Archive for the ‘ Food – Cooking ’ Category

Profiterole de Jour

Today is national cream puff day in the US.  Or as they say in France, choux à la crème or profiterole.

I had no idea the wonderful concoction had its own day, but if anything deserves one, well, the cream puff most assuredly does.

They look intimidating, but I can say from experience they aren’t all that difficult.

The first thing you do is make a choux pastry dough.  It’s a light dough with many uses.

The dough is made from butter, water, flour, and eggs.

Really, that’s it.

There is no yeast, but the mixture is smart enough to know that its high moisture content will create enough steam while it’s in the oven to make it puff UP.

Once the mix is made, you pipe it through a pastry bag or use two spoons and drop the ball shaped goodies onto a cookie sheet.

Then you bake them, let them cool, slice the top off and fill them with whatever you’d like.

Back in the day – about 35 years ago, I made over 1,000 for a wedding.  We filled them with pimento cheese, tuna salad, and a cream cheese mixture.

They were a big hit!

Most of the time they are filled with sweet creams or chocolate and sometimes they are covered in chocolate.

They are one of the most versatile pastries out there.

Borrowed from the French, the word profiterole first appeared in the English language around 1604.  It loosely translates “baked under the ashes,” but a literal translation or original meaning is lost to history.

The term cream puff didn’t show UP on American restaurant menus until about 1851.

The cream puff is a French as things come, but they are popular everywhere.  So popular, they are the national dish of Gibraltar!

If you want to celebrate National Cream Puff Day, check out Martha’s recipe…




Delicious Debate

Eggnog is not a global thing, it’s a western culture thing!  Who knew?

Honestly, I thought it was everywhere!  And I thought everyone loved it.

It isn’t and they don’t.

I used my fancy red punch bowl once and filled it with eggnog.

40 people in the house, and I was the lone ranger at the punch bowl.

Traditionally consumed in Canada and the US, eggnog is a Christmas season beverage.  It usually goes on sale around Thanksgiving (American in November) and lasts until they run out of the stuff in January.

I love the stuff, but it’s generally a take it or leave it kind of thing.

Most people add booze to their eggnog – I do not.

I tried the stuff for the first time when I was in High School, and I’ll admit; it was spiked!

I won’t go into details, but nowadays, someone would probably go to jail…but hey it was the 60s.  Things were different.

When alcohol is added, rum, brandy, and bourbon are the choice.

Back in the day it was Seagram’s 7.  (The booze of choice for Germantown teens, if I remember correctly!)

But, I digress.

As I was saying, it’s a Western thing.  A few South American nations partake, but they call it Ponche Crema, and it’s not all that widespread.

So, where did it come from?

Who thought UP this crazy, thick, sweet concoction that is either loved or hated.

Really, there is no middle ground.

Origins and ingredients are debated.

Honestly, we can’t agree on much anymore!

According to many sources, nog was a strong beer brewed in East Anglia – a large area of England to the north and east of London.

Or, maybe it comes from the small carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol in pubs across the area.

In the 1760s, there was a drink called egg flip, which got its name from the way it was made.  The mixer poured the concoction from one container to another to mix it UP!

Some say it is an Americanism – a word invented in the US of A in the mid 1700s, but Captain John Smith, in his diaries used the term eggnog in 1607 while in Jamestown , VA.

One college professor insists that it is the combination of two words – colonial slang – and stems from rum which was called grog, which was served in the noggin mug mentioned earlier.  He says the colonials called it egg-n-grog, and as the accent or state of stupor changed, it was slurred into eggnog.  This is disputed by the folks at who tend to think the Scot’s version of the drink and word is probably more accurate.

Of course the Scots called it nugged ale, and with the influx of Scots-Irish into the US, it could have come from there.

BTW, they warmed their nugged ale, or eggnog with a hot poker from the fire place.

Hey, the microwave was a long time away!

Other online dictionaries say it is truly an American term and didn’t show UP until 1775 along with our independence.  Apparently a Maryland clergyman, Jonathan Boucher wrote a poem about the drink.  Not published until 1805, it contained the line, “fog-drams I’ the morn, or better still egg-nogg at night hot suppings and at mid-day grogg.  My palate can regale…

Not a catchy tune, American Bandstand would give that a 2!

