Category Archives: Recipes

TWD: Bubble Eclairs

Wisconsin is a funny place in some regards.  There is a very French heritage in the state that is present in the name of its cities and towns (e.g. La Crosse, Eau Claire).  The French heritage is quite old and mostly forgotten now.  It came with the French fur traders.  Then there is the German heritage which everyone is more familiar with.  I’ve been told many times that Wisconsin has so many Germans because the landscape reminded the German immigrants of Germany, so they stayed.  That is where some of the most familiar Wisconsin things come from (e.g. beer and sausage).

Even though most of the French heritage has been forgotten in all but names, there is one thing that remains.  While other states boast of “fried everything on a stick” at their state fairs, Wisconsin’s most popular state fair item isn’t fried at all.  It’s a cream puff.  A humongous, delicious cream puff piles with tons of fresh whipped cream and powdered sugar.  They even have a drive thru outside the fairgrounds for cream puffs!  Whenever I go to the Wisconsin State Fair I always make sure to see the pig races and then there are two things I always eat, a corn on the cob and the other is a cream puff.  That’s all I need.

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The cream puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair are made out of the same dough that this week’s TWD recipe for Bubble Eclairs is made out of, a pate de choux.  This recipe comes from Dorie’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook, which is a lovely compilation of French inspired desserts.  I’ve never made a pate de choux before, but I have to say that it came together quite quickly and easily.  I made it all in one pot and with one utensils, a wooden spoon.

For the filling for my Bubble Éclairs, I choose to go with Dorie’s chocolate pastry cream.  This pastry cream also only required one pot, and it pretty much just like chocolate pudding.  My éclairs baked up beautifully.  Instead of brushing mine with egg though, I did milk since I didn’t want to waste an egg.  They still browned nicely.  Once assembled, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and we dug in.

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All four of us enjoyed these.  I would love to say what we said about them, but instead of talking it was mostly silent at the table.  In my mind, that is a better response than words.  They did remind me of the Wisconsin State Fair, which sadly, we didn’t make it to this year for my annual cream puff.  These éclairs will hold me over though.

Please go over to the TWD site to see how other people filled and enjoyed their Bubble Éclairs.  And if you want the recipe, please buy the book.

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Enjoy!

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TWD: Cherry Crumb Tart

Oh, cherries.  I do love you.  Why do you have such a short season?  I only get to enjoy you for a couple weeks a year.  I love you tart and sweet.  I love you pies, tarts, muffins, smoothies and just plain fresh.  Oh, don’t try to fool me with some “cherry flavoring” that is just way too over-powering and cloyingly sweet.  Your flavors are to fresh and clean and sometimes very subtle.  And canned pie filling?  Please, it should say “cherry flavored jelly with a few cherries” on the can.  I need CHERRIES in my pies, not jelly.

IMG_3152 This week the TWD group went right to my heart.  We made Dorie’s Cherry Crumb Tart.  This tart consisted of a hazelnut cream, fresh cherries and then a streusel topping.  There were no parts for me to dislike.  The recipe had a pound of fresh, sweet cherries.  This is probably one of the last weeks I’m going to be able to find fresh, in-season cherries and I’m glad this recipe showed them off.

Cherries here in Wisconsin are kind of hit or miss for the rest of the year.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to Door County, Wisconsin, next weekend to pick some tart cherries.  Some of you might not know this, but Door County is world renowned for their tart cherries.  I’ve been so spoiled to live less than 2 hours away.  It should be prime picking season next weekend, so I need to get there soon.  That season only lasts a few days each year.

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If you aren’t fortunate enough to live where cherries are available though, this tart would also be great with blueberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, or even apricots.  It was definitely a hit in this household.  I made it over the course of three days, which was great since there are 4 parts to the recipe.  There is the tart dough, the streusel, the nut cream, and then you have to pit a pound of cherries.  My 4 year old son helped.  He helped me make the tart crust and the nut cream.  He loves using the food processor.

If you are so fortunate to have an excess of cherries, I would recommend making this tart.  At least you know one pound of them won’t go to waste.  Enjoy!

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TWD: Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta

This week’s recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie was Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta.  This recipe is great for the hot weather days we have been having.  It did not require me to turn on the oven, which is a definite no-no when the temperature gets above 80degrees outside, which is has been almost all month.  For this recipe there is a smooth mango puree on the bottom of a vanilla bean panna cotta.  I got some vanilla beans while back and I had been saving them for a special occasion.  I wasn’t going to use one of them for this, but then I thought “What am I really saving these for? I can always buy more.” So, I used one of them.  I loved the fragrance of the bean.  And it was neat to see all the little seeds flecked throughout the panna cotta.

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Overall, this dessert was just so-so for us.  I didn’t mind the flavors, but the texture wasn’t what I was expecting.  I was expecting more of a creamy, pudding like texture instead of the Jell-O style texture that it had.  I love creamy desserts and so I think my expectations were just slightly off.  Like I said, the flavors were good.  The vanilla and mango were very refreshing.  I don’t know if I’ll make this again, as I would prefer pudding, but it was a nice change of pace and that is why I joined this group.  I love trying all of the different recipes.

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TWD: Strawberry Shortcakes, Franco-American Style

A couple weeks ago I made strawberry shortcakes the way I always had it when I was growing up.  I bought the little sponge cake cups you get at the grocery store.  I put some sliced strawberries on them and then I topped them with whipped cream.  Afterwards, my husband looked at the ingredients for the sponge cakes and he was appalled.  He didn’t understand how something that seemed so simple could have so many ingredients.  Needless to say, we haven’t had those again.

