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Bon Appétit: Cream Puffs with Vanilla Pastry Cream

The Gilmer Free Press

Ingredients:

Servings: Makes about 40 filled puffs

Pâte à Choux

  ½ cup whole milk
  6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1” pieces
  1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  1 cup all-purpose flour
  6 large eggs, room temperature

Pastry Cream and Assembly

  2 cups whole milk
  4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½“ pieces
  ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  5 large egg yolks
  ½ cup granulated sugar
  ¼ cup cornstarch
  Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Special Equipment

  A ½“-diameter pastry tip and a small star tip; 2 pastry bags


Directions:

Pâte à Choux

Preheat oven to 425˚. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain ½“ tip.

Heat milk, butter, granulated sugar, salt, and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally to melt butter. As soon as butter is melted, add flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon, carefully at first to incorporate, then vigorously, until dough forms a single mass. Continue stirring, slapping dough against sides of saucepan with spoon, until dough leaves a thick film on bottom of pan and pulls away from sides, about 3 minutes (the important thing here is to cook the flour and dry out the dough). Transfer to a medium bowl and let rest 3 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, mix 5 eggs into dough one at a time, making sure to completely incorporate each egg before adding the next. Dough will look broken at first, then homogenized. The final texture should be smooth, glossy, and somewhat stretchy.

Spoon dough into prepared pastry bag. Holding bag at an angle so the tip is just touching prepared baking sheet on one side, gently start to squeeze out dough. Without moving the tip (this will help you make a perfect circle), pipe dough until you have a 1½“ round (you can trace circles on the back of the parchment for extra accuracy). Repeat, staggering rounds and spacing 2” apart.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl until no streaks remain and lightly brush tops of dough. Bake 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350˚. Continue to bake until puffs are deep golden brown all over and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 15−20 minutes.

Remove chouquettes from oven; turn off oven. Poke a small hole in the bottom of each puff with a paring knife and place, hole side up, on baking sheet. Return to still-hot oven, propping door open with a wooden spoon. Let dry out and cool, 30–35 minutes.

Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to pastry bag and chill.

Pastry Cream and Assembly

Place milk, butter, and salt in medium saucepan, then scrape in vanilla seeds and pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and granulated sugar in a medium bowl until very pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add cornstarch, whisking until no powdery dry spots remain. Whisking constantly, gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture. Transfer back to saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and holds whisk marks, about 2 minutes.

Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Press pastry cream through sieve into bowl. Cover with plastic, pressing directly onto surface; chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Fit another large pastry bag with a star tip. Transfer chilled pastry cream to bag. Working one at at time, gently pipe pastry cream into puffs to fill. Dust with powdered sugar. Puffs will begin to get soggy as soon as they are filled, so wait until just before serving to add pastry cream.

Do Ahead: Pastry cream can be made 3 days ahead. Transfer to pastry bag and chill.

The Secret Advantages of Being a Night Owl

There’s an undeserved stigma against those who go to bed late and sleep even later
The Gilmer Free Press

If you’re a late riser, there’s a good chance that you have, at one point, been made to feel inferior to your early riser friends and colleagues. Unlike early birds (people who have a genetic tendency to go to bed and wake up early), late risers, also known as night owls, have a natural tendency to go to bed late and sleep even later. And that’s just fine. Although you may sleep though the early morning hours, which many early birds claim are their most productive of the day, for night owls these productive hours manifest themselves much later in the day.

Undeserved Stigma

In night owls, melatonin secretion begins very late, which makes it easy for them to stay awake (and productive) well into the night. Because of this, according to Sleep: A Very Short Introductionby Steven W. Lockley and Russell:

Evening types wake earlier in their circadian “day” and are therefore more sleepy and poorer performers in the morning but do not decline as much as morning types by the end of the day.

The undeserved “lazy” stigma given to night owls comes about due to the early birds of the world never seeing them at their most productive because, ironically, early birds are often fast asleep by the time night owls get going.

