Baking with Jeff: Eclairs and Tarts

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jeff and I decided a couple of weeks ago that we wanted to spend time cooking and baking new things. We've kind of gotten into a rut and want to branch out a bit. The first few items on the list of things to make were desserts. Surprise, Surprise!

Jeff wanted to start off with eclairs. We made them a couple of times and they turned out ok, but we probably won't make them again unless someone request them. They tasted delicious, but Jeff decided that they didn't have the "WOW" factor that his amazing soufflés have (Jeff makes really good soufflés. I will blog about that at some point).

(The picture is not so good. Jeff kept making the eclairs at night in poor light)

We did learn something during our "Operation Eclair"...and that is how to make some good pastry cream or creme patisserie (that's what Jeff calls it). We made it and Jeff decided that it was a lot of work for something that tasted like vanilla pudding. I said they were similar, but the pastry cream was 100% better then pudding you make from a box (Like Jello). Of course Jeff had to go online and do research to see what the all knowing people on the web had to say about the matter. He read that they were the same thing and decided that we should just use Jello pudding since it's easier. I told him that there was no way that Jello pudding was better than home made pastry cream and we needed to test it! And test it we did!

Homemade pastry cream on top. Jello pudding on bottom.

Guess who was right? Me of course! The pastry cream is a little finicky and it's hard to get the perfect texture, but when you get it right, YUMMMMM! Trust me it's way better than vanilla Jello pudding. I believe Jeff said, "There is no comparison."

Recipe for pastry cream here. Sorry you have to login to get it.

After we mastered the cream we decided to make some mini tarts. Jeff has been telling me for months that tart crusts are really hard to make and that we would have to practice a lot. "False!" I told him. I had learned from the best, Ashley Hatch, how to make the perfect tart crust and I could do it on the first try. And first try I did. The edges were a little dark, but I put aluminum foil on the last few and they looked perfect! Jeff was impressed. He now asks me to make them all the time. Really not good for the diet.

 The recipe I used for the crust is located here. It's all about not over working the dough!

Next Items: Homemade tortillas. Actually the goal is to come up with a nice Mexican dish. I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. Homemade tortillas are the best! I recommend a tortilla press! Also, this recipe is amazing (Do you have the Our Best Bites cookbook? It's in there but not on the website)

    Pork Tacos with Chili Verde

    2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 lbs pork sirloin roast, rinsed, trimmed of fast, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    2.5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
    1 large onion, minced
    5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    1.5 lbs tomatillos, husked and quartered or halved
    2 green peppers, chopped
    1-2 jalapenos, seeded and membranes removed if desired
    1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
    4 cups chicken broth
    1.5 teaspoons cumin
    2-3 tablespoons sugar

    1. In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the pork cubes and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until everything is tender and fragrant.

    2. While onions are sauteing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro in your blender. Process until smooth; you may have to do it in batches and/or add some chicken broth to make the sauce easy to blend.

    3. Pour the tomatillo mixture over the pork and add chicken broth, salt, pepper, cumin, and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the consistency you want. You can also turn the heat to high and boil the chile verde uncovered until the desired consistency is reached, just be sure to stir frequently to avoid scorching.
    Freezer instructions: follow recipe through step 2. Place all ingredients in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, invert the container into the slow cooker and cook on low for 9-10 hrs. Serve as directed.

    Serves 8-10 they say. I think less. I made the whole thing, but put half in the freezer (after step 2) for another day.

    1. Jaime, you're a dream! Jeff and I made tacos last night (There will be a post about it later this week). The totillas turned out good (a little thick, so yes a press may be in order), but the chicken we made for them was not so good and our conclusion was that we needed to come up with another recipe for the meat of our tacos. And you provided one! Thanks! I will for sure try this for our next round of tacos!

      P.S. I love Our Best Bites, but don't own their cookbook...looks like I should invest in one!