Saturday, April 12, 2014

Four Eyes Smoothie

Here's a green smoothie for all you bespectacled nerds like me out there, (I started wearing glasses when I was eight and never looked back).  When we think about our health we tend to focus, sorry, on organs other than the eyes, and we take those precious orbs for granted.

Well, no more!  This smoothie has a potent mix of fruits and veggies that support eye health, along with everything else we drink green smoothies for; energy, digestion, heart health, etc.  It's loaded with kale, of course, also carrots and goji berries, all excellent sources of nutrients like vitamin A and lutein that have enormous benefits for healthy vision.  It also contains almond milk for protein and wheat germ for extra fiber, vitamins and minerals.

But let's not forget about taste.  Not only healthy, this smoothy is also a tasty treat.  Banana, yogurt and cara cara orange give it a sweet, velvety edge over your run of the mill smoothie.  I've been having one for breakfast about 4 or 5 times a week, and I do look forward to it!

four eyes smoothie

1/2 cup almond milk
6 ounces of yogurt (vanilla, coconut or your favorite)
1 cup organic kale, trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup chopped organic carrot
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cara cara orange, peeled
2 tablespoons wheat grem
1 tablespoon goji berries

Place all ingredients in blender or whatever fancy juicer-smoothie machine you have.  Blend on low to combine.  Blend on high until smooth. Makes one 8-10 ounce serving. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Courtesan au Chocolate

I'm sure by now you've heard about Wes Anderson's new film The Grand Budapest Hotel. I've been watching trailers for months and I'm finally going to see it tomorrow, but in the mean time I thought I would bring a bit of grandeur to my life in the form of a Courtesan au Chocolate, the curvy pastry featured in the movie, a somewhat loose, and I use that term loosely, version of the French 'religieuse'. 

I was helped along by this marvelous tutorial from Wes and the actual baker for the movie, Anemone Muller-Grossmann.  Yes, they took two days to make but in the words of my dear husband "...they're worth it!" Now all I have to do is look like Saoise Ronan while I'm baking and my life will be complete. 

courtesan au chocolate (adapted from Anemone Muller-Grossmann)

chocolate pastry cream

1 &1/2 cups milk
2 ounces good quality dark chocolate broken into pieces
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon good quality cocoa
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the milk in a medium, heavy bottomed pot, stir in chocolate and bring mixture to just before a boil.  In a medium bowl whisk together egg yolks, cocoa, flour and cornstarch.  Pour in half of the milk mixture and stir well.  Pour that back into the pot and heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.  Whisk in butter and vanilla.  Strain into a clean bowl, cover and chill.
pate a choux

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup unbleached AP flour
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Set aside 3 parchment lined sheet pans and a pastry bag fitted with a 3/4 inch round tip.  Bring the water, salt, sugar and butter to a raising boil in a medium, heavy bottomed pot.  Add the flour and turn off the heat.  Stir in the flour until a stiff dough forms.  Beat in the eggs one at a time making sure they are fully incorporated.

Pipe 10 large, 10 medium and 10 small (on different pans as they will take varying times to bake).  Bake for 15-25 minutes or until puffed up and golden.  After removing from the oven poke a small vent into the bottom of each.

Fill large and medium puffs with chocolate pastry cream.


3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup of milk more or less
pink, green and pale violet food color

In a large bowl whisk milk into sugar to desired consistency.  Divide into 3 bowls, one for each color.  Dip large puffs into violet color, medium into green and small into pink.

butter cream

1 egg white
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
blue food color

Whisk egg white and sugar until smooth.  Add butter a little at a time, scraping the bowl as necessary.  Whisk until smooth.  Add vanilla.  Color half a pale blue.


butter cream
cocoa beans  (or raisinettes)

Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip pipe a decorative filigree around each puff with white butter cream.  Stack the medium puffs on top of the large with dollop of blue butter cream, and top with the small puff.  Pipe a small rosette of blue butter cream and top with cocoa bean.  Place each pastry on a small doily and pipe a small shell boarder around the bottom of each.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sourdough Irish Soda Bread

I used to really like this recipe for Irish soda bread. Then I made it with sourdough starter for this month's Sourdough Surprise and now I love it!  Not that there was anything wrong with the original recipe, it's been in my recipe box for decades and I made it every year around St. Pat's day.  It's earthy and a bit sweet thanks to oatmeal and brown sugar.  It's great fresh out of the oven with a slab of butter, wonderful toasted and it makes a hearty sandwich. 

But this easy sourdough version is even better.  A more complex flavor, definitely more moist and a longer shelf life.  I don't have to tell you that some soda breads make for good paper weights and door stops after a couple of days!   

sourdough Irish soda bread

2 & 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cups oatmeal (lightly ground in food processor) 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut up
3/4 cup buttermilk 
1 egg (plus one to brush on top)
1 cup sourdough starter (discard is fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk together flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar; add butter and mix on low until mixture looks crumbly. 

In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg and sourdough starter; add to flour mixture and mix on low until dough forms.  Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead smooth.  Cut dough in half and form two round loaves.  

Transfer loaves to a parchment lined sheet pan.  Cut a cross into the top of each loaf.  Brush with beaten egg.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until loaves are golden.