CT Style with Ryan Kristafer & Sarah Cody Getting Ready for Thanksgiving!
It was a special day on CT Style with Ryan Kristafer and Sarah Cody sharing one of my favorite childhood dishes in memory of my Grandma Reilly. I never did get her recipe for her Creamed Onions or pies but she was the inspiration behind my recipe that I have been making for over 20 years now. Cooking in The Bender KItchen, hanging out with Ryan and Sarah was the perfect way to start my Thanksgiving holiday this year!
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can truly drive you crazy if you don’t do any planning because there are just too many side dishes to make. Needless to say, a little planning goes a long way!
On CT Style I wanted to show you some of the dishes that are total time savers for this Thanksgiving. My Icebox-rolls dough can be made 4 days ahead, shape and rolling out the rolls, dredging in green onions the day before. These icebox dinner rolls are then ready to pop into the oven when your guests arrive giving your house a warm and fuzzy feeling with aromas of homemade baked bread!
The yummy Best Brussel Sprouts Ever are drizzled with olive oil, chopped garlic and roast for only 25 minutes on 350º without any flipping or fussing. These can be made the night before because the sprouts keep their bright green color and crispness when re-heated the next day!
My Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutes is to die for and can be made 1 month ahead, put into the freezer and thawed in the frig 2 days before you need it! Roll out the pie dough the night before Thanksgiving and then bake your delectable Chocolate Pecan Pie the night before and violà! Not to mention, the Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe is a melt in your mouth gourmet recipe …it may just be the hit of your holiday!
Finally, there was talk of a Creamed Onion competition recently at Page Hardware in Guilford with owner Andrew Page when we were discussing future cooking demos at Page in the new year! So there just may be a “Creamed Onions” competition coming as well! Page has quite the array of high tech steam ovens, stoves and so much more…it’s almost difficult to pay attention to conversation surrounded by all the beautiflul stainless steel! You really have to check them out. I will keep you all posted on The Traveling Epicurean Cooking Demos and the “competition” in their amazing kitchens at Page in January of 2018!
I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Let me know how your recipes turned out and about any new ones that you tried! xxoo
Guinness chocolate cupcakes are moist and full of flavor with a whole bottle of guinness in this delectable batter! Topping these cupcakes with a rich Viennese Chocolate frosting brings it to another level of gourmet chocolate indulgence.
Just recently, I had a wonderful day meeting and baking with Ellen McMahanon, a true recipe afficionado, where she turned me on to her amazing Guinness chocolate cupcakes. Ellen has been collecting her precious recipes most of her life making very detailed notes of dates, with whom and where she was when acquiring a new favorite one. With hundreds of favorite recipes at her fingertips she still remembers the details like she was there yesterday!
You are definitely going to want to try these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with the Viennese Chocolate Frosting and the timing couldn’t be more perfect with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner. Looks like you may need a super awesome appetizer that will make use of that left over corned beef too like my Arancini Reuben Balls with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing … always has everyone raving!
This Girl Scouts thin mint chocolate mousse pie is absolutely delicious! The oh so chocolaty mousse is light and lucious and melts in your mouth. The texture’s of the pie are undenialbly one of my favorite aspects of the pie. It goes from the cool, silky mousse to the crunchy cookie crumble in the crust with subtle hints of mint.
Although you do bake the thin mint crust for a mere 8 minutes, this is a no-bake, no fuss, chocolate mousse filling. The crunchie crust is made with puréed Girl Scout Cookies, butter and sugar. In the same food processor that the thin mint cookies were just puréed, the chocolate mousse starts off with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Then boiling heavy cream is streamed into the opening at the top to melt the chips as they spin into a smooth and creamy chocolate delight. This chocolate is cooled to room temperature and folded into whipped heavy cream for the finale. It’s one of those special dessert’s that’s so uncomplicated you’ll find yourself making it more than just once.
Having my daughter’s Girl Scout troop in my kitchen making this thin mint chocolate mousse pie was so much fun! We are very fortunate for our wonderful leader, Jen Swenson, who is generous with her efforts and time with the troop. It’s one of those precious things in life that the girls will treasure always.
Those of you who love the good ole mint-chocolate flavors will go crazy for this dessert. Those of you who aren’t partial to that flavor combo might be surprised how suble and sweet the thin mint crust is …tamed by the butter maybe! And like I told Maisy in the show, you can always just eat the chocolate mousse middle!
