The Last Crouton – Beads of Profiteroles

The 1916 Cookbook Project:  The Last Crouton

Technically Grandpa didn’t title this recipe as a “crouton” but it is yet another soup garnish.  I found it interesting that he used choux pastry to make a garnish; I’ve always thought of creme puffs as a sweet, not savory, dish.  I also thought of them as large items requiring a fork and knife; not tiny morsels delicately floating on a plate of soup.

Reading through the thin instructions, I realized this was a recipe where I might have real, not “sort of”, success!  I grew up helping Ma make avgolemono chicken soup (greek chicken soup with lemon and egg), carefully pouring hot chicken soup broth into the raw eggs and lemon juice she frantically whisked the concoction.  We did this without ever curdling the eggs.  My tyropita (cheese pie) recipe involves whisking a raw egg into the hot cheese mixture.  I had the experience; I had the technique.  Yes, I finally found something that might be in my wheelhouse…or so I thought.

Recipe 4  Beads of Profiteroles

The translation:

In a saucepan put a glass of broth, water, a piece of butter the thickness of half an egg. Bring this to a boil. Remove from the heat and add enough flour to make a tight paste. Next add three eggs, one after the other, mixing well. Knead the dough and make small, chickpea sized, beads. Bake them in the oven.

Once again I was facing a recipe with no real measurements, no temperatures, and no estimated cooking time.  Heck, this time he didn’t even define what type of broth.  Chicken? Vegetable? Beef?  I wondered – had the printer charged by the letter to publish the book?

What I Did:

Guesstimate of the ingredients:ingredients for profiterole beads

½ cup beef broth
½ cup water
2 Tbs butter (½ oz butter = 1 Tablespoon)
1 cup flour ( 135 grams)
3 eggs (put each in a separate container to make adding them easier)

I combined the beef broth, water, and butter in a saucepan as directed and brought it to a boil.  Actually, I put the broth and water in a pot, forgot the butter, added the flour, realized why I shouldn’t have forgotten the butter and started over.

Next I removed the boiling mixture from the heat and started adding the flour, gradually mixing it in until the entire cup of flour was evenly combined with the hot, wet ingredients. dough before adding egs So far, so good. Finally I mixed in one egg at a time into the hot mixture.  (The first dough picture is before I added the eggs; the second, after.)  I did this slowly and never stopped mixing at a furious rate.

dough with eggs

Next I had to make the beads.  I took a look at the dough and thought it would be a pretty darn cold day down south before I attempted to knead and roll out little beads; enter the pastry bag.  I decided to try a star tip to make something that didn’t look droppings on a tray; I’m not very good with a pastry bag.

profiterole beads before baking

True to fashion, I used a Silpat so I can’t tell you if you would need to grease a baking sheet if you were putting the dough directly on it.   This went into a 400˚F oven for a while (yes, I forgot to write the time down; 20-40 minutes, I think) .  The result was a golden, crisp, light puff of air.  I could see how these would be a great addition to a consomme.  Of course, you could also do what we did and simply eat them as though they were M&M’s.

IMG_4577

My Conclusion

Would I make this again?  Probably.

Do I think I made something reasonably close to what he meant?   Definitely.

How would I modify it in the future?  Compare other profiterole recipes to get better ideas about consistency and cooking times.  Add a definite flavor such as an herb or spice.

1496 recipes to go.

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Croutons Souffle

The 1916 Cookbook Project:  More Croutons

Croutons souffle.  Souffle?  Really, Grandpa?  I approached the third recipe in Grandpa’s cookbook with a bit of exasperation – the third, but not the last, crouton recipe.  Yes, there’s one more after this one.  Still, not one to give up easily I moved forward with “Croutons Souffle”.
finished croutons souffle

You may remember when I started this project I mentioned that a cookbook from the early part of the 20th century is very different from today’s familiar volumes.  Imagine opening up a book today and seeing a recipe written like this:

Make a stiff dough with a glass of milk, two eggs, a little lard, and flour. Cut the dough into small rectangular pieces and bake in a moderate oven. Use on consommes and other soups.

Yeah, that’s a detailed recipe (not). And lard. This is the first time I have lard in the house.  I don’t have anything against it; my mother never used it and I always have vegetable shortening in the house. Still, Grandpa’s recipe calls for lard and I’ll use it; at least this time, anyway.

Recipe 3  Crouton Souffle

What I Did:

Guesstimate the ingredients:croutons souffle ingredients
8 oz milk
two eggs
3-4 cups flour
¼ cup lard

I mixed the eggs and milk in a small bowl.  As soon as I did this I realized I was going to need a lot of flour; a lot of flour means a lot of dough.  I wasn’t thinking and should have gone with one egg, 4 oz of milk, etc.  Oh well, error number one.  Next I put 3 cups of the flour in a large bowl and cut in lard.  Gradually I mixed the liquid into the flour, adding more flour as needed to make a stiff dough (I used 4 cups this particular day).  Working the dough I suddenly understood why Ma said her father’s hands were like ham hocks; large, muscular, and very strong – no Hobart mixer when he made doughs!

combining dry and wet ingredientsOnce the dough was ready I rolled it out to about 1/4” in thickness and cut into small rectangular pieces.

dough rolled out

To me “moderate oven” is 350F so I baked in a preheated 350F oven for about 40 minutes.  Surprisingly these puffed up a bit giving them more of a  pillow like shape. They stayed pale; only the bottom browned; nice and golden I might add, the way Recipe 2 was supposed to turn out.   They were tasty, if a bit bland, and had a lovely texture.

finished croutons souffle

Experimentation:

I took some of the dough, rolled it out thinner, and used a smallish round cookie cutter to cut it up. I pierced it with a few times and baked in the 350F oven. Cocktail crackers!  Since the dough is so bland I should have added a topping (poppy seeds, sea salt, sesame seeds, crushed dried garlic, or similar).  Adding herbs and spices to the dough to make flavored croutons and crackers should work well, too.

croutons souffle crackersPlaying around I tried baking a few with salt and no piercings; they puffed up!  Of course, if I had been thinking, I would have realized this would happen.  The croutons puffed up, right?  Now I understand why crackers always have perforations in them – to keep them flat.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the puffs (thought I did, but I don’t) but you should definitely try making them.  Puffed up they reminded me of a crisp pocket pita.  Flavor the dough and you would definitely have a tasty snack (I didn’t say “healthy”; I said “tasty”).  Perforated or puffed, this is an easy to make recipe that’s a nice accompaniment with cheese and cocktails.

Try it out and let me know how you modified the recipe and what you think.

My Conclusion

Would I make this again?  Absolutely.  Why would I make crackers when there are so many excellent ones on the market?  Simple – to say I followed Grandpa’s recipe.  So my cousins and I can actually taste something he might have made for us.  We grew up hearing all the stories but never had the opportunity to actually experience his cooking (he died long before any of us were born).

Do I think I made something reasonably close to what he meant?  Definitely.

How would I modify it in the future?    We liked these even if they were bland.  Remember they’re a garnish for soup.  They would need salt and seasoning if made as a snack or cracker. 

Only 1,497 recipes to go.
I’m an idiot.