Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate...erm...Raspberry E'Clair(e)

When I was little, we had a friend who babysat me. She called me Chocolate E'Clair(e). So, I called her Chocolate E'Bev. I mean, it's just something made up, right? I was 3...give me a break. Well, I have never made the dessert of my name...until now! This month's Daring Baker's challenge was Chocolate Eclairs. Something different, so I was a bit intrigued. I waited until the last week because I knew I would be going home and my parents always like trying these challenges...and I like sharing! My dad didn't want a chocolate cream, so I let him suggest one; his choice was raspberry. I thought that would be wonderful. However, the recipe I found did not produce a cream that tasted of raspberries. Though the cream tasted fine (like vanilla) it was disappointing because is SHOULD have tasted like raspberries. While the process really wasn't hard, something didn't quite come out right. You see, my pastries didn't quite cook all the way and then I had to add extra time. To my disappointment, they didn't cook up to be very fluffy. In fact, they were VERY dense. If eaten alone, this density made them a bit eggy. When put together, though, I think they tasted fine. Nothing about them was bad...just not how I expected. Despite two disappointments, the challenge still pleased my parents and our guests. They all said how much they enjoyed them and even asked for seconds. Yet again, the DBer's have succeeded in pushing me to make something I normally wouldn't and in pleasing my tasters! Thanks to Tony and Meeta for hosting this month. Can't wait for our next recipe. The following is the recipe we used plus the raspberry cream recipe I used (at the end). For more entries go here! 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

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

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 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 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup strained black raspberry puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons Chambord


In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

Once the milk is steaming, add half of it, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture. Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard reaches 170F on a digital thermometer and is very thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the black raspberry puree, vanilla extract, and Chambord. Chill the cream before filling pastry.

This black raspberry pastry cream recipe makes approximately 2 cups flavored cream.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Before I Forget!

I just got back from Houston where I took my USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills exam. It's a *ridiculous* test that all medical and osteopathic students are forced to take in which there are 12 trained simulation patients. We have to enter the room, take a history and physical, answer any questions, and have good personal skills with the patients (all in 15 minutes) then we exit and write a complete note (in only 10 minutes) with differential diagnosis (possible list of problems) and work-up (labs tests, x-rays, etc that we want done). What's so ridiculous is that it's only offered in 5 cities for the whole NATION and it costs $1200! Originally it was just for foreign doctors who came here and wanted to practice, to be sure they could communicate properly with US patients. Now, everyone takes it. ANYWAY, before I left
Deanna gave me the "I Heart Your Blog" award. I am SO's the first blog award I've gotten. Thanks Deanna! Go check out her blog. The rules of the award are:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.

2. Link the person you received your award from.

3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.

4. Put links of those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you’ve nominated Here are the blogs I've nominated:
Peabody at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody - she always has such delicious looking treats, many of which are original. If I need something yummy, I know she'll have it.

Anna at Cookie Madness - Anna definitely keeps us up to date with cookies, cakes, and brownies. I love to check and she what she's making, from something for friends, family, or the cooking contests she often enters (and wins!).

Cate at Sweetnicks - Cate is definitely a busy blogger. She has a son in first grade (who is quite intelligent, I must say) and a 6 month old (quite the heartbreaker) yet she still finds time to share her great dishes with us. For so long, she hosted the Anti-oxidant Rich Foods blog event each Tuesday, encouraging us to make foods that are healthy for us.

Jenny at Picky Palate - Jenny is another contest participant AND mom! She gives us great dishes for families (along with desserts!) that even her kids will eat...okay, with the occasional "mom" dish thrown in.

Deborah at Taste and Tell - Deborah is a soon-to-be mommy! She takes the recipes she finds on other blogs or in cookbooks she owns and shares them with us...after she's tasted them. I think that is a great way to "get the word out." Hopefully, she'll feel more like cooking (and eating) soon!

Paula at Cookbook Junkie - Paula is a(nother) mom with two kiddos. One which already has allergies and one that she is working oh so hard to keep from the allergies. Check out her food which is nut-free, as that is one food now taboo. She offers many meals here...from her cookbook obssession!

Erika at Tummy Treasure - Erika is a multi-blog woman! She has a recipe blog, a food blog, a garden blog, a book blog, and a daily devotion blog! WOW! She also works to make frugal recipes, healthy recipes, but have fun at the same time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baked Tilapia

If you're looking for a quick and healthy dinner the answer is only a frozen fish filet away. When I'm working in the hospital, cooking dinner becomes almost a hassle. I get home and don't want to spend too much time cooking; I just want to eat and get ready for bed. So, this becomes a staple. I always keep some frozen fish on hand. Tilapia is a favorite but flounder and catfish are good, too. Salmon is great but I usually try to do that fresh. Just take out your fish and either run it under warm water if you don't have much time or place it on an aluminum pan if you have more time. When it's thawed season it with Tony's and sprinkle some corn meal over it. This cornmeal will give it a crispness that is remeniscent of a fried fish!!! Then place it in a 425 degree F pre-heated oven and let it cook for about 12 minutes. Then serve up with some veggies and you've got a quick and healthy meal.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bits of Gold!