In his book Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired, Till Roenneberg comments:

The postman doesn’t think for a second that the young man might have worked until the early morning hours because he is a night-shift worker or for other reasons. He labels healthy young people who sleep into the day as lazy—as long sleepers.

But as Christopher Drake, a senior scientist with the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit commented, “The human body needs approximately seven to eight hours of sleep a night to maintain optimal alert levels during the day.“ Though scientists have recognized that there are indeed a sleepless elite who can run on a small amount of sleep, chances are you’re not one of them (and neither are your early-rising friends and colleagues). When asked about such an elite, Drake was skeptical, stating, “Many of these famous people, like Thomas Edison, took naps, or were very sleepy during the day. And imagine how much more brilliant and productive they would have been if they’d gotten more sleep.“ 

Sleep > Caffeine

Charles Czeisler, director of sleep medicine for Harvard Medical School, spoke to the Wall Street Journal in 2008 on how caffeine doesn’t in any way reduce the body’s need to sleep, commenting, “It’s like taking an aspirin to lower your fever. You’re not addressing the source of the problem.“ 

Caffeine does an excellent job of “overriding” the sleep drive by temporarily blocking the receptors that register drowsiness—something I’ve previously spoken of on the subject of afternoon fatigue. In this regard, sleeping when you’re tired, if you’re lucky enough to be afforded such a luxury, is better for your health than forcing yourself to get up early, then plying yourself with coffee, tea or energy drinks to stay awake. 

Reality Bites

Of course, night owls can take little comfort in any of this if they have a job that requires them to work a standard work day, or they have children who have to be fed, watered, and sent off to school early.

Though in an ideal world you’d be able to sleep in a few more hours in the morning, if you’re forced to adhere to an earlier schedule there are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of your day:

  • Plan your day the evening before:

    These can be personal tasks, work tasks, or a combination of the two. Planning your day the night before makes productive use of your evening energy, and helps you hit the ground running the next day.
  • Learn when your productivity is at its highest:

    This will likely be some time in the afternoon, but it may be well into the evening, or even past midnight. When you’ve learned this time, be strategic about how you use it.
  • Create boundaries around your productive time

    : Early risers claim that one of the benefits of getting up early is that few other people are around, so they can get on with their work uninterrupted. The same is true if your peak productivity is past midnight, but if it’s in the afternoon or evening, you’ll have to set boundaries on your time to ensure your most productive periods remain so.

Late risers shouldn’t feel pressured into becoming early birds. One isn’t better than the other; the most important thing is you know what works for you. When you figure out when you’re most productive, the rest will fall into place.

   

~~  Benjamin Spall&nbsp - A professional copywriter and a writer on sleep and healthy habit formation.  ~~

 

WHO: World Health Day 2015

Food safety is a global issue and this year the World Health Organization is focusing on food safety for World Health Day (April 7). Everyone, everywhere, needs safe food that is free from microbes, viruses and chemicals. But globalization means the food you are eating today may have come from the other side of the world, so the food safety controls that we have in the United States are a part of a global food safety effort.


What can you do to join in this effort to make food safety a consistent part of the global health conversation?

•  ALWAYS use the 4 Steps to food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, & Chill when preparing food

•  VOTE for the FUNKY CHICKEN Advertisment in the Ad Councils Matchup #2 for the MarchAdNess Campaign. Our Ad is in the Elite 8 and the farther we go in the bracket the better the chance we have at reaching more people with our food safety advice, warnings, and messages that help to prevent foodborne illness.

•  Check out this video from the World Health Organization that explains the role we all play in making food safe - from farm to plate.

•  Spread the Word about food safety, share our message on your social media channels and use tags #foodsafety and #safefood.

Bon Appétit: Raspberry-Ricotta Cake

The Gilmer Free Press

Ingredients:

Servings: 8

  Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  1½ cups all-purpose flour
  1 cup sugar
  2 teaspoons baking powder
  ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  3 large eggs
  1½ cups ricotta
  ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided


Directions:

Do ahead: Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

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