If you are looking for some appetizer’s to start off this Girl Scouts Thin Mint Chocolate Mousse Pie extravaganza you should try my Salsa 101 or Best Guacamole Ever! Maybe you are more in the mood for Zucchini Torta or a main dish like one of my all time favorite’sStuffed PeppersorChicken Piccata…both dishes you’ll add to your week day meals once you have your first bite! Enjoy! 🙂
Ingredients for Girl Scouts Thin Mint Crust Pre-Heat oven to 350º :
28 Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies – 1 3/4 sleeve …(a few left over for nibbling on)
5 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
10″ pie plate, or 9″ spring form pan, OR 9″ pie plate & cups for the extra chocolate mousse you will have
Directions for the Girl Scouts Thin Mint Crust:
Melt 5 tbsp butter, set aside
Add 28 cookies to the food processor and pulse 3-4 times until they are a fine crumb
Pour in melted butter and 2 tbsp sugar and pulse 10 seconds to combine
Turn out crumb mixture into a 10″ pie plate, or 9″ spring form pan
NOTE: If you only have a 9″ pie plate NO WORRIES just add the excess chocolate mousse to cups or glasses, topping with cookies crumble and set the same in the frig for 4-6 hours or even freeze for a later date!
Press cookie crumb mixture all along the bottom and up the edges of the pie dish forming the crust
Put the pie crust into a 350º oven for 8 minutes
Take out and completely cool
Ingredients for Chocolate Mousse:
3 cups heavy cream – 2 cups for whipping the heavy cream/ 1 cup for melting the chocolate chips in the food processor
1 tbsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1 bag mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions for the Chocolate Mousse:
Wipe thin mint cookie crumbs out of food processor and add mini chocolate chips
Add vanilla and pinch of salt
Add 1 cup heavy cream to small sauce pan and bring to a boil
Place cover on food processor, turn on and slowly add hot cream thru opening at top
Keep it running for about 20-30 seconds until chips are melted and creamy
Empty out into a bowl to cool, only cool to room temperature NOT COLD because the chocolate will solidify and it will be difficult to fold into the whipped cream
When chocolate is close to room temp add 2 cups heavy cream to a large glass bowl with 1/4 cup sugar and begin to whisk with electric beater
Whisk the cream until stiff peaks, 3-5 minutes
Fold 1/2 cup at a time of the room temp chocolate into the whipped cream until there’s none left
Pour out chocolate mousse into the COMPLETELY cooled baked pie crust and smooth out top with a offset spatula
Sprinkle thin mint cookie crumble over the top and place into the frig for 4-6 hours
This Saltine Christmas Bark is the perfect holiday treat made in mere minutes. You get the best of both world’s, sweet and salty plus a crunch from the Saltine cracker base! It starts with crushed peppermint candy (my favorite), or pecans, then a layer of creamy chocolate leading into the slightly chewy toffee which all sets up on a crunchy saltine cracker! Oh my goodness, bring it on!
The fun part about making this Saltine Christmas Bark is breaking up this giant slab of goodness into randon size pieces. You kind of feel like an artist deciding how big and even the shape of the final outcome! Plate them up and voilà your masterpiece. These also make great holiday gift’s that you can fancy up in decorative celophane candy bags with ribbon.
Let your holiday Saltine Christmas Bark making be extra special with my Bolognese Sauce, a scrumptious recipe I developed thru inspiration from a favorite pasta dish where I went to college in Urbino, Italy. If you’re now thinking Italian you should try my chicken Piccata, a savory white wine, capers and mushroom sauce that’s delectable. Maybe Lobster Mac N’ Cheese is more your style! Or you could be looking for a “Steak-House” Creamed Spinach that pairs up nicely with steak or fish! Since we are so close to the holidays what better time to make the most amazing chocolate pecan pie ever!
2 pkgs saltine
1 cup butter – 2 sticks
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups “mini” semi-sweet chocolate chips (if you can’t get “mini” the regular size is fine)
5 pepermint candies – finely crush peppermnt candy in a Ziplock with a rolling pin – My Favorite!
1 cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts, m&m’s, or …what ever you want to sprinkle onto the melted chocolate chips
Non-stick aluminum foil – regular foil works too!
