pâte à choux: éclairs and cream puffs filled with pistachio cream

Pâte à choux, or cream puff pastry, is versatile dough that is used as a base for many sweet and savory treats.  Strictly speaking, it is more like a thick paste that is made by adding flour to boiling water and butter to form a sort of roux to which eggs are then added. The resulting dough, called panade, should be light, with a smooth and shiny appearance and sticky consistency. Continue reading


pistachio and tangerine cookies

I have one more pistachio recipe to share and I think it’s a good one! I wanted to use some leftover pistachios to make a variation of the Russian Tea Cakes, which are usually made with walnuts. A quick search for a recipe on Google yielded a similar cookie, Pistachio Snowballs, from Dandy Sugar which combines pistachio with tangerine. This is a new flavor combination for me and I was immediately intrigued. Serendipitously, I had a couple of tangerines that I bought last week for a recipe I ended up not making (and frankly, don’t remember). I love it when I find a recipe to make and I have all the ingredients at hand.

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pistachio-cranberry chiffon cupcakes with chocolate ganache

According to legend, the chiffon cake was invented in Los Angeles in the 1920s by Harry Baker (how appropriate!), an insurance salesman. The cake has a wonderfully light and airy texture, much like angel food cake, due to the stiffly-beaten egg whites which acts as a leavening agent.  However, unlike the angel food, the chiffon cake also contains egg yolks and vegetable oil which keeps the cake moist and tender. Baking powder is added to the recipe because the vegetable oil is heavy and needs the extra boost to ensure that the cake will rise properly.  The chiffon cake is typically baked in a tube pan to enable the hot air to circulate and bake the center of the cake.  Once baked, the chiffon cake is inverted until cool to keep the cake from shrinking and deflating. Continue reading

homemade ice cream

Meyer Lemon-Olive Oil Ice Cream

Our current obsession is homemade ice cream – Chris, with making it, and me, with eating it.  Since January, he’s made sure our freezer is stocked with his delicious creations such as Meyer Lemon-Olive Oil (pictured above), Salted Caramel, and Pistachio ice creams.  There were a couple that did not make the cut –  Hazelnut Mascarpone and the Salted Almond – but I applaud his efforts and encourage his pursuit of inventive and out-of-the-ordinary flavors.  My current favorite is the beautiful pale green Pistachio, with little flecks of the nuts left in.  Yummy!  The cost for a quart is about $5, a little more expensive than the store-bought kind, but it’s totally made with a special ingredient – love!

Bring on the long hot days of summer!  I’ve got my spoon.