Pâte à Choux Pastry + Simply Sweet Chouquettes

Eat Well

Pâte à choux (pronounced “pah-ta-zhoo”) is what one might call the universal French dough. From only four main ingredients — butter + liquid (water or milk) + flour + eggs — comes the basis for many types of pastries.

There are the famously French éclairs and profiteroles, and the more American cream puffs and crullers. Gougères take the dough in a savory direction, and the towering croquembouche in its spun sugar cage is an edible masterpiece. But it’s sweet little chouquettes that are my personal favorite.

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Browned Butter Pomegranate Rose Madeleines

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

Anatole France, a French poet, journalist, and Nobel Prize-winning novelist, once remarked: “Life is too short and Proust is too long.”

Published in a series of seven volumes between the years 1913 and 1927, Marcel Proust’s novel Remembrance of Things Past is a narrated telling of his own (fictionalized) life story. More than 4,000 pages, it is indeed a very challenging read. His allegorical search for truth is defined by the concept of “involuntary memory” — literally, spontaneous remembrances of things past, flashbacks, triggered by everyday actions, sights, sounds, tastes, smells.

The most famous of Proust’s literary recollections, an evocation of a profound childhood remembrance upon tasting a crumbly, tea-dipped madeleine.*

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Peach and Basil Buttermilk Kuchen (Cake)

Eat Well Edibles Grow Well Recipe

Back in the summer between my junior and senior year I visited a handful of countries in Europe with our high school German Club. We spent a whirlwind week and a half in and out of two coach buses exploring cities, touring castles and cathedrals, admiring artistic masterpieces, and literally shouting from the mountaintops. The second half of our visit was an immersion of sorts, each student living with a different family in a village south of Frankfurt in southern Hesse, Germany.

On instruction from our teacher, talk with our host families and at school was to be a learning experience, and therefore strictly in German. Shy and not at all conversationally confident in this second language, my host father and older brother were gracious enough to bend the rules and intersperse a good bit of English into our interactions. My host mother, on the other hand, was either as timid as me, valued her silence, or couldn’t speak much English, as we seldom spoke more than a few sentences at a time. Still, she headlines my fondest memories under their roof.

Every morning I would help her prepare the lunches she sent my “brother” Ralf and me off to school with. Always the same: 1 or 2 small ripe nectarines, and a simple sandwich on toasted wheat bread with thin slices of a pale gold cheese, giant homegrown basil leaves, no condiments. I couldn’t have tore into the identical contents of those brown paper bags any more excitedly. No doubt it had a lot to do with that I’m in Germany thing, but there was something special about this combination, the tastes and aromas heightened from being kept in my warm backpack until break.

To this day the pairing of basil with nectarine, any stone fruit, is totally my jam, and one I riff on frequently during the summer. Living where we do, we have an easier time finding quality peaches (same went for former locales on the Gulf in FL and TX for whatever reason), so it’s the one I turn to most. Besides that, peaches are a little sweeter and more intensely flavored than their fuzz-free cousins, which makes them perfect for creating recipes with less sugar.

Peach basil cake_prebake

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Dark Chocolate Stout Torte (Flourless)

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

As I continue to climb down from post-travel To-Do List Mountain, it has come to my attention that February arrived.

Phil recently made his highly scientific prediction, meaning the pink hearts and red roses holiday is not far behind. It’s as delicious a reason as any to satisfy our chocolatiest, butteriest desires. I’m talking deep dark chocolate torte (inspired by our wedding cakes) with one special ingredient to set it apart from the rest of the flourless cake pack.

Flourless dark chocolate stout torte

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Cranberry Meringue Tart

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

My holiday baking season began with this simple but very surprisingly good tart to cap Thanksgiving.

It’s a wonderful combination of crumbly, buttery crust, tart cranberries and jammy strawberries, plus a fluffy cloud of melt-in-your-mouth meringue.

Cranberry meringue tart_HGN

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