Chocolate Chip Chouquettes

I was inspired to bake these little French pastry puffs because of my excitement with an upcoming trip to Paris and having recently seen an episode of Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen with my kids - the one thing we can all agree to watch together. Having baked plenty of cream puffs during my restaurant days, for some reason I've never made them at home. Oh what my family have been missing...

The dough for these chouquettes is called Pâte à Choux. Quite simple to prepare, these are best served straight out of the oven - a warm crisp exterior and a delightfully airy center. Just be prepared for them to disappear almost immediately, which is great since they don't keep so well. If they sit overnight be prepared for a soggy pastry - still edible while standing in the kitchen at midnight in your undies, but not amazing.

The chouquettes are topped with mini chocolate chips and pearl sugar, which resembles coarse sea salt. It can be found at Sur La Table, but I ordered it from Amazon. Someone told me Ikea sells it as well.


For a savory hors d'oeuvre fold in shredded Gruyere cheese, black pepper and an herb of your choice into the batter. This is called a gougères, and they pair perfectly with champagne. This is what I'll munching on over the holidays...

Lemon curd or pastry cream makes a great filing -  pipe into the center and dust with confectioners sugar. These are also wonderful cut in half, filled with ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce or caramel.


makes 3 dozen

  • 6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk plus 1 tbs water for egg wash
  • mini chocolate chips
  • pearl sugar

Preheat oven to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan bring butter, water, salt and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add flour all at once. Stir vigorously until the mixture forms a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let cool for about two minutes. Add eggs one at time until the mixture is glossy and creamy in texture.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip and pipe small rounds onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Brush gently with egg wash and top with chocolate chips and pearl sugar.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until chouquettes are golden brown and puffed.

Hint: The puffs can be piped, frozen and stored in a freezer bag, ready for baking at your convenience.

Cheddar Corn Spoon Bread

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I've begun to dig out the dog eared, stained recipes from my exceptionally disorganized folder I keep on the floor under my desk. I often scribble notes and changes to recipes so trying to decipher my handwriting can be somewhat of a challenge. I know I'm not alone with that one...

Thumbing through some of my favorites are my molasses whipped sweet potatoes and an amazing cranberry upside-down cake - which I managed to drop on the floor one year, thanks to one too many mimosas that morning. I'm pretty traditional when it comes to the menu on turkey day, Christmas, not so much - Chinese food is a favorite in our house. This cheddar-corn spoon bread has been on my Thanksgiving menu for the past three years and it's always a hit, mostly in part due to its light and fluffy consistency.

I've had great luck with preparing this dish early Thanksgiving morning and re-heating when it's almost dinner time. Just under bake it slightly at 20 minutes, then cover with foil and put into a 350° oven for 10 minutes before serving. 


serves 6

(adapted from martha stewart)

  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 4 large eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 400°. Butter or spray a 2 quart casserole dish and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add corn kernels. If using fresh corn, cook for a few minutes to soften kernels up. Add milk, cornmeal, salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Bring to boil, the reduce heat to medium-low, stirring frequently until mixture has thickened slightly, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese and scallions. Let cool until warm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Stir in egg yolks until combined.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Stir in 1/2 of the whites to corn mixture until combined, then gently fold in remaining whites. Pour into prepared dish and place in oven, reducing temperature to 375°. Bake until browned on top but slightly loose in the center, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Easy Split Pea Soup

split pea soup

The cupboards were quite literally bare today since my Amazon Fresh order didn't show up this morning at 7am (I know - horrors! It did end up arriving while I was working but was not my order - someone will be wondering where their beef jerky and tofu went) and I was far too busy to head to the store to grab something for dinner. I rummaged around the kitchen and scrounged up some lovely organic split peas. My must-have pantry items always include dried beans, peas, and lentils. A real lifesaver if you need to scrounge up something for dinner, which unfortunately I do somewhat regularly.

Ever since Linda Blair erupted with a stream of pea soup in The Exorcist I couldn't eat it. Something a tad off-putting in color and thrown up by the devil himself couldn't possibly taste great, right? How silly I was...

Split pea soup is now what I turn to when the weather turns chilly and the kids are wanting something hearty and warm. Easy to prepare while I'm trying to help with math homework (have you tried to figure out 4th grade math recently?) and clean the cat's hairball up off the kitchen floor.

Ham stock is an ideal addition to this soup, but if you haven't got any, a ham hock is the perfect way to impart that rich smoky flavor a split pea soup screams for.

My favorite way to serve this soup is by adding a few dashes of Tabasco sauce and serving with a crusty baguette slathered with salted butter and a glass of red wine. What better way to warm up.


serves 6

  • 3 slices slab bacon, diced fine
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced fine
  • 3 large stalks celery, diced fine
  • 3 medium carrots, diced fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups dried green split peas
  • 2 tbs fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • 4 cups ham stock (substitute chicken or beef stock if necessary)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat add bacon and cook until partially browned. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add split peas, thyme, stock, water and ham hock. Bring to a boil, stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 1 hour, making sure to stir soup every 10 minutes. Peas should be soft and soup thick. Season with salt and pepper.