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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Rx Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

It started with a tickle.

One bloodshot eye. Two. Pressure behind the bridge of the nose. Voice wavering between a scratchy lower octave and a breathy Marilyn Monroe-ish pitch.

The inevitable finally happened. After everything The Old North State has thrown at me in the past half-dozen years — hurricanes and tropical storms, dogged heat and humidity, countless bites from (insert insect type here), total annihilation of my crops in a curious array of manners — I succumbed. Southern. Allergies.

Humans, like other animals, have two hardwired coping mechanisms to adverse situations: evolve, or adjust behavior. Evolution miiiight take a while, so it’s prescription food to the rescue.

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Cardamom Pear Butter

Eat Well Edibles Grow Well Recipe

As is the case much of the time, the story of this recipe begins with a produce bargain (my shopping vice). Bags of perfectly “imperfect” late season Bartlett pears, their yellow-green skin blushing to red, with juicy-sweet flesh underneath.

I do this every year with both Bartletts and Boscs. And every year, after all possible ways of eating them fresh are exhausted, the final few get to hang out in the spa. Lucky them, luckier us.

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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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Maple Cinnamon Angel Food Cake

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

In my husband’s eyes, there are only two kinds of cake.

Without even asking I know his responses to “what do you want to celebrate our anniversary?” and “what’s your birthday dessert wish?” For the first: flourless dark chocolate. For the second: angel food. Always.

Angel food batter

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