Random

Making Shu-Creams (or Choux Buns/Profiteroles with Custard Cream)

This recipe is from a Japanese cookery program in which a chef explains his recipe.  There are some extra pointers, adaptations and notes from yours truly.  They are surprisingly easy to make!  Well, the RECIPE is easy… it just takes time and attention to details.

I made them for the first time using this recipe and they turned out perfect.

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Ingredients

For the choux pastry:

  • water 125ml
  • butter 45g
  • salt 1 pinch
  • extra fine sponge flour* 60g
  • medium eggs (beaten)  2

For the custard cream:

  • milk 200ml
  • vanilla pod 1/4
  • egg yolks 2
  • granulated sugar 60g
  • extra fine sponge flour* 6g (I put about 1 tbsp)
  • corn flour 6g (I put about 1 tbsp)
  • whipping cream 140g

*A quick note about the flour.  The Japanese cookery program asked for hakurikiko. 

Hakurikiko is a type of Japanese extra fine plain flour. 薄力粉 is literally 薄 haku meaning little/thin/light/weak 力 riki meaning (in this case) strength 粉 ko meaning (in this case) flour.

You can’t really buy this abroad (or not easily anyway) so I just used extra fine sponge flour.  The brand I used (and will continue to use) was Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Extra Fine Sponge Flour.  Just so there is no confusion, on the back of the packet it is labelled as Extra Fine Self Raising Sponge Flour.  This worked perfectly for me.

o

Another quick tip, it helps if your ingredients are at room temperature.  This prevents curdling, separating, etc.

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To make the custard cream (part 1 – before making the choux buns):

1.)  Sift the flour and cornflour together into a paper.

2.)  Remove the 1/4 of vanilla from the pod.

3.)  Put the milk and vanilla in a pan and warm gently on a low heat. 

(Don’t let it boil.)

4.)  Beat the egg yolks in a bowl and add the sugar.  Beat together until smooth and white.

5.)  Shoot the flour into the mixture and mix everything slowly to avoid stickiness.

6.)  Add 1/3 of the milk and mix gently.  Add the other thirds and continue to mix gently.

7.)  Pour the whole thing back into your pan through a sieve. 

(Don’t worry if there is still some vanilla after straining.  It adds to the flavour.)

8.)  Whisk the mixture on a low heat, avoiding the side and bottom of the pan.

9.)  When the mixture starts to become less liquid, quickly move it to a tray and cover with cling film removing all air pockets.  It needs to cool, so either put it over an ice bath or leave it at room temperature till cool enough then put it in the fridge.
o

To make the choux buns:

1.)  Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.

2.)  Add the water, butter and salt to a pan and melt them together.  Heat on a strong heat until it boils.

3.)  As soon as the mixture boils, stop the heat and add the flour.  Mix on the hob (still no heat) until the mixture comes together.

4.)  Put the pan on a medium heat.  Heat slowly and stir constantly.  When a skin starts to form on the bottom of the pan move the mixture to a bowl. 

(You must cook the flour for long enough or your buns will not puff!!  Make sure you don’t rush this part so your flour has time to cook and all will be well.)

5.)  Add 1/3 of the beaten eggs and mix slowly in straight lines as if cutting.  If you want to, you can keep a tiny bit of the egg to glaze your buns later.  Add the mixture in thirds and mix slowly as before. 

(When the mix is ready you will be able to hold your wooden spoon horizontally and the mix will hang down in a triangular shape without falling off.)

6.)  Pipe the mix onto a greased tray. 

(I made mine into profiterole sizes but you can make them whatever size you want.  Make sure each circle or shape you pipe has enough area around it to expand as they will puff quite a lot.)

7.)  Use a brush to glaze the buns and smooth them flat. 

(If they are pointed, the point will burn before the rest is cooked.)

8.)  Cook in oven for 25 minutes. 

(Keep an eye on them though – if they look done before that, take them out.)

9.)  When cooked, remove from the tray to a wire rack and leave to cool. 

(Some people say it is best to make a hole in the bottom to stop them deflating, but mine didn’t deflate so it’s up to you.)
o
To make the custard cream (part 2 – after making the choux buns):

1.)  When the custard is cool enough it should come off the tray cleanly and easily in one piece.  Move it from the tray to a bowl.

2.)  Mix slowly and gently with a spatula.  (But don’t mix too much!)  The mixture should be thick enough to stick to the spoon.

3.)  Whip the cream in a bowl into stiff peaks. 

(Don’t mix too much!  The cream will curdle!  As soon as you see the cream becoming firmer slow down to ensure you do not over whip it.)

4.)  Add 1/3 of the cream to the custard.  Fold it in gently.  Continue to add the cream in thirds. 

(Again do not over mix as the custard cream is spoilt by heat.)

o

To fill the choux buns use a piping bag with a fine nozzle to make a small hole.  Then pipe in the custard cream until it feels heavy.  Alternatively,  cut a lid at the top of the choux bun and fill with a spoon.

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So there you go.  How to make perfect Shu-Creams.  Enjoy!
o

UPDATE:
This recipe is actually on Youtube! There’s no sound though and it’s in Japanese of course. The video is called シュークリームの作り方 and there are two parts, (1) and (2). Here’s a link to part (1).

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Crispy Chicken Karaage!

“‘If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.'”

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Food is very exciting!  It is such an under-valued luxury, and a good meal is so easy to make.  Plus a tasty dish shared by friends or family means more happiness all round.

