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.

 

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Sunday Brunch continues…

Yesterday I went over my crepe recipe; today, as promised, I am posting my omelette in a cup recipe.  What I like about it is that the “cup” is edible because it’s actually a crepe.  My friend Jackie loved it; the dogs sulked because they couldn’t have it.  It really is quite simple and looks great.  It’s also ideal for a holiday brunch buffet.  I still haven’t attempted to remake the pineapple cups mixture but promise to do so soon.

finished egg cups

Ingredients

6 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp baking powder (makes for fluffier eggs)
finely sliced scallion, shallot, or chives
grated zucchini (I use the very large side of the grater box)
carrot ribbons (I use a vegetable peeler)
fresh ground pepper
optional – fresh herbs
4 cubes feta, preferably “authentic”, i.e., made with sheep’s milk
grated parmesan
chopped parsley for garnish
4 crepes

shredded vegetablesPre-heat the oven to 350F.
Line four large muffin forms with one crepe each and set them on a baking sheet.  I like to first line the sheet with a Silpat “just in case”.  Whip the eggs with the milk and baking powder in a large bowl.

combined ingredients

prepared cups for ovenMix in the grated vegetables, pepper, and fresh herbs of your choice (I decided against herbs this particular time but often use tarragon). Portion the egg mixture equally across the four crepe cups.  Make sure the vegetables are evenly portioned out.

Place a cube of feta in each cup and cover the top of the eggs with grated parmesan.  Put the cups in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes increase the temperature to 400F and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes.  The edges of the crepes will turn crisp and a dark golden color.  The eggs are done when they are puffed and the cheese has formed a light crust.  Remove the eggs from the forms and place on the plates; garnish with the parsley.  The cups might start to wrinkle/scrunch a bit near the bottom but that is okay.  We like the combination of the slightly moist crepe on the bottom and the crisp, dry crepe on the top.  You can also experiment with first baking the crepes a few minutes in the cups to dry them a bit before adding the eggs.

finished egg cups

Tzatziki, food shopping and stuff

If there is one thing my husband and I will always have in common it’s that neither of us like to go shopping.  We’re buyers.  If we need something we go, we buy it and leave the store.  This also means we put off food shopping as long as humanly possible. We recently reached that point again – it was time for the dreaded trip to the supermarket.  The stores are so big in our area that it can take twenty minutes to get from the entrance to the dairy products without stopping along the way.   A list was needed if we were to get out of there the same day we went in.

I went through my usual routine for making a list (a list that would again be forgotten at home like those before it) checking the various nooks and crannies of the kitchen.  I looked in my spice and pantry cabinets.  Each was well stocked to the point that it might explode at any moment.  That left the refrigerator.  It’s always the refrigerator that taunts me.  First I checked the expiration dates and various bins – there’s always something to offer to the garbage gods – and then took inventory of what remained.  I saw yogurt, fresh dill (“fresh” always being a relative term in my fridge, but in this case actually fluffy and fresh), and garlic.  This brought to mind one of my favorite sides for grilled meats – tzatziki.  Of course I would need to get some cucumbers otherwise I was set.  My eyes kept going back to the dill.  Dill and I have always had an uneasy relationship.  It is a flavor that can go so quickly from non-existent to overpowering (at least to my palate).  Memories came back to me about otherwise wonderful dishes where the cook had a heavy dill hand; not pleasant.  Still the one memory that is clearer than any other – the infamous dill burger.  I often wonder if tzatziki could have saved the dill burger?  I guess we’ll never know.

What is tzatziki?

Tzatziki is a wonderful garlic and cucumber yogurt sauce often served in Greece.  Here in the US you’ve probably had it served with gyros.  I love it, it’s easy to make and a wonderful accompaniment to grilled lamb, pork, or chicken.  Many of our friends like it spread on a piece of pita bread.  One of the keys to making an excellent tzatziki is the yogurt; it needs to be thick.  Cucumber is very wet and will loosen the yogurt.  I always use Greek yogurt (Fage is my favorite but there are other good brands out there).

Ingredients
1 cup of thick plain yogurt
1 cucumber, medium to large, peeled and grated then chopped (note: your choice to leave or remove the seed core)
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped (we like a lot of garlic)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vinegar (white or wine; just remember if using wine vinegar to use white wine vineger not the red one; red gives it a pinkish hue)
salt to taste

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand.  Refrigerate it for at least a couple of hours, and preferably overnight, before serving.

My tips

Most of my ingredients have ranges because there are so many variables – how much garlic do you like?  Are you using extra virgin olive oil or light olive oil?  Play around, make what you like.  Like so many other dishes, there is no one definitive recipe for tzatziki.

Cucumber  I like to peel the cucumber and then use the grating plate in my food processor.  Once finished I gently squeeze the gratings to release some excess water.  I don’t want to create a yougurt soup but I also don’t want to lose all the flavor.  I then take the gratings and chop them up.  I find this gives me the best texture.  Some people simply finely chop the cucumber without ever grating it.  Experiment and see what works best for you.

Garlic  There is no such thing as too much garlic, or at least for me.  You might disagree so  put in only as much as you feel comfortable adding the first time.

Yogurt  Growing up, when Greek yogurt wasn’t so readily available, my mother would take a large container of American yogurt, put a strainer over a large bowl, line the strainer with coffee filters (the Mr. Coffee bowl style ones worked best), and put the contents of the container in the lined strainer.  This went into the refrigerator.  She would periodically stir it to make sure it drained thoroughly and check that the bottom of the strainer wasn’t touching the liquid accumulating in the bowl.  A day or two later she would have this wonderfully thick yogurt and the bowl would have between 3/4 and 1 1/2 cups of liquid in it.

Why no photos?  We decided it was too nice out to go shopping so we put on our swimsuits and jumped in the pool, thus no cucumber.  It’s important to have one’s priorities!  Still, I thought you might like the recipe.  I’ll update the post with pictures in the future.

What about the dill burger?  Expect to learn more about the dill burger in my next post.  That’s one recipe that is hopefully lost in the annals of time.