Friday, July 16, 2010

Mmmmm...Cabbage Paste

My OCD struck again.
There I was. Sitting on my janky couch, watching TV, minding my own business. Then suddenly, out of the blue, it hit me like a thunder bolt: An overwhelming call to action, an inner Walt Whitman poem/Levi's commercial sounding a bugle call to glory, a culinary barbaric yawp singing from deep inside my soul that the very foundations of our country would crack if left unanswered.

"I want to make pate a choux. Nay...I need to make pate a choux."

I know, I know...this happened to you just the other day, no?

Actually what happened was someone on the Food Network made some and I had never made it before. And that, O Captain, My Captain, is that.

So...pate a choux (literally translated as "cabbage paste") is a basic pastry dough used to make cream puffs, eclairs, farts of nuns (I kid you not...look it up if you don't believe me), or Parisian gnocchi. It looks very fancy and impressive, and, after doing some research, it couldn't be easier to make. I'm very proud of my puffs.

Pate a Choux recipe

Don't get freaked out by this! I successfully made it on my first attempt...and I don't bake.
1 cup water
1 stick of butter
pinch of salt
1 cup of flour
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 425 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a sauce pan, bring water, salt, and butter to a simmer. Once heated, add all of the flour at once and stir in the same direction with a wooden spoon. It will look freaky to begin with, but it will turn into a lovely little ball of dough in no time. You want to cook it until it dries out quite a bit. Take off heat and cool slightly

Transfer dough to food processor or mixing bowl, and add the eggs one at a time until dough is completely mixed and glossy. We're moving the dough again...this time to a piping bag. Or in my case, a gallon freezer bag with the end snipped off. Pipe out golf ball sized little poofs of love onto baking sheets. Don't they look kind of like little cabbages? Oh...I get the name now!

Damp your finger and give the little poofy tops a push down so they don't burn. Pop 'em in the oven for 10 minutes on 425, then lower temperature to 375 for 20 minutes.

One recipe said to prick each one to allow the steam to escape to prevent the puffs from getting soggy.


So now I have these puffs, but what the hell am I going to do with them?

I love the idea of a cream puff, but I'm not really a sweets kinda guy. I have some goat cheese in the fridge. And some beets...

Roasted Beets with Mixed Berry Pesto and Goat Cheese Cream Puffs

1 bunch beets (1-2 pounds), peeled and sliced into 1" cubes
1 clove garlic
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Place beets and garlic in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring beets to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Transfer beets to a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.

Mixed Berry Pesto

1/2 cup dried mixed berries (cranberries, blueberries, cherries)
1/4 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 Tbl fresh mint
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine ingredients in a food processor and whir away until mostly processed but it still retains some texture. Stir in some additional olive oil to make pesto a little more saucy. Serve over beets.

Goat Cheese filling

2 oz goat cheese, at room temp
2 Tbl sour cream
1 tsp horseradish
3 green onions chopped
a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Slice puffs horizontally and spoon in a bit of the mixture. For the perfect bite...take a nibble after a fork full of beets and berry pesto.

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