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I’m nothing if not a project-lover. As if NaBloPomo weren’t enough, I decided at the beginning of November that this would be a great month to commit to working out.  I’m trying to exercise every day this month. Before you start cautioning me and advising Carlo to have me committed, no, I’m not running every day, or even lifting weights. I’ve got a wonderful yoga class once a week, and I count a good walk as exercise, and I’ve got a free month-long membership at the Y, so I can branch out a bit. I’m being smart about it. Yesterday, my plan was to go down to the Y and try out their yoga class, see if it was as good as my regular one.

Only… I decided I needed to make fudge. This urge was so strong, I couldn’t possibly wait until after the course. The sugar, the milk, the cream, and the cocoa were screaming to be tossed into a pot right now, and who am I to refuse? So instead of yoga, I made fudge. I wish I could direct you to the site that inspired me to do this, but alas, I can’t find it and can’t remember it.

Once my ingredients were simmering, and I was practicing patience and wielding my thermometer, waiting for soft ball stage (234-240 F), I started thinking– is fudge really worth skipping yoga for? If this particular fudge wasn’t spectacular, I was obviously going to feel guilty all afternoon. In self-defense, my mind started reeling through possible fudge-fudging possibilities, searching for something to add value to my candy. And then I remembered a chocolate bar that intrigued me recently: the Chocophilia Fleur de Sel chocolate bar that a fantastic local chocolatier, Kerstin’s Chocolates, makes. I thought about my fudge, and thought about how fudge is always so rich, and (if you do a good job, anyway), so smooth. And I thought, yes, salt in my fudge is a great idea. It would cut the richness of the fudge a little, add a bit of crunch to contrast the smoothness, and as we all know, a pinch of salt in sweets always ups the flavour.

My experiment was a success, the salt giving the fudge just an extra pop of flavour and a welcome bit of texture to what turned out to be a lovely, smooth confection. Of course, not just any salt will work for this. You really need a large-crystalled, pure-flavoured salt, something that won’t disappear into the fudge but will maintain its own character even swathed in chocolate (try fleur de sel or Maldon salt). And of course, you don’t need a lot. A little salt goes a long way. I used a little fleur de sel mixed into my fudge, but I found it had the most impact sprinkled on top.

I enjoyed my fudge, and then I went for a walk. Cooking and exercise. My projects are fulfilled.

Fleur de Sel Fudge
This recipe is easiest with a candy thermometer, but if you’re comfortable without, look for soft ball stage by dropping fudge into a glass of cold water. If it forms a soft ball, you’re ready to go.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fleur de sel, divided

1. Grease an 8×8 square or 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Set aside.
2.Place milk, cream, sugar, and cocoa powder in a heavy-bottomed pot, and bring to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is boiling, turn it down to medium to prevent it from boiling over. Monitor with a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally if necessary.
3. When mixture reaches soft ball stage, or 234-240 F, remove from heat and beat vigorously until the mixture has lost its glossy appearance. Stir in butter and vanilla, then gently stir in 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel.
4. Pour fudge into prepared cake pan, and sprinkle remaining fleur de sel on top. Leave to cool before cutting into small squares.

Hanne’s written 1-2-3-4 great booze articles for Vue Weekly, all odes to classic cocktails and/or rare spirits. In October, our columnist turned her job into a losing venture by purchasing 1-2-3-4 bottles of rum, three of which are pictured above (Havana Club Anejo Blanco-Appleton Estate V/X-Gosling’s Black Seal) and won’t be subsidized by the weekly. The problem is, I can’t object because she has 1-2-3 more jobs than I do right now. Also, the cocktail recipes Hanne dug up and created in her latest feat of investigative journalism are some of my favourites.

One of these is the Harpo’s Special, which may (or may not) have been invented by (or for) Harpo (probably not Karl) Marx. I like flavours that attack in different ways with different trajectories. The Harpo’s Special has a sour hook of lime, a jab of boozy acid, a slap of bitters and a soft sweet finish. Go to Hanne’s latest Vue article to make this and other rum-based cocktails.

SiS’s Ginger Beat Cocktail

This drink will work you over. It’s a SiS original made by Hanne, a take-off on Gosling’s Dark and Stormy. I’ll call it–and I get to because I’m, like, married to the creator–the Ginger Beat. Think your various tastebuds cymbals, toms, high hats, bass drums and imagine benched behind them the best drummer you can name, say Stewart Copeland or Dave Grohl.

