Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Profiteroles with Vanilla-Bean Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Espresso Sauce

Profiteroles with Vanilla-Bean Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Espresso Sauce

And now we come to the final recipe I wanted to share with you from my Father's Day Lunch - this showstopper of a dessert: Profiteroles with Vanilla-Bean Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Espresso Sauce. What a mouthful - both literally and figuratively! Profiteroles are one of Dad's favourite desserts (the others being crème brûlée and creme caramel), and I'm pleased to say he really enjoyed these. Yay!

They do take a bit of time and effort to make, but none of it is especially difficult or fiddly, and you can make it easier by splitting up the work. I made the choux puffs the night before and let them sit on a cooling rack overnight (any longer than that and I think they'd need to go in an airtight container to prevent them going stale); I made the crème pâtissière and chocolate espresso sauce in the morning after the pork had gone into the oven; and I filled the balls (heh) after lunch, just before we ate them! Apparently you can't fill choux pastry too far in advance, but I think a couple of hours or even half a day would be fine - leftover balls the next day tasted fine to me!

Ok, here's the choux pastry!

Choux pastry

Golden balls! I'm not a particularly good piper, but they seemed to puff up nicely. (Two tips: if you get weird nipply shapes when you pipe them, dip your finger in cold water and pat them down to smooth them down. Secondly, once you bring them out of the oven, poke each one with a skewer and leave them on a wire rack to cool. This allows the steam to escape and prevents them from going soggy).

Baked choux puffs

The chocolate espresso sauce is very easy - I used the chocolate sauce recipe from the Poires belle Hélène in How to Eat: fresh espresso, chocolate, sugar and cream, all melted together. I love how the bitter espresso counteracts the sweetness of the chocolate and sugar. Gorgeous!


Making the chocolate sauce

Unlike the ridiculous croquembouche I made for my mum's birthday party in 2008, I kept things low key this time, and simply piled the filled balls into a deep plate. I still think they looked pretty impressive like that!

Filled choux puffs

Don't forget the chocolate sauce!

Profiteroles with Vanilla-Bean Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Espresso Sauce



Yum! I definitely made too many for four people - I sent Mum and Dad home with a little container full of them, gave some to friends, and I also had them as dessert for the next couple of days.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Profiteroles with Vanilla-Bean Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Espresso Sauce
Choux puff and crème pâtissière recipes adapted from The Roux Brothers on Pâtisserie, Chocolate espresso sauce recipe adapted from How to Eat.

N.B. If you want to split up the work, the choux puffs can be made the day before and kept in an airtight container. The crème pâtissière can be made the day before and kept, covered, in the fridge. The chocolate sauce can be made two or three days in advance, and reheated just before serving. Try to fill and assemble the balls as close to serving time as possible.

Choux Puffs
125 ml water
125 ml milk
100 grams butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
150 grams flour, sifted
4 eggs
Preheat the oven to 220C, and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Put the water, milk, diced butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan. Place on a high heat and boil for a minute, stirring all the while. Remove the pan from the heat and add quickly add the sifted flour, stirring well until the mixture is very smooth and the mixture is coming away from the sides of the pan.
Place the pan back onto the heat and stir for a minute. (This dries out the mixture and allows some of the water to evaporate). Tip the mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer.
Immediately beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is very smooth.
Place the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm nozzle. Pipe the mixture into circles on the prepared trays.
Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown.
Place the baked puffs on a wire rack to cool, and prick each puff with a skewer. (This allows the steam to escape and prevents soggy balls.)

Vanilla-Bean Crème Pâtissière
6 egg yolks
125 grams caster sugar
40 grams flour
500 millilitres full-cream milk
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
Place the egg yolks and 25 grams of the sugar in a bowl and whisk until pale and thickened. Sift in the flour and whisk to combine.
Place the milk, remaining sugar, vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil. As soon as the mixture bubble, pour approximately 1/3 onto the egg mixture, whisking to combine. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring continuously. Boil for 2 minutes or until nice and thick. Remove the vanilla pod, and place the crème pâtissière into a bowl to cool completely. Place a piece of greaseproof paper directly onto the surface of the crème to prevent it forming a skin.

Chocolate Espresso Sauce
150 grams dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
60 ml espresso (or coffee made with 1 teaspoon instant coffee and 60 millilitres water)
75 grams caster sugar
90 millilitres cream
For the chocolate sauce, break up the chocolate and place it in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the espresso and sugar. Place on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Stir in the cream and then take off the heat. (This can be made a few hours in advance and gently reheated just before you serve).

To Assemble
Place the crème pâtissière into a piping bag fitted with a thin nozzle. Fill each puff with crème pâtissière. Pile the balls onto a deep plate. Pour the hot chocolate sauce over the top to serve. Makes approx. 30 filled choux puffs (you may have some crème pâtissière leftover), feeds 10-15 depending on your appetite for balls.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rocket, Manchego and Pear Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts

Rocket, Manchego & Pear Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts

Continuing the recipe posts from my Father's Day Feast... here is the salad I made! Rocket, manchego and pear salad with maple-glazed walnuts. In the lead-up to the lunch, I was emailing my friend Lisa, asking if she had any suggestions for dishes - and she suggested a "fresh pear, Manchego cheese, and arugula salad with caramelized walnuts and warm walnut vinaigrette", from the rather fabulous-sounding book: Caramel, by Trish Deseine.

The recipe looked delicious, but was quite long and complicated (you had to make a caramel from scratch to coat the walnuts), and had expensive / obscure ingredients like walnut vinegar and walnut liqueur. With so many other dishes to make that day, I didn't want the salad to drive me over the edge, so I simplified it heaps - I used the base ingredients as my inspiration, but didn't bother with the caramel or the vinaigrette. Instead, I used a too-easy dressing of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, and toasted the walnuts in maple syrup.