12 x 17 Cookie tray
Pre-heat oven to 400º
Cover cookie tray with aluminum foil
Arrange 48 crackers on your cookie tray, you may have to break or cut some in 1/2 to get to the edges
Chop up pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts and set aside
Put candy canes in a ZipLock baggie, cover with a dish towel and give a few hits from your rolling pin to crush the candy to small and powder-like pieces, set aside
Over medium – Med/high heat add 1 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup butter to a deep sauce pan
Stir in the beginning ONLY to combine then leave it alone
Bring to a boil and TURN DOWN to medium and let boil 3 MINUTES
Immediately pour over laid out saltine crackers and spread the toffee with an offset spatula so it covers every saltine
Then pop into oven for 5 minutes
Take out and the toffee will be bubbly, IMMEDIATELY pour “mini” semi-sweet chocolate chips all over the top (if you can’t get “mini” the regular works just as well)
Let the chips sit for about 5 minutes to soften up
Using your offset spatula spread the softened chocolate chips covering all the toffee
Immeduiately after spreading chocolate take your crushed candy cane and nuts and begin to sprinkle over the wet chocolate
NOTE: You want to sprinkle toppings BEFORE the chocolate sets so it STICKS to the top
Pop the whole cookie tray into the fridge for 45 minutes – 1 hour to set OR freezer for 20-25 minutes if you are in a rush
Take out of fridge, remove foil and begin to break up the saltine Christmas bark into what ever size you like…mangia mangia!
“Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie” is the perfect title for this recent cooking show taped at my foodie friend’s, David and Eileen’s house. When you taste this most chocolatey mousse-like filling topped with fluffy peaks of meringue you will think you have died and gone to heaven! This wonderful chocolate meringue pie recipe came from David’s mother, Alice, and has always been a family favorite for the holidays! With four boys in his family growing up, David said his mother was always welcome to the idea of having more cooks in the kitchen. You could only imagine that with four boys you’re going to need more then just one pie. David and his brothers happily learned at an early age how to pitch in and get this task done.
David uses the “chocolate fudge” flavor of Jello brand, the cook and serve, not the instant. Come to find out, this “chocolate fudge” flavor can be a difficult category to find. But using Jello brand’s “chocolate” flavor is the next best thing, so don’t fret. Make sure to keep an eye out for the “chocolate fudge” flavor next time you are at the store and shoot me an email if you strike “fudge”!
What takes this Jello cook and serve chocolate fudge pudding to a completely different universe, into a rich, chocolate mousse-like texture is the addtion of egg yolks, sugar, butter and pure vanilla extract. You will find yourself eating each bite of chocolate meringue pie very slowly just to savour every luscious bite. Part of this decadence comes from the rich, flaky crust made with a special lard David gets from Firefly Farmers in Stonington, CT. You can purchase their products at the Stonington, Waterford and Bozrah Farmers Markets. It definitely makes a difference in your pie crust to use both butter and lard like in my Perfect Pie Crust in 5 Minutesbut using this lard that David use’s really puts the crust over the top!
Last but not least is the meringue that tops this incredible chocolatey filling and brings the whole pie together. Whipping the egg whites to soft peaks is important to achieve the elegant curly cues you can create when dipping a spatula gently into the surface of the meringue. Then off to the oven briefly until those beautiful peaks turn golden.