Gulp, sip or do whatever you do. The lime shimmers sour over your tongue and rumbles in your cheeks. The ginger snaps up your palate and burns down your throat. The dark rum breaks in, flattening the flavour with bitter caramel while beating licorice, anise and earthy (peat moss?) notes. Sugar settles the flavour’s throb to a steady beat and is nearly a nod to silly-girly-drink but comes off more sophisticated-lady-or-mister-drink, grounding the bite of the alcohol and ginger and making the drink less brash than composed.

That may seem a bit exuberant, but I’ve just had 1-2-3 drinks while writing this post. Make it like this:

  • A third of an old fashioned glass of crushed or cracked ice
  • 2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal or other dark rum
  • 1 Tbsp ginger syrup (recipe below)
  • Top glass up with ginger ale

For ginger simple syrup:

Ingredients:

  • 1 inch cube of fresh ginger, sliced thin
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Method:

  • Put above in pot, bring to boil, simmer until golden
  • Refrigerate leftovers for seconds
  • Thirds

For the past two years, good mornings in the SiS household have hinged on two drinks. One is coffee. The other is Hanne’s genius invention: The Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. Yeah, you’ve seen it around, but Hanne came up with it first. It might be SiS’s most unoriginal original recipe, but the other PBBS recipes you’ve seen online are all gross.

SiS’s PBBS is more milkshake than globby smoothie. Don’t worry, it’s all illusion. Frozen bananas only seem to turn into ice cream when blended with milk. It’s a healthy drink. Protein from the peanuts and milk. Calcium… Bananas… they’re good, right? One morning I put leftover whipped cream on top, which was awesome. But I digress…

So first, you’ve got your frozen bananas. Buy lots. Peel them, split them in half and freeze. Second, you’d better use real peanut butter. Don’t make this with the sugary pretend stuff. You need to use the creamy, chunky, pain-in-the-ass natural peanut butter that takes some stirring before use. Sucks, but it’s worth it.

TIP: get as big of a jar of real peanut butter as you can so that you don’t have to do this too often. Spatula the PB out into the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough mixing attachment (the curly spike). Once the machine’s done the work for you, spatula the PB back into its jug. Refrigerate it or it’ll separate and you’ll have to mix it again.

So how to? Combine two banana halves, a cup or so of milk, a generous spoonful of peanut butter, a dash of vanilla and blend. Don’t overcomplicate your morning by measuring. If you must, the recipe’s below. Experiment with proportions until you get the taste and consistency you like. The only way to mess this up is to use bad milk (guilty) or accidentally blend a loose blender seal into the drink (again, guilty). Otherwise, this drink is idiot proof.

SiS’s Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
Serves 1.
Ingredients:
1 frozen ripe banana, halved
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons REAL peanut butter
1-2 teaspoons vanilla

Method:
1. Put stuff in blender and blend.

AND, if you have a blender that blends in the same cup you drink out of, then there’s hardly any mess. Unfortunately, the only product I know that does this is the Magic Bullet. It’s cheap and also built cheap. We’re on our second machine in two years. I had to plug my ears while running the last one, which is why it didn’t make the cut when we moved from Montreal. I hope another company that makes good blenders copies Magic Bullet’s single cup style and I hope that happens before the Tasmanian devil busts out of our appliance. Man dies from Magic Bullet shrapnel?

  
From Crabapples

It’s 5 C today. It’s been going below zero overnight. Our garden is finished for the year, the last of the plants harvested or left to die (you should see how sad frozen tomato plants look). We’re getting ready for winter, which, for me at least, involves mostly mental time. I have to remind myself that winter’s coming (as if, with this weather, it would be easy to forget), and make my plans. Mostly this is a good thing. I think of books I’ll read, TV shows Carlo and I will watch when it’s too cold to get outside and walk, and of winter stews. I will admit, though, the retreat of summer is always a little bitter. No more garden tomatoes! No more bare legs! No more grass!

