Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker

Girl Gourmet is the newest line of 'girl toy' from Jakks Pacific. We tried out the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker and the kids had a blast, both girl and boy alike. The cupcakes bake in a mere 30 seconds, making this the fastest 'craft' I've ever done with the kids. It comes equipped with a bowl, spatula and special measuring spoon for mixing the included cupcake and icing mixes, cupcake liners with fun prints, sprinkles, a special cupcake baker and the big guy - the cupcake icer. Simply place the baked cupcake on the icer, press down on the arm, and the icing comes out in a perfect swirl on the top of the cake.

Check out the Girl Gourmet website for information, monthly giveaways and more!

The Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker and refills can be purchased at stores all over the U.S., including WalMart and online at Amazon.com.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Lavash Crackers

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge is hosted by Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. This month's challenge was vegan and/or gluten free. The main recipe was for Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180).

The Challenge: Make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it.

I've made crackers before, but more akin to a cheddar shortbread than a real cracker. These were fabulous! I loved the dough; it was very easy to work with and even the crackers that weren't very thin were still delicious! I made mine into small rounds and added kosher salt and sesame seeds to the tops. My dips were a roasted zucchini spread and black bean and red pepper mix.

Here are the recipes, which were really more just a 'thrown together' type thing.

Roasted Zucchini Spread

1 large zucchini
2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic - minced
1 teaspoon salt

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and lay cut sides down in a shallow baking pan. Bake until soft at 350 degrees F - about 30 minutes. Scoop flesh from zucchini and combine with remaining ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Black Bean and Red Pepper Relish

1 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegan Italian dressing

Blend well and chill until serving time.

Robbie Burns is Turning in His Pine Box

I had the pleasure last evening and this morning of attending the annual Celtic Classic held here in Bethlehem. It's the one time of year where our whole family actually fits in somewhere. The redheads don't stick out like sore thumbs and Declan is able to find wares with his name imprinted on them.

Like everything else, to me it's all about the food. When we go and the kids want to get hot dogs, I shudder. How can you possibly eat a hot dog at the Celtic Fest? Ah well, they don't know any better, the wee bairns. I forgive them for their ignorance.

I, however, had the Shepherd's Pie and Pasty along with scones and shortbread (over two days' time). I stopped short of haggis, which I've written of before, and although I refuse to eat it myself, I do think it's essential to Scottish festing. I mean, any food that has prose written about it is worth the continuing tradition.

I've always felt that canned haggis was a little odd. It's foul enough without having to can it and let it stew and deepen in flavor (that's a big question mark) over time. This year, what I really found disturbing was canned VEGETARIAN haggis. When I first saw the cans of Stahly's Vegetarian Haggis, I asked the proprietor at that particular stand if that stuff was legal. She laughed and then I told her that Robert Burns would surely be turning over in his grave.

Vegetarian, that means sans meat - which, for haggis, means oatmeal and onions. She pointed out that there was more in there than that, but I can't shake the notion that they are toying with tradition. Shameful.

Oh well, I won't be trying either version, so I guess my viewpoint doesn't really matter, does it?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rich Meatball Stew

Stew is a favorite around here when the weather turns cooler and meatballs are a constant favorite, so this stew is well received. Any red wine can be used, but try not to get the store-bought 'cooking wine'. It's full of sodium and lacks the body of a good wine. Buy something you like to drink because this only uses a cup of wine and you'll want to put the rest to good use.

Rich Meatball Stew
Serves 6-8
Printable Recipe

2 lbs meatballs 2" in diameter each
2 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into quarters
1 lb baby carrots, peeled
1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I like a large grind)
2 cloves garlic - minced (if not already in the meatballs)
5 cups beef stock or broth
1 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
several sprigs of fresh thyme
flour and water to thicken, if necessary

Brown meatballs and drain well. Add remaining ingredients except flour and water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender and meatballs are done, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove bay leaf and thyme and thicken liquid with flour and water if needed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Have You Caught the Foodbuzz?

I have belonged to many online food communities, and still do, but I haven't found one that I like quite so much as Foodbuzz. With all the foodie communities out there, that's saying something. Do a simple search and you'll find sites that cater to foodies by country and region, foodies who blog, foodies who share just recipes, foodies devoted to restaurant reviews and on and on.

Foodbuzz combines all of those aspects into one and they do it in a way that keeps people coming back for more. I've made friends with other foodies that I would never have met if not for Foodbuzz.

Foodbuzz is not just for food bloggers, in fact, Foodbuzz is for foodies from all walks of life and all food interests. There are foodies there that don't have blogs at all; foodies that love to eat; foodies that love to eat out and review restaurants; foodies that simply love to read about food.

So, if you love food in any way, Foodbuzz is for you. I've been there since December, 2007 and I absolutely love everything about it. Sign-up is simple and painless and you'll be making foodie friends in mere minutes! Go have a look and see if you don't think Foodbuzz is the best thing since ... well, sliced bread.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Breakfast

My famous Pumpkin Pancakes and sausage patties. No problem waking the kids for this one.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/4 c flour
3 T  brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t grated nutmeg
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 c milk
1 c canned pumpkin
4 large eggs-separated
1/2 stick butter-melted
1 t vanilla extract

2 c maple syrup
1/2 c chopped walnuts
2 T butter

Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, stir together milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, milk, 1/2 stick butter and vanilla until well blended. Add wet ingredients to dry in 2 parts until smooth--don't over beat.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into pancake mixture. Drop by 1/4 to 1/3 cup onto a hot griddle or non-stick pan. Cook until edges are dry and centers are bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes until springy in the center.
Continue until all batter is used. Keep pancakes that are already done in a very low oven (about 200 degrees F) covered with a lightly dampened tea towel.

Combine syrup, butter and walnuts in a heavy saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes until hot. Serve over pancakes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Weekly Reviews

Bon Mangé, Inc.'s Monjay and Sorbay

We're told at every turn that vegetables are good for us; that garlic is great for our bodies, but the immediate (and sometimes lasting) aftereffects are something we could all do without. Bon Mangé, Inc. has stepped up to the plate (pun intended) and introduced a new approach to dealing with these not-so-great effects with Monjay and Sorbay. Monjay is "a yeast-derived food product that prevents garlic and onion breath, and reduces bean and cabbage family related intestinal discomfort." It doesn't add any flavors to your food and it certainly doesn't alter flavors.

SorbayPC is a palate cleansing spray mist that reduces strong food odors and residues without adding a strong mint flavor. In fact, the only thing you'll detect is a fresh and clean mouth.

Monjay and Sorbay can be purchased at the Bon Mangé website.
Weight Watchers Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling - and GIVEAWAY!

Weight Watchers has just released a brand new snack cake - their version of the Twinkie, but smaller and with less calories. In fact, one Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling is a mere 80 calories and 1 (ONE!) point. One could easily make a full dessert with two cakes and 3/4 cup of sliced strawberries for a total of 2 1/2 points. Now, that's a great deal!

I'm giving away TWO boxes of these little cream-filled lovelies, and if you'd like one - leave a commment for me here with your email and I'll choose two winners by October 1st!
Amazing Taste Foods Seasoning Packets

The Amazing Taste Chicken Fajita

Amazing Taste Foods has taken on the recent rise in food prices and turned out a winner. Created by father-son team, Dr. Ghazi Taki and Adam Taki, these seasoning packets make the most of cheaper cuts of meat by flavoring them so well that the only place you'll notice the change is in your pocketbook. They are also low in sodium and contain NO MSG!

We took this challenge on ourselves in a big way by making several different dinners using these seasoning packets. We made burgers with the Amazing Taste Burgers seasoning packet; Chicken Fajitas with the Amazing Taste Fajita Seasoning; Fried chicken and chicken stew with the Amazing Taste Poultry Seasoning Packet; Poached salmon with the Amazing Taste Seafood Seasoning Packet and pork roast with the Amazing Taste Pork Seasoning Packet. I wasn't disappointed at all and these really make a difference!

I bought cheaper cuts of meat and each and every one was far better than I expected it to be. The meat and poultry packets had more than one use in each - covering 2-3 pounds of meat per packet. They can be used as-is to sprinkle directly on meats or used as a marinade.

The burgers were the favorite by far with the poultry seasoning coming in second. Each packet, there are 9 (nine) varieties, retails for 99 cents, and can be purchased online at the Amazing Taste website or you can search for a retailer near you HERE. There are also 14 varieties of Amazing Taste Shakers available and recipes for everything at AmazingTaste.com.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes

Wegmans is one of my favorite stores in the world. I could quite literally spend hours there. I found this beautiful tomato there on display with heirlooms that were even larger (this one was larger than my hand) and all different colors and sizes. Heirloom tomatoes are some of the prettiest produce you'll ever see.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Royal Foodie Joust Entry: Braised Fennel and Salmon with Cream Sauce

The ingredients for this month are: fennel, parsley and dairy. This is what I decided to do with those.

Braised Fennel and Salmon with Cream Sauce
Printable Recipe

2 salmon steaks or fillet cuts
1 bulb fresh fennel with top
3 cups chicken or seafood stock
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 bunch parsley stems
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
chopped fresh parsley and fennel top

1. Combine stock, parsley stems, fennel seed and several lengths of fennel top (the frilly stuff) and simmer for 15 minutes.Strain stock and put 1 cup back into pan.

2.Slice fennel bulb in half vertically and remove hard center. Slice thinly across the leaves and add to stock. Simmer until tender - about 8-10 minutes.

3. Remove fennel from stock and keep warm. Strain stock and add reserved stock.

4. Add salmon and simmer until salmon flakes easily with a fork - about 10 minutes. Keep warm.

5. Strain stock one last time and put back into pan. Simmer until reduced by half.

6. Add cream and continue reducing until thickened. Add butter and whisk to combine.

7. Serve with salmon over fennel and topped with cream. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and fennel top.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: The Forbidden Fruit

Apple season is one of my favorites and this is one of my favorite recipes to go with it, Nana's Apple Cake.

A bowl filled with the promise of good things to come.

Sliced apples in a 9x13 baking pan.

Butter cubed to help it soften quicker.

Sugar added.

Sugar and butter creamed together and eggs added to the mix.

Flour and baking powder tossed in.
A soft dough. Take note of the old silver fork - that's a must for mixing! Well, maybe not a must, but it works for me.

Sugar with freshly ground nutmeg (the only way I use it) and cinnamon.

Apples sprinkled with the cinnamon-nutmeg sugar.

Spoons of dough tops the apples.

Play 'connect-the-dots' and spread them over the apples. Even if it doesn't look like it will cover them all, or there are holes, don't you worry - it will bake together and be perfect. Top with more cinnamon-nutmeg sugar and...

Surprise! The final result and full recipe are at Spoonful.com.

Monday, September 08, 2008

WIN a Subscription to La Cucina Italiana Magazine

If you haven't come across La Cucina Italiana magazine, you're definitely missing something. This is a magazine devoted entirely to Italian cuisine and they dish it up with beautiful photographs, delicious recipes and articles you want to sit in a comfy chair to read.

The photos are gorgeous and appetite inspiring. You'll want to jump into the pages and eat your way out. The recipes, like saltimbocca di lonza con pancetta (pork loin saltimbocca with pancetta), guazzetto di vongole e gamberi (clam and shrimp stew) and “dolce soffice” (cherry cake) will have you dashing to the kitchen.

La Cucina Italiana bills itself as Italy's premier food and cooking magazine since 1929. I'd say they know their stuff. Even so, this is not only for gourmets and experienced cooks. La Cucina Italiana is for everyday people who want to cook the finest Italian food there is.

You can subscribe now HERE and get a free apron with your order, or you can enter my contest and win a FREE one-year subscription.

The rules for this are that you leave a comment with your very favorite Italian recipe attached. It can be a sauce, a pasta, a dessert - you name it - anything goes as long as it's Italian!

One winner will be chosen and I will announce the winner on September 30th. Have your comment, with recipe, in by 11:59 PM on September 28th to be in the running. Open to U.S. Residents Only!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Create My Cookbook is Not Like the Other Guys

How many times have you said to yourself, "I need to get all these family recipes into a book"? I know I've said it numerous times over the years. I'm heading into the "I should turn this blog into a cookbook" stage and I've checked out the web for sites that help with that sort of thing, but I've never really been satisfied with what I found out there. The bindings weren't right, I couldn't customize my cover, the layout changed if I wanted to choose more than one binding ... the list goes on.

Create My Cookbook is the perfect solution to all of those problems; and more. This site was developed with both the creation of the cookbook and its use in mind. Here are just a few of the things that make Create My Cookbook worth a look:

1. The covers are fully customizable. Choose your own photo or one of the many in stock and you're on your way to a completely unique look. Who wants a family cookbook that looks just like the one you bought from the church down the street?

2. There are multiple binding styles to choose from and you can have the same book printed in more than one binding without losing the integrity of the layout. That's a huge plus when Aunt Mabel insists that spiral bound is the only way to go, but Cousin Phyllis has to have hardback. This way you really can please everyone.

3. Collaboration! Now you can write a book with a family member or two. You know how it goes, Grandma catches wind of a family cookbook being written and she has to be Editor-in-Chief. Now she can join in and help with it without having to stop by for a visit. She can stay home in her rocking chair with her laptop and add recipe after recipe to the new family tome.