This wonderful chocolate meringue pie recipe could have easily remained a family secret but David and his mother were gracious enough to share it with us. The only option I see here is for you to get busy and make this luscious dessert for your next holiday! Don’t forget to share the YouTube link to the show 🙂 ENJOY xxoo
Ingredients for David’s Pie Crust – 1 Crust for lg Deep Dish Pie Plate (measurements below are 3/4 of full recipe):
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup lard frozen, grated
1/4 cup butter refigerated, grated
3/4 tsp salt
approx. 2-3 tbsp ice cold water
FULL PIE CRUST RECIPE – 2 Crusts:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup lard or crisco
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp ice cold water
Directions for Pie Crust – Pre-Heat Oven to 400º :
Measure lard or crisco and put into freezer
Grate lard or crisco and butter and place in separate bowls back in the frig til you are ready
Add flour, salt, lard or crisco, and butter to food processor or mixer and begin to mix with paddle attachment slowly
Then slowly add in 1 tbsp at a time while mixing, you may need to add another tbsp of water to have dough come together
When dough comes together in 1-2 minutes turn dough onto wax paper forming into a disc shape and place into the freezer for 15 minutes
Begin to roll out dough between wax paper until its large enough to fit pie plate
Gently peel over top layer of wax paper flipping over into pie dish
Gently push edges in all around and remove the other piece of wax paper
Scallop the edges of pie crust
Prick inside walls and bottom of crust with a fork
Place into a 400º oven and bake 10-15 minutes until slightly golden around the edges
Let pie crust cool and begin to make the chocolate filling
Ingredients for Chocolate Filling:
2 boxes COOK and SERVE Jello brand “chocoate fudge” or “chocolate” pudding – NOT INSTANT
NOTE: I can only find “chocolate” so I mix “bittersweet chocolate chips & semi sweet chocolate chips heaping 1/4 cup of each and this tastes exactly like “chocolate fudge” brand of Jello 🙂
4 egg yolks
3 1/2 cups WHOLE milk
1/2 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp pure extract vanilla
1 pre-baked pie crust cooled
Directions for Chocolate Filling:
Separate 4 egg yolks from whites and place into separate bowls (yolks for filling and whites for meringue)
Add 2 boxes of chocolate fudge pudding mix to medium size sauce pan
Add in chocolate chips, 4 egg yolks, sugar, 3 1/2 cups of milk over medium heat
Continue to whisk while bringing ingredients to a boil, it will thicken quickly
When it thickens take off of heat
Whisk in 3 tbsp of butter and 1 tsp vanilla
Pour into the cooled pre-baked pie crust and let cool just a bit to a warm TEMP but NOT COLD– DO NOT put into the fridge because you DON’T want to put whipped meringue on a COLD pie, it will cause meringue to weep 🙂
Ingredients for Meringue:
4 egg whites
8 tbsp sugar – 2 tbsp per egg white
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Directions for Meringue – Pre-Heat Oven to 375º :
Whisk egg whites until soft peak begin to form then start to add sugar 1 tbsp at a time
Keep whisking unitl you get soft – stiff peaks – in between peaks – NOT STIFF
Pour onto WARM chocolate pie filling
Begin to smooth meringue over to touch edges of the pie crust making sure meringue seals all along the edge of the pie crust
Once the meringue completely covers the chocolate filling begin to dip spatula in and out of meringue creating curly cue peaks
Place chocolate meringue pie into 375º oven until peaks are golden approx 10-15 minutes – if the meringue is undercooked the it will weep
Take out and let meringue cool, slice and mangia mangia!
MERINGUE TIP: Do not put whipped meringue on a COLD pie, a warm filling is better than COLD. Be sure to cook meringue through because undercooked meringue will weep 🙂
Drunk blondies are a dessert that will have you and your guest’s reminiscing for days! These drunk blondies are a buttery, chewy cookie bar made with bourbon, butter, toasted coconut, pecans and semi-sweet chocolate chips…could it get any better then that! They get even more decadent when you serve them with vanilla ice cream, homemade bourbon caramel sauce, whipped cream and extra toasted coconut to top it off. In fact, I wouldn’t serve them any other way. You will feel like you are in dessert ecstasy!
The recipe for these mouth watering cookie bars actually originates from the Back in the Day Bakery CookBook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. I Found this recipe on a fellow food blogger, Adam Robert’s website, called Amateur Gourmet. I haven’t had a chance myself to buy this cookbook but it’s high on my list! Adam serves up these drunk blondies with a bourbon caramel sauce from Food and Wine but I have my own which I love that I share below.
The Drunk Blondie bars couldn’t get any easier to make. You don’t even need a kitchen aid or electric mixer to make these just a large bowl and spatula or wooden spoon! It literally take’s all of a few minutes to combine the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, toasted coconut, pecans, chocolate chips and flour mixture. Then off into a baking dish lined with parchment for easy removal.
This is a great dessert if you entertain a lot because is it’s a total make ahead project. You can make the drunk blondies up to 3 days ahead and the bourbon caramel sauce up to a week ahead. The toasted coconut you want to make the same day or night before. You may burn the toasted coconut on your first try because that cooks faster then you think and you only have 6 minutes of toasting time. Don’t worry, just toss out the first round and throw in a second batch. You will be that much more knowledgeable and ready for the toasty quickness in the next round! Be sure to toast up extra coconut too, because it makes for an incredible addition at the end to sprinkle on top of your drunk blondie sundae’s!
