Delicious and pretty savory puffs
Libra Recipe: Comme si, comme ça
Choux pastry puffs are a perfect Libra treat – they are light and airy and filled with delicious scrumptiousness. What’s more, they look pretty, too. Most of us are familiar with puffs as ‘packaging’ for strawberries and cream, or such like. Certainly a gorgeous, if a standard variation on the theme. But the wonderful thing about these puffs is, you can fill them with just about anything, as long as it is not too wet or heavy.
The dual nature of this treat, also is very fitting for Libra, which is always a bit of both. I am introducing a savory version just for something slightly different (although Librans have a sweet tooth and would love the sweet versions just as much).
- 100g butter
- 300ml water
- Pinch of salt
- 130 g flour
- 1 tbs of thyme
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 250g spinach
- 1 red onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- Salt and pepper
- 175g of cream cheese or mascarpone
- 300g mixed mushrooms
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic,
- Pepper, salt
Making the pastry is actually easier than you might think, but it involves an unusual process. Instead of mixing flour, butter and eggs in a bowl as one normally would, the ingredients magically come together in hot water! Let me explain.
Heat the oven to 200°C
Pour the water into a large, heavy-bottomed sauce-pan and add the butter in small chunks.
Melt the butter in the water over low heat
Add a pinch of salt.
When the butter has melted, bring to the boil, then remove the saucepan from the flame and chuck in all the flour at once.
Stir like crazy, to make it all congeal. At first, the dough starts clumping together, then gradually it pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Add the eggs slowly, while beating the dough relentlessly to make sure it fully incorporates the eggs. This takes a bit of energy. Eventually, you’ll end up with a gooey, sticky mass.
Maneuver this goo into a piping bag – this is the most difficult aspect of the operation (I made a very un-Libran mess of it).
Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment and squeeze little mounds of dough onto the parchment. You can make them as small or as big as you like. The bigger they are the longer they have to stay in the oven to ensure they are baked through all the way.
4- 6 cm across is about average
Leave some space between them as they will expand.
Bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven, then transfer them to the bottom rack for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your fillings. As I said, you can fill them with anything, really. I decided on mushrooms with a creamy spinach gorgonzola topping.
Sauté the chopped onions until just soft
Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic
Sauté until well brown. Add the parsley and seasoning.
(For additional flavor add some dried mushrooms)
In another pan, sauté the other onion. When soft, add the spinach and the garlic. Cook until the spinach has wilted. Add the seasonings and the nutmeg.
Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and transfer to the food processor and chop up the spinach, but don’t quite purée it.
Blend the cream cheese with the Gorgonzola (a hand blender works well for this and maintains the structure of the cream cheese better than the food processor) to make a smooth cream. Stir in the spinach. Squeeze some more if it is too wet). The idea is to get a smooth, thick stable cream that can be piped into the puffs. If it is too wet it will not maintain its shape.
When the puffs come out of the oven, slice them horizontally into halves to allow the steam to escape.
Fill each one with some of the mushrooms and pipe the cream on top.
Put their tops back on, et voilà!
It’s a bit messy, I admit, but so worth it, if you fancy trying something special.