Things That Stick to Your Ribs (A Profiteroles Recipe)

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Yesterday, I walked a mile uphill in English rain just to drop an essay in the post to a magazine that does not accept submissions via email.  I got soaked along the way as I carried no umbrella.  Couldn’t.  I was pushing my stroppy daughter who bandied her legs about under the dryness of her stroller’s plastic cover.  In protest, she doused the inside with apple juice.  Spill-proof sippy cup, my eye.

This journey into the local village made me feel like an aspiring woman writer from yesteryear.  It was all very “Gosh, I hope the ink doesn’t run off the envelope in this storm and jeepers, wouldn’t it be swell if I heard back from the editor soon?  Note to self: don’t forget milk for the baby on the way home.”

When I came out of the post office, the downpour had stopped and there was a rainbow in the sky.  At the end of it was something better than gold.  It was Hand Made Food.  Hand Made Food is the best cafe and shop in Blackheath and their cheese selection is tops.  I decided to stop in and see if I could find any special ingredients as our friends, Alexei and Linda, were joining us for dinner.

Lucky me.  I found the creamiest Stichelton to substitute for the Iowa Maytag I knew I couldn’t get for my blue cheese dressing.  It was extremely subtle for a blue cheese and perfectly tangy.  Nothing at all like Roquefort whose piquancy borders on the rancio.  It was the perfect accompaniment to one of my favorite salads, that ubiquitous iceberg wedge of America in the 1950s served with piccolo tomatoes and crumbled bacon.

The rest of our menu was equally brawny.  Rump steak, wilted spinach, buttered potatoes with parsley, with bottles of Dao and Barolo to drink.  For dessert, I couldn’t help myself.  Perhaps I should have made something lighter but I didn’t want to.  Summer has left and England is going cold.  Besides my flirty, 60 year old, Cockney butcher with glinty eyes and a shiny smile made even sparklier because of a few gold teeth, told me I looked like I was wasting away and he’d make it his business to build me up before winter so I wouldn’t fade away.  Yeah, I made profiteroles.

Aptly described by a friend of mine as “Godless bundles of temptation,” profiteroles have always been more seductive to me than forbidden fruit to Eve.  Last night, they proved the same for Henry and our friends.

 

For my choux, I use Ina Garten’s profiteroles recipe.  Though the chocolate sauce I make is a little different from hers.  The recipe is below.  I hope you like it as much as our friend, Linda, did.  She gave it the thumb’s up.

baking cooling

profiteroles1

A&L

Ingredients:

100g bar of dark chocolate (I use Chocolat Menier), chopped

3 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup

3/4 cup double cream

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Method:

Place the chocolate and syrup in a double boiler.  Or if you’re like me and haven’t got one, place them in a bowl atop a gently boiling pot of water.  Once they begin to melt, add the cream and stir constantly to emulsify.  Before taking the syrup off the stove, mix in the cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

Spoon the sauce over the profiteroles then garnish with toasted slivered nuts and soft fruit.

Store the remaining pastry in an airtight container.  Pour the chocolate sauce into a glass jar and refrigerate.  I promise this dessert is just as delicious and beautiful a day later as evidenced below.

a day later

 

 

Sticky Summer Cobbler

The smell of wild British blackberries in August is my favorite.  I love how after picking them their sweet dark scent lingers on my fingers and in the palms of my blue-black stained hands.  No wonder the perfumers at Jo Malone have tried to capture this scent.  It’s the sweetest, most luscious fragrance of high summer.

Which is why I feel lucky to have a garden full of rampant bramble bushes.

garden

 

Today was the first day of the season that I took Helena out to pick blackberries.  It’s still early so most of them have yet to reach their peak, but I couldn’t wait.  I had to gather those that were ready.  Their perfume, especially in the sunshine, was too strong to be ignored.  All I could think of when gathering the fruit was Seamus Heaney’s poem, “Blackberry Picking.”

Greedy Guts Helena ate a third of our berries before we got back inside.  So I decided to use some of the raspberries her grandparents picked at Peterley Manor last weekend in my cobbler as well.

Last year, I posted a blackberry cobbler recipe that was assembled like a lasagne by layering pastry cut outs between layers of fruit.  The recipe below is not like that.  Instead it’s made with a batter and I love how soft and sticky it is.  My husband said it reminded him of an old English pudding.  I hope you like it.

Ingredients:

2 cups blackberries

1 cup raspberries

zest of half a lemon

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

approximately half a stick of butter

3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup cormnmeal

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Method:

Preheat the oven to Gas 4/350ºF/180ºC.

Rinse and drain your berries.

raspberries up close raspberries sieve of brambles

Put the butter in your baking dish.

butter

Melt the butter for a few minutes in the oven as you prepare the fruit mixture.