As for my bourbon caramel sauce I have you heat up the heavy cream. This is a necessary step that some recipes don’t even mention. It’s important to do this because adding cold cream into a boiling sugar mixture will most likely seize up and get temporarily lumpy. There’s no worries here though. If this does happen just put the pan back on the stove, keep whisking and it will become a smooth caramel sauce in a matter of seconds!
Ingredients for Drunk Blondies – Makes 12 – 24 bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter – melted
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs room temp
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Bourbon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup (1/2 cup is for sprinkling over the dessert at the end) sweetened flaked coconut, toasted in a 350º oven on a cookie sheet until fragrant and golden brown – about 5 minutes…NOTE: you need to stir every 2 minutes with a spatula and then shake the tray to distribute evenly ….watch it carefully- it burns easily
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Directions – Pre-Heat Oven to 350º:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite edges of the pan
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside
Put the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth
Add the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, and mix until thoroughly combined
Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack
Cut the blondies into bars
The blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Tip: The easiest way to toast coconut is in the oven. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350º. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 6 minutes, tossing every couple of minutes. Keep a close eye on the coconut, because it can burn easily.
Ingredients for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup bourbon
1 1/2 cups heavy cream HEATED – If you don’t warm up the cream the temperature change will temporarily seize up the boiling water-sugar mixture…BUT don’t fret because all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!
Directions for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over high heat
You can stir the sugar-water mixture at first just to combine then DO NOT STIR after
Cook until the sugar is dissolved washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush…just once
Continue cooking without stirring until an amber caramel forms – from 5-8 minutes
When it turns the pretty light amber color add in the butter and keep whisking
BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET BURNED HERE because the mixture will rise up a little here at the butter/cream stages
Remove from the heat and carefully stir in 1/2 the cream while STILL WHISKING – it will foam up here quite a bit so whisk it down slightly, then add in the rest of the cream and butter
if it seizes up NO WORRIES all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!
Let cool for 1 minute and then stir in the bourbon
Put the pan back on the stove and TURN DOWN the heat to medium and simmer any where from 3-15 minutes…how ever thick you like the sauce (it won’t get any darker at this point either just thicker)
Let the caramel sauce cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature
NOTE: as the sauce cools it will thicken anyways
The caramel sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Making Chocolate eclairs with The French Club this week made for an incredibly fun afternoon! The Chocolate eclair shells made from pâte à choux, a french pastry dough, is a cinch to make and so delicious you may find your self wanting to make them this weekend.
The method I use to make the pastry cream is simplistic and straight forward. This method for making the pastry cream I got from one of Martha Stewart’s chefs, Thomas Joseph. I wanted to show you an easier way to prepare the custard then your traditional tempering of the eggs method, especially if you have never tried to make this before. The actual recipe for the pastry cream is from my own collection and playing around with recipes over the years.
As for the pâte à choux dough, what can I say, but wow! Although, this is a French dough with French ties it is also noted that Catherine de Medici left Florence in 1533 to marry the Duke of Orleans who later became Henry II, King of France. She brought with her the entire court which included her chefs! Smart woman is all I can say. A few years later her head chef, Panterelli, invented a hot paste-like dough and called it pâte à Panterelli. Of course, the recipe has evolved some what since then and with a couple of names changes too but with the same idea. It’s a dough with a paste like texture that use’s heat and moisture-steam for a raising agent instead of the baking powders that we use so much today.