4. These recipes are YOURS, not something you pulled from a list of recipes in a database that everyone has added to. Nobody wants a recipe for Hilda's Apple pie when there's no Hilda in the family!

5. This is software developed expressly for cookbooks. Drag and drop is the name of the game and it doesn't get any easier. After all, Uncle Ed isn't too good with a keyboard and this will enable even the most technologically challenged person to create a real cookbook.

6. Add your own photos. These can be the whole gang eating like there's no tomorrow at the family reunion, or the professional-looking photos you've taken for your blog. There's no limit to creativity here.

7. Dedication. Yes, there's a customizable dedication page. Everyone who deserves such an honor can be proudly acknowledged on this page - even if it adds up to 123 people. This is where Grandma gets her name in print, even if she didn't collaborate.

8. Play before you pay. Upload those photos, type in those recipes, move it all around and make sure you love it before you purchase it. Sign up, look it over and don't pay one red penny until you're sold. They won't email you daily asking why you didn't purchase yet. They're nice like that. I promise.

Now, if that isn't enough to make you head on over to CreateMyCookbook.com and check things out, I may be able to bribe you with cookies. Let me know.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

What's Your Weekend Menu?

I was thinking today about how different my weekend cooking has become now that the kids are back in school. During the summer, we don't have real set times for breakfast or lunch. Everyone wakes when they feel like it and eats when they feel like it. Dinner is always the same time each night since I'm a stickler about that, but the rest is very unstructured.

Now that the kids are back in school and breakfast is a set time each weekday and lunch is set for them at school, my only real chore is dinnertime. That is, until the weekends hit. The kids are back into their eating groove and lunch is no longer something they eat 'whenever'. They've once again become accustomed to eating right around 12 and mom needs to get on it then, or else!

What about your home? Is weekend eating different for you? More laid back? More structured? Tell me about it!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Bertolli Premium Pasta Sauces

I have a favorite jarred pasta sauce and I have a favorite homemade version, as well. I usually don't stray from those two and I'm a very hard sell on any other sauce.

I tried the new Bertolli Premium Pasta Sauce pouches and I have to say that I would buy them again. That's huge for me; I'm very loyal - especially when it comes to particular foods.

I picked up all three flavors: Champignon and Portobello Mushroom, Summer Crushed Tomato & Basil, and Sun Ripened Tomato & Olive. Of the three, which I thought were all very good, my favorite is the Sun Ripened Tomato and Olive. I just whipped up a batch of Pasta with Tuna Sauce for a post at Short Order Mom, and that particular sauce was perfect for it.

I admit I balked at the idea of microwaving the pouch, which is one of the selling points for this item, but I did it and was truly surprised that it took so little time to heat completely through (90 seconds!), and the best part was that there was NO DISH TO WASH. Read that again, moms and bachelors; NO DISH.

Check these sauces out for yourself at the Bertolli website, where you can pick up a $1 coupon for these sauces, or take a pouch or two home from your local supermarket - you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Almost Gone

I don't know where everyone else lives, but here in the Lehigh Valley, summer is most definitely winding down. The nights are cooler, the days more temperate, and the green is beginning to fade.

My harvest is nearly over. I have very few small tomatoes left, no cucumbers and the last zucchini was picked yesterday. There are a very small patches of green beans, but no more flowers to indicate that more are on the way.

My neighbor (who shall remain nameless) brought me a bag filled with pilfered produce. She isn't really a criminal - in fact, she was more of a savior in this instance. There is a nearby church with a rather large garden that seems to be forgotten year after year. The cabbage that grows there is always harvested, but the tomatoes and peppers are left to over ripen and wind up as projectiles for small boy-hands in the neighborhood.

This time the tomatoes and peppers were rescued and sent to a loving (and hungry) home. I'm quite glad that they were orphaned; we're happy to have them for dinner.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge is hosted by Meeta K of What's for Lunch, Honey? and Tony Tahhan. They chose Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé, another fabulous book by Dorie Greenspan.

I love eclairs, and so do my kids. I have photos of these, really; on a now-defunct computer along with many other photos that I'd like to get my hands on. These were delicious and something we'll surely be having again. In lieu of the missing photography, I'll put the recipe, in its entirety, here. I've left in the notes from Meeta and Tony.

I posted about cream puffs not-so-long-ago, and eclairs use the same choux paste that cream puffs do. If you're feeling nervous about trying these, you can refer to that post for helpful photos - at least with the pastry making aspect.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.