Coffee Liqueur Cream Puffs

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Coffee Liqueur Cream Puffs RecipeBuy 658

Netflix suggested the other day that I watch The Great British Bake Off. I don’t always do what Netflix tells me to but I did in this case and I am glad because this baking reality TV show is awesome. For those of you not familiar with the program, a bunch of amateur bakers enter a several week-long baking competition held in a tent in the beautiful British countryside. They are judged by two accomplished bakers and TV personalities with the (actual and awesome) names Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

The premise may sound boring but it really isn’t, it’s very entertaining AND educational to boot! Over the course of the season I learned about all kinds of interesting pastries, some that I had vaguely been familiar with and one that I had never ever heard of (hot water crust pastry, which I will come to in a future post).

One of the pastries that caught my attention was pate a choux (pronounced “shoe”), the dough that’s used for eclairs and cream puffs. I had heard of it but never given it enough thought to develop any interest in actually making it until I saw the bake off contestants make mouthwatering eclairs. So I went to my cookbook shelf and dusted off my trusty copy of Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America. It’s a great book and I have no idea why I don’t consult it more often.

I followed the CIA’s cream puff choux pastry recipe to the t and unsurprisingly it worked out beautifully. To get ideas for a filling and glaze I simply took a peak into our liqueur cabinet and didn’t have to look further than the coffee liqueur, one of my favorite dessert ingredients. I mixed it with powdered sugar for the glaze and whipped it into heavy cream for the filling. And that’s it! The preparation of everything is easy and fuss-free and the result delicious and pretty! :)

cookbook

5.0 from 2 reviews
Coffee Liqueur Cream Puffs
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients:
For the pastry:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup bread flour, sifted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg white
For the filling:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Kapali)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the glaze:
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Kapali)
Instructions:
For the pastry:
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the sifted flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon.
  5. Cook, continuing to stir, until the dough starts to peel away from the sides of the saucepan.
  6. Transfer the dough to a bowl, then beat on medium speed until it's cooled down to lukewarm.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the egg white.
  8. Fill the dough into a large piping bag with a large, round tip and pipe about 20 dollops onto the baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and continue to bake until the puffs are golden-brown, about another 20 minutes.
  10. Let the puffs cool completely, then slice in half horizontally.
For the filling:
  1. Whip all ingredients to stiff peaks.
  2. Fill into a piping bag and fill into the cream puffs.
For the glaze:
  1. Whisk liqueur with powdered sugar and drizzle over the cream puffs.

Food Photography and Styling: I wanted to create a relaxed afternoon feel in this photo so lit the photo from the side (with my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe) to make it look like the cream puffs were sitting next a window with afternoon light coming in at a low angle. To contrast the round shapes of the puffs I set them on a rectangular plate and I thought that worked nicely. The background was a bit empty so I set my small (only about 5 inches high) flask in the back and filled it with milk. I did like the big bubble in the cream of the front puff, I thought it gave it character so I didn’t clone it out. :)

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

Spicy Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup

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As usual for Colorado we’ve been jumping back and forth here between short stretches of balmy days with temperatures in the 60s and cold snaps full of snow and ice. I really love this to and fro because it keeps me from getting tired of winter, the cold never lasts long enough to start grinding on my nerves.

One thing I’ve never gotten the hang of though is how to align my cooking schedule with the weather forecast. It seems that we’re always drinking spring cocktails during a blizzard and eating hot, comforting soup on warm, summery days. Which brings me to today’s recipe. I wrote it when it was bitter cold and snowing and then made it the next day when it was 65 degrees and sunny. It still tasted mighty good but I think it will taste even better on a true winter day. :)

The soup has got good spice from a teaspoon of half-sharp Hungarian paprika, good savory flavor from tomato paste, ginger, chicken broth, sautéed onion and garlic and good substance from a shredded chicken breast and ramen noodles. It’s a wonderful way to get rid of leftover chicken and/or Asian noodles and really couldn’t be easier to make; the whole process takes about 15 minutes!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Spicy Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces raw ramen or other Asian-style noodles
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cooked chicken breast or other left-over chicken, shredded
  • 1 green onion, sliced
Instructions:
  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Set aside.
  2. In a Dutch oven heat the oil until shimmering.
  3. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, paprika, ginger and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the chicken and the cooked noodles.
  7. Garnish with green onion and serve.

