The NCJ Home Cooking Recipe Contest, sponsored by Eureka Natural Foods and Delish on 5th, was a potluck of submissions from cheesecake to chili, pancakes to pierogi. And now the results are in. Sponsor Eureka Natural Foods gave in to its sweet tooth, choosing Tiffany Bullman's delicate cream puffs filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate ganache. As for the Readers Winner, the voters went wild for Laurel North's Wild Foraged Feast of greens and flowers from Humboldt's forests and fields, paired with her nettle and mint tea. Here they are for you to snip, save and sample for yourself. Still hungry? Peruse all the entries at www.northcoastjournal.com/homecooking.
Our compliments to the chefs!
Cream Puffs by Tiffany Bullman
Whipped cream filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Whip the ingredients on high speed with a standing mixer until the whipped cream is stiff and fluffy.
Equal parts chocolate chips or chunks of semisweet chocolate and heavy cream
Melt together in a double boiler.
Pate a choux:
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat the oven to 450 F. In a 2-quart pot, combine the butter and water. On a piece of wax or parchment paper, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Bring the water and butter to a rolling boil, remove from heat and dump the flour mixture in all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon or paddle to incorporate.
Return the saucepan to high heat and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. The mixture will form a ball and coat the pan with a thin film.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl or standing mixer equipped with the paddle attachment. Mix the dough on low speed for a minute or so to release some of the heat. Add the eggs one at a time, completely incorporating each one before adding the next. Beat until the dough gets thick and ribbon-y. The dough will seem like a slippery mess at first but it will come together.
Fit a pastry bag with a round No. 5 tip and fill with the warm dough. Line a heavy cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pipe 1 ½-inch or 2-inch mounds about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden and puffed. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake for another 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown and there are no droplets of moisture in the crevices. Turn off oven and leave the choux to dry for another 10 minutes. Use when cool, or freeze, wrapped in a plastic bag, for 2 to 3 months.
Cut the top of the baked dough puffs off. Using a pastry bag, fill the bottom half with whipped cream. Put the top back on and either dust with powdered sugar or top with ganache. You can spoon the ganache over the cream puffs or drizzle it on with a pastry bag.
- Laurel North's foraged feast.
Winter Foraged Feast by Laurel North
Enjoy a salad made with edible greens and flowers harvested from the garden, dunes and forest with a tangy cilantro-lemon vinaigrette. Crusty Brio bread and a warm cup of nettle and mint tea complement this festive salad. Making a salad with garden and wild plants will be a unique creation and experience. I found numerous plants in Samoa on a wonderful bike ride. Throughout the seasons our redwood forest always surprises me with the offerings, colors and beauty.
Snow pea tendrils and young leaves
Young plantain leaves
Wild rocket arugula
Johnny jump up
Pickleweed ice plant
Have fun collecting the native plants and flowers. Be sure to identify them with a reference guide (and don't choose anything that's been treated with pesticides). Gently wash and dry all greens and flowers. Remove stems and use the nicest leaves and flowers from each plant. Arrange on a platter or wide bowl, cover and refrigerate.
Cilantro Lemon Vinaigrette
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic
½ cup cilantro leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
Puree all ingredients till smooth and store refrigerated.
Nettle and Mint Tea
Stinging nettle and garden mint leaves make a delicious soothing winter tea. Pick stinging nettle leaves with care and gloves.
½ cup stinging nettle leaves, chopped.
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
4 cups water
Honey, to taste, if desired.
Wash, dry and chop the nettle and mint. Place in a teapot with strainer. Add boiling water and brew for 7 minutes. Relax and enjoy!