Category Archives: Desserts

Pie with wine is a good way to end any day

Last Saturday was a good day. The test kitchen welcomed three OneRoastChicken subscribers for a very successful cooking class. We made (and ate) lots of yummy food: Roast chicken with a spice rub, tinfoil carrots, homemade chicken broth, vegetable corn chowder, trout with fruit salsa, and Dutch apple pie. The house smelled amazing for hours, even with the apple pie boiling over into the sparkling clean oven.

All the food set out … apples for pie far left in blue bowl, pineapple for salsa, celery in a big pot for chicken stock, carrots to be baked in tinfoil, and at the very far right cans of creamed corn for the vegetable soup

As Jessica and Jennifer and Suzanne peeled apples, measured spices, stirred and baked, we chatted about the dinners you can get away with when you’re single and young (microwave popcorn, entire bags of kettle chips, toast and peanut butter, crackers and cheese). But now as everyone’s getting older, lives have shifted, and old patterns of eating just don’t work anymore. You can no longer get by on a chocolate bar for breakfast. People get married, have kids, need to stop eating take out, need to pack lunches. If you’re me, you discover that having a captive audience (husband) who’ll eat just about anything (André will), means that I’m more likely to experiment, make new things, be brave, try a new recipe, to make falafels at home even though they involve deep frying in a pot of boiling oil (scary).

Yesterday, while we were making soup, we talked about how to use up leftover fresh lasagne sheets (why not cut them into strips and boil like fettuccini?), how to use up leftover lime (beer, lemonade, cranberry juice), and about how I feel no guilt asking the produce guy at the grocery store to take apart this lovely tray of jalapeno peppers wrapped in cellophane and just wrap up one single pepper for me, no thanks, I don’t need six, I just need one. It cost 46¢.

The “student chickens” – as André calls all subscribers “your chickens” – well, the student chickens had lots of ideas for new classes and new cookbooks. How about a November cooking class where we work though a dinner party, from start to finish – a nice appetizer, Caesar salad, garlic bread, lasagne, chocolate cake – complete with how to get the timing right, grocery list, planning. One student chicken says that even though she’s often invited out to her friends’ places for dinner, she doesn’t feel confident enough to invite people back to her place. “And that’s bad karma,” she says.

When I suggested having a December cooking class where we did a whole bunch of Christmas baking (easy shortbreads, light fruit cake, cranberry chocolate bars, spicy ginger snaps) – everyone thought that was a great idea, especially if they got to take all the baking home at the end of the class. Sure, why not.

As it was, all three student chickens left with many plastic containers of leftover soup, chicken, fish with salsa, and pie. Did I mention the pie? I had shared some with them when we had our shared meal, but I finished off the rest once they had gone home, and André and I opened more wine. I was tired but very happy. And pie with wine is a good way to end any day 🙂


As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.
You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.
Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

PS/ The next cooking class

The next Roast Chicken and Apple Pie cooking class is coming up next weekend, Saturday, November 10th, from 1 pm to 6 pm. The class will take place in Montreal, in the fully equipped One Roast Chicken test kitchen. To register, visit here. It’s not very often that you get the chance to take part in a small cooking class like this one with *only 3 students* and lots of one-on-one instruction.

I also received a few questions, which I would like to answer now:

Q. Is this a demonstration class or a participation class?

A. I believe in hands-on training. This will NOT be a demonstration class where you just watch me cook and you stand around for hours. No way! Sure, you’ll watch me a bit, but then you’ll leap in there and you’ll be prepping and cooking and chopping and baking and EATING.

Q. What recipes will we be making?

A. Together, we are going to be busy cooking for the entire 5 hours. You’re going to make a Spicy Roast Chicken (called Grant’s Chicken) with tinfoil baked carrots with thyme. After that, we’re going to make chicken broth from scratch. And because I get so many emails asking me about cooking fish (like, “how do you know when it’s ready?”), you’re also going to make Trout with Fruit Salsa. Next you’re going to make a lovely Corn Chowder with red and green pepper. And finally, for dessert, how about Dutch Apple Pie with two kinds of seasonal apples and a sweet crunchy topping.

I enjoyed [the class] a lot! It gave me the confidence to try it on my own. Now that I know what [the pie] would look like, it ain’t complicated to make and is delicious … I’ll be sure to make 1 of the recipes 1 day this week. I admit, the minute I got home, even though I was full, I had to take another bite of the pie. — Jennifer

Q. What is included in the course registration fee?

A. Everything is included. Your registration fee of $169 CDN includes everything you’ll need for the class. There are no supplies for you to buy. No groceries for you to bring. You don’t have to bring anything! You just have to show up with smile on your face, ready to learn … and we’re going to have a great time.