Food Photography and Styling: Once again I used my espresso machine to produce the steam in this photo and I think it turned out “cute” (for lack of a better word). Since this is an Asian-inspired recipe I used chopsticks and a sake flask and cup as props and I arranged them such that they helped to lead the eye through the frame. I kept most of the frame quite dark to keep the focus on the brightly-colored soup and as almost always, I used my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe to light the set.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

This entry was posted in Soups.

Smoked Salmon Panini with Lemon Dill Mayonnaise

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Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Lemon Dill MayonnaiseBuy 657
One of the best ideas I had in all of 2015 was to get a panini press. If you don’t have one I urge you to get one, it’s one of the best kitchen tools ever invented. Being able to transform any regular sandwich into a hot and delicious meal within minutes and with almost zero cleanup is close to magical and has revolutionized our lunches. (Dan and I both work from home so we each make our lunch in our kitchen every day).

We have already stuffed just about anything we could think of between the two hot plates and one of our current favorites is this smoked salmon panini with lemon dill mayonnaise. Now this sandwich is a bit of a special case because it is delicate (you don’t want the mayo to be squirting out all over the place) and because it tastes best just warm but not hot. So what I do is I press it very lightly, just enough to grill the bread and warm the stuffing just a tad.

The star of this recipe is the lemon dill mayonnaise; it’s tangy, dilly and slightly peppery from the freshly cracked black pepper I mix in (the pepper is a very important component, don’t be tempted to skip it :)). The mayo complements the smoked salmon perfectly and really elevates the panini from good to great. If you don’t have a panini press you can make this recipe just as a sandwich of course but it’s definitely better pressed. :)

5.0 from 3 reviews
Smoked Salmon Panini with Lemon Dill Mayonnaise
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
For the lemon dill mayonnaise:
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the panini:
  • 4 slices multigrain bread
  • lettuce leaves
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon
  • sliced red onion (optional)
Instructions:
For the mayonnaise
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
For the panini:
  1. Layer one slice of bread, one lettuce leaf, salmon, lemon dill mayonnaise, red onion (if using) and another slice of bread on top of each other and very lightly press in a hot panini press.

Food Photography and Styling: I generally don’t cluster all props together like I did here but I think in this case here it really worked because the glass, the pitcher and the sandwich were all of different height. Because the mayo is the real star of this recipe I put a bit of it in a cup and set it on the plate along with the sandwich. (The little mayo cup is from Wendy’s, I occasionally grab a few of them and take them with, you never know when they come in handy). As usual, I used my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe to light the set.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

Rum Spiced Pecan Chocolate Bark

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I’ve got a spinoff recipe from my recent rum-spiced pecan butter and chocolate cookies today and it’s beautifully easy. You start by making a batch of rum-spiced pecans by cooking the chopped nuts in a rum/sugar/butter/cinnamon/cardamom mix and then let them air dry. After that all you have to do is mix them with coconut oil and bittersweet chocolate, spread the mix on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and let it harden in the fridge. Makes a terrific snack along with a glass of milk! :)

5.0 from 5 reviews
Rum Spiced Pecan Chocolate Bark
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients:
For the rum-spiced pecans:
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
For the chocolate bark:
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup rum-spiced pecans
Instructions:
For the rum-spiced pecans:
  1. Mix granulated sugar, cinnamon and cardamom together in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cover a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
  3. Add rum, brown sugar and butter to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the pecans, then turn the heat off.
  5. Stir the pecans with a rubber spatula until they are evenly coated and all the liquid has been soaked up by the nuts.
  6. Sprinkle the spice mix over the nuts and stir them around.
  7. Distribute the nuts onto the parchment or wax paper and separate them using a fork.
  8. Let the nuts sit to dry for 3 hours.
For the chocolate bark:
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.
  2. Add chocolate, coconut oil and rum-spiced pecans to a glass bowl and set over a pot of simmering water.
  3. Once the chocolate starts to melt, stir occasionally until you have a homogeneous mixture.
  4. Pour the chocolate mix onto the aluminum foil and spread into an even layer using a rubber spatula.
  5. Transfer the sheet to the fridge.
  6. Once the bark has hardened completely break it into pieces and serve.

Food Photography and Styling: To me, the edges of the chocolate shards are the most interesting feature of this bark so I wanted to be sure to show them nicely by lighting them dramatically from the side. The bark is sitting on a metal candle plate that I got from the World Market a few years back. I love that plate as a prop because it’s not very reflective and also the perfect size for food photos. I didn’t think the photo needed any additional props because the tower of bark looked quite interesting all by itself. As usual, I used my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe to light the set.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.