A tale of two birthday dinners, part II

About a month ago, I wrote about the two meals I cooked for my boyfriend’s birthday. This week, we celebrated my birthday and it was his turn to be the chef. While most people will assume I am the culinary whiz in our relationship, my boyfriend actually went to catering college in England and probably knows more about traditional cuisine (making sauces, techniques, etc) than I do. In addition, he has introduced me to the world of English cuisine (a world which has an undeservedly poor reputation across the pond in the States). He specializes in many of the most traditional English dishes: Pasties, Cottage Pie, English Roast Dinners, Bubble and Squeak, and Traditional English Fry-Up. How did I ever live without them all!? But living in Brittany has taught him well, he is also an expert galette and crêpe maker.

So when he asked what I wanted for my birthday I chose to have the best of French and English: A fry-up for breakfast, and crêpes for dinner. The perfect start to a brilliant birthday: 2 Richmond Sage and Onion Sausages, English Bacon from Sainsbury’s, Heinz Baked Beans, Fried Mushroom and Tomato, Buttered Toast and 1 egg fresh from the girls in the yard, fried.

The breakfast gave us enough energy for our long walk to the nearby lake. Sadly, my camera was out of battery so I lugged it along for nothing and couldn’t even take photos of the gorgeous morning we had walking through the woods and fields in the watery Breton sunlight.

Breakfast was so hearty in fact, that we skipped lunch. We were still full, even after a 3 hour walk. So by the time dinner came around, we were famished. I hung around my boyfriend as he cooked, perstering him by asking continuously “Is it ready yet!?”

Leave me alone, I’m cooking!

It was difficult to say who was worse, me or the dogs. They too were hungry from the walk and were hanging around the kitchen giving us those sad eyes which are so difficult to refuse.

Finally, the galettes were ready. Egg, sausage, cheese and caramelized onion. Trop bon! 

But the best part was dessert. My favorite ever dessert is Bananas Foster, a delicious ice cream and flambéed banana concoction. We had the crêpe version, which was just as much fun to watch being made as it was to eat.        

Crêpe with Banana Flambéed in Eau de Vie with Vanilla Ice Cream

And spoiled me, before I even had these two wonderful home-cooked meals on my actual birthday, Toby had taken me to a birthday lunch at the nearby Gîtes Kerdrean where a professionally-trained chef works his magic once a month to do a supper club type meal on the down-low.

Excuse the poor quality of the pictures, had to use flash as I was in a dark room! The food looked much more appetizing in real life, I can assure you!

Starter: Seafood Feuilleté in a Langoustine Bisque (Photo is a bit messy as it was taken after I had already dove in, forgetting I needed to take pictures of it!)
Main plate: Chicken Basquaise with Roast Potatoes, Carrots and Salsify.Dessert: Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding in Custard (So decadent and melt-in-you-mouth delicious!)

I am sure that if everyone in the world could have such a delicious birthday, there would be world peace!

Oh, and you’ll be hearing more tales of British cuisine coming soon as my birthday present is a trip to the moors of southwest England!

Posted in Food, Happy events | Leave a comment

A Confused Autumn

I realize that in many places in the world Autumn means snow, but it has never meant that anywhere I’ve lived, including here in Brittany. Usually, winter doesn’t even mean snow in Brittany. And if it does snow, it scarcely ever sticks around long enough to make an impression…it’s just a fleeting sprinkling on the ground that’s gone a few hours later. Three years ago when I first came to Brittany it was an exceptional winter; it snowed several times and the snow not only stuck but it was so deep that it went up past our wellies. We made snowmen, had epic snowball fights, ate snow ice cream and I had my first ever snow day where I stayed home from school (I was doing the TEFL certification at the time, which is what first brought me to Brittany).

Ever since that winter I’ve been hoping for a repeat performance. Sadly, the last two winters have brought hardly any snow at all. But maybe this year will be different…this morning we woke up to a snow sun shower. And then as it often does in Brittany, the temperamental sky changed instantly from powder blue to charcoal grey and the snow thickened. It wasn’t enough to stick, but it was enough to give me hope. It’s only October and already it’s cold enough to bring snow. If the weather continues it this vein it will most definitely bring another snowy winter. But hopefully it won’t be so snowy that I can’t make it home to California in December. Charles de Gaulle Airport is a nightmare when it’s snowing…

On this cold day that started off with snow, we’re warming up with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.