Here’s what’s included:

— Included: Five hours of instruction in a small group limited to 3 people.

— Included: All of the fabulous fresh ingredients and groceries that you’ll need to cook all afternoon.

— Included: Tasting and enjoying all the food that you’ve just learned to make.

Q. If I don’t get into this November 10th class, when is the next one?

A. I haven’t scheduled the classes for the new year yet, as I’m waiting to see what my travel schedule will be (I’m trying to book space for cooking classes in British Columbia for January); but probably this Roast Chicken / Apple Pie class won’t be offered again in Montreal until February 2008 at the earliest.

Q. How can I register?

You can go here and fill out a simple registration form, then you’ll be whisked away to Paypal so you can pay 🙂

PPS/ If you’re unable to attend this class, you might be interested in the illustrated cooking lessons available in “Successful Home Cooking.” Valerie from Washington calls it her Home Cooking School.

How I got started cooking at age 12

How did I get started cooking when I was 12? Well, I literally had no choice, considering my electives during my Grade 7 school year were (1) Family Living (girl and boy body parts, puberty, etc.), (2) Metal Class, (3) Woodworking (where my sister nearly lost a finger), (4) Sewing, and finally (5) Cooking class.

So the decision wasn’t that difficult: a three-legged table or apple crisp? I choose the cooking class.

My junior high school memories are grey: smelly classes, ineffectual teachers, and generally being misbehaved. Yet, in Cooking class, I had the chance to make and eat something, which broke up the stupendous dullness of Geography (we called it Geograph-Free because the teacher didn’t do anything and expected the same from us).

By contrast, the Cooking classroom was a well-ordered space. Drawers pulled out to reveal black outlines drawn inside showing where to put measuring cups after they were washed and dried. There was a full-functioning teacher at the front of the room demonstrating how to peel an apple, how to test if the butter was soft enough, and don’t forget to preheat your oven.

Then magically, about 40 minutes later, the timer went off, we removed pans from the oven, and there was apple crisp for two. We served it with whipped cream, couldn’t wait until it was cool enough, the whipped cream instead melting into white soup.

That’s it. That’s the whole story. In the middle of my grim junior high school years, there’s this little bit of sunshine — warm apple crisp in a tiny portion. It makes enough to share, but I’ve also eaten leftovers cold for breakfast!

I still remember that feeling of accomplishment, at age 12, and it was pretty fabulous. As the eldest of four girls, I believe I promptly went home and announced that I knew how to cook, and made up a double batch to share with my sisters.

And now I’ve replicated this entire event many times in my adult life, including this past weekend. Peel a few apples after dinner, mix up the crunchy topping, put it in the oven, breathe deeply as the house fills with the smell of apple and cinnamon. Since it’s the weekend we can open some wine, then take the apple crisp out of the oven, let it cool a bit, but I still can’t wait long enough. Serve with fresh whipped cream flavoured with a bit of vanilla.

[Photo credits: Kris Brandhagen]


Apple Crisp for Two

(original recipe from Shelley’s Grade 7 cooking class, Gorsebrook School, Halifax, Nova Scotia)

2 cups (500 mL) Macintosh apples, peeled, cored & sliced (approx. 2 med. apples)
½ cup (125 mL) brown sugar
¼ (60 mL) cup flour
¼ (60 mL) cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) cinnamon
½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) nutmeg
3 tablespoons (45 mL) soft butter

Grease a rectangular bread (loaf) pan. Put the apples in the bottom of the pan. Mix the other ingredients in a small bowl, and sprinkle on top of the apples. Make sure no apples are showing (or they’ll burn). Cook @ 350°F (180°C, gas mark 4) for 30 to 35 minutes.


As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Just hit reply to this email and drop me a line 🙂 You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,  Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

Apple Pie for 1 or 2

When I was a single girl, I never made a full-sized apple pie. Because who would eat it all? (Or worse, what if I ate it all myself?) If you’ve never made apple pie before, making a baby pie is a good way to get started. Here are some photos to get you inspired to make a tiny baby pie which is suitable for two if you must share, or for one if you’re hungry.

When is the last time you made apple pie?