Something we’ve done this year to lessen the blow is preserves. Since I was a little girl, my mom has canned in the fall. I remember canned peaches and pears, but most of all, applesauce. Do you know what applesauce tastes like? No, really, what real applesauce tastes like? Because what you can buy off the supermarket shelf, that’s not applesauce. It’s a pale, tasteless, gag-inducing interloper. Real applesauce is peachy-pale, tart and tasty. It’s a perfect preserve to keep in a winter pantry arsenal. And I’ve got my own applesauce arsenal this year! I’ve never done it before, but this year I joined my mom in the kitchen, and we took advantage of a neighbour’s unwanted wealth of crabapples.

Crabapples are beautiful little fruits, just a bit bigger than cherries and nearly the same colour, a dark, dusky, purple-tinged red. But you have to process them to enjoy them. These are definitely not eating apples–they’re super-tart, not to mention too tiny to offer any real apple satisfaction. So we processed. And processed… and processed. There were a lot of apples. We made applesauce, we made jelly, we made liqueur, we made sorbet. And there are still two or three litres of crabapple juice sitting in the freezer waiting for my next idea.

Crabapples are a pain to work with because of their size, but their deeply-coloured skin makes for a gorgeous final product, and I love their distinctive tart flavour. Here are a few recipes, none super-precise, as we were winging it in the kitchen.

CRABAPPLE SAUCE
This is a beautiful pink sauce (see picture below). If you’re making a small amount, feel free to just transfer finished sauce to a jar and into the fridge. If you have a load of crabapples to dispose off, try canning them–crabs are super-acidic, so they take well to canning. When you’ve cooked your apples, save any juice that may have accumulated in the bottom of the pot–it’s perfect for jelly!

Crabapples, washed and stemmed
Sugar (to taste, but I found a 2:1 apple to sugar ratio was good)
A touch of water

After you’ve washed and stemmed your crabs, put them in a large pot on the stovetop with a splash of water in the bottom (just to prevent sticking). Cook over medium heat until apples are very soft and beginning to disintegrate (about 30 to 45 minutes or longer, depending on how big your pot of apples is). When apples are soft, process them in a food mill to remove skins and seeds. Reserve the clear juices at the bottom of the pot for jelly. When you’ve processed the apples, you’ll have a smooth, pink, and very tart sauce. Add sugar to taste, beginning with about 1/3 as much sugar as you have sauce (eg. 1 1/2 cups sauce=1/2 cup sugar). Taste and continue adding sugar until you’re satisfied with the flavour. Transfer to a jar for the fridge, or put sauce into sterilized jars and can in a boiling water bath.

CRABAPPLE JELLY
I think because there is so much skin compared to flesh in crabapple, their juices are very high in natural pectin and thus is super-welcoming for jelly making. I love this jelly on pancakes, but I feel like it would be good with chicken too.

Leftover crabapple juice from sauce-making OR crabapple juice extracted with a juicer
An equal amount of sugar

Combine juice and sugar, and bring them to boil on the stovetop. Make sure the sugar is totally dissolved, then continue simmering for 10 minutes. You’ll have a thick syrup. Pour this syrup into sterilized jars for canning, or just throw it into the fridge. When the mixture cools it will set, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem thick enough for jelly. It’ll happen.

CRABAPPLE LIQUEUR
This is so easy–it requires no real skill but patience. I added a couple sprigs of thyme to my vodka-crabapple mix, just to try it out.

Crabapples, cleaned, stemmed, and halved
Sugar syrup (combine sugar and water in equal amounts, and bring them to a boil. Allow sugar to dissolve, then remove from heat)
Gin or Vodka
Thyme

Fill half-litre jars with crabs (almost up to their necks), then add 1/3 cup of sugar syrup per jar. Add liquor to cover, then put on lids. Agitate gently to combine liquor and sugar. Put jars in a cool, dark place for a few months. Go ahead and shake them up occasionally. If you do this now, it’ll probably taste good by Christmas.

      

 

 

 

Crabapple Sauce

From Crabapples

Here is Hanne’s Mom’s oft-requested recipe for overnight buns. I just scanned the original recipe to send back to friends out East. We’re home for Christmas now, which is why we’ve been absentee bloggers. We’ll do our best to mine and publish our parent’s secret recipes to a) share with you and b) keep this blog semi-active over the holidays.

These fist sized rolls are great for sandwiches and burgers or for filling out your Christmas feast. Enjoy! We’ll be back soon.