1 tsp sugar (only for desserts) (not for gougeres)
1/2 tsp salt
4 lg eggs
1 egg + 1 1/2 tsp water whisked together – for egg wash
Directions for the Pâte à Choux:
Preheat the oven to 400º degrees
Line a cookie tray with a piece of parchment paper – when you are done making the pate a choux squeeze out 4 dime size pieces of dough on each corner of the cookie tray, then place parchment over that – to hold in paper in place while you form eclairs
Bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat in a medium size sauce pan
Stir in all of the flour and continue to stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 1 1/2 minutes – which will start to make a film on the bottom of the pan
Turn out flour-egg mixture into a large glass bowl and stir to cool for 1 minute
Crack eggs into a bowl to make sure there are no shells
Begin to add one egg at a time into the dough and keep mixing with a wooden spoon
The mixture will look broken up at first but no worries because it comes back together
After each egg is absorbed into the flour mixture ADD another egg and repeat stirring
Spoon the Pate a Choux dough into a pastry bag … I don’t even use a tip here
Cut about 3/4″ off the end of the pastry bag
Twist down the open end of the bag a little to keep dough enclosed and to put pressure on the cut off end
Squeeze out 3-4″ x 3/4″ rows of Pate a Choux dough to form eclairs making sure they are about 2″ apart
Brush with egg wash and smooth with your finger if needed to smooth any bumps
Put into 400º oven for 15 minutes
Turn down to 350º for another 25 minutes
Turn oven off and open door 5″ but leave eclairs in the oven to dry out another 10 minutes
Ingredients for the Pastry Filling:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 cups milk room temperature
6 lg eggs yolks room temperature
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Directions for the Vanilla Custard Filling:
In a medium sauce pan add sugar and corn starch and whisk to combine
In a medium bowl whisk milk and egg yolks until combined
Whisk in milk and egg mixture into sugar and corn
Turn heat to medium/high and bring to a boil
As soon as it comes to a boil whisk 5 SECONDS ONLY and TAKE OFF HEAT continually whisking, after 5 seconds put BACK ON heat for 5 SECONDS and IMMEDIATELY take off heat
DO NOT BOIL ON HEAT FOR MORE THAN 10 SECONDS or the texture will become grainy
Add in butter and vanilla while still whisking
Strain the custard into a glass bowl
Stir to cool slightly and cover directly onto custard saran wrap OR Pour into a prepared tart shell, then into the frig and when cooled and thickened top with fresh sliced fruit and voilà another dessert! …just saying 🙂
Place into the frig for atleast 2 hours up to 3 days
Take the thick pastry cream out of frig and whisk til smooth -5 seconds and the texture will become smooth and ready to place in the pastry bag to pipe
Ingredients for the Chocolate Dipped Toppping:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup confectioners sugar to desired thickness
Heat the cream to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and vanilla in a medium size bowl and let it melt the chocolate for 2 minutes
Whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth
With a whisk slowly add in confectioners sugar while whisking until smooth
If the chocolate gets cooled and too thick to dip heat for a minute over double boiler
Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze
Set on a cookie tray
Place into the frig uncovered for at least 1 hour to set the glaze
MasterChef open casting calls and chewy chocolate chip cookies are the highlights of my blogging today. With exhausting life events that have taken place over the last three weeks I was some how able to produce my chewy chocolate chip cookie show for you and show up to my second pre-registered casting call for MasterChef.
Three weeks ago we received horrific news that my brother-in-law, George, passed away at the age of 57 from a heart attack. It was both devastating and unexpected. He was taken from us much too young and will be deeply missed by many. George lead an incredible life having the opportunities to accomplish many wonderful things that so many people wouldn’t have even had the chance to experience.
Bella and Reilly visiting with Brody
While dealing with the loss of Uncle George our King Charles, Brody, was hit by a car on Wednesday. I had just finished shooting my chewy chocolate chip cookie show when we got news of the accident. My kids and I were running between two vets for six hours for the later part of the day.
Brody didn’t have any broken bones, but a deep open gash on his upper right leg and bruising across his chest causing a profuse amount of swelling. They don’t stitch wounds like this so he got four staples and spent the next few nights at the vets for care and observation. Brody was heavily sedated on Thursday so I began to edit my chewy chocolate chip cookie show and was then able publish it to my YouTube Channel.
A second task now out of the way. My first task, was accomplished earlier in the week on Tuesday making a test run of my “Cold Cucumber-Fennel Soup” for the MasterChef three minute plating part of the casting call. I wanted to make sure the flavors were exactly how I wanted them with the new addition of the fennel to the soup. I was then off to pick up the King Crab legs from Altlantic Seafood in Old Saybrook. This crab will be set up on top of the cucumber-fennel soup in the center with a eatable garnish of fresh dill. The cold soup will also have a drizzle of Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, and fine dice, a brunoise, of avocado, tomato and cucumber scantly decorating the top of the soup around the king crab.