So, as I expected, the US women went 1-2 in the all-around competition (with no help from the judges!). Go Shawn and Nastia! (Photo from I thought that there were several scores that were too low for the US (vault for Liukin and bars and beam, maybe vault slightly, for Johnson) and scores that were way too generous for some others (especially the Chinese on beam). However, they did what they came to do and won gold and silver. So, in honor of them I will give you a recipe with some gold, or toffee however you care to look at it, inside! This recipe is from an old baking cookbook. It's called All About Home Baking and is copyright 1933. At some point, I will type the introduction, parts of it, for you because it makes me laugh. However, this is a recipe that I modified just a bit. Icebox cookies are so simple and can be done many ways. In fact, that is the only type cookie in this cookbook but there are multiple flavors of them. I chose just the simple vanilla nut cookies and added some "gold" to it! The great thing about these cookies is that you can make the dough and then slice and bake as you'd like to have some cookies, kind of like buying the premade dough...except it's homemade!!! So, enjoy some bits of gold! Vanilla Nut Toffee Cookies adapted from All About Home Baking
1 cup butter or other shortening (I used 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup shortening)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup toffee pieces
4 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter until smooth. Gradually add sugars and cream until fluffy. Add eggs, nuts, vanilla, and toffee (to prevent overmixing later). Sift flour. Add baking powder and salt to it. Then add gradually to butter mixture. The dough will be stiff but not overly so. It can be crumbly but mine was not, it held together well. Split the dough in half. Roll each half into a 1 1/2 inch roll/log and wrap in waxed paper. Chill in refrigerator overnight or in freezer for a few hours if pressed for time (this is what I did). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425F. Slice into 1/4 inch slices and place on baking sheet. Bake for five minutes or until done. Do not overbake. I recommend taking the cookies out when they are just barely starting to golden up. Let cool on pan for a couple of minutes. Remove to cooling rack for a few minutes. Makes 6-7 dozen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I am loving the Olympics. I wish this happened every year! So exciting! My favorite event is the gymnastics. I was completely shocked when Alicia Sacramone fell on balance beam and then again on floor. However, the deficit from uneven bars just due to the Chinese difficulty was already so large, who knows if perfect routines would have changed the overall results. I'm still excited that they won silver (picture from The gymnastics program here has gone from not winning medals to always being on the stand somewhere. Now I'm looking forward to the all-around. Maybe we'll have a 1-2 finish? Could be fun...pending results, I have a recipe to give after that even. But today, in honor of the little pixies, I have a fun breakfast dish. It's a quick way to make cinnamon rolls with a big of a different feel. They're called cinni-minis and they are GREAT! CINNI-MINIS
2 cans of crescent rolls
6 T butter/margarine, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 T cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans, optional
confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the softened butter, sugars, cinnamon, and nuts. Open crescent roll pack. Pull out one rectangle of rolls (there will be four of these per pack of rolls) and press together the perforated seam. Spread 1/8 of butter mixture over the rectangle. Roll up pastry style down the long edge. Cut with a serrated knife; you should get between 6 and 8 rolls per rectangle. Place rolls in a greased, round cake pan. Repeat with remaining crescent dough. When pan is full, place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, put confectioner's sugar in a bowl and add enough water (or milk) to make a medium-thick icing. When rolls have cooled, pour icing over the rolls. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 09, 2008!

When I did my last post, I got a bit sad. Through those posts I was able to relive my trip and, in a way, extend it. When Wednesday came, my trip was really over. Thursday I found myself thinking, this time last week I was sitting on the plane in Memphis waiting for the lightning to stop, etc. I've even been listening to my Wicked CD all week, singing Defying Gravity today in the free clinic. Yet, I must return to regular life. I guess that means giving you a recipe! Several weeks ago, I found this recipe on Jenny's blog. When I told my mom that's what I wanted to make, she said "YUM!" On the whole, this is a pretty simple recipe but it's jazzed up by the addition of oreos. I think next time, I would probably add more oreos and either add more flour or use margarine instead of butter. Mine don't look at puffy as Jenny's; don't understand why as I followed her directions exactly except for the number of oreos. The crisp cookie that butter makes, my family just doesn't enjoy as much. However, this is a good cookie and worth trying!Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies slightly adapted from Picky Palate

1 stick softened butter
6 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ Cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
9 Oreo Cookies, broken into pieces
1 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, and sugars until well combined. Add egg and vanilla until mixed well. Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl, stir to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients then stir in oreos and chocolate chips until just combined. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cooked, but still soft. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New York City!!!! Day 4