Recently a friend, who I often invite round for dinner, asked me if I could give them some of my recipes.  I was a bit surprised and rather flattered that they enjoyed my food enough to want the recipes.  I love to cook, but the things I like cooking are either dishes I grew up with, or dishes I have haphazardly thrown together inspired by cookery programs, books, or sometimes just out of my own head.  So anyway, I was happy.  But then I realised that because most the dishes are adapted to suit yours truly, I don’t really have any recipes, and the notes I have are far too random to be useful to my friend who doesn’t cook that much.  This meant I had to actually had to start thinking about the amounts I use when I cook in order to write a recipe.  Then I thought that after all this effort it would be nice if I could share some of my recipes with other people who might enjoy them too.  And with that in mind, here we go.

This is a really easy recipe which is really popular with everyone I’ve made it for.  It’s based on the Japanese Kara-age, but modified a bit to make buying ingredients easier.

For 2/3 people you’ll need:

2 Skinless Chicken Breasts

3 Garlic Cloves

1 Piece of Ginger (about ————————- this long)

Mirin and/or Japanese Rice Wine

Soy Sauce

Plain Flour/Potato Starch/Cornflour (I usually use plain flour)

Olive/Vegetable Oil

o

For the Marinade

o

1.)  To prepare your marinade, chop up your garlic and grate the ginger using a ginger grater or lemon zester.  Try to keep the juice as well if possible as it adds to the flavour.  Put these in a dish, then add 1 tablespoon of mirin and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce.  If you have rice wine you can halve the mirin and add half a tablespoon of rice wine for flavour.  (I tend to use a bit more soy sauce as I like the taste.)

Note: I sometimes make the marinade in a freezer bag as it is easier to fully coat the chicken pieces and fit them in the fridge if you want to leave the chicken to soak for an hour.  You can also grate your ginger in directly which makes sure the juice gets in there too.

2.)  Cut the chicken into manageable size pieces, as if for a stir fry.  Remember that if you cut the pieces too big they won’t cook through, and if you cut them too small they will dry out inside.  (If you have a pan suitable for deep frying this is not a problem of course.  My recipe is for pan frying.)  Add the chicken to the marinade and leave covered in the fridge for up to 2 hours.  (I am impatient so I usually only leave it for 15/20 minutes but the flavours are always there.)

o

The Main Recipe

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1.)  Pour the flour on to a chopping board and lightly coat the chicken pieces.  Pat off any excess flour.

2.)  Fill the bottom of a relatively deep frying pan with oil.  As an extremely rough guide, make it high enough to cover about a centimetre of the chicken as it lies.  Heat the oil on a high heat, but not a fierce heat as the oil will become dangerously hot and spit.  You can tell when the right temperature is reached by dropping in a few grains of flour.  If the flour floats to the top instantly and starts to fry it is ready.  Lay in the chicken pieces, allowing space around each one.  Do not try to add more than 7 pieces at once as it will decrease the heat of the oil.

3.)  Fry the pieces until you can see colour developing and then flip them over to cook the other side.  As a rule I would say they take a maximum of 5 minutes.  (It depends on the size of course.)

4.)  When cooked, remove the chicken pieces and place them on some kitchen roll to absorb the excess oil.  If you are uncertain whether they are cooked through, cut open the biggest piece to make sure.

o

So there is my basic recipe for crispy chicken.  I hope you find this useful and let me know if this recipe works out for you.  Cooking is fun, but eating is even better, so enjoy!

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The Illegal Whims of Cyclists

“Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

-Anon

I don’t believe that all cyclists are bad, in fact it warms the cockles of my heart to know that there are decent law-abiding cyclists out there.

…Just not on my way to work.

And to all the decent cyclists reading this, I am not mad at you.  This is aimed at the stupid, unthinking, inconsiderates who just don’t care.  As with anything in the world, the stupid, unthinking, inconsiderates spoil the name of cyclists for all the rest.

I am of course talking about cycling on the pavement.  WHICH IS AS ILLEGAL AS PARKING ON A DOUBLE YELLOW LINE!  It seems as though people think it’s ok, but, HELLO? it is in fact AGAINST THE LAW!  According to the Highway Code Article 64:

“You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.”

For those who claim not to know because they have not read the Highway Code, well that is really a problem in itself.  Do you realise that this is the same Highway Code which states that cars stop at red lights?

Some other rules laid down by the Highway Code for cyclists are:

Article 68:  You MUST NOT

  • carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one
  • hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer
  • ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner
  • ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine

Article 69: You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

Article 71: You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic (see Rule 178).

Pretty neat, huh?  All these rules to protect pedestrians, and all those stupid cyclists out there who don’t even know they exist.  But even worse, they just don’t care.  Just like those drunk drivers who knock down children, just like those people who drive too fast just because they can and want to and don’t care who gets hurt in the process.

I was knocked down by a bicycle running a red light around a corner on a pavement.  I was stepping on to the pavement and he knocked me right off it into the road.  He made no attempt to apologise or help me up, just shrugged and said, “No brakes”.  Now that is a pretty extreme case but it sums up how little some people know about the Highway Code.

So to all those cyclists out there who think that when you cycle you can be stupid or irresponsible, just grow up.  Think, and be responsible for your actions and for the safety of yourself and others.  A cyclist is not a pedestrian.  In relation to pedestrians, a cyclist holds the same status and responsibilities as a car driver.  A pedestrian should be allowed to feel safe on the pavement.  Please stop ruining that for everyone.

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