Cut a frozen 9″ pie crust in half and save the rest for later.
Put the half you’re using in a zipper bag and leave it on the counter to defrost.
Roll out the pie crust to be just a bit bigger than your pie tin.
Place dough in the pan.
Now it’s time to prepare the apples, two different kinds for maximum squishy-ness and taste.
You slice the two apples, approximatley the same thickeness throughout.
Toss with flour, sugar, and some spices to make it taste very yummy.
Put the apples in the crust and fold up the edges.
Prepare the crumble topping (butter, flour, sugar) and don’t overmix — keep a few large lumps.
Presto, you’re nearly done. Put it in the oven on a smal sheet of tinfoil in case it overflows…
This is a half-serving, which is still a respectable portion if you are forced to share…

These pictures are just a sampling of the complete illustrated lesson for Apple Pie for One (Recipe 1.11) . The complete recipe lesson is available in Successful Home Cooking. My goal? To help you become a successful at-home cook. To order your copy of the 122-page full-colour book, click here.

If you have any questions about pie or anything else, just send me a note. You can always reach me at Shelley@OneRoastChicken.com.

All best wishes, and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com



Four things I always have in my freezer

I live in an apartment with a small freezer that is part of my fridge. So without the luxury or expense of a big deep freeze, I still use my in-fridge freezer all the time to make my cooking life easier. Here are four things that I always have:

1. When I’m making Chicken Tandoori which calls for 1.5 teaspoons of lemon juice, I take my lemon, remove the zest with a microplaner or box grater, and then wrap the zest in plastic and stick it in the freezer. This comes in handy for Apple Pie for One, which calls for just a bit of lemon zest. OK, so then I cut the lemon in half, and juice both halves, and this produces about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. I use what I need for Chicken Tandoori, then I put the rest in a small jar in the freezer. I save tiny jars for lemon juice, like the kind that capers come in.

2. I make a Roast Chicken dinner about every two weeks or so. In my house, a small chicken makes enough for the two of us for dinner (we eat the white meat), and then when the chicken has cooled off, I remove the leftover chicken and freeze it in a plastic container. Now I’m fully equipped for my favourite Friday night one-bowl dinner (Thai Curried Chicken). I just pull out the frozen chicken and add it to the pot of bubbling coconut milk and vegetables while the meat is still frozen.

3. I buy lean ground beef from the grocery store in a jumbo family pack, and then I freeze it in half-pound packages. When I want to make hamburgers, I pull out one half-pound package and a couple of sausages and I’m ready to cook. If we’re feeling more like Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup, then I defrost three half-pound packages.

 

4. I make chicken broth from the leftover bones every time I roast a chicken. And once the broth is made, I freeze it in one-cup jars that might otherwise be used for jam, or I reuse pickle jars (or others) which hold about 4 cups. We go through a lot of chicken broth on a weekly basis so it’s definitely cheaper and easier to have homemade on hand. I use chicken broth instead of water to cook rice. I use it to make Instant Beef Soup (which uses a combination of beef and chicken broths to get the best flavour). And my favourite Thai Curried Chicken recipe needs 1/3 cup of broth in the sauce, and then more broth to cook the rice.

To make these recipes and more…

Check out OneRoastChicken’s new cookbook, “Successful Home Cooking” which is now available for order. This is not another cookbook. This is a cooking school in full-colour delivered right to your kitchen. All recipes include pages of colour photography and step-by-step instructions. And to keep you on budget, every recipe includes the price per serving. How about Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup for $1.32 per serving? Or Chicken Tandoori for $1.81? Order your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” now…

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,
Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

More cooking disasters

Thanks for all of the hilarious feedback from last week’s letter. Some of you asked to hear more of my disaster stories. Here are three more stories, all (unfortunately) from this past year …

On New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d try out the new pasta machine I got for Christmas. The first batch of dough I made turned into a giant thick glue in the food processor and nearly burned out the motor in the machine. André washed it all out, dried and wiped, and I started again with a different recipe.

On Valentine’s Day, also this year, A. worked all day and then went to school in the evening until 9 pm. The tiramisu that I slaved over turned out great, but the shrimp stirfry I tried to prepare for Valentine’s Day dinner was completely inedible. The shrimp were old and frozen and smelly, although the fish boutique had definitely charged me otherwise. Dumped into the garbage.