Overnight Buns

One of the things about food blogging is that if you don’t eat well, you don’t have anything to say. So far, this has proven to be an advantage for us– I don’t want strangers to write me off as a food-loser, so I step up and perform. Usually. However, there’s a flip side. If you aren’t eating well, your blog ends up covered in pictures of robots (I’m sorry I keeping linking back to us. Is it weird to link to yourself?).

And frozen pizza? You’re not supposed to know we eat those kinds of things. And if we do tell you, we’re not supposed to tell you it’s not good. We should be eating gourmet frozen pizzas, maybe made by hand by an Italian nonna and shipped directly to us from Naples. Certainly we shouldn’t be eating robot pizzas. At least Carlo’s drawing turned out well. I like the robot. Check out his ice cream cone hat and his pizza-slice hands. He’s an Italian for sure.

Yesterday’s dinner may have been an eating low point for us, but the dessert didn’t let us down. I got the idea for a Guinness ice cream in the comments thread at another blog (sorry, I don’t remember which one–this is how you know you read too many blogs). Our favourite Montreal brewery occasionally has a special stout that Carlo is particularly fond of– a Chocolate Vanilla Stout. Thus, in thinking about Guinness ice cream, I came to Chocolate Stout. Now, the triumphal part is the thing I didn’t really consider before we tasted our first bite. Stout is a malty drink. So the end result here is a creamy, malty, sweet concoction that tastes like chocolate malt all dressed up for grownups. Don’t you love it when you hit on genius by accident?

I can’t wait to try this recipe again. Next time I make it, I might tweak the proportions to see if I can make it more ice cream-y. As is, it has almost the exact same consistency as the chocolate malts I remember from fast food restaurants (Wendy’s!). Mine turned out quite light, and not very custardy, as I used 1% milk and few egg yolks. I think you could use half and half, for example, or another egg yolk could be added to make a thicker custard base. The chocolate bar we used was Lindt “Noirissime,” with 99% cocoa. We used very little, just enough to add a chocolate flavour, and it added no sweetness. Next time, I might try a sweet chocolate and maybe dial back the sugar just a little. This is delicious as-is, but I can’t wait to see what else I can do with it! Let me know if you have any ideas.

STOUT CHOCOLATE MALT ICE CREAM
Makes approximately 1.5 quarts

1 bottle of stout (341 mL, 12 oz)–I used an Oatmeal stout from McAuslan, a local brew, but feel free to play around with your options here
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 egg yolks

Bring the stout to a boil in a small saucepan, and boil it until it thickens (maybe to 1/2 its original volume), 15 mins. or so. It might froth up. If it does, take it off the heat for a few seconds before replacing it on the burner. When the beer has reduced, allow it to cool for a few minutes and then whisk in the cocoa powder. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the chocolate/beer. Drop the scraped pod in too, and set it all aside to steep.

Prepare an ice bath by placing ice cubes and water into a large steel bowl. Set the bowl aside.

Prepare the creme anglaise. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Combine the cream, milk, and sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Bring the cream just to a boil, then whisk it in a slow stream into the egg yolks. When the yolks are combined with the cream, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and put it back over medium heat. Cook it, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your wooden spoon.

Strain the creme anglaise into a medium steel bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Strain the beer mixture into the bowl as well, discarding the vanilla pod. Whisk the beer and cream mixtures together, then cool your ice cream base by placing the medium steel bowl into the larger prepared ice bath. Cool the mixture by stirring it for about five minutes over the ice bath. At this point, you can freeze the mixture immediately (at this point, it will be slightly less smooth. It also tastes great–I know, because we almost always are too impatient to wait), or chill the mixture further in the fridge until you are ready to freeze it.

Here’s what we had for breakfast this morning. The recipe isn’t quick–the rice pudding takes about an hour and a half– but it’s worth the time you put into it. It’s especially good for a lazy Saturday. Get up and put on some slippers, then pop the rice and milk onto the stovetop. Have a coffee and thumb through a cookbook or a magazine while your rice pudding cooks down. You need to check on it occasionally, but not too often. It requires just enough attention that you don’t have to feel bad about sitting around doing almost-nothing. As for the stewed prunes, well, I know they’ve got a bad rep, but it’s undeserved. For a great defense of prunes, see Orangette, from whom I borrowed the prune recipe.

