Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Baked Pasta, Cream Puffs, and Raspberry Pie

These last few days have been quite uneventful, I think... Last Saturday I spent another afternoon in the kitchen playing around with whatsoever I would find in the pantry and refrigerator. These are the most satisfying moments: when I am not planning any particular dishes and not grocery shopping for a particular recipe! Just looking around the house and getting some good ol' inspiration. My mother is the best at that. I remember looking around the house for a snack and finding little or nothing in the fridge or in the cupboards...then, she would call the family around the table for dinner, and voila'...some great meal was magically there...

I started with some baked pasta, lasagna style, using a large bag of frozen tomato sauce I made last summer from the tomatoes from our garden. While the sauce was cooking in a saucepan, I cooked some ground beef with olive oil and minced onions, carrots, and garlic. It smelled wonderful! I combined the beef with the sauce and let them "mingled" together on low heat for a while. In the mean time, I made some white bechamel sauce using butter, milk, flour and a pinch of nutmeg. Since I did not have any lasagna noodle around the house, I cooked some regular pasta, rotini shape, and mixed the tomato/beef sauce in it. Then I placed the pasta in a pirex pan (9x13) and poured the bechamel sauce on the top. I completed the thing with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese and a touch of dry basil leaves. I ended up making two pans just in case and we ate one on Sunday and gave the other one to a neighbor.

Then I got a craving for cream puffs. I made two large cookie sheets of them. The recipe is quite simple:

- 1 cup of water;
- 125 grams of butter;
- 1 pinch of salt;
- 150 grams of white flour;
- 4 eggs.

First, you boil the water with the butter and salt. Then you add the flour all together and you mix vigorously to remove all the lumps. While continuing to stir, cook for another 5 minutes, until the dough does not stick to the pan. Place it in a bowl and let it cool down. Add the eggs, one at the time, and stir vigorously until the mix is smooth and silky (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the flat attachment). With a chef's icing bag, I made little mounds the size of a walnut (about 1.5 inch from each other) on two greased cookie sheets and baked it for 20 minutes (until golden) at 350F. Do not open the oven!! I let the empty cream puffs cool down on a cooling rack and preapred the filling by mixing a vanilla flavored custard (I made my own, but you can use a Jell-o mix) with freshly whipped whipping cream (sweetened with powder sugar). This was a richer version of a Chantilly cream. With my chef's bag, I filled each puff and placed them in the refrigerator for Sunday dinner. We ate them with a lightly sprinkle of powder sugar on the top.

Sorry for not taking pictures of the two final products described above... I just did not think about it, but I will do it next time... promised.

Instead, I do have a picture of the raspberry pie I made using a broken crust I found in the freezer (it was quite a job to fix it up before I baked it). I used the leftover Chantilly cream from the cream puffs to fill the pie crust and then a bag of frozen raspberries I found in the freezer. I covered the whole thing with a light layer of fruit gelatine to keep the raspberries together until dinner on Sunday night (yep, we had two desserts!!):

No comments:

Post a Comment