Friday morning was upon us and I was now making the a final batch of my Cold Cucumber-Fennel Soup for the MasterChef open call. Just as I was finishing, Brody’s vet called and wanted me to come for a visit with Brody. I put the soup into the refrigerator and headed right out. I felt that the hour I spent there with him helped so much I brought Reilly and Bella back at six o’clock that night right after picking up the rental car for New York City. I decided on driving this time to MasterChef because the five plus hours of train rides the last time was too draining.
The Veterinary hospital was forty-five minutes away so the kids and I were home by 8:45 Friday night after the visit with Brody. I then finished organizing the ice, the cooler, and chopped up the eatable garnish for the soup. Then I worked on finishing the eight page application to the MasterChef open casting call. Finally, I went to sleep at midnight and that 4:30 am alarm came way too fast.
MasterChef on Camera Shooting in Times Square
On Saturday morning, the MasterChef crew wanted contestants there at 8:00 for morning filming, so that’s what I did. They filmed us in groups in Times Square chanting “MasterChef”. They then did individual on-camera pieces with every single contestant stating what we did for a living, where we were from and a finish on a “I’m your next MasterChef”, with much enthusiasm! Myself and a few others were then asked sign release forms.
After two hours at Times Square we all went back to the hotel to wait our turn to enter into the “plate-up” room. We met the tasting chefs and the first set of interviewers walking around with clip boards discussing your life and what kind of person you are. Well, I’m ecstatic to say the judges loved my Cold Cucumber-Fennel Soup! My number was announced first once again, as it was in the first open casting call that I attended back in October of 2015. Our group of 9 was on to the next interview part of the casting call and the remaining contestants from our group were dismissed.
At this point it was noon and my energy level was deteriorating fast even after having a coffee at 4:30 am, a mini can of coca cola at 8:00 am and a 1/2 of a coffee at 10:30. But once again, I am there ready to forge on. Worries of Brody are also going through my mind. The anticipation and excitement of picking him up after I leave NYC which also included dropping off Bella to her Tennis match, the rental car, picking up Reilly and then heading to Piper Veterinary to get our boy home!
Oh yes, we are back at the MasterChef interview room facing the last judge with his seductive English accent, a kind of 007 look to him, is now asking me to tell him about myself. What! Really? OK, everything I was hoping to express to him just went out the window and I’m thinking “just try and be your funny self Michel” and all will be okay, but that is not how it worked out. Although I was hopeful that I may still have a chance to get to thru this “personality” phase to my dismay I was not. I know more of me was expected in that last phase then I was capable of giving this time.
Well, I did make a kick ass dish once again and actually enjoyed this round of MasterChef open casting call much more then the first time. You can’t always plan your life events! Life happens as they say and you have to roll with the punches and enjoy every minute. Definite kudos go out to that MasterChef casting call team who were there working their tails off for a good twelve hours. There’s always another chance at the next casting call later this year when MasterChef comes back to NYC!
Wait until you taste these decadent sticky buns first hand! Such an easy recipe to follow making these homemade gourmet sticky buns that melt in you mouth! PERFECT for VALENTINE’S DAY morning or any occasion for that matter. The dough is light and chewy. The pecan glaze is soft and caramel like and the cream cheese icing is the best I have ever had. The cream cheese icing has a tablespoon of lemon juice giving it the perfect balance. If you don’t have lemons you can always substitute the citrus with pineapple juice. It’s nice to have the different options with these two toppings to offer to your family and guests.
The dough recipe for these homemade gourmet sticky buns couldn’t get any easier. You can literally make it in 8 minutes including the five minutes of kneading with the dough hook. Although, you do have to wait for eggs and buttermilk to come to room temperature. There isn’t any worrying about activating the yeast in a 105º-110º liquid either. It is important to buy a fresh packet of yeast though. It’s better to make sure it’s a fresh packet then dealing with one that’s been sitting in your cabinet for a while if you are not a big baker. It was very fun to play with the different sticky bun and glaze recipes that Dana and I had from Cooks, bon appétit and our own mish-mosh of things. That’s what makes the whole experience worth while, eliminating what doesn’t work and substituting what does. So we got all that out of the way for you here.
If you have a little time, planning for the homemade sticky bun dough, glaze and cream cheese frosting to be made a day or two ahead would be ideal! Once you make these for your family and friends you will become the honorary sticky bun chef!
This amazing German pancake is an awesome dish to make for your holiday guests! It’s festive and quite spectacular when your guests see how your pancake has puffed to enormous heights when you take it out of the oven. Not only does it make for a wonderful presentation but it’s made with little effort and can be served for breakfast or as a dessert!