Tip your berries into a medium mixing bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the zest of half a lemon, and 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla.  Gently mash the fruit but be careful not to turn it into pulp.  All you want to do is release some of the juices.  Once this is done, set the bowl aside.

mashed berries

 

In another bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal (this gives the cobbler its sticky chewiness), salt, baking powder, 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, milk, and yogurt.  Add the melted butter and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into your baking dish.  Then spoon your fruit mixture on top of it.

 

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Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with your favorite creamy topping.  Mine for this is bourbon vanilla ice cream.

serving

Apple Custard Pie

My darling husband, Henry, eats like a Dickensian fat man.  Don’t get me wrong.  He likes and eats plenty of fruit and vegetables, but what he really loves is meat, game, offal, wine, port, sherry, and cheese.  My point is he’s just not that into sweets.  He eats them to indulge me, but for the most part, my baking endeavors are lost on him.  He’d rather have another helping of roast beast.  That said, there is one thing he never shies from–apple pie.  Below is my recipe for apple custard pie.  Is it good?  Well Henry asked for seconds so yeah.  It’s really good.

Ingredients:

1/2 the dough from Only the Best Brisée Ever

1/4 cup apricot jam

1 tablespoon dark rum

1/4 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

the zest of 1 lemon and a wedge for squeezing some juice

4 large eggs (1 for brushing the edges of your pie crust and 3 for the custard)

3/4 cup heavy cream

4 large tart apples

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons demerara sugar

cinnamon

nutmeg

a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar (1 tbsp sugar + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)

powdered sugar

 

Method:

First, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.  Now we’re going to prepare the pie shell.  Roll the cold brisée dough as thin as you can.  I roll mine on baking paper so I can easily flip it over into my tin.  It’s a really easy way of doing things.  Cut the edges and roll or crimp them however you like.  Prick the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork and brush the edges with egg.  Line the shell with foil or baking paper then pour in some pie weights.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove the weights and cool completely.

pie shell

While waiting for the pie shell to dry, heat the 1/4 cup of apricot jam and the tablespoon of dark rum in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir often and when it starts to look like a glaze, remove it from the heat.  Strain the mixture into a little bowl.  When the pie shell has cooled completely, brush this glaze along the bottom and sides of your shell.  Allow it to dry. Now onto the custard.

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and the zest of a lemon.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in three large eggs.  Set this aside.

Heat the 3/4 cup heavy cream in a saucepan on medium heat.  Just as it begins to boil, turn it off, and allow it to cool for a minute.  Then quickly whisk it into the egg mixture.  Add 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste.

custard

Peel and slice the apples.  Sauté them in butter with a teaspoon or so of cinnamon and some freshly grated nutmeg.  Allow the apples to soften but do not let them get mushy.  Squeeze them with lemon juice and stir just before removing them from the heat.

spiced apples

Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles in the pie shell.  I use two forks to do this.

concentric

Now pour the custard over the apples and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

shell with applesBake at 350°F/180°C/Gas 4 for 25-30 minutes or until the custard has set.  Once it has, allow the pie to cool then dust with powdered sugar.  Put the pie under the broiler for a few minutes to let the sugar caramelize.  Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

finished

Cut into slices and serve.

slice

 

 

Blackberry Cobbler

We all know the idiom “When life gives you lemons. . .”  That said, this summer has given us an abundance of blackberries.  Which is why I’m making cobbler.  Well that and because my friend, Miss Danielle Bell of de Porres, told me I should.  When I told her of the surfeit we had and asked whether I should make preserves or pies, she answered with a resounding “COBBLER!”  As her sentiment was strongly supported and echoed on my Facebook wall, I thought I better listen.  Below is the recipe I used this evening based on her instructions.  Let me tell you she is a lady whose word is to be heeded.

Ingredients:

1/2 recipe of Only the Best Brisée Ever

4 cups of blackberries

the zest of 2 small lemons and part of your knuckles if you’re not careful like me (Here’s my public service announcement:  Do not drink and zest.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 cup Demerara sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

freshly grated nutmeg (I only went the length of the grater 4 times.  Just enough for a little exotic dust.)

egg wash

Method:

Preheat your oven to 450F/230C/Gas 8.

In a large bowl, mix all your ingredients together except for the berries.  Those you will gently stir in and coat once everything else has combined.  Otherwise, you’ll beat your berries to a pulp.  You don’t want that.

nutmeg

berry mixture

Set the bowl aside.

Divide your dough into three sections.  Two of equal size and small one for rolling cut outs you’ll put on top.

Roll the first piece so it’s large enough to line the bottom of your dish.

1st layer

Spoon a layer of fruit on top of that.

2nd layer

Now do another layer of dough followed by another layer of fruit.  After that, place your cut outs on top and brush with the egg wash.

cut outs with egg wash

Bake for 20 minutes then turn down the heat to 375F/190C/Gas 5.  Continue baking for another 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

finished cobbler

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Greek yogurt.