Diane Prather: No shame in cream puffs

Over a cup of coffee

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Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

— Early morning is my favorite time of day and my most productive. (If only there were more early morning hours.) It's my habit to be in the garden by 6:30 a.m. each day where I weed and water and think.

So one morning this week, it was over hoeing, instead of over a cup of coffee, that I thought about recipes that I haven't cooked up in a while. An example is cream puffs.

I used to make them when our children were smaller.

Cream puffs take a little time to make and just the right conditions in the kitchen. If there's a draft, the just- out-of-the-oven cream puffs will fall.

The ingredients for making cream puffs include: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup flour, four eggs and some confectioners' sugar for dusting. (Information later about the filling.) The ingredients will make eight cream puffs.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take out a baking sheet but don't grease it.

Put the water and butter in a saucepan. Heat to a rolling boil (one that can't be stirred down.) Stir in all of the flour at once and stir vigorously over low heat until the mixture leaves the edges of the pan and forms a ball. (It will take about a minute.) Remove from the heat.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir thoroughly after you add each egg. Then beat the resulting mixture until it's smooth and velvety.

Drop from a spoon onto the baking sheet so that you make eight mounds that are about 3 inches apart on the sheet. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remember, keep the cream puffs away from drafts while they cool. If not, they will fall. I've had it happen. (That doesn't mean that they aren't edible if they fall - they're just flatter than they're supposed to be.)

After the cream puffs have cooled, cut off their tops with a sharp knife. They will be mostly hollow, but if there is any soft dough, scoop it out. Then fill the puffs (see the next paragraph), replace the tops and dust the cream puffs with confectioners' sugar. Serve right away or refrigerate.

There are several kinds of filling you can use. Mix up an instant vanilla or chocolate pudding or cook some pudding and cool before filling. Whipped cream, sweetened with confectioners' sugar and custard are good, too. Or wait until time to serve, cut the tops off the cream puffs, fill them with ice cream, replace the tops and cover with a sauce.

This week I noticed that our garden produce is finally starting to come on. (We planted late this year.) The peas have pods, there are little red potatoes, and the zucchini plants are full of tiny fruits. I've come across a new recipe for stuffed green peppers so I'm encouraging the pepper plants to hurry along. More about the stuffed pepper recipe next week.

Please share your recipes for using garden produce (or, of course, anything else). Write to me at Box 415, Craig 81625 or call me at 824-8809.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

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