A German pancake is really a giant popover. “Dutch baby” is another name for this pancake and rumor has it that the reason behind this name came about when a chef’s young child couldn’t pronounce the German word for German, “Deutsche”. Supposedly, this mis-pronunciation lead German Pancakes to the alternative name “Dutch Babies”. A couple other names that this German pancake has been called are “Dutch puff” and “Bismark”.
My kids get very excited for that moment when this amazing German pancake comes out of the oven! It has a bit of a custard like texture inside yet very light. We love eating these pancakes and have come to the conclusion that they taste like something in between a pancake, french toast and a crêpe!
My Vermont friends turned me on to this recipe years ago and I have been making them ever since. It’s fun for me to play around with recipes and see what works best so to this recipe I have added another egg, some vanilla and a little cinnamon. You can add grated nutmeg instead if you prefer. Originally, these homemade pancakes were served with lemon and confectioners sugar. I like to served them with confectioners sugar, real maple syrup, fresh blue berries and a dollop of my favorite “Wild Blueberry Preserves” by Bonne Maman, a product of France (sold right in our local market at Stop and Shop). German pancakes are so easy to make, taking on the same amount of time as making ordinary pancakes. The wonderful thing here is you are not glued to the stove pouring batter every few minutes.
Usingcast iron is the way to go here because it holds in the heat evenly distributing it throughout the pan but I have made them in other oven proof pans and it comes out great. Some recipes have you pre-heating the pan in the oven, pulling out the rack, pouring in the batter, then pushing the rack back into the oven and in my opinion, this is a disaster waiting to happen since the batter can easily swoosh over the sides causing the oven to smoke ! The easiest way to start these homemade German pancakes is on the stove top and then into the oven for the duration. The finished product will make you will feel like a french pastry chef all day. This could also make for a great dessert to an impressive dinner with entrees liketurkey stuffed peppers,pulled beef tacos & mango salsaoryogurt-chicken kabobs & tzatziki. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Traditional German Pancake:
5 extra LG eggs (or 6 large)
1 cup Milk – cold
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/4 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp butter -cut up into 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) COLD
Ingredients for savory German Pancake:
5 extra LG eggs (or 6 large)
1 cup Milk – cold
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/2 cup swiss cheese OR cheddar
1/2 cup thin diced ham OR sauteed mushrooms
1/3 cup green onion OR sauteed sweet onion
NOTE: If you are going the cheddar, sauteed mushroom & onion route add 1 cup fresh baby spinach too!
4 Tbsp butter -cut up into 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) COLD
Pre-heat oven to 425º
In a medium bowl whisk dry ingredients together
Begin to whisk in milk, vanilla and eggs into dry ingredients just until combined …Note : it puffs more if your milk and eggs are cold!
Put 10″-12″ cast iron pan on stove top on low heat for 1 minute –THIS WILL WORK IN ANY 10″-12″ OVEN PROOF PAN –
Turn heat up to high on cast iron pan, wait 1 minute til pan is hot but not smoking, then add 4 Tbsp of cut up cold butter
When the butter gets frothy add the batter, do not stir
Immediately take off heat and put into oven for 22 minutes until golden and puffy
NOTE: if you are doing “SAVORY German Pancake” …after you remove from heat top with your extra ingredients, do not stir, and place into oven for the 22 minutes
When you take it out of the oven transfer to a plate with a spatula and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Slice into wedges and serve with maple syrup, warm fresh strawberry jam/sauce (Recipe BELOW) and whipped cream! …mmm!
Ingrediesnts and Directions for EASY STRAWBERRY JAM/SAUCE:
1 lb. hulled and chopped fresh stawberries
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup fresh sqeezed lemon juice
Finely dice strawberries and add to a wide 8″ sauce pan with 1 cup sugar and lemon juice
Over med/high heat bring to a rolling simmer
Keep an eye on the mixture, keep simmering for 15 min. – make sure it doesn’t boil over
Skim off white foam that accumulates around the edges while simmering as this will make the jam cloudy (its just air bubbles that form in the jamming process)
Remove from heat and serve warm with German pancake
Jar the remaining strawberry sauce and refrigerate as it will thicken into a jam as it cools! It will stay good for 2 weeks in the frig.