Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

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As we know them today, Choux pastry was created by a pâtissier named Avice in the 18th century. They were named as such because they looked like little cabbages and the French word for cabbage is “choux”. The original recipe though is thought to have been created in the mid-sixteenth century by an Italian chef in the service of Catherine de Medici.

Choux pastry is one of the quintessential French recipes. The pastry itself is quite easy to make but it’s what you do with it that contains the ‘WOW’ factor. The show-stopping French wedding cake, the Croquembouche, is a tower made of choux pastries, covered with caramel and spun sugar. Profiteroles, éclairs and churros all use the same basic choux recipe and as well as gougères, which are a savoury option, filled with cheese.

For something simpler, why not try filling them with my delicious orange and vanilla crème pâtissière and coating them in a crunchy caramel topping. They will make the perfect dessert to share with friends or family after a delicious meal or to entertain guests at an afternoon tea party!

To watch the how to video on my YouTube channel, click Here

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Makes approx. 36 Choux

Ingredients:

  • 500ml water
  • 200g Butter (unsalted), diced
  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 8 Eggs

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Method:

  1. Bring the water and butter to the boil.
  2. Once the butter is completely melted, reduce the heat to medium, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Cook the dough for a few minutes to dry it a little bit, this process take should take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough into an electric mixer bowl and mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment to cool it down. The dough should just warm before you add the eggs.
  5. Start adding the eggs one at a time while mixing.
  6. Once the eggs are all mixed through, transfer the mix into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  7. Line a couple of flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and pipe 2cm circle on the tray, make sure you leave about 1cm between each choux.
  8. Bake at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes, the choux should sound hollow and feel a little hard when you press them between your fingers.
  9. Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Crème Patissière (French Custard)

Ingredients:

  • 40g Plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 500ml Full Fat milk
  • 4 free range egg yolks
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds out
  • 2 orange zest
  • 20ml cointreau

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest, Cointreau and vanilla pods to the boil.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds together. Then add the flour and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour the milk over the egg mixture and whisk well until everything is mixed through.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and cook on medium heat while whisking until it thickens up. Once it starts boiling cook it for about 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour the crème patissière into a bowl, place a layer of glad wrap directly on top of it and leave to cool completely in the fridge.

Caramel:

Ingredients:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 15cl water
  • 100g pearl or hail sugar (for the finishing)

Method:

  1. Mix the water and sugar together in small saucepan and cook the sugar until it becomes golden brown, and then take it off the heat.

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Finishing the choux:

  • Make a small hole in the bottom of each choux using the end a pen.
  • Pipe the custard in the choux using a piping bag fitted with a nozzle.
  • Dip the top of the choux in the caramel and the Pearl sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted chicken with spring vegetables and a Pinos Blanc Jus

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Spring Chicken | Le Fermier

In this day and age, when you can buy a roast chicken in every supermarket, why would anyone bother going to the effort of cooking a fresh chook at home? I mean, who has the time to cook at home when the supermarket option is so quick and healthy, right? And the fact that it’s been sitting under the heat lamps in the deli section on the bain marie since 4pm that day surely won’t mean it will be dry and tasteless by the time you get it home, right?

What if I told you, you could make a fresh, healthy and succulent roasted chicken at home without having to wait the 2 hours it normally takes a chicken to roast? Well, I’m telling you, you can!

The brilliance and simplicity of this cheat’s chicken dish is that instead of cooking the bird whole, you cut it into smaller pieces while it’s still raw and smaller pieces = shorter cooking time. We also seal the meat in a pan before it goes into the oven. This also shortens the cooking time and means you still get that golden crispy skin you get from oven roasting for a long time.

Speaking of skin, I know there are two very distinct camps when it comes to this. Whether you like to eat you’re chicken with or without skin, I recommend you leave it on for this cooking process and then do as you will once it’s on your plate.

The garnish for this dish is really any in-season vegetables that you love, which are simply roasted on the same tray as your chicken once it goes into the oven. I chose to use dutch carrots, artichoke hearts (très delicieux!), sweet potato and red onion.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 small size sweet potatoes
  • 2 bunches baby dutch carotts
  • 5 globe artichokes
  • 2 spanish onions
  • 5 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch thyme

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces (about 12 or so) with a sharp knife.
  3. Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  4. Place a large frying pan on medium heat and place a small knob of coconut oil into the pan to melt.
  5. Place the chicken pieces into the pan in small lots so as not to overfill the pan and seal the chicken just until it becomes golden and crispy around the outside
  6. Set this first lot of chicken aside and repeat the above step until you’ve sealed all the chicken
  7. In the meantime, start prepping your veggies. The shape is really up to you. I choose to leave my carrots whole, dice my sweet potatoes, quarter my artichoke hearts and cut my onions in wedges. With the artichoke you’ll need to take off the leaves, the little bit of fluff inside and also the green part of the stems.
  8. Once you’ve sealed all the chicken pieces, arrange them in a roasting tray and arrange the spring vegetables around it. Crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and place into the tray whole. Take the thyme leaves off the sprig and sprinkle over the chicken and vegetables.
  9. Deglaze your pan with about 200 ml of Pinos blanc or even a Sauvignon blanc. By that I mean pour the wine into the pan and let it simmer on low heat for a minute to fuse all the delicious flavours together. Then, pour it over the chicken and put the tray in the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  10. You’ll know your chicken is ready if the meat falls from the bone when pressed gently. Voilà! Your chicken is ready! I recommend a lovely glass of chilled Pinos Blanc to go with it.

Bon Appétit,

Le Fermier