So, there I was, staring into the freezer at 9 pm wondering: what are we going to have for dinner when I have no groceries? I defrosted a half-pound of ground beef (we had neither sausage meat, nor buns) and I made two hamburger patties to serve with the rice and veggies from the failed shrimp dish. Truth be told, A. would have picked meatloaf if I had asked him what he wanted for Valentine’s dinner, it’s his all-time favourite meal. I was just trying to show off with the shrimp thing…

 

OK. One more. I’ve got a ham cooking in the oven, the house smells great. I was making the pineapple juice glaze to go on top. I put the pot on to boil, then leave the kitchen to go and check my email. And really, no more than 8 minutes later, the smoke alarm is going off, the kitchen is filled with thick black smoke, and the security company is phoning to verify if it’s a real fire before they send the fire trucks. I am forced to open the windows. Was it snowing? It was darn cold. I flapped a dish towel around the kitchen, in front of the smoke detector, wind and snow blowing in, dancing around frantically trying to get rid of the smell …Worst of all, the burnt juice glaze had magically transformed into cement that could not be separated from my favourite, lovely, no-stick pot. While André did later try to clean it with oven cleaner (!), we finally had to put my favourite pot in the garbage. (Oh there’s a whole story here about trying to buy the replacement pot… have you tried to buy one item from a set? It almost can’t be done. The stores can’t help you. I had to finally go online and special order just the one pot from the manufacturer. And it’s lovely. It’s my curried chicken pot. Can’t live without it.)

 

Do you have a kitchen disaster story? Just post a comment or drop me a line 🙂 I might use your story in an upcoming cooking letter. Got pictures? Send those, too.
You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.
Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

Cooking disasters and cooking success

Everyone has a great cooking disaster story. And they happen from time to time. Double a cookie recipe but forget to double the sugar. Results are inedible and end up in the garbage.

I used to be really sad when this happened. Think of the waste, the cost, why am I such an idiot? I remember once when I was about 20 years old, and not a very experienced cook, I attempted to make a pork stew using my aunt’s recipe. The whole thing was a giant disaster — pork too tough to eat (she must have used pork tenderloin, where I had picked something tough and cheap). I remember shedding tears as I threw the entire meal in the trash. Waste. Cost. Idiot.

Since then, I’ve discovered a few secrets to successful cooking.

1. A great recipe with step-by-step instructions.

Don’t you love recipes that help you succeed? How about recipes that let you follow along with pictures so you can see if you’re in the right place, getting the right results. Recipe 1.5 > Dutch Apple Pie is a perfect example.

2. A real person who can explain the tricks to making the recipe successfully.

This could be your mom or your neighbour.

Or it can be me! Send me an email, I’d be happy to answer your questions.

I believe that every recipe has a “recipe gremlin” — a little trick that if you don’t know about, the recipe won’t turn out as well as it could. And most people don’t tell you about the recipe gremlins… They say peel and core the apples, but do they remind you check the insides of each apple section for that plastic-like piece of apple core that you DO NOT want to find in your pie? (In the photos above for Recipe 1.5 > Dutch Apple Pie, this recipe gremlin is explained in step #4).

3. A great cheering section who’ll support your attempts, and who’ll eat your recipes, no matter what!

This can be your husband, wife, grandkids – anyone who’ll say “that’s great” even when it isn’t. And when you burn the potatoes he’ll say “I like them that way” when probably he doesn’t.

 

And while I still sometimes have kitchen disasters, I’m more matter-of-fact about it now. If you cook often enough, sometimes it’s not going to work out as planned. I try to have a sense of humour about it.

My cheering section says “ce n’est pas grave” (literally: it’s not grave, but really what he’s saying is “it doesn’t matter.”) And finally, I’m starting to believe him.

Do you have a kitchen disaster story?

Just post a comment. Got pictures? Send those, too.
You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,
Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

Survey + free apple pie recipe

I am hard at work on a new book for One Roast Chicken, and rather than guess what people want, I decided to ask you — since you’re someone who is interested in cooking, you like tips and tricks, and you’re always looking for easy ways to get dinner on the table.

I have a free gift (bribe) for you!

I’ve created a short survey that’ll take you less than 2 minutes to fill out.

> Survey link
> Link to survey on webpage

And as a thank you (bribe) for filling out this survey, I will send you a FREE copy of the recipe I’m working on: Dutch Apple Pie. This recipe is nearly done, and I’ll send it to you for FREE as soon as it’s ready (value $5 Cdn).

Here’s the catch.

I’m only going to share this gift with the first 100 people who complete the survey. This means you’ll have to ACT FAST if you want to be one of the lucky people who not only gets to share their brain with me, but who also gets the reward of APPLE PIE!

