Monday, March 29, 2010

Puff-Goes-the-Chicken Pot Pies Adventure

So, March came quietly and is almost gone.  I have been very busy with school work assignments and testing them at home before the class - whenever possible.  Luckily this recipe is a winner - Curry Chicken Pot Pie ( - Alton Brown's).  I added my own favorite vegetables or seafood (shrimps), and they all turned out delicious.  My family loves them.
The only tricky part with this chicken pot pie is the Puff Pastry (Bo Friberg's "The Professional  Pastry Chef", 4th ed.  I make only 1/2 batch).  How can you keep the puff pastry from getting soggy bottom and keep the rise.  After my first pot pies, I immediately thought of freezing the Puff tops; then also the temptation to make it more 'soupy' is not too great an idea.  The Puff pastry top didn't like too much 'moisture' underneath.  Draping the sides over the ramekin helped some, but freezing the puff tops and baking at 425'F helped in baking beautifully.
Other than that, I baked 8 to 16 pot pies each week for the past 3 weeks, and they turned out great.  Delicious!
(*Double click on images to view larger image.)

Monday, March 08, 2010


I was looking for a recipe for Soft Nougat filling for making Chocolate confection.  My friend found a recipe called Nougat Centers.  I gave it a try.  It is good.
The white blob you see in the picture is the original soft nougat center.  For variation I added walnuts, raisins, candied cherries, and rum.  But the candied cherries didn't have distinct flavor, so I added maraschino cherries, marachino juice + rum.  That's the pink blob you see on the plate.  If you like maraschino cherries, then this is good.  The other pink blob is with extra chopped raisins and maraschino juice with rum. 
Squeeze the parchment paper to separate the chocolate cup off of it.
This nougat is mixed with melted milk chocolate.  Then fill with nougat with cherries...

Canneles de Bordeaux - Delicious!

After acquiring a copy of soft nougat center recipe from Debra, my friend on Thursday evening, I decided to test it out right away on Friday.    As I have never made nougat before, I was very delighted when Debra said she is coming to stop by.  Then, we got talking about our good ole' Canneles de Bordeaux and this "Polytech 'Lille".  (    A group of students who conducted study and reported on their in depth testings and findings on How To's of Le Canele de Bordeaux.    We read it ones together back in 2007, but this time I listened more intentively.    There's the reasonings for why scalding the milk - to infuse vanilla bean, why use the rhum vieux agricole, why or why not of refrigerating for 12 hours, etc, silicone mold vs, copper, and aluminum, etc.   Well, my soft nougat turned out successfully and my family members validated them over the weekends, but tonight... well, last night I decided to venture one more time in the baking the second batch of Canneles de Bordeaux for year 2010. And what a great joy and satisfaction.   This time around, it passed my sight, texture, taste, aroma, and clean kitchen test.  Bees wax and butter mixture for the molds in the past is something you would think twice of if the product didn't turn out the way it should. They can be messy to clean after.
  As mentioned in my past blog on Canneles, the ingredients are so simple, but yet, the baking them is extremely challenging.  This time, I got 'the' best result compared to the ones in the past.
Outer shells are nice dark brown.    A couple of them in the back of the oven turned close to 'burnt' looking, but when I tasted, it was so delicious.  And also figured out how to get this RUM aroma I love so much in Cannele at its best.    Thank you Debra for your visit Friday nite, it paid off.
As cannele is quite sweet, I decided to fill the molds only to half way rather than the usual three-fourth.   This prevented the batter to rise afloat above the rim of the mold (normal, during baking), thus, minimized/prevented bees wax+butter coating in the molds to spill out to the baking sheet.
It was the best idea.  Also, this produced two-bite size Canneles that is more appealing.   And I am sure my family would love that, too.
This time I decided not to indulge in my Madagascar vanilla paste and only use 1 tsp of it rather the usual 1 Tbsp that I like.  
Can't wait till morning, . . . I can have one in the morning for breakfast.