The first printed use of the word wasn’t until 1788 when some dude in New Jersey referred to a young man drinking a glass of eggnog.

And in 1869 we saw the first dictionary entry for the stuff where it was defined as a mixture of wine, spirits, eggs, and sugar.  Dairy got not cred.

The debate rages in culinary circles – those people can be vicious.  Especially the culinary historians.  They all think it comes from posset; a medieval drink made with hot milk and then curdled with wine or ale and the occasional spice like nutmeg or some such.

Honestly, everyone has an opinion.

Well, everyone except the Norwegians.

Just sayin’

So, back to the stuff, a couple of tips:

When you add booze, it’s no longer eggnog, it’s milk punch or egg milk punch.  Technically – but, hey, who’s technical at Christmas?

It’s fattening.

Really fattening; the average cup has 225 calories, but many brands can reach 400 or more!  Add the booze and YIKES!

A single cup can contain the equivalence of 15 packets of sugar and the saturated fat of a Big Mac.

But, hey, it’s Christmas!  You can diet in January.

Drink UP, I say, Drink UP!  Maybe I’ll have a party, the punch bowl gets no play!

Family Secrets

Christmas is a time for secrets, but some secrets shouldn’t be kept! Like family recipes.

Here’s one of ours…

Ginger Molasses Cookies

¾ cup Shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup Light Molasses

1 egg

2 tsps baking soda

2 cups flour

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt



Melt shortening (cool). (Let sit until the edge slightly starts to thicken, do not let cool too long.)


Add sugar, molasses & egg, beat well.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Add to sugar mixture and Mix Well.


Cover and CHILL – then form into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.  (Chill for at least three hours.  Do not rush.)


Place balls on ungreased cookie sheets.


Bake at 375° F., 8 -10 minutes.



It’s What’s For Dinner…

So last Sunday after I rustled UP a homemade replica of Chili’s Blue Ribbon Chicken Salad, I was so impressed with myself I post a picture of it on Facebook.

It’s pretty simple.  A bag of field greens, chop UP  your favorite salad veggies, like cukes, radishes, onion and the like, and you’ve got your base.

The Chicken was cubed, double breaded and fried in vegetable oil.

Double breading is simply that, dip the raw chicken into egg, then into flour, and repeat before frying.

Decadent; a bit, but really, really good.

Sunday’s meal being a hit on FB, I tried again on Monday.

Sliders and onion rings are always a hit, so why the heck not?

The burgers are smash burgers; super thin hamburgers that are small and fit on dinner rolls.

The onion rings are an Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa recipe.  Soak raw onion rings over night in a mixture of buttermilk, salt, and pepper and then dip each one in cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper and fry in oil until golden brown.

Don’t over crowd the pan.

And remember to schedule the haz-mat crew to clean UP the kitchen afterward.

It’s worth the mess.

That picture being a hit, I was inspired to try again on Tuesday.

This one is potage parmentier from none other than Julia Child.  I found it in an issue of Esquire a few years back.

It calls for leeks, but never having them on hand, we used onions.

Really, I’m sure there’s a difference, but the onions work so knock yourself out…

2 lbs potatoes diced, 2 lbs leeks (or onions) finely chopped. 1 tablespoon salt, 6 oz heavy whipping cream, 6 tablespoons butter . Parsley and chives . Cover potatoes and leeks/onions with water about 1 in over. Cook for 40-50 mins. Use emersion blender or place in a blender in small amounts to purée. Add cream, butter mix well. Too w chives, parsley, and radish slices.

Just make sure the onions and potatoes are chopped well.

It is probably my favorite winter soup!

Wednesday’s menu was Pesto Chicken over Pasta.

Pretty simple, saute the chicken, add the pesto until heated and serve over pasta.

Easy, quick, filling and 2 pans to clean UP!

I had planned dinner on Thursday, but a 12 hour day caused a change of plans.

So, I posted what I was having…

Hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Knowing I had to redeem myself on Friday, I went all out with some left over beef roast from the freezer, brown gravy, bread, and mashed potatoes, for a winter-time comfort food favorite, Hot Shots.

Green beans for color and to prove to the world I do eat veggies added a nice touch.

“Is every week like that?” you might ask.

Well, no, but there are always Oreos!