My new copy of In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis has arrived!
In case you were wondering, this book is not simply recipes (although there are 85 recipes throughout the book), but more thoughts and experiences showcasing how the typical French home cook prepares meals.
Loomis reveals a great deal, but also allows the readers to make some of their own conclusions.
A few points from the book:
1. French cooks tend to have learned how to cook from close family members, especially the grandmother (Mamie).
2. Shopping is done daily, and ingredients are local, either from the garden or the farmer’s market.
3. Very few ingredients are purchased prepared, but instead are made from scratch.
Reading from a scientist’s perspective, I have to admit I wondered whether the Hawthorne effect might be an issue. The Hawthorne effect (also called observer effect) is when the subjects modify their behavior as a result of being observed. If you knew a fairly famous author was hanging around your kitchen or coming over for a meal, wouldn’t you tend to put your best foot forward, or at the very least conform to perceived standards? What do you think?
In any case, the book is fascinating to read and trying some of the recipes is a must. I decided the profiteroles (or cream puffs) on page 133 sounded good. Of course, we had to make them dairy-free. Would it work?
Non-dairy Cream Puff
Choux Pastry (cream puff shell)
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or butter, if allowed)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Grease a large cookie sheet.
2. Measure the flour and set aside to have ready.
3. Add the Earth Balance and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling over a high heat. When the Earth Balance is melted and the water reaches a full boil, add the flour quickly and all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is mixed in and pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball. Remove from the heat and stir for about one more minute.
4. Add eggs one at a time. They will resist mixing, but beat them in until the batter is smooth.
5. Drop the batter by the Tablespoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325° and bake another 25 minutes. The shells should be puffy and golden brown.
Split the cream puff shell and fill with either your favorite non-dairy ice cream or non-dairy pudding.
- 2 cups soy, almond or coconut milk
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch (substitute another thickener, such as flour, if corn not allowed)
- 1/3 cup sugar or to your taste (sweetened milk flavors will require less sugar)
Measure the ingredients into a saucepan and whisk them together. Place over high heat and stir constantly until mixture boils and begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool briefly before use. Refrigerate if not used immediately.
Optional Chocolate Sauce
The easiest way to make a quick chocolate sauce is to melt a few pieces of dark chocolate (dairy-free) in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave.
The second easiest way is to make a chocolate sauce using powdered baking cocoa.
- 1/3 cup baking cocoa
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup hot water
Heat the water either in a saucepan or in the microwave until it produces wisps of steam (it doesn’t need to boil). Stir in the cocoa and sugar until combined well and reaches a smooth texture.
Frankly, we didn’t miss the dairy.
What is your favorite way to make cream puffs?
Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.
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