Posted in Food, Happy events | 2 Comments

Lentil and Spicy Sausage Stew

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound spicy sausage (I used merguez, a French sausage)
2 medium-large yellow or white onions, chopped
4-5 large carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-large zucchini, chopped in 1/2″ thick pieces (approx. the size of quarters)
1 pound dry lentils (I used green but brown is fine too)
2 cups water
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup red or white wine
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon fresh sage, julienned
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons vinegar (sherry, or red or white wine)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, with a little extra for garnish

Warm the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the whole sausages and cook until browned on each side, about 4 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the sausage. Once browned, remove the sausage from the pan, and set aside, covered. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and carrots to the sausage oil in the pan. Cook until the onion is beginning to become translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add all the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the vinegar and the parsley. Cover and bring to a boil, then remove the lid and reduce heat until the stew is at a simmer. After the stew has been simmering for about 10 minutes, add the zucchini. Leave the stew to simmer for a further 15-20 minute or until the lentils are tender.

Stir in the vinegar. Serve and top with the fresh parsley.

Bon appétit! 

Posted in Food, Recipes | 1 Comment

Apple Brownies

We have a plethora of apples to get through. An obscene amount really. This is just the first of many apple recipes you will see posted here this fall.

Apple Brownies

100 grams (3.5 ounces) chocolate, roughly chopped (I used milk chocolate as that’s what we had on hand. Dark or bittersweet are fine too!)
55 grams (1/2 a stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
85 grams (3/4 cup)  granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
85 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1 cup apples, sliced in thin wedges and steamed for about 30 minutes or until tender
1/2 cup apple sauce

Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together stirring all the while. Once both butter and chocolate are melted remove from heat and stir until smooth and glossy. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each, but be very careful not to scorch the chocolate. Whisk in sugar, then the eggs one at a time, then the applesauce, vanilla and salt. Fold in the apple slices. Stir in flour with a spoon or  spatula and pour batter into prepared pan, spreading until even. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out chocolate free.

Let cool and cut into desired size.

Bon appétit!

Posted in Food, Recipes | 4 Comments

Tomato Leaf Risotto

The smell of tomato plants is one of my favorite aromas in the world,  it’s not the aroma of the actual tomato that captivates me so, but the vibrant, husky green smell of the leaves. To me that perfume is like summer incarnate. It reminds me of running around my mom’s sunny California veggie patch as a little girl,  summertime picnics and the fledgling tomato plants I grew on the windowsill of my tiny apartment in Rennes.

I never thought it was possible to instill food with that smell, with that taste. But a few years ago I had a tomato leaf risotto at some fancy restaurant in San Francisco. I don’t even remember which restaurant it was, but that dish has stuck with me since; it was like my imagination come to life.

I’m a strong believer that with every bad situation in life there comes a silver lining; my remake of that Tomato Leaf Risotto was the silver lining that came from a recent gardening disaster. The garden scenario was too little too late this year. I got around to clearing away masses of weeds and planting about 2 months later than I should have. That coupled with the cold spring and excessive rain throughout summer resulted in rows of tomatoes plants that never bore fruit.  At least I made good use of the leaves…

Tomato Leaf Risotto

Approximately 1.1 litres (2 pints or 4 cups) stock (I used chicken but vegetable would also be nice)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
400 (14 ounces) arborio (risotto) rice
2 wine glasses of dry white vermouth or dry white wine (I’ve also subbed apple cider in a pinch)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
2 hefty handfuls of tomato leaves, julienned

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Once a boil has been reached, turn off the heat but leave the stock on the stove. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and butter over low heat. Once oils are warmed, add the onions and garlic, cooking very gently for about 15 minutes without browning the onions at all. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat to medium.

Stir the rice constantly to prevent it from burning. After a few minutes it will look slightly translucent. Add the alcohol, stirring all the while. Once the alcohol has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly. The more slowly the rice cooks the better the texture will be. Stirring throughout the cooking process ensures fluffy, evenly cooked rice. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring, stirring, stirring, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 20 – 30 minutes. Taste the rice as you go along to ensure that you aren’t over salting. You know you are finished when the rice is soft but has slight chewy bite. Dont’ worry if you haven’t used all of the stock. Conversely, If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Gently fold the most of the tomato leaves into the risotto, saving some for serving. Top each bowl with fresh tomatoes and a sprinkle of tomato leaves.

Bon appétit! 

Posted in Food, Recipes | 1 Comment

A sheepish story

A big conversation around here the last few months has been sheep. My boyfriend is British, and sorry to make a gross generalization, but is therefore obsessed with the tidiness of his lawn. As such, he spends an inordinate amount of time mowing the lawn, pondering the lawn and talking about the state of the lawn. When the lawn is messy it makes him feel out of control, but he doesn’t always have time to keep it up. There are other more productive ways he would rather spend his time. Hence my (rather practical, I thought) suggestion of sheep. They’re cute, they create wool and sheep’s milk (two things I’m rather passionate about, particularly when the latter is in the form of cheese) and they’re efficient little lawn mowers.