The prunes and clementines are a nice mix, with the sweet tang of the citrus and the smoothness of the prunes. And they go perfectly on top of slow-cooked rice pudding (we use jasmine rice, which adds a lovely perfume, but any rice is acceptable), infused with a stick of cinnamon and a few pods of cardamom. Next time you want an excuse to relax Saturday morning, try this out. If you don’t have time to relax, this pudding is forgiving. Just give it a stir now and again and when you need to take a break from work, a fabulous comforting treat will be ready and waiting.

CINNAMON-CARDAMOM RICE PUDDING
makes about 4 cups

3/8 cup rice
5 cups milk
1 small cinnamon stick
2-3 pods of green cardamom
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar

Combine the rice and milk in a medium saucepan. Crush the cardamom pods with the flat side of a knife, and extract the little dark brown seeds. Add these, along with the cinnamon, to the rice and milk. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer over low heat. Cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot fairly often. You need to pay attention to this mixture or it will burn and coat the bottom of your pan. If it does start sticking and/or burning, try not to scrape the bottom of the pot too hard or you will dislodge the burnt bits and ruin your pudding.

When the pudding has thickened sufficiently, to a thick and creamy consistency, remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar. I prefer a less sweet pudding, but if you like yours sweeter (or if you’re serving it for dessert), you can go up to 1/2 cup sugar. It can be served warm or cool.

STEWED PRUNES recipe adapted from Orangette

2 large handfuls of pitted prunes
2 clementines, halved and sliced thinly
1 small cinnamon stick (I cut one regular-sized stick in half and used 1/2 for the rice and 1/2 for the prunes)

Place the prunes and clementines in a small pot and pour in enough water just to cover them. Bring them to a boil over medium heat and stew them for 30-45 minutes, until the water has reduced and the prunes and clementines are soft.

I put the rice pudding on the stovetop and then after my third or fourth time checking on it, put the prunes over the heat. Both the pudding and the prunes were finished at around the same time and we ate them warm.

Canadian Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago, so we’ve already gone through the eating. We were lucky not to have to prepare our dinner ourselves. Instead, we ate dinner with our favourite food friends and their family. They cooked for 18 people (sorry guys, if I got the number wrong. If it was more, the idea remains the same– impressive), and all that we had to do was the pie. So on Thanksgiving Sunday I was in my kitchen rolling out pie crust for six pies– and pleading with and cajoling and cursing at the pastry. In the end, it turned out okay, but as I was making the pumpkin pie filling, my mother’s classic recipe, Carlo mentioned that it would taste good frozen. That’s how our ice cream was born.

Growing up in Canada, I always celebrated Thanksgiving twice. My parents, Americans, collected an assortment of American friends who came over every year to celebrate the US holiday. Now that I’m across the country and planning my own feasts, I think I’m going to hold on to this idea. It’s like having a test run. Or two Christmases.

If you’re looking for an alternative Thanksgiving idea, I offer you these pastry bites. The ice cream on its own is divine. I modified my mother’s pumpkin pie filling recipe (if you’re interested in the original filling, let me know. The proportions and ingredients are nearly identical to this one, but the technique for preparation is a little simpler) to create a rich custard base in which the typical, warm pumpkin spices steeped. After the spices were steeped in, I added some pumpkin puree and bits of candied ginger. The result is a smooth, cool base warmed up by cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, with a bit of extra texture from the pumpkin. The candied ginger is optional, but I like the chewy zing that it offers.

However, this ice cream popped into a cream puff (profiterole) take the whole thing over the top. The buttery, eggy puff is a nod to pie pastry without the necessary fiddling and rolling. Julia Child says in Mastering the art of French Cooking that once you have the profiterole technique down, it’ll take you no more than 30 minutes to get the puffs assembled and into the oven. This is an excellent recipe to have in your arsenal, because you can use it in a million different ways. When I was a little girl, my mother used to make these and fill them with whipped cream. My brother and friends have also filled them with Bailey’s whipped cream. As Julia Child notes, you can also make a savoury version (for example, my friend makes them with cheese). Finally, ANY kind of ice cream goes inside profiteroles beautifully, and their nubbly, puffy tops are perfect receptacles for caramel or chocolate syrup. Next time I make these, I’m considering a ginger caramel syrup to go on top of the puffs. Ooh… I’m hungry again.

