Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eggie Does It, Monsieur Hermé!

Well what a delight to have such a sweet gal hosting this month.. a long-time fellow blogger and someone I like to call my friend, Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey? and her equally delightful co-host, Tony of Olive Juice brought to us Daring Baker type people a recipe from the sugar daddy of all sugar daddies, Pierre Hermé!

Meeta and Tony chose Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé from the book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, written by one of my all-time favorite bakers, Dorie Greenspan. To say that the crowd was excited upon hearing what our challenge for August was, is definitely an understatement.


This was a fun month to watch comments on the Daring Baker forums. Many of us had problems with our éclairs deflating and there was much excellent advice on how to prevent that from happening.. advice, I happily admit, that steered me in the right direction as my éclair shells puffed beautifully with only 4 deflated shells out of 28. I went the mini route this time since I prefer éclairs small.. they are just one of those desserts that are too much for me if given a large one. I KNOW! Can you believe there is a dessert out there that's just too much for me? :P

We had the choice of making them as they were originally intended.. chocolate pastry cream filled with a chocolate glaze on top.. or we could switch one of those components to something else, as long as we kept the other. Another shocker for me, I decided to stick with the chocolate glaze and go with a lemon pastry cream for the filling. A little zest and a little lemon juice in place of the vanilla did me just fine and before I knew it, I had one of the best pastry creams I've ever tasted! ;)

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I made 1/2 the way we were required.. by slicing each shell in half, filling one side with the pastry cream and topping with the other half of the shell then glazing with the chocolate goodness. The rest I decided to just fill by puncturing an end with a pastry tip and loading them up with luscious lemony pastry cream. I also decided that at the end, with just a few left and some fantastic toffee sauce in my freezer waiting to be used.. that I'd glaze those with the toffee sauce and then drizzle a little milk chocolate over. DELISH!

The only complaint I had with this recipe was that the shells were very eggy. I took the advice of many and beat the living shite out of my choux after each egg addition (5 - FIVE - eggs) and I allowed my shells to bake a little longer than what was called for, then opened the oven door and pulled the shelf out half way so that they still had some warmth to dry properly. So the only thing I can say here is that I don't really believe that many of us had eggy éclairs due to not beating long enough or baking long enough.. I just think that there were maybe 1 to 2 eggs not needed. But, who the hell am I to disagree with the pastry king of France? Now, of course, I'd KILL - yes! KILL! to try one of his éclairs.. my guess is that you'd never know there was an egg in the recipe. :)

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Would I make this recipe again? No. I have another éclair recipe that I made last summer and it was not eggy at all.. they all deflated of course, but that was before I knew to bake them a tad longer and not to take them away from the heat completely until they've had time to dry. At least this is what I'm contributing my success to puffy shells this time. Would I make ANY éclair again? Probably, but not very often.. yes, I'm a dork and I actually prefer the donut type - you know, the kind that are called "cream sticks" *gasp* Was that blasphemy??? Sorry Monsieur Hermé! ;)

Nevertheless, I learned some great lessons this month on how to keep my choux nice and puffy and how to make a delicious pastry cream that I WILL use over and over again. ;)

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Thanks so much Meeta and Tony!!! You have both done a stellar job this month and we appreciate it so very muchly! :) Ya'll can find the recipe on both Meeta's and Tony's blogs.


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Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Excellent Low-Fat Way to Use Up Some Garden Veggies AND...



But first - the veggies. ;) Last Monday I wrote an article on FoodieView regarding more recipes using fresh from the garden or farmer's market produce. I highlighted some amazing recipes, so go check it out and click on the links - you won't be disappointed. :)

Antipasto Salsa

I also made mention of this Antipasto Salsa that I made from a Cooking Light recipe. I subbed our garden cucumbers for the zucchini as Hubbs won't eat raw zucchini (such a wus!) and hearts of palm for the artichokes.. but the rest of the recipe I stayed true. It was fabulous and I've made it 3 times since, each time it's eaten quickly. The last time I made it, I added some corn that I bought from a roadside stand and roasted on the grill - it was a terrific addition to the recipe. I urge ya'll to try this - even if you aren't a big salsa fan, this recipe could be used as a chop salad side dish as it's not very liquid-y as many salsas are.

Speaking of vegetables.. I'm getting married! squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! :D (okay so my getting married has nothing to do with vegetables but I couldn't think of a good segue.) :P

After almost 9 years, and my belief of why fix what's not broken? Hubbs and I have decided to make it legal. :) Why now? Because, yeah, after all this time he and I ARE married.. we don't have a piece of paper saying it's legit, but I can guarantee this is a marriage for sure. We're an old married couple actually. The honeymoon has been over for YEARS. hahahahaaa!

