Sunday, August 31, 2008


Well it's been another month and I really can't believe that this is my 6th challenge with the Daring Bakers. I still feel like such a newbie!! And yet this challenge didn't kick my ass for once- maybe it's because I was back home for 2 weeks and had free range on my mother's supped up kitchen or maybe it's because I was lucky enough to do the challenge with Jeremy, who is well versed in the Science of baking- because baking IS a science and I just can't be bothered to keep up.

So this month we were given the task of making eclairs based on the recipe by Pierre Herme; baking god, revered by us mere mortals. Although I love baking, I'm not really a fan of patisseries. Maybe I'm just not a fan of pate a choux. I can remember the cake my grandmother special ordered for my communion- a ridiculous folly of pate a choux with caramelized sugar strands and marzipan. something like this. It's called a Croquembouche and incorporates almost every baking element I don't like. But enough about things I don't like! Let's move onto things I loooove- like the coffee pastry cream we made. And how delicious these eclairs became after a night in the fridge! Have you pulled out your baking essentials yet? Because I'm ready to make these all over again. Ready? Let's go-
Let's start with the Pate a Choux which you make in a saucepan! You then put it in an electric mixer (praise the heavens for my mother's Kitchen Aid) and add 5 eggs- one at a time.

Once you've made your dough, you're supposed use some pastry bags to pipe out the eclairs' shape. We didn't have the pastry bags but we had the tips! So we settled for a Ziploc bag.

I'd say that it worked pretty well:

This little number made me feel very professional. It's in the recipe, folks!

All lined up...

Now at some point during the baking, Jeremy and I will have made the coffee pastry cream and the chocolate sauce to use in the chocolate ganache (and this annoyed more than a little bit... a recipe for something to use in another ingredient which itself is ALREADY an ingredient for the overall recipe is ridiculous. I'm not sure if you followed that but I saw the chocolate ganache as the square root of the eclairs....(i don't think that makes things any clearer)) Moving on....
Look! Delicious coffee pastry cream!

And here are the tops after being drizzled with that super-special-multi-multi-step chocolate ganache:

And the money shot-

And I know I've already said this- but the recipe says to serve immediately and I thought these were EXPONENTIALLY better the next day. Honestly when I tried one immediately after finishing them, I wasn't too impressed and kept thinking "I can't believe I spent all that time and effort making something so 'meh'!". So if you don't love them right away- let them mature overnight. I promise you won't regret it!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Proper Chip

Growing up in France in the public school system, meant that we had Wednesdays off but then had class on Saturday morning. And just writing that sentence made my brain convulse. Waking up for school on a SATURDAY?! You've GOT to be kidding. But it really wasn't that bad as those half days were always devoted to something less academic. In CP, CE1 or CE2 we might have an Art lesson, designated reading time or sometimes English- and let me tell you just HOW MUCH FUN learning English as a second language can be when you already speak English.... OK I think I'm already digressing here because I could go on and on about what it's like being the "American" growing up in France when at the time I couldn't even remember living in the States. The point is that on Saturdays, right at noon, my father would pick me and brother up from school (a treat in itself) and we would all go home where my mother would be cooking up a feast, which usually involved home made French Fries. And we're talking properly fried French Fries- in this kind of contraption. And because my mother no longer has the fritteuse and I truly missed those deliciously soggy fries, it was time to find a good substitute and I think Gordon Ramsay had it right with this recipe.

The Proper Chip
from Gordon Ramsay's live Cookalong
  • 4 large Desiree potatoes
  • 2 tbls groundnut oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • generous pinch chili pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 220 C

Boil up a large pot of water.

Meanwhile, cut your potatoes in half lengthwise then put the cut part on the cutting board and cut them again lengthwise into chips. Boil the potato chips for about 10 minutes (this is just to speed up the process).
Drain your potatoes. If they still seem wet, place your colander (if you're using a metal one) back over the empty pot to dry them out a bit.

Place your chips onto a baking pan and drizzle on the oil, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Mix well.

Spread the chips out evenly in the pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. You may want to shake the pan a couple times while they're cooking to ensure even baking.

Drool. Eat. Repeat.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Feed the Animals" by Girl Talk

So I'm probably about 3 years behind here with this news but Girl Talk might be the most rocking guy out there. His mashup remixes are totally jamming. Seriously- I CANNOT stop listening to his new album Feed the Animals and you want to know the best part? He's letting you download it for free. Or you can choose to donate however much you feel is appropriate.

My brother and boyfriend keep telling me that his first album Night Ripper is even better, but I can't help but freak out every time I hear him mix Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" with Nine Inch Nails. This album is quite simply brilliant.

Do yourself a favor and download Feed the Animals for free and then go back after you've had your "OMG-THIS-IS-AMAZING!"-freak-out to donate something to help fund this musical genius. I promise that in no time you'll be dying to learn the dirty lyrics to "International Player's Anthem" by UGK (the verse by Pimp C).