The last day in the! We made it a "late" morning and left around 10. The bus to FOREVER to get there and then to FOREVER to get into the city. It took us until 11 to get there. Then we had to ride downtown on the subway. When we arrived, we saw the WTC site (from only one side). That area is HUGE! It just amazed me how big the area was and then realized that on Sept 11, that area was just bedlam. There were so many buildings close by that looked untouched, though I'm sure they've been renovated/fixed up since then. Then we walked through Battle Park and caught the Staten Island Ferry. It was a nice ride over because we had the breeze. It wasn't quite as brisk on the way back but was still beautiful. We then "sprinted" to Brooklyn, as we were already late, to meet a friend at Grimaldi's for lunch. This was the BEST pizza! We had ham, mushroom, and onion. One thing that made it so good is that they use fresh mozzarella. Oh, so good. Then my parents and Holly had ice cream from a little shop under the bridge. I was determined to have gelato, so I didn't get any. After the walk across the bridge, we went to Chinatown and Little Italy...where I got my gelato! I had pistachio flavored. It was really good but I think I would have prefered a different flavor. Then we went to the Harley shop where Daddy did NOT get a $45 t-shirt! Too least we had fun in F.A.O. Shwartz! That place is so much fun...too many pictures to show, but I did play of the BIG piano! When we left, we went to get dinner before our final Broadway show. Holly had mentioned this Argentinian place she used to work at, so we went there...Sosa Borella. It was great (and put ice in the water!). Daddy had lemon rosemary chicken with gorgonzolla mashed potatoes. Mama had a spinach ravioli with lamb bolognesse. I had the crab salad...mmmm! Perfect and light after pizza and gelato! THEN we went to Mary Poppins. This show was SO much fun! Not one that you want the CD for but very enjoyable. I wanted a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down T-shirt but they don't make them! And so ended our trip to NYC. I really enjoyed it and would love to go back sometime. We had a great variety of food and there was so much more to sample!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

New York City!!!! Day 3

No sleeping in for us on Tuesday...we were up bright and early to head to the TODAY show! We didn't do the super early thing and there was really no need. We arrived by 8:30 (after eating our GA peach for breakfast!) and I quickly found a spot on the far end of the outdoor area. My dad scooted behind the crowd and got a great shot of Meredith. Then they made their way to the front and called me over. We were on the show at the beginning of the 9 o'clock hour! So cool...we even came home with the script that Natalie Morales used during a segment. Such great weather, too. After the TODAY show we made our wayback to the M&M store, which was fun; but the better store was the Hershey's store. Mama found some great syrup and I found my favorite...Reese's! Then we traveled to the Central Park area and stopped in Alice's Tea Cup for an early lunch. It ended up being pretty good. Mama got the asparagus soup (which was good but I was glad I didn't have a whole bowl) and egg salad sandwich. Daddy had pesto tomato soup with curry chicken sandwich. I had the same sandwich as Daddy but whole. It was very good except no ice in the water...what is up with that and NY restaurants?! We then made our way to the American Museum of Natural History where we touched the moon, found an asteroid, and played with dinosaurs. After a walk through Central Park we decided to look for supper. WOW...we walked FOREVER. Know this...there is NOWHERE to eat on 5th Avenue! I think we walked from 77th street to 54th before we ( was my fault, I didn't want hamburger) found a great little Thai restaurant called Chai. It was perfect and hit the spot. Mama had cashew chicken. Daddy had grilled chicken. I had the special with stir fried chicken, snow peas, tomato, mango, and cashews...SO GOOD! We then decided to make it an "early" night and headed back to Secaucus. Of course, we stopped at Au Bon Pain for breakfast and nighttime snacks. The next day had BIG plans with great food to be sure!

Monday, August 04, 2008

New York City!!!! Day 2

After sleeping in (we decided that after being up for 20 hours the day before with traveling, walking, show, etc we would just wake up "naturally") and eating our pastries/muesli, we caught our bus into the city and went to Chelsea Market. This is such a fun little place. Unfortunately, we didn't think ahead to order tickets for something at Food Network (Guy Fieri was filming a show!). However, we did enjoy watching the people at Sarabeth's make some bread dough. Then we went to The Manhattan Fruit Exchange. WOW! This place has wonderful looking produce for cheap (like HALF what it is in MS). We even found GA peaches for 2lb/$1.49 (once again, less than half what it is in MS ON SALE!). They had a huge display of mushrooms, cheese, greens, and even FRESH almonds. Amazing! After that we walked around Greenwich Village trying to figure out what to do (bad idea...go with a plan!). finally, we decided to eat. Mama chose this deli that had a pay by the pound buffet. SO GOOD! I had broccolini, celophane noodle salad, curry chicken, grilled veggies, tomato cucumber salad, a piece of sesame pork, and cantelope. Yum! At this point we went back to scope out Rockefeller Plaza and got tickets for Mary Poppins! Then we made the subway trip to the Bronx for a Yankees game which we did NOT have tickets for. Not smart in the final season! We got there and the cheapest seats were $280!!! NO WAY! We sat around and Daddy stalked the ticket counters. Finally he found a vendor that got seats in Monument Park, an area in front of the visitors' bullpen with folding chairs. It ended up being a great seat! I got my yearly hot dog and enjoyed it. Then after the 7th inning we shared some Dip-N-Dots. YUM! We even got on the Jumbotron, saw 5 homeruns, and saw Mariano Rivera walk right past us! Made for a fun day. PS - Yankees lost 13-5!