow collor.
  • When done, serve them in a bowl lined with some more paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

TIP: Always fry small batches, too large quantities will make your oil drop in temperature.

Check out the slideshow for step by step instructions!

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A wake up call (Jamie Oliver’s TED speech)

I was planning on writing a new recipe post and making some updates on some older posts, but then I found this speech on TED.com. In this speech Jamie Oliver (whom I greatly admire for his passion and inspiring me to start cooking so many years ago) talks about obesity in America, but lets not fool ourselves, this problem isn’t just limited to America. It’s about time we do something about it. It’s time we wake up.

http://www.TED.com is one of my favourite sites on the web, go to the “TED Talks” section to get some inspiring and interesting speeches from experts all around the world about a wide range of topics. I strongly recommend it to everyone.

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