Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Are you a lover or a hater?

I am a lover, not a hater.  I write about things I love.  This blog is evidence.  I love my friends.  I love this little café near Notre Dame where you are served a little bowl of chips

to go with your house white apéritif.

And where you can introduce these friends to escargots.  And they don't cost a fortune and taste unbelievably délicieux.

Where a bowl of soupe à l'oignon is yours for the asking even if it is July and hot outside.

Or une omelette-frites.

Always served with a basket of fresh pain.

And your dessert-loving friends can ooh and aah and they allow you to take a photo of this before digging in.  And no one thinks you are weird for taking that photo.  They know their food is art.

And you can sit in this café for as long as your little heart desires.  You are actually encouraged to linger.
I needed to take a little visual trip back to Paris.  Since this is election day in the US, tempers run high and you are more likely to hear why someone wouldn't vote for a candidate as opposed to why they would vote for another.  I heard of one group that calls themselves Christians Against Obama.  Why not Christians For Romney?  Aren't we supposed to love one another?  Especially Christians?
One of the girlies sent me a link to an article entitle  38 Reasons to Love the French by Aram Kevorkian posted on bonjourparis.com, a website I love.  Kevorkian confesses to being a lover, too, not a hater.  And, well, anyone who loves the French and can come up with 38 reasons of his own outlining why he loves them, is a friend of mine.  Whether he wants to be or not.
A few of his reasons that I really love are:

1.    Paris has not yet been ruined by gratte-ciels.  (sky-skrapers)
11.  The French hold their elections on Sundays and never close their bars.
12.  The French take eating more seriously than religion.
19.  Picasso lived in France and was allowed to remain a Spaniard as long as he paid taxes.
22.  French trains run on time, when they're not on strike.
24.  The French serve water without ice.
25.  French politicians can finish a sentence.
29.  The French do not use French dressing on their salads.
30.  The French eat a lot of yogurt, but do not claim to have invented it.
35.  La Seine, le Rhône, la Loire.
36.  French women look dressed up even when wearing blue jeans and "Fruit of the Loom" t-shirts.
38.  The French are tolerant of foreigners who love them.  La preuve (the proof):  they have put up with me for 40 years.  (I am older than 40, but that is how long my love affair with France has been going on.)

I am introducing my 6th grade class to food vocabulary.  One of the words I ask them to learn is éclair. One poor jeune homme asked me today what an éclair is.  Well, he is only 11 years old after all.  And American.  We can't find them on any street corner malheureusement.  They checked out my blog (shhh... yes, this is how we use our iPads sometimes.  We love to Google in room 204) and they informed me that I have not posted an éclair recipe, so I promised I would do so today.  We are making crêpes tomorrow in class though, not éclairs.

Make the pastry, fill them with whipped cream, pudding, or the crème anglaise, if you are feeling ambitious.  Spread the ganache on the top.

Chou Pastry for Cream Puffs,  Éclairs or Profiteroles

1 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400˚F.
In medium saucepan, slowly bring to boil one cup of water with butter and salt.
Remove from heat, beat in flour all at once with a wooden spoon.
Return to low heat.  Continue beating until mixture forms ball and leaves side of pan.
Remove from heat.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard after each addition until mixture is smooth.
Continue beating until dough is shiny and satiny and breaks into strands.
For cream puffs, drop by rounded teaspoonful on ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
For éclairs, drop by rounded teaspoonful three inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and spread each ball of dough into a four-inch strip.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool completely on wire rack.
Slice off tops (lengthwise for éclairs), scoop out any filaments of soft dough.
Fill with sweetened whipped cream or custard for cream puffs or éclairs or ice cream for profiteroles.  Glaze with melted chocolate, if desired.  Or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Chef Érick's Crème Anglaise
(can be doubled)

1 c. whole milk
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat milk in double boiler.
Place cornstarch in a separate bowl and whisk in the egg yolks.  When milk is hot, but not boiling, remove from heat and quickly whisk in cornstarch mixture.  Then quickly whisk in sugar and vanilla.  Return to heat, just long enough to warm all ingredients.  Cool in refrigerator until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache Filling
2 oz. heavy cream
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Combine cream and chocolate in a small bowl.  Heat in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between intervals, until chocolate is melted.  Cool to room temperature.

Bon appétit to lovers everywhere!

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