After 100 Apple Pie recipes are given away, the survey will shut down. So you better do this right now — take two minutes of your time and scroll down to the survey. You’ll get your copy of the Apple Pie recipe as soon as I finish eating it, err… finish testing it.

> Survey link
> Link to survey on webpage

Thanks in advance for your feedback and help 🙂

Bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu
Owner & Head Chef
http://www.OneRoastChicken.com

A Valentine’s Day story in three parts (Part 3)

Part 3

In the first two parts of this story, I was telling you about my misadventures in trying to impress my (then) boyfriend with an elaborate puff pastry dessert for Valentine’s Day.

In the completion of the Valentine’s Day story, I’m going to show you the pictures of the cake as it’s being made and assembled.

To make cream puffs, I started by making a batter of butter, water, flour and eggs. It starts off looking like pancake batter, but a little thicker. Then you heat it up. I’ve never heated batter before. It’s all very strange.

So I kept stirring, not sure what was happening, and then it started to pull into a coherent ball of dough (or several smaller balls)

These are the puffs cooking in the oven from the first trial in January. They turned out to be too big and after we ate a few we threw the rest out.

They sell sponge cakes at the grocery store… but only in the summer. It was impossible to find one in February … so I make my own from scratch (it was fine but not lovely, next time I’d add some flavouring, like alcohol!).

Again, I could have bought instant pudding and used Cool-Whip. But at the time I believed the future of my relationship was at stake. So I made the custard from scratch.

My pastry bag still had left over puff pastry batter in it, so I used an icing squirter-plunger-thing and just kept refilling it.

I heated up sugar to make caramel. It really smells like burnt marshmallows when it’s overdone, so I tried to stop before I smelled campfire (but was unsuccessful).

I put the rest of the pudding-cream mixture in the flan and tried to make it look smooth and lovely.

Using tongs, I dipped each filled puff into the sugar sauce, and placed on a tray to cool. They became rock hard at this stage. Once the flan had been filled, I arranged the choux buns around the edge of the flan, just inside the rim and decorated with strawberries.    

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This year, for Valentine’s Day … well, we’re married now, so perhaps the pressure is off? Nah, I’m still in super-impress mode. I think it’s a setting I can’t turn off 🙂

I’m going to make Tiramisu with Brandy Custard (yes, again with the homemade custard, although I like the idea of brandy, and I think I’ll buy the ladyfinger cookies at the Italian market, I won’t try to make those from scratch). I’ll take pictures, and share my success (or lack thereof) after February 14th.

PS/ I know someone out there is going to scold me for not giving you the recipes for the the above Gateau-St-Honore. It was a pretty advanced adventure, even for me, but if really really really want to see the recipes, I’ve posted them here.

PPS/ If you want to see a Flash slideshow version of the above images, including a few bonus pictures (such as the shot of what my kitchen really looks like when I’m cooking), you can visit this link.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.
You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

 

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

A Valentine’s Day story in three parts (Part 2)

Part 2

In the first part of this story, I began to tell you about my adventures in making Gateau St Honore for the first time — a complicated, multi-stage dessert. In January, I was making the puff pastries in advance, as a trial run, to ensure that on Valentine’s Day the whole thing would come off without a hitch. Only problem was that on my first attempt at making puff pastry, I discovered that the inside of each puff was raw…

I’ve spent the time cooking these things, and when they’re done, I open up each one while they’re still hot. Let me describe what the inside of these puffs really look like. Once I split them open, I find a lump of uncooked batter that smells suspiciously (very strongly) of eggs. It resembles scrambled eggs, in fact.

So I diligently scrape out the scrambled eggs, as the Julia Child recipe says I will have to. I scrape it with my fingers, from each and every puff (1). It’s disgusting. It is so grim, in fact, that we eat a few of them and throw the rest of the trial batch in the garbage.

Distressed, I call my mother long distance. My mother can be difficult. One area where I can generally talk to her (and not get into an argument) is on the subject of food. She’s a good cook. She has 20 years more cooking experience than I do. And she’s from the south shore of Nova Scotia so she’s got this “easiest is best” mindset.

Mother says: “Use the recipe in the Purity Flour Cook Book.”

She always says this. When in doubt, use this book. It’s like my grandmother, who says “put a little ozonol on it,” like that’ll solve all problems. Rash, heartburn, broken arm. Well, if you’re my mother (let’s call her Sherri, since that is her name), well if you’re Sherri, you use the Purity Cook Book to solve all of life’s problems.

I try to argue with her that the four remaining recipes I have (including Purity) are identical – all include more flour than Julia (therefore the batter would arguably be less eggy). And I figured if I made the puffs smaller the second time, I’d solve the scrambled-eggs-centre problem.

But Sherri is insistent that the Purity book is old fashioned, and therefore more reliable. What about my collected Gourmet edition I’d gotten for Christmas? What about the new edition of the Joy of Cooking? No, Sherri says, stick with Purity.

She then says something snarky like “I’ve made almost every recipe in that book, including the pickles. And every single one of them has worked out.”

Well, doesn’t that sound like a challenge? Maybe one day I’ll take a page from The Julie/Julia Project, and I’ll make every recipe in the Purity Flour Cook Book just to see if my mother might be exaggerating. Maybe someday, but not today.

I did use the Purity recipe on Valentine’s Day to make the cream puffs (2). I’m sure it’s the same as the Joy of Cooking or Gourmet. But really, I had to do what my mother told me to do.

I might be 40, but I’m not stupid.

Stay tuned… in Part 3 you’ll get to see all of the pictures of the cake as it’s being made and assembled… and I’ll let you know my plans for Valentine’s Day this year 🙂

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.
You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

 

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

A Valentine’s Day story in three parts (Part 1)

Part 1

Last year, I let my (then) boyfriend pick out any dessert he wanted for Valentine’s Day. When I said to him “what’s your favourite dessert?” I expected him to say strawberry shortcake, or apple pie. Or how about my famous apple streudel cheesecake? I thought maybe he’d settle for a nice Safeway store-bought Black Forest Cake.

No such luck.

After searching on the internet for a bit, he found a link to a fancy cake – Gateau St Honore – apparently something from his French Canadian childhood. (Why is it, then, that I can only find a recipe for it on an Australian website?)

The recipe he picked looks impossibly difficult, especially with the British/Australian measurements and descriptions. So I set about recreating the recipe using my own cookbooks, pulling in bits and pieces from sources that I trusted.

As this recipe was clearly complicated, and the future of my relationship relied on its success (it was our first Valentine’s Day together, after all, and I was still in super-impress mode), I decided to break the recipe into stages, and to make stage one (the puff pastry) in January. I needed a test run of the pastry to make sure I could figure it out. Puff pastry scared me. The other parts seemed easy enough — make a cake, make a custard, whip some cream. But I wasn’t sure I could make puff pastry. Or is it choux pastry? Are they even the same thing?

Really, it wasn’t long after the beginning of January when I sat at the dining room table with five different cookbooks spread around me. I start reading about puff pastry. The recipes looked virtually identical. Apparently, if you did it right, the little bundles of raw dough bake up nice and light and HOLLOW, which makes them perfect for filling up with good stuff.

For my trial run of phase one puff pastry making, I decided to go with the Julia Child cookbook, the only one of the five recipes that was slightly different in terms of its ingredients. It contains ¼ cup less flour, thus giving it a higher flour-to-egg ratio than the others. I thought, “I’m sure Julia’s the one, I’m sure she’s got it figured out.”

I made Julia’s recipe, and really she has such a lovely writing style, I couldn’t help but believe that I would create an absolutely beautiful work of art. Here’s what she says:

You cannot fail with puff shells – as mounds of pâte à choux puff and brown automatically in a hot oven – if you take the proper final measures to insure the shells remain crisp. A perfect puff is firm to the touch, tender and dry to the taste. Hot puffs will seem perfectly cooked when taken from the oven, but … there is always an uncooked center portion… large puffs are split, and often their uncooked centers are removed. This is actually the only secret to puff making. (pp. 177-178)

Did you catch that? Part of it will be uncooked…

Stay tuned, tomorrow I’ll share Part 2 with you, where I am reduced to calling my mother to ask for advice.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.
You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

 

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com


To view recipes for download…

Visit this link. Have you downloaded your meatloaf recipe yet? This complete recipe includes a complete meal for 4-6, as well as a separate mini-recipe for creating individual, single-serving, baby, mini meat loaves. Do you need to impress your boyfriend? Girlfriend? You need to download this Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup recipe right now and get cooking!

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If you’d like to share our site, this blog, and the amazing illustrated Recipe 1.1 for Roast Chicken with Rosemary, why not visit this page here and we’ll zip off a quick message to your friends to let them know about our site. No spamming, I promise.