Toasting nuts in maple syrup is really easy and so wonderful - it's a method I first heard about from Nigella's pumpkin pancakes with sticky maple pecans, and one that I use often. You simply toast the nuts in a dry pan, add some maple syrup...

Maple-glazing the walnuts

...and keep cooking and stirring until the maple syrup is all caramelised and crunchy. They're so addictive! And so much easier than David Lebovitz' equally fabulous candied peanuts. They're good in the salad, but also make a totally compulsive snack. I imagine they'd be great on top of vanilla ice-cream too!

Sweet crunchy crystallised maple goodness

The salad was so fantastic! I loved the combination of peppery rocket, crunchy sweet walnuts, juicy sweet pear and the nutty, creamy manchego. The mixture of sweet and pepperiness complimented the rich pork well, and I imagine the salad would do well against any rich meat - pork, goose, duck, anything like that. Enjoy!

Rocket, Manchego and Pear Salad with Maple-Glazed Walnuts
An Original Recipe by Sarah Cooks, ingredient-combination inspired by a recipe in Trish Deseine's Caramel

1/2 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon maple syrup
A few handfuls rocket
1/2 ripe pear
Manchego cheese, as much or as little as you like
Salt & pepper
Lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, for the dressing

To make the maple-glazed walnuts, place the walnuts into a dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat until fragrant. Pour over the maple syrup and continue to cook, stirring, until the maple syrup coats the walnuts completely and has crystallised. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over and stir to combine. Tip into a cold bowl to cool completely. (They'll be very hot, so don't try any until they've cooled down. And then try not to eat them all before you've made the salad!)
Place the rocket in a large bowl. Finely slice the pear and add the slices to the bowl. Using a clean vegetable peeler, slice up the Manchego and add it to the bowl. (Save a few slices for decoration).
Squeeze in some lemon juice and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together to coat. Add the maple glazed walnuts (saving some for the top) and toss again.
Tip the salad into a serving bowl or plate, and top with the remaining shavings of Manchego and the remaining walnuts.
Serves 4 as a side dish.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Roast Pork Loin with Crackling


Hey hey! So here's the recipe for the roast pork loin with crackling that I made for Father's Day Lunch! I was a bit nervous about doing pork loin with crackling, as I'd never made it before - luckily, though it all turned out well! I have made pork loin twice, during my How to Eat Project, but the first time the crackling was removed and cooked separately, and the loin of pork with bay leaves was cooked without any crackling at all.

I didn't want to do the more familiar pork belly, as it's a bit fatty, and pork shoulder (whether whole and sliced or slow-roasted and made into pulled pork) would be way too much for four people. I had decided on my usual rack of pork (made on PORKDATE, PORKTOBERFEST II and once for my friends Kate and Rob)... but when we saw this beautiful boned and rolled free-range pork loin at Hagen's Organic Meats, we just had to have it!

It's actually really, really easy to roast pork loin, so this recipe is more of a guide on temperatures and cooking times than anything else. The proper recipe recipe is below, but I'll talk you through it too cos I'm nice like that.

So, buy your pork loin. We got one that was about 1.1 kilograms, which was probably a bit generous for four people - ask your butcher for advice! I always find joints of meat look smaller at the butcher than they do at home! The loins are usually sold already boned and rolled up, but I'm sure a good butcher will do this for you. Get them to score the skin too, to assist with making the crackling crackly.

Once you get the loin home, leave it, unwrapped, overnight in the fridge to really dry out the skin.

On the day you want to eat it, preheat the oven and bring the pork out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Thickly slice an onion and arrange it in the bottom of your roasting tray. This is like a little trivet that keeps air circulating under the pork as it roasts, and adds flavour to the pork and a great aroma. The onions could form the basis of a gravy once everything's cooked, but I can rarely be bothered making gravy for roast pork, and the roasted onions are also nice to eat as they are!

Ready for the oven

Place the dried-out pork on top, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt (for flavour, and to assist the drying-out of the crackling) and some fennel seeds.

You roast it at 210 C for 45 minutes per kilo. Note - at this temperature, the crackling needs at least 45 minutes to get good and crackly, so if your pork loin weighs less than a kilo, I'd suggest getting your butcher to remove the crackling when you buy it, and roasting it on a separate tray. (As per the "Calming Winter Lunch" in Nigella's How to Eat). That way you can remove the meat once it's cooked and allow the crackling to keep cooking while the meat rests.

Anyway, I didn't need to worry about that on this occasion.. and here's the roasted pork!


Crackly Goodness


Loin is such a great cut! It looks impressive, is so easy to carve, and has a great ratio of meat-to-fat-to-crackling.

And for some extra crackling-proof, check out this video!


Sliced Roast Pork

Roast Pork Loin with Crackling
An original recipe by Sarah Cooks

1 rolled, boned pork loin with the skin scored (ask your butcher to do this for you)
1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
Olive oil
Fennel Seeds
Sea Salt

Leave the pork loin, uncovered, in the fridge overnight to allow the skin to dry out.
Preheat the oven to 210C.
Arrange the onion slices in the base of a roasting tray.
Brush the pork skin with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with fennel seeds and sea salt. Place the pork on top of the onion slices.
Roast for 45 minutes per kilo.
Remove from the oven, loosely cover in foil and allow to rest for at least thirty minutes or up to an hour.
Slice thickly to serve.
For other roast pork goodness, please check out my previous posts: