Monday, October 26, 2009

Turn obstacles in to popsicles...

Whenever I am feeling down, cranky, or upset I always try to remember to "turn obstacles in to Popsicles." I read that phrase in a magazine many years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. It may not make any sense but it is whimsical enough to get me out of any funk that I'm in. The hard part is remembering to remind myself to say it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's been a while...

I must admit I haven't had much to talk about. Nick and I had an amazing honeymoon at Disneyland and ever since then we've been playing catch up with our lives. I officially changed my last name but haven't yet informed the DMV, my bank, or any of my insurance companies. I really need to get on that.

I have my Halloween costume picked out. Nick and I are going to be Gomez and Morticia Addams. I'm also going to be having a Halloween party on Sunday. Unfortunately, my house is not nearly as decorated as I would like for it to be. I need to get on that, too.

I've also been trying to get the house back in to its clutter/mess free state. I had both my house and my car spotless before the wedding. However, Nick's friend attacked my car with chapstick and that stuff just doesn't seem to want to come off!! The house got bombarded with wedding presents. Boxes, wrapping paper, bows, instruction manuals, cards...all sorts of things were randomly thrown about. It's funny because, in my head, when I pictured us opening our wedding presents it was considerably more organized. I finally got the mess taken care of but I must admit quite a few of the presents are currently living in the garage because I haven't yet found room for them in the house. Yup, I need to get on that.

What can I say. I've been lazy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge: Vouls-au-vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
This challenge was super fun. I was terrified it wouldn't puff because the butter kept oozing when I rolled it and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't roll the dough into a perfect square or rectangle. Still, it came out great. When completed, the pastry dough tastes very similar to that of a turnover. Yum.

I used heart shaped cookie cutters to make the sides and bottom.

I've always been a fan of lavendar pudding (and lavendar cheesecake!) so I decided to try to make lavendar pudding to fill these adorable pastry puffs. In order to make the lavendar pudding, I adapted a vanilla pudding recipe that I have. Here is the recipe:

2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2% milk
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon dried lavendar (I actually used 2 Tbsp but it was very strong!)

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Add the dried lavendar. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolk; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in butter and vanilla.

Cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the pudding through a cheesecloth to remove the dried lavendar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour


I was surprised to discover that the dried lavendar didn't add any color to the pudding so I added a little bit of purple food coloring. However, that didn't seem to make much of a difference so I added A LOT of purple food coloring. OOPS! Now the pudding looks like the purple people eater. Oh well. As for taste, the pudding was way too strong to just eat with a spoon but it was great with the puff pastry. The puff pastry seemed to settle the flavor. It was very good. I later tried to cut the taste of the pudding with whipped cream which made it much tastier to just eat but not as good with the pastry. :-) Since I had so much dough, I tried other types of fillings, also. I made a pumpkin pie filling and a pineapple with whipped cream filling. My favorite was by far the pineapple with whipped cream. The acidity from the pineapple really seemed to compliment the pastry. It was fun experimenting with the different types of fillings.