After months of persuasion my boyfriend finally buckled and 2 weeks ago we added a little sheep couple to our brood which already includes two dogs (wolf dogs) and 7 chickens. Yes, we are the crazy people who have wolf dogs and sheep in the same yard. Somehow it’s working…for the moment anyways.

Ali Bah Bah, a fine specimen of a ramPrincess Jasmine, aptly named as she is a total diva

But it hasn’t all been a fairy tale. The little girl is a little too bavard (chatty). A lot too bavard actually. For the first 2 weeks we had her, it was a constant bleat fest. She sounded like a little devil. And it isn’t a cute, quaint little bah, but rather like an emergency siren and a fog horn had a love child. For such a little thing, she made quite a racquet. It was all the more alarming because sheep aren’t supposed to be chatty really, other than when they’re about to be fed pellets or some other special treat or when the lambs are being weaned or separated from their mothers.

In all fairness to Jasmine, she had just been weaned right before we got her and it must’ve been traumatic to have been separated from her mother and her flock of 8 sheep and be put into an enclosure with just one horny little male. But from everything we heard the transition wasn’t supposed to be quite this rough. All night her bleats pierced through my sleep, each one making me more anxious than the last. Luckily we have nice neighbors who all have double-glazed windows.

As of yesterday, exactly 2 weeks after she arrived, Jasmine is finally feeling at home and settling in. She’s still a bit bavard, but we love her anyway.

Stay tuned for tales of fresh sheep’s milk cheese in the future…

Posted in Happy events | 2 Comments

Brown Butter Blondies

Like every other aspect of life, cuisine is subject to trends. One of the latest baking crazes is brown butter. All over the food porn websites I frequent I’m seeing brown butter this and brown butter that. Everyone praises brown butter for being even more rich and sultry that its plain yellow cousin. Well, I thought, I just happen to live in the region that makes the best butter in the world (if you don’t believe me you’ve clearly never tried Breton butter with sea salt…) so if brown butter is even better than regular butter, and I have access to the best butter in the world, well you can see where I’m going…

While searching for a recipe to try this illusive brown butter in, I came across Brown Butter Toffee Blondies by Martha Stewart. I am generally not a fan of blondies…Normally when I eat a blondie I’m thinking “where’s the chocolate?” But I thought a blondie would be a nice simple palette on which to showcase the brown butter. I must admit, I was right. And as I didn’t have toffee and it’s hazelnut season here, I thought some roasted hazelnuts were in order to compliment the brown butter instead of the toffee, though I’m sure that’s delicious as well.

Brown Butter Blondies with Roasted Hazelnuts

Adapted from Martha Stewart

285 grams (1 1/4 cups or 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
250 grams flour (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
550 grams (2 cups) sugar (Martha uses brown sugar as well but I don’t have access to it in France)
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup roast hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter about 5 minutes or until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, combine browned butter and sugar; whisk until smooth. Add eggs and stir until thoroughly combined, beating until the mixtures is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture, and hazelnuts. Mix until thoroughly combined, and pour into prepared pan.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before turning out of pan onto a cutting board. Peel off parchment paper; cut blondies into 3-inch squares or into shapes with 1 1/2- to 2-inch cookie cutters.

Bon appétit! 

Posted in Food, Recipes | 5 Comments

Not French Onion Soup

Our cupboards are sparse as we’ve been sick, running around after new sheep and dealing with our extremely anxious dog who had surgery last week and is not at all happy with the plastic cone around his head. Needless to say, we haven’t made it the shops lately. So instead of making soup from stones, I made it from a heap of onions. As we’re still feeling sick, I ended up making a much lighter onion soup than the traditional French Onion Soup.

Onion Soup with Heaps of Sage

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
A large handful fresh sage leaves, with 8 leaves reserved for serving
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
8 onions, peeled and sliced (use white, yellow or red onions or a mixture of the 3 if you have them all on hand)
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock

Put the butter, olive oil, sage and garlic into a heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Stir everything together and then add the onions, shallots and leeks. Season generously with salt and pepper, but remember the saltiness will intensify during the cooking process. Place a lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook for 50 minutes, making sure the onions are not browning much or sticking at all. Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes, allowing the onions to become golden and velvety. Don’t skimp on the cooking time; it’s the slow cooking that develops the amazing flavor!

When your onions and leeks are soft and silky, add the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with 2 or 3 fresh sage leaves a top.

Posted in Food, Recipes | Leave a comment

You can take the girl out of America…

 But you can’t take American style chocolate chip cookies away from her. Despite the many obstacles that prohibit making a true American style chocolate chip cookie here in France, I’ve managed to come up with a pretty tasty recipe (if I do say so myself). The obstacles being that it’s difficult to find many of the key ingredients such as brown sugar, vanilla extract and chocolate chips. You can make your own brown sugar with molasses and regular white sugar, but I hardly ever have molasses on hand as that is not the easiest thing to find here, nor the cheapest. And to be honest, the molasses here tastes weird to me. While they have vanilla flavor here which can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores, it is a freaky concoction of vanilla caramel syrup with sugar added, and is far too sweet.  They also have vanilla sugar, which are little packets of vanilla flavored sugar, but that never seems strong enough and the flavor always seems to just disappear. The pépites de chocolat or chocolate chips which are available in the supermarkets are terrible quality and freakishly small in size. In spite of it all, I have prevailed! Voici, my recette for Chocolate Chip Cookies in France…

Chocolate Chip Cookies in France

200 grams butter
150 grams sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons honey
325 grams all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt (don’t add if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon baking soda
200 grams chocolate, broken into 1 inch chunks (it’s okay if they are not perfectly symmetrical – this adds rustic character!)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until they are well incorporated. Mix in the honey. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (not including chocolate). Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Mix in the chocolate chunks. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are a nice golden brown. Let cool (or else your burn your tongue like I do constantly in my impatience) and enjoy, preferably with some vanilla ice cream or a glass of organic milk!

Bon appétit!

Posted in Food, Recipes | 3 Comments

A tale of two birthday dinners

It was my boyfriend’s big day on Tuesday. I won’t say how old he is because he would probably lock me out of the house, but suffice it to say it was a milestone birthday. We celebrated with two birthday dinners: an intimate dinner for him and I on his actual birthday and then again with some friends the day after his birthday.

Dinner 1                                                                                                                                                            I ended up cooking a very traditional French dinner: Steak-frites and crème brulée. Like many men, his preferred food is steak so I didn’t even bother asking what he wanted to eat on his birthday. It wasn’t quite the same as eating in a bistro as I threw in some of my own little unique twists such as using milk chocolate in the crème brulée and various herbs and spices on the fries as well as baking them in the oven rather than deep-frying them.


For 2 people

For the fries

1 kilo (2 lbs) Russet potatoes, thoroughly scrubbed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/2″ thin strips. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with all the remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour onto baking sheet and spread out fries so they are in a single layer and not too crowded together.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, then flip the fries and bake for another 15 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. Watch fries to ensure they do not brown too quickly and burn!

For the steak

5 tablespoons butter
2 beef steaks (I used entrecôte. If in the States some good options are porterhouse, sirloin, rib eye, shell or if you’re feeling like a baller, filet mignon)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 an onion, very finely minced
1 tablespoon water, cider or red wine

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions. Meanwhile, generously season one side of the steaks with salt and pepper. Add the steaks, seasoned side down and season the other side with salt and pepper. Sear for 1 minute on each side. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, turning the steaks every other minute, until you see little pearls of blood come to the surface, about 3 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the steak and your preferred result – I always go for à point or medium rare by French standards, which is rare by American standards.

Remove the steaks and place them on warmed plates to rest. Do not cut immediately or you will lose all the juicy goodness! While steaks are resting, over medium heat, deglaze the pan with the water (or cider or wine) and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Sautée for about 2-3 minutes. Drizzle these pan juices over the meat and serve at once with fries.

Milk Chocolate Crème Brulée

170 grams (6 ounces) milk chocolate, very finely chopped
475 ml (2 cups) heavy cream
4 egg yolks
55 grams (1/4 cup) sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C). Melt the chocolate with the cream in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Bring to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Put aside to cool.

In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks until well-mixed. Once the chocolate has cooled a bit, add it to the eggs, mixing well. If you noticed any bits of cooked eggs, strain the chocolate through a sieve. Divide the chocolate and egg mixture evenly among 4 individual sized ramekins or similar baking dishes. Fold a dish towel and place on the bottom of a large casserole dish. Put the ramekins in the casserole dish and pour cold water into the casserole dish until the water reaches halfway up the ramekin dishes.

Bake the chocolate creams approximately 10-15 minutes or until a thin skin forms on top. Remove the ramekins from the casserole dish and place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour, and up to 8 hours.