I guess the best answer I can give is that when I hit 40 - which I had always believed was just a number and nothing else - things did change for me, to my surprise. My way of thinking, mainly. Lots of "life's too short" popping into my thoughts these days. When he asked me to marry him 3 years ago, I happily accepted, but we didn't push the issue.. we had already made a commitment to each other and we're happy so that's all that mattered, yes?

Yeah, 40. Wow..

So I've been thinking about it and decided that HOLY SHIT I DO want to get married. I want that band around my finger.. I want our commitment to each other to be shared by God and the rest of the world. Damn.. I want a big party afterwards too. heeee!

He was at his brother's cabin a couple Sundays ago.. their mother had just passed so they were spending a quiet weekend together reminiscing and working through their grief. You know, the way men grieve.. by fishing and drinking beer? :) However they go about dealing with it doesn't matter, what mattered is that they WERE dealing with it and I was proud of him for it.. sometimes he bottles things up and I don't like that. He's not a screamer like I am. :P

That same day my mom came over and we sat and talked for hours - something we haven't done in a long time, it felt great. Somehow the subject of marriage came up and she says to me, "Lisa, why don't you two just do it for crissakes?? I know he loves you. I know you love him. You've been together for years and will be together for the rest of your years, so why don't you just do it??"

I told her I'd think about it. I do love him, very much. I can't imagine life without him next to me - he truly is my best friend - so yeah, I'd definitely think about it (as if I hadn't been already). Mom left about 30 minutes later. It took me about 5 minutes after she left for me to call him and say, "So.. I've been thinking.. wanna get married?" hahahahaaaaaa! He didn't miss a beat when he said, "Yeah, for 3 years now" So how is that for romantic? I'm sittin' on our sofa in my pajamas, he's got a fishing pole in one hand and his cell phone in the other hand as we decide to finally get married. :) Nope, no one can accuse me of being a traditional kinda gal!

November 7th and 8th are the days. Days? 'kay well, neither of us are very religious so a church wedding isn't a priority for us. We want to get married by the Justice of the Peace and then throw a huge bash afterwards in celebration. We're all about the party, yanno! ;) The original plan was to get married the morning of the 8th and then throw the reception that evening (which, btw, I will be catering myself - well with the help of some very special friends that is).. but as fate would have it - our J of P is taking classes this semester and is UNAVAILABLE on Saturday! HAHAHAHAHAAAA! So he asked if we minded having the ceremony Friday night instead. My first reaction was, "Screw you butthead. We'll find someone else." but then I got to thinking and realized that by actually getting married Friday night, I'd have all day Saturday to put this bash on, instead of getting up early and getting all prettied up for the ceremony, then dashing home afterwards to get unpretty and start cooking.. now I can even sleep in a bit on Saturday (as if my dogs would let me) and not have to worry about anything other than crankin' this thing out. Ahhh yes.. fate. Sometimes you just have to love it. :D

So a nice ceremony Friday evening, followed by a nice dinner out. This will be attended by some of the most important people in my life. Although we are going to have the ceremony performed by the J of P, I am still having a bridal party.. not so much because I wanted a lil tradition in my marriage, but because I wanted these people to be standing next to me when I say "I do!" I've been blessed to have my mom with me and both a Matron of Honor (one of my oldest and dearest friends, Kim), a Maid of Honor (my sister, Sam) and two bridesmaids (well, one of them doesn't know yet as she's off galavanting in the old country, so shhhh) Ivonne is back from Italy, so I finally got to ask her and she has agreed to be my bridesmaid! YAY!! Hubbs has asked his brother to stand up with him, and that just tickles me pink - I love him as if he were my own brother. Oh and that first bridesmaid I mentioned.. you might be familiar with.. she writes a lil blog about her phenomenal baking but much more importantly she is MY baking guru. :) Helene of Tartelette. AND if that wasn't blessing enough.. Helene is also going to bake and design our wedding cake!! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! How fakkin lucky am I?? :D

And if all of that wasn't amazing enough, the hall will be decorated by two incredibly special men in my life. They've both got impeccable taste and I know the hall will be stunning. I CANNOT wait!

So that's my news, kids - as if I needed another excuse to neglect this here lil blog o'mine.. I can guarantee you won't be hearing much from me for another 3 months as I've 12 fakkin short weeks to make a party for 100 or so guests come together. Leave it to me, to wait 9 years to finally make the leap, and then schedule said leap RIGHT NOW.



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