PUMPKIN PIE ICE CREAM
makes about 1 litre (1Qt.)

2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar, but white sugar would work fine too. Depends on the flavours you’re interested in)
5 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
pinch of nutmeg (optional–I never add it)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned; just make sure not to buy premade pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup candied ginger, diced small (optional)

To prepare the custard:

-Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl until they’re well-blended. Set them aside.
- Warm the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Bring it almost to a boil (the surface will begin to ripple), but do not allow it to boil, or else it will cook your egg yolks. When the surface ripples, remove the cream from the heat.
-Temper the egg yolks by pouring 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, whisking them constantly. Pour the tempered yolk-cream mixture back into the sauce pan, again whisking constantly.
-Put the saucepan back over medium heat and stir it (yeah… still constantly) with a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened into a custard. DO NOT ALLOW IT TO BOIL. You’ll know it’s done when the custard coats the back of the spoon without running. (Here’s an image)

To prepare and freeze the ice cream:

-Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium stainless-steel bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree and mix well.
-To cool the mixture, fill a large bowl with ice cubes and a bit of cold water. Place the bowl with the ice cream base into the larger bowl and stir the custard for about five minutes to chill it. At this point, you can be quick and not-so-gourmet and freeze the base immediately (which we often do with our ice creams). The base, as long as it has been chilled over the ice until it’s really cold, freezes well and has a good texture. Your second alternative, to chill the ice cream base in the fridge for 4-24 hours is a better choice, as it yields a slightly creamier texture. The choice is yours, but honestly, if you haven’t got much time, don’t worry. Freezing immediately works just fine.
-Last step: freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the mixture is done, turn it quickly into a steel bowl that has about half the candied ginger in it. Working quickly, sprinkle the rest of the ginger on top and stir it all in before transferring the ice cream to a storage container.
-It’s best to freeze your ice cream for at least a few hours to firm it up before eating it.

FOR PROFITEROLES
recipe adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for 10-12 puffs about 3 inches in diameter.

1 cup water
6 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, plus one extra for glazing the tops of the puffs

-Preheat your oven to 425
-In a small saucepan, boil the water, salt, sugar and butter until the butter is melted.
-Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately pour in all the flour. Stir vigorously until the flour is incorporated and the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
-Put the saucepan back over medium heat and continue stirring the flour mixture until it begins to form a film on the bottom of the pan.
-Remove the saucepan from the heat and make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Break an egg into this well and beat it in until it’s well-incorporated. Do the same with the next egg, continuing until you’ve used up all the eggs. Beat the pastry for a little bit after all the eggs have been incorporated, to ensure everything is holding together well.
-Drop the pastry onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. The puffs should each be about 2 inches across and 1 inch high. Space them about 2 inches apart.
-Beat an egg in a small bowl with a fork. Brush a light coating of beaten egg over the tops of the puffs to help them get super-golden.
-Bake the puffs for 20 minutes, turning them halfway to ensure they brown evenly.
-After 20 minutes, turn down the oven to 375, and continue to bake the puffs for another 10-15 minutes, until they’re golden and crusty.
-Take the puffs out of the oven and make a little inch-long horizontal slit in the side of each puff. Then put them back in the turned-off oven, with the door a little ajar. This will help them to dry out inside, so they’re not soggy.

MINI FROZEN PUMPKIN PIES (or as Carlo calls them, PUMPKIN PIESCREAMS)

Cut the puffs in half after they’ve cooled. Empty out the moist insides with your fingers, then fill the puffs with a scoop or two of pumpkin ice cream. If you’ve got whipped cream, please use it. Add a little dollop on top of the ice cream before replacing the cap of the profiterole. If you’re feeling really decadent, consider a glug of caramel syrup on top of it all.

We’re going all pumpkin around here lately. I guess all that puree stored in the freezer is weighing on my mind. Here’s one of the ways I’ve been using it up. These pumpkin-pecan madeleines are flavoured with brown sugar and browned butter, which adds a richness that perfectly complements the pumpkin. It took me three tries to get this recipe down. The first time they didn’t rise high enough, the second time I added vanilla (I discovered that it just got in the way) and I forgot to butter the tins. Finally, on the third round, everything aligned. These little cakes are hardly madeleines anymore, what with the pumpkin and the brown sugar and the crunchy, candied nuts, but they’re so pretty, and I love how their edges get nice and crispy when they’re baked in a madeleine tin. I also highly recommend the browned butter method for combination with pumpkin. It’s a deep flavour that goes perfectly with brown sugar.