Remove the chocolate creams from the fridge and divide the sugar evenly amongst the 4 dishes,  sprinkling the on top of the creams.  To caramelize the top of the cream you can use 2 methods. The first method is to use a miniature blow torch, holding the flame several inches away from the top of the creams, stopping when the sugar is bubbling and brown. The second method is to use the broiler of your oven. Heat the broiler. Meanwhile, fill the bottom 1/3 of a casserole dish with ice water. Place the creams in the ice water. Now place the entire dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the sugar is brown and bubbling. After it has cooled for a few minutes you will see a crisp, caramelized layer form.

Caramelizing the crèmes

Dinner 2                                                                                                                                                       My family is Italian (hence my deep-rooted love of food) and our two main culinary traditions are handmade ravioli on Christmas day and Pasta alla Carbonara for birthdays. As Toby is practically part of the family now I thought I’d include him in the tradition.  For dinner we had Pasta alla Carbonara with Lemony Butter Peas and Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce for Dessert.

McCarter Family Pasta alla CarbonaraRecipe courtesy of Tort and Jess McCarter

1 lb. of pancetta, thick sliced, cut into rough cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs + 6 yolks, whisked
200-300 grams (2-3 cups) parmesan cheese (1 cup for cooking, the rest for serving)
1/2 kilo (1 lb.) spaghetti
Heaps of black pepper

Scramble eggs and whisk in 1 cup of  parmesan cheese. Put aside to let sit during the whole cooking process. Adding egg to cheese early helps temper eggs so your sauce won’t break later.

Bring salted water to a boil in a very large pot. Once at a rolling boil, cook your spaghetti according to directions on packet. Meanwhile, while water is coming to a boil, start the pancetta cooking in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onions roughly 5 minutes in and the garlic 10 mins in. Keep cooking till the meat begins to sear a bit, really working all the fat out and yielding a slightly crunchy cube. You will have to stir almost constantly the last 5 minutes to get the color and prevent sticking.

Once you have the spaghetti cooked and drained, add it back into the cooking pot after lightly oiling or buttering the cooking pot. Briskly incorporate the meat, moving quickly so things stay warm and incorporated. Finally, slowly pour the egg and cheese mixture in, again, working the pasta around with two pasta forks or similar device, rapidly moving all the ingredients together. You have to get the eggs in fast while everything is hot and keep it moving so the pasta is coated and the eggs cooks slightly.

Serve with heaps of black pepper and parmesan cheese and optional red pepper for those who can handle the heat!

Cream-Filled Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce

For profiteroles

Makes 30-35 medium-sized puffs

150 grams ( 1 1/3 cup) flour
250 ml (1 cup) water
3/4 teaspoon salt (go lighter on salt is using salted butter)
100 grams butter
55 grams (1/4 cup )sugar
5-6 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). In a saucepan over medium heat melt the water, salt and butter together,  stirring regularly. When the mixture has just come to a boil remove the pan from the heat. Add the flour to the pan immediately and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Beat for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Return the pan to the stove and cook over low heat for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Once the mixture has cooled slightly, beat in 2 eggs. Once the first eggs are incorporated, repeat this process with one egg at a time until all of the eggs are incorporated. The dough should be shiny and soft enough to hang from the spoon and fall.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Load a pastry piping gun with some of the dough and swirl  circles of dough about the size of dollar coins and about 1″ high. The dough rounds should be at least 1 inches apart as the balls will puff up. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the balls are all gloriously puffed up and golden brown. Let the profiteroles cool before you add any filling or topping.

For pastry cream

500 ml (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
6 egg yolks
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
30 grams (1/4 cup) flour

In a sauce pan over medium heat bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the milk has boiled, immediately remove from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Whisk the flour into the egg and sugar mixture. Now slowly pour milk into this mixture while whisking. Continue whisking until the cream is smooth and without lumps.

Return the mixture to the pan and put back on the stove over medium heat. Bring the cream to a boil, whisking continuously. After the mixture has come to a boil continue cooking the cream for about 2 minutes. The cream should be thickening up but not be too thick that you can’t easily get the whisk though it. Remove from the cream from the heat, transfer to a bowl, cover and let cool.

Once the cream has cooled down to almost room temperature, you may fill a piping bag and start filling the profiteroles (this is my favorite part!).

For chocolate sauce

300 grams (12 ounces) dark or semisweet chocolate
230 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
2 tablespoons cognac (optional – I substituted apple brandy once)

Melt the chocolate and cream together in a saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly to prevent burning or sticking. Once the cream and chocolate are well incorporated, remove from heat and add cognac. Serve while warm!

Posted in Food, Happy events, Recipes | 1 Comment