Fresh Cookbook Faces
Happily, publisher Gibbs Smith, has decided to re-vamp the covers on all of the books in the French Cook series. The signature bright colors will remain under fresh new covers that will showcase the gorgeous photography in each book, and also eliminate the pesky plastic wrap that made it hard for cookbook shoppers to see what’s within these beautiful pages. Here’s a sneak preview of what will be hitting bookstore and internet shelves in the next few weeks.
I hope you will love the new look. Please write and let me know your thoughts.
As always, bon appetit and happy cooking!
Wall Street Journal’s Gastronomy columnist Aram Bakshian, Jr. wrote a very flattering review of The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs(as well as 4 other cookbooks) in this past weekend’s (December 14 and 15) edition. What a lovely Christmas present!
Here’s an excerpt from the column:
“There’s a bit more puff to the pastries described in Holly Herrick’s “The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs” (Gibbs Smith, 127 pages, $21.99). The latest addition to its publisher’s volumes on aspects of French cooking, this is a slender tome about a fattening yet exquisitely airy and oh-so-French dessert genre: cream puffs and éclairs. The lightness comes from the choux pastry base of simmered butter, water, flour and eggs, which Julia Child described as “one of the easiest pastries to make,” once you get the hang of it. Whatever its size or shape, the choux pastry serves as a model home for hundreds of fruit, custard, crème, cheese and chocolate fillings. Many of them are included here, from quick-cooking fruit sauces like Coulis aux Framboise (raspberry sauce intensified with crème de cassis) to the multilayered flavors of Profiteroles (cream puffs) with Salted Caramel Macadamia Nut Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce (a great combination of a lot of sweetness with just a touch of savoriness). Ms. Herrick, an award-winning pastry chef herself, is the ideal docent for this classic gallery of French desserts, and her recipes, for even the most complicated items, are concise and clear.”
Mr. Bakshian also rightly states at the top of his piece that “Christmas remains a bastion of culinary custom, a time to open our hearts, loosen our belts, and enjoy food rather than obsess about it.” Indeed! Wishing you and yours an especially warm, loving, beautiful and delicious Christmas and good tidings for 2014.
Not to toot my own “choux,” but am pleased to share the happy news that at barely one month since its release, The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs (Gibbs Smith, 10/1/2013) is getting noticed by critical media and cookbook enthusiasts.
Jamie Schler of Huffington Post says of the book in her column Huffpost Taste:
“Most of us think of the chocolate eclair and the cream puff as delightful little French pastries to pick up from the corner bakery on a trip to Paris but much too fussy to make in our own kitchens. Holly Herrick’s newest cookbook is an exploration deep into the world of choux and quickly debunks the myth that this best-known French pastry is something too complicated for the home baker. She walks us through the art of making choux and then gives us recipes for every filling imaginable…”
This profiterole combo (left) just happens to be one of my favorites.
Thank you, Jamie. For a link to her complete article as well as reviews for several other cookbooks, click below.
The Zebra Has Spoken
About two years ago, I started seeing posts of the most adorable stuffed zebra on Facebook and elsewhere. His name is ZeBot-Planet Doof and his mission is to help children get excited about cooking and to better understand where their food comes from and how to prepare it. The core ingredient? Fun! That’s what Ze-Bot is all about, and he’s adorable to boot.
That’s him to the left, sitting in some borrowed “shoes” next to his “choux” pastry.
ZeBot and his creator/partner in crime, the ever talented Laura Martin Bacon, dedicated their blog yesterday to making choux pastry and they used The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs and me as their teacher.
The result is an amazingly creative and wonderfully fun piece showing ZeBot navigating the (at first) confusing world of choux pastry, which he eventually masters, despite the complicated matter of his hooves. There is an award-worthy video showing ZeBot grooving to Elvis and Blue Suede Shoes.
ZeBot even called the book “brilliant.” I think he’s one very smart zebra.
Thanks ZeBot and Laura. The link to the complete blog and video follows:
Go ahead and join his page if you love fun and teaching children great stuff. I did!
As always, happy cooking. Look for a soup recipe posting soon. I’m busy making delicious soups and stews for the next book, The French Cook: Soupes, Daubes and Potages.
Thank you to the fine folks at Grilliant Ideas for inviting me to join their show this morning. We covered cream puffs, profiteroles, French cooking, croissants and more and had a lot of fun in the process. Visit the link below to listen in.
One of the co-hosts was particularly fond of the recipe for Salted Caramel Macadamia Ice Cream Profiteroles with Warm Caramel Sauce and this picture by Alexandra DeFurio on page 90 of The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs.