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This recipe was also perfect timing in that my son and I picked strawberries on Saturday.  We ended up picking over 13 pounds!  The berries were just so good that I couldn’t stop picking them.  I made a double batch of jam, or 20 pints, and I still had half of them left over!  So, I made sure to use up quite a few in this recipe.  In my opinion, you can’t eat too much fruit or vegetables and so a dessert with fruit is always a perk.

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The shortcakes were a basic lady-finger recipe piped into circles and baked.  I was a little shocked that they didn’t rise, but in the end that didn’t matter.  Mine actually sunk a little after I took them out of the oven.  Oh well though, it isn’t as though that impacts the taste.  I also took the time to roast some strawberries per Dorie’s suggestions.  Overall, this was a hit in our house.  My husband said these were so much better than the kind we used to make.  The only similarity between the two was the whipped cream.  I didn’t take the time to whip my own, instead I used the canned.  I just didn’t feel like dirtying another bowl for something I feel is quite good in the can.

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Enjoy!

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TWD: Chocolate Cherry Brownies

I’ve been following the Tuesdays with Dorie group for some time now.  I used to do this with the other book, although I never did finish all of the recipes.  I probably finished about 3/4 of them.  I have been wavering on whether or not to join the group, but here I am.  I took quite a large break from baking after having my kids, but I can no longer ignore my desire to get back in the kitchen.  I’m hoping that this will also give my kids a chance to join me.

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This was a great recipe for my “official” (I did make the rhubarb upside down cake a few weeks ago) start again.  It was easy and delicious.  While my husband swears that he doesn’t like anything in his brownies except for chocolate, he ate a quarter of these in less than a day.  Next time I would probably bake them a little longer.  I kept it on the short side at 27minutes, like the recipe recommended, but they are super gooey.  And while I prefer my brownies gooey, these were a bit too gooey.  It didn’t stop us from enjoying them though.  I used a mixture of dried cranberries and cherries since I didn’t have enough dried cherries, but I could barely tell the difference.  If anything, the tartness from the cranberries were nice.

Enjoy!

 

Enjoy!

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America’s Test Kitchen’s Wacky Cake

America’s Test Kitchen is hosting a “journey” through the 1900’s where you cook one recipe from each decade.  This week’s recipe is from 1945, during the heart of World War II when food was being rationed.  This week’s recipe is Wacky Cake, which is a basic chocolate cake that requires no milk or eggs.  The leavening is from the chemical reaction that occurs between baking soda and vinegar.  Overall, the cake was very easy to put together.  It only required 1 pan and only 5 minutes to put together.  Also, I already had all the ingredients on hand.  It’s also delicious.  For the recipe, please see  America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe here.

Also, in order to show my spirit of the 1940’s and wartime rationing I thought I would include a photo of all of my canning work.  It includes strawberry, raspberry, and apricot jams, applesauce, tomatoes, pickles, beets, salsa, and vegetable soup.

My husband and I have quite the garden, so any extra crops end up either being canned or frozen for the winter.  While beets are good canned, green beans and peas are frozen.  Nothing tastes as good as homemade in the middle of winter!

Enjoy!

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Ricotta, Basil, and Summer Squash (Zucchini) Frittata

My husband is a great guy, but he generally stays out of the kitchen.  He can make spaghetti, macaroni and cheese and pizza.  Besides those things his cooking skills are rather limited, except for one thing.  Frittatas.  Don’t ask, but somehow, that man can make excellent frittatas.  Whenever I try, they just don’t turn out.  The last time I tried, half of it stuck to the pan while the other half oozed out.  It wasn’t a pretty site.  So, from now on, my husband is responsible for making all of our frittatas.

I found this recipe for ricotta, basil, and summer squash frittata while I was looking for recipes to use zucchini.  As everyone knows, there is always an abundance of zucchini this time of year.  This year doesn’t appear to be an exception either, even considering the drought we are in.

So, while I watched our son, my husband successfully made another frittata.  It was good.  Next time though I think I would substitute out the ricotta for something with a little more pizzazz, like fontina.

Recipe: Ricotta, Basil, and Summer Squash Frittata

From: America’s Test Kitchen Simple Weeknight Favorites

10 large eggs

3 Tablespoons half-and-half

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Salt and Pepper

12 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4″ think

1/4 cup olive oil

2 summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4″ thick (I used zucchini)

4 ounces (1/2 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese

1.   Position oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.  Whisk eggs, half-and-half, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in bowl until combined.  Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil in another bowl, cover, and microwave until tender, about 5 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch ovensafe non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add squash and cook until golden brown and tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to plate.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and potatoes to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Add egg mixture and squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until large curds form but eggs are still very wet, about 2 minutes.  Shake skillet to distribute eggs evenly and cook, without stirring, until bottom is set, about 30 seconds.  Dollop heaping teaspoons of ricotta on top.

3.  Transfer skillet to oven and broil until ricotta is hot and melted and surface of frittata is spotty brown, 3 to 4 minutes (eggs should still be slightly wet).  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Using rubber spatula, loosen edges of frittata from sides of skillet.  Slide loosened frittata onto platter, cut into wedges, and serve.

Enjoy!

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