COOKING NOTES:

-If you don’t have a madeleine tin, I think these would work as mini-muffins instead.
-Grease your tin really, really well. If you don’t, your madeleines won’t brown nicely AND they won’t come out of your tin. -Candying (and in fact, even toasting) the pecans is optional, but I like it because the madeleine batter is not very sweet.
-If you use canned solid-pack pumpkin instead of homemade puree, I recommend mixing it with your melted butter before adding it to the batter. This should soften it enough to make it easy to incorporate.
-I added some baking powder to the recipe because my madeleines didn’t rise as much as I would have liked (as I had to cut back on butter in order to add pumpkin). If you have a way to cut the baking powder, let me know.

PUMPKIN-PECAN MADELEINES

1/4 cup butter, plus more for toasting pecans and greasing madeleine tin
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar, plus 2 tsp. for candying pecans
1/3 cup + 1Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1/4 cup chopped pecans

First, do your preparation: preheat your oven to 350. Chop the pecans and sift the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.

Next, melt your butter in a small pan over medium heat. It will froth up, then reduce again as it begins to brown and turn a rich nutty colour. When it is brown, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer (this gets rid of any solids that might have formed) into a small bowl. Set the browned butter aside to cool as you prepare your pecans and batter.

In the same frying pan you used to brown the butter, toast the pecans with a teaspoon or so more butter. When they are getting golden, toss approximately 2 tsp. of brown sugar in and stir the pecans to coat them well. Remove them from the pan and set them aside to cool.

To prepare the batter, first beat the two eggs together with a pinch of salt. You can use a standing mixer if you’ve got one (lucky you!), a handheld electric mixer (this is what I did), or if you’re tough, do it by hand. Beat the eggs until they’re pale yellow, thick, and syrupy. They will also have gained some volume. Next, beat in your brown sugar, adding it in large pinches to the eggs while you continue beating. When all the sugar has been incorporated, continue beating until your mixture has gained even more volume and holds the marks of the beater for a few seconds (like softly-whipped cream).

After you’ve beaten the eggs, sprinkle the flour overtop and gently fold it in with a spatula. Don’t be rough and overstir, but don’t be afraid to be firm with it either. Next, fold in the butter and pumpkin, ensuring they are well-incorporated.  Finally, fold in the pecans.

Put the batter into your (well-greased!!) madeleine tin, a big tablespoon for each little mold. Most of the madeleines recipes I consulted said that the batter would spread in the heat of the oven, but I didn’t find this to be true. Instead, I used the back of a spoon to spread the batter evenly in the molds. I filled the molds approximately 3/4 full, maybe a little bit more. I had exactly enough batter for 12 madeleines.

Bake your madeleines for 12-15 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through cooking to ensure they brown evenly. They will be golden and springy when they’re ready.

Once you remove them from the oven, cool your madeleines in the tin before popping them out and eating them. Try them with tea or coffee.

Saturday morning SupperInStereo original! It was good, real good. To serve two, this is all you need:

  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (chile powder also works)
  • 3 Tbsp chopped, toasted pecans (optional, but awesome)
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt, Pepper to taste

For the (quick) Hollandaise Sauce:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of smoked paprika (cayenne also works and is more standard, but we’re on a smoked paprika kick)
  • 1/3 cup butter

Instructions:

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
  • Grate sweet potato. Roughly chop onion. Mince garlic.
  • Give garlic and onion a head start in the pan, cooking them until golden before adding the sweet potato.
  • Cook until browned. Don’t stir too much or it won’t get crispy. About 20 minutes.

When sweet potato mix is almost done:

  • Poach eggs (not sure about that link’s last recommendation, saran wrapping the eggs)
  • Add toasted pecans to the sweet potato hash.

While eggs are cooking:

  • Melt butter in small frying pan.
  • Whisk egg yolk, salt, smoked paprika and lemon juice together until creamy.
  • While whisking, slowly pour the melted butter into the mixture. It will thicken into a rich sauce.

Serve poached eggs on a bed of sweet potato hash. Generously (more than pictured above) drench plate in Hollandaise sauce. Eat.

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