While we’re talking cream puffs and eclairs, mark your calendars for tomorrow’s Second Sunday on King Street (October 13). We’ll be celebrating the recent release of the book in style at the corner of Wentworth and King Street, downtown Charleston from 1 – 5 p.m. Come by and join me to talk choux pastry and receive your own signed copy of the brand new book, as well as my other books.
Look for the bright pink sign! Hope to see you there.
These beautiful little cream puffs actually look a bit like pumpkins, are light as air, and practically whisper “autumn” in every bite.
Creamy sweet marscapone, ginger, nutmeg, ginger and a splash of Cognac recall the classic flavors of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top. The pastry gets a colorful pumpkin flavor glow from the addition of pumpkin puree to classic choux pastry. And, finely chopped pecans in the filling deliver an unexpected crunch surprise. On top? A fuss-free, fluttery dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon.
What’s not to love? These would make a lovely, light ending to any meal and are sure to please. Give them a go for Halloween or Thanksgiving or any time simple and delicious sounds just about right.
(Adapted from The French Cook: Cream Puffs and Eclairs, Gibbs Smith, October, 1, 2013, by Holly Herrick)
Pumpkin Pecan Spiced Cream Puffs
(Makes 22 – 24 “petite” cream puffs)
Begin by preparing the pastry.
Sweet Pumpkin Choux Pastry
Special Equipment Needed: 2 silicon baking sheets or parchment paper, 2 half-sheet baking pans, one 12” piping bag, #806 round pastry tip, pastry brush.
1 cup water
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted, cold butter cut into 1/2”-cubes
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup All-Purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Generous pinch kosher or sea salt
4 room temperature large eggs (about 1 cup), beaten together
Egg wash: 1 egg, splash water and pinch kosher or sea salt, beaten together
Preheat the oven to 425F. Have everything measured and in place in before starting to actually prepare the choux.
In a medium, sturdy sauce pan, melt the water and butter together over medium high heat, stirring once or twice to help the butter melt. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until blended. Reduce the heat to medium. Sift together the bread flour, AP flour, sugar, and salt together over a medium bowl. Add the sifted dry ingredients all at once to the melted water and butter mixture, reserving the bowl nearby. Stir the mixture (roux) vigorously with a wooden spoon to bring the dough together, initially. Continue stirring, less vigorously, until the pastry starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and forms a uniform ball. This should take about 1 – 2 minutes.
Turn the pastry out into the reserved bowl. Allow to sit for about 1 minute, or until the pastry is cool enough to touch comfortably with your finger for at least 15 seconds. Add 1/2 of the beaten eggs (about 1/2 cup) to the pastry. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the pastry looks uniform and glossy, about 1 minute. Add half of the remaining egg mixture (about 1/4 cup) and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the pastry is uniform and glossy (about 1 minute). Repeat with the remaining egg mixture.
While the pastry is still warm, pipe and bake the pastry using a 1/2″-round tip (#806) onto a silicon or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Pipe so that the choux puffs are all the same size, about 1 1/1″ wide (round) and about 3/4″ high. Brush the top of each pastry with a light coating of egg wash, being careful not to allow the wash to drip down the sides of the pastry.
Bake the choux puffs for 22 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the pastry stand for 5 minutes. Pierce the bottom of each choux gently with the tip of a knife. Allow to cool completely before filling. (Note: The pastry can be prepared ahead and baked several days before filling. Store in the freezer in plastic freezer bags for up to three weeks).
Creamy Spiced Pecan and Mascarpone Filling
1 cup mascarpone cheese (or substitute regular cream cheese), room temperature
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon best-quality vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Cognac or bourbon
3 tablespoons whipping cream
Pinch kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Whisk together all of the ingredients, except the pecans, in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold in the pecans and blend to combine. Reserve cold until ready to use (Note: The filling can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered. Sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before filling the cream puffs).
Putting It Together – Assemblage
If you’re not inclined to fuss with a pastry bag, simply cut each choux puff in half horizontally with a serrated knife. “Plop” a teaspoon of the filling on the bottom half of each puff and cap each with its respective top. Or, fit a clean pastry bag with a clean #806 round pastry bag, and fill the halved choux, piping about 1 teaspoon of the filling into the center of each, and capping each with their respective choux hoods.
Spiced Sugar Garnish
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place the sugar and the cinnamon in a small sifter. Sprinkle generously over the top of the filled cream puffs. Serve immediately and watch ’em swoon. These are first-place-delicious-good.