26 January 2011


Recently, when I was home for a week and dancing as usual, Shawn asked me what I was going to bring the next day. I didn’t have anything planned so I asked what he’d suggest. Immediately he said éclairs. He was joking and quite obviously didn’t expect me to actually make them. They are quite intimidating. They seem so fancy and elegant that they have to be hard to make, right?

Turns out they’re not so bad. Probably I’ll make these quite often. Also I learned a new trick today to pipe them through a pastry bag rather than shape them by hand. This is a very good idea, and probably will reduce the time shaping them by 5/6. They also take a very long time to cook, but that leaves time to make the filling at the glaze (I cheated and didn’t make the glaze because, as usual, they took slightly more time than I expected, and I procrastinated a bit too much).

But they were still pretty amazing. And Shawn immediately hid half of them to take home. I should have told him I slaved over them for 23 hours, but I wasn’t quite that quick.

Choux Pastry

½ c Butter
1 c Water
¼ t Salt
1 c Flour
4 Eggs


In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the water. Add salt and flour, and stir until a sticky batter is formed, it should glom together in a ball in the pan. Remove the pastry from heat, and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat it until it begins to be glossy about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth.

Using a spatula, scoop the dough into a pastry bag with a large round tip. Pipe into strips about 4 inches long, 1 inch wide and ½ and inch tall. Bake the éclairs for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 20 minutes. Finally, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more, until the éclairs are golden brown. Transfer the éclairs to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool.

Here is a good tutorial for the whole process. I haven’t tried her filling yet, but I’ll experiment on a few before posting my favorite.

13 January 2011

Tortilla Soup

Probably you should get a pen and paper right now. 
You need to make a grocery list.
Lately I have been craving all things hot and steamy: tea, cocoa, soup, stew, anything that can be used to warm up after a cold snowy afternoon. Not that I’ve seen any of those recently. The coldest it’s gotten here is mid 30s. But having those things makes me feel like winter is happening. The way it used to with snow turtles and skiing and ice skating and snow angels.

I was wishing for another option since I’ve been drinking a steady stream of tea and cocoa, so when I saw a recipe for Tortilla Soup on Pioneer Woman I jumped on it. I like Tortilla Soup and have been wanting a recipe since my friend Catherine made it for us when I used to watch her kiddies.

I was scared because I think this soup can be finicky. I have encountered several versions at restaurants that I have disliked. But I went for it and it was amazing. It still is.

There's some sour cream and guacamole hiding in there as well.
I didn't have the foresight to wait and put them on top to make it pretty.
At the moment I am disgusted with myself because I can’t even finish one bowl even though I’ve been looking forward to it all day, and I was starving, and it is delicious. Please try it. Here is my modified version.

Tortilla Soup

2 T Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Chicken Breasts
1 T Chili Powder
1 t Cumin
Salt to taste

Sprinkle chili powder, cumin and salt over chicken breast (save the remainder for the broth). Heat oil to medium-low heat in a frying pan or wok, I used a pot large enough for the whole recipe. Add the minced garlic and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cover the pan tightly. Allow the chicken to cook through, about 15 minutes or so (I start checking it at about 10, because it gets dried out and tough very quickly). Remove the chicken from heat. Shred the chicken using two forks.

½ c Chopped Green Onion
1 ea. Green Bell Pepper and Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 can Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies
16 oz. Chicken Broth
1 ½ oz. Tomato Paste
1 can Black Beans, partially drained
5 c Water

Add the garlic and drippings from the chicken to the pot or slow cooker the soup is to be cooked in, add another tablespoon of oil if necessary. Heat to medium high and add the onions, cook until translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken, Rotel tomatoes, chicken broth, beans and tomato paste. Stir together and add the water. Add remaining chili powder, cumin and salt to taste. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn down to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

6 whole 6” Corn Tortillas, I chose the red ones
Sour Cream
Guacamole or Avocados
Shredded cheese
Diced onion

Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the tortillas into uniform strips about 1 cm wide by 4-5 cm long. Spread over baking sheet. Place the oven rack about 6 inches from the top of the oven. Turn on the broiler and put the tortilla strips in the oven. After 2-3 minutes remove the tortilla strips, turn them with a spatula and spread them back out. Repeat this process until they are the desired crispy-ness.

Serve the soup and top with any of the desired garnishes.


Sooo full.

02 January 2011

Experimenting with Blogger

Here are some random memories in my attempt to learn how to post photos as thumbnails.  It didn't work.
Cupcake's Flat in Brighton

Cupcake at her flat in Brighton

My buddes, they still ask for me when their parents have Date Night

Pot Pie.  I don't know what kind.

My first attempt at Truffles, and photography.

Cupcake's Duck Face

Ancient recipes.  Ok, they're only 40 years old.

Toad in the Hole, from my Brittish cookbook.

Italian Wedding Soup at the cabin.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins. 

Mini Bundt Pan

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies.  BEST. EVER!

Almost Cupcake Pops.  I don't have enough patience.

12 layer cake, hundred layer cake, thousand layer cake...
it gets longer every time I talk to Lindsay and Eric.  They liked it

Cookie time was almost every afternoon. 
Eli liked to crack the eggs, Cavan liked to use the electic mixer.