Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our New Home: Boulder, Colorado

As some of you know, when I moved to Paris, Mike and Taylor moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. Mike loves Colorado and all the outdoor activities it offers. So, after a few weeks at home I packed my bags (again!) and flew out to Denver.

We decided to move to Boulder. It is a completely different setting than California but as the months have passed, and the snow finally melted it has grown on me.

Moving here in the middle of a long, cold winter was tough. I swear, if it snowed one more time I was going to lose it! Snow in the middle of May is just RUDE! Yes, its beautiful and all but this girl needs to be warm!

Spring lasted about 24 hours and then we jumped straight into 90 degree days (YAY!). Now that things are blooming, turning green and warm - Boulder is an outdoor paradise. The mountains are beautiful and huge, the creek makes a great running path, bikes are welcome and the lightning storms are crazy.

Mike is out mountain biking most days and I do my best to try to run in this crazy altitude (makes me wonder how I ever ran a half marathon). Little tay is a champion hiker. She puts both of us to shame on the mountain.

If you ever find yourself out this way, let me know! We will be here enjoying the sunshine before winter brings its wrath again in a few months.

Next on the outdoor activity to do list: tubing down the Boulder creek!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where to begin?

Sitting here trying to think of what to write about is tough! Where do I start? Do you want to hear about the end of my time in Paris? Coming back to the US? Moving to Colorado? Recipes?

Eventually, they will all come to this blog but lets just start simple with a recipe for my most beloved pastry. If you were around for my previous blog then you may have seen this before but its such an amazing treat that it needs to be shared here as well.

Beautiful, caramelized, flakey puff pastry separating creamy layers of creme moussline.  It is a delicate, special dessert and it remains my favorite even after a year in Paris. I love making it as much as I love eating it. It is definitely one of those flavors that transports me straight back to Paris.

I made it for my family when I got home and I've made it a few times since then. I think it has become Mike's favorite as well.

Next time you need a perfect dessert, give this a try. You won't be disappointed!

Pate Feuilletage Inverse (Puff Pastry dough)
Oven: 450F or 230C

400g Butter
130g Flour

In your mixer, combine butter and flour until smooth and homogenous. Form this into a cube and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

270g Flour
10g Salt140g Water (approx.)In your mixer, combine all ingredients to create a firm detrempe (read:dough). This is a French culinary term for the first stage in the process of making puff pastry, which requires only flour and water. After, form into another cube, wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.Onto a floured surface, roll out your butter dough in a rectangle just enough so that you can wrap the detrempe inside of it. Place the detrempe in the bottom half of the butter dough and fold the butter over the detrempe to enclose it as if it is a giant ravioli. Note: don't be afraid to use flour on the counter and the top of the dough, butter is easily melted and sticky so you will need to use flour to prevent the sticking and if the dough gets too warm and soft stick it in the refrigerator to firm up again. 

Press together the ends of the butter to close everything up. Place the dough with the longest seam to your left, as if it is a book (an upside down one). Roll the dough out to about 10 cm x 35 cm long. Now you will give the dough its first "turn". Visually divide the dough into thirds. Fold the top third down and fold the bottom third up.

Repeat this three more times to total four turns keeping the long seam to the left. Remember, if the dough gets too warm and starts sticking to your table wrap it and refrigerate it until firm again (15 mins-30 mins).

PHEW! The hard part is over. Now let your dough rest in the refrigerator for an hour or so. When you are ready, roll out the dough to the size of a baking sheet (normally 40cmx60cm). This size will give you enough servings for about 12-13 people. The thickness should be about 1 cm and it should be even in thickness all the way through. After you have rolled it out, let the dough rest in the fridge again for an hour because it is elastic and will retract a little. (This is when you would want to freeze the dough if you want!!).  You can let the dough rest in this state overnight if you need. Bake at about 190C/375F until golden brown and crispy. (Carefully, flip the pastry half way through - probably about 30 minutes and sprinkle with granulated sugar, and continue baking it off with a second baking sheet on top of your pastry. Your dough will be sandwiched between to baking trays to keep it from puffing up too much.)

For the pastry cream:
750g milk
250g cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
200g sugar
80g corn starch
220g egg yolks (about 6)
50g butter, unsalted, cut into pieces

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream, 1/3 of the sugar and vanilla just to a boil. In another bowl mix the remaining sugar, starch and egg yolks together. When the milk boils, pour half of the milk onto the egg mixture and mix immediately to temper your yolks.

Put the milk back on the heat and add the egg mixture into the pot. Put on medium heat and mix constantly until the cream is thick and reaches a boil for 1 minute. Always mix! You don't want to burn the bottom of the cream :)

Scoop out onto a tray covered in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. You can also put it in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to cool it faster and then store in the fridge.

Now, combine the cooled pastry cream with about 25% whipped cream. Fold in the whipped cream very delicately as to keep as much air in the cream as possible!


Cut the puff pastry into three even sections lengthwise. 

Option1: Fill a pastry bag with the cream and pipe the cream on top of the first layer of puff pastry. Spread the cream with a spatula so it is evenly distributed and without holes. Place second layer of puff pastry on top. Repeat the layer of cream and top off with another layer of puff pastry. Top with a sprinkle of icing sugar or anything else you would like! In this photo I used the extra bits of puff pastry and crunched them up into small pieces to put all around the outside. Just cover the sides with left over cream and then press the crunchy bits into it.

Option2: Like the first photo (at the top of the page), you can pipe the cream into little balls starting at the edges and filling in to the middle. For this it is important to make sure your cream is thick enough to keep its shape. Pipe it and then gently place the puff on top of the balls and repeat for the next layer.

If you have made it this far, congratulations! You have an amazing dessert to enjoy. It can be a complicated pastry so please e-mail me with questions! And definitely send me your success photos!

Bon Appetit!

Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm baaack!

Coucou mis amis!

Has it really been 6 whole months since I've returned from Paris (and written a blog post)?!

Its true, the older you get, the faster time passes you by. So much has happened since that emotional day boarding my flight from CGD to LAX even though it seems like yesterday I was walking the Parisian streets with my friends drinking wine, surviving on bread and being in awe of our lives. While I miss Paris and all the friends I made abroad (and trust me, some days its heartbreaking how much I miss it) I am also excited about what is happening in my life back in America.

part of my amazing welcoming party at LAX

Since Paris, I spent the holidays back home in California catching up with friends and family and indulging in all things American (ie: In-n-out, Yogurtland, bagels, mexican get the idea). Even though I was shocked when someone tried to help me in a store and came insanely close to having a panic attack in the mall, I slowly adjusted back to the American lifestyle.

For New Years my family and I jetted off to our home in Mexico, my skin was reunited with the sun and it was amazing.

By the end of January, a short month after coming home, I was packed up and on a plane to my new home: Colorado.

I've been here for about 5 months now and so far so good. It is wonderful being back with Mike and Tay. We have our little corner of the world set up here in Boulder where the sun has finally arrived! We  spent the winter wishing for warmth and now its 100 degrees! We are definitely taking advantage of the nice weather. We are running, hiking, biking or doing something outside everyday. Boulder is really showing its beauty these days with everything turning green and blooming (and attacking my allergies) and its an adventure.

Oh, you want to know what I am doing with that French pastry education I got? ooooh okay.

I have been working at a local Boulder restaurant called Frasca Food and Wine. So far, so good.

Thanks so much for sticking around. It is nice to be back in the blogging world and I am excited to have a fresh, new start!