Custard Filled Cream Puffs

We celebrated our youngest daughter's 10th birthday on Valentines Day. My little sweets request.. my Lusciously Rich Custard Filled Cream Puffs! They really are the best and never disappoint  I hope you enjoy!

Pastry Cream
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise (not vanilla extract)
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoons butter

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the milk and the split vanilla bean; cook till it begins to simmer. Watch carefully so your milk doesn’t scald or you will have a skin on top. If you do notice a skin forming, remove it before you are ready to add it to your egg mixture. Turn heat off.  

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until creamy pale yellow. You can also do this in a medium size stainless steel bowl with a wire whisk, but beat hard and consistently. (This is how I start my Zabaione when making an Italian custard) Next add the flour and beat hard till well incorporated and it has the texture of a thick paste. 

Slowly pour hot milk into egg mixture in a very thin stream whisking constantly to prevent curdling. When incorporated, remove vanilla bean. Scrape the seeds from the pod and stir them into the custard mix. Return custard to pan you heated the milk in and place on medium heat till mixture begins to thicken and come to a soft boil. Stir constantly and mix from bottom of pan to prevent custard from scalding. When it begins to come to a slow boil time it for another minute or so.. custard will be a medium consistency. Turn off heat. 
Add the 1 tablespoons of butter and mix well. Scrape the custard into a bowl. Smoothe plastic wrap directly on top of the custard. The first time I read this in directions I was kind of disconcerted thinking I would waste much of the top layer of custard when I pulled it from the top. When refrigerated and cooled, the plastic comes off clean from the top of the custard. No waste! 

Choux Pastry Puffs
1-cup water
1/2-cup butter (no substitutes)
1-cup all-purpose flour
1/4-teaspoon salt
4 eggs

In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour and salt all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove puffs to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape. Cool. Split puffs and remove soft dough.

Country Irish Shepherds Pie

We considered a lovely dinner at Temecula's only Irish dining establishment "Killarney's Irish Pub & Grill", but when I drove to the grocery store at 4:oo pm and noticed parked cars lined up for literally miles away and the sounds of Irish folk music and loud cheers from happy consumers, I knew dinner would be served at home this evening. But that was o.k., for all my
shopping needs would be taken care of at Henry's, where there was also a celebration with music, clogging and fresh cheeses and popular Irish drinks and foods. The store decorated with heather and green clover, and management with their plaited kilts was just the right place for me to go to get into an Irish cooking mood. And that's hard to do for a full blooded Italian gal! But rummaging through the deli cases I found cheeses with Irish labels, and the store attendant practically placing in my hand the Kellygold brand of Dubliner cheese that I ended up taking home with me. It was wonderful!

I made a simple Shepherds Pie with a few alterations. One, I didn't have time to make a pie crust so I purchased shepherds bread and used that as a base. The second, I layered the Dubliner cheese between the meat, vegies and mashed potatoes.
I made a beef stock gravy with thyme as the herb ingredient and mixed that with the ground beef and also drizzled it between the layers. The cheese made all the difference in the world! Also, to prevent the bread from burning and drying out I wrapped it in foil as I baked it through.

This was a fun and delicious meal!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


2 medium sized Shepherd Bread loaves
6 cups Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)
2 cups Brown Sauce (recipe follows)
1-½ lbs. Ground Lamb or beef
½ Onion
Salt and pepper
3 cups Dubliner cheese grated (I use Kerrygold)
3 Carrots cleaned and cut into small squares and cooked till tender.
1 cup Peas (frozen not canned) cooked

Mashed Potatoes
2-3 pounds russet (baking)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 to 1 cup milk
Salt and white pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. In a large heavy saucepan simmer potatoes in salted water to cover by 1 inch 10 minutes, or until tender, and drain in a colander. In pan or bowl combine potatoes, butter, and 3/4-cup milk. With a potato masher or blender mash potatoes until just smooth, adding more milk and butter if necessary to make a
creamy but not pasty potato. *Over cooking and blending your potatoes will make them too starchy. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Brown Sauce
3 shallots or scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
10-½ -ounce can beef broth (not consommé)
1 Tb. Wortsheshire sauce
1 Tsp. Fresh Tarragon leaves finely chopped
½ Tsp. thyme
Salt, pepper
1 Tsp. Beurre Manié

Sauté chopped shallots or scallions in butter. Gradually add wortsheshire and beef broth. Let it come to a boil and add the seasonings. Cook down for a few minutes. Add Beurre manié to thicken to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes and strain. Set aside.

Ground Lamb or Beef
Finely chop ½ an onion. Sauté in 2 Tbsp. butter. Add ground meat and cook. Drain liquids. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Mix prepared vegetables together.

Divide all ingredients for two shepherd pies.
Cut top of Shepherds Bread and scoop out insides.
Starting with mashed potatoes layer your ingredients, always adding cheese and sauce after each layer. Repeat process until you end with mashed potatoes on top. Potatoes can be piped on for a decorative finish but it is not necessary. Bake Shepherds Pie in a pre-heated 375° oven for
20 minutes. If potatoes start to brown too quickly loosely cover with foil.