Whipping Up A Holiday Treat Baker extraordinaire Dorie Greenspan joins Michele Norris at her home in Washington, D.C., to fill her in on the glories of cream puff dough. The fluffy delight is good for hors d'oeuvres and dessert, and it's a great way to dress up Thanksgiving Day leftovers.
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Whipping Up A Holiday Treat

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Whipping Up A Holiday Treat

Whipping Up A Holiday Treat

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From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, some of you have already stuffed yourself silly by now, while others are still hard at work getting that splendid table together for your Thanksgiving Day feast, delicious. And it's all good, isn't it? I mean, after it's all over with, you still got food to spare.

Ms. DORIE GREENSPAN (Cookbook Author, Baker): I love having leftovers on Thanksgiving, we all do. But just the word leftover is kind of a leftover word.

NORRIS: Dorie Greenspan may be on to something. There should be a specific word for Thanksgiving leftovers and special treatment that set them apart from regular leftovers. Dorie is a cookbook author, a baker, and a student of French cuisine who's always got a good idea. Today, to assist us with our leftover dilemma, she's going to teach us how to make puff pastry - a light, tasty, and versatile way to dress up any meal.

Ms. GREENSPAN: We're going to start by making a classic French dough called pate a choux, which means cabbage dough, and so it's called cabbage dough because of that nice round shape that it has. It's the same dough that you use to make eclair.


Ms. GREENSPAN: And it's a dough that's very easy to make, and it's an interesting dough. You cook it before you bake it.

NORRIS: That's right, cook before bake. But not before grabbing a cheese grater and tackling a block of Gruyere, that's a sweet nutty tasting Swiss cheese. We're going to use half our dough for cheese puffs.

Now, this is one of those things that remind me of old fashioned Thanksgiving before cheese came in packaging where it was already shredded, or you had to make macaroni and cheese and scalloped potatoes and Au Gratin potatoes, and...

Ms. GREENSPAN: All of them with the hand grater...

NORRIS: Oh, all of them with the hand grater...

Ms. GREENSPAN: Just a little bit of finger.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GREENSPAN: In this portion.

NORRIS: Maybe that was grandma's secret ingredient.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: OK, now, onto the stove. We take half a cup of milk, half a cup of water, and pour it into a heavy two quart sauce pan and add one quarter a teaspoon of sugar and a quarter teaspoon of salt. We cut one stick of butter into eight pieces and add that to the pan. We set aside one cup of flour right next to the stove, and we roll up our sleeves, we grab a wooden spoon, and we put our saucepan on the burner, and it stays on the burner a few minutes over medium heat.

Ms. GREENSPAN: In goes the flour and it goes...

NORRIS: All at once?

Ms. GREENSPAN: All at once. OK, and now, we turn the heat down a little bit and stir, stir, stir, stir, stir, and it doesn't look very promising. It gets a little lumpy and bumpy.

NORRIS: It looks a little bit like paper mache.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: I'm sorry.

Ms. GREENSPAN: I haven't thought of that before, but yeah, you're right.

NORRIS: The way it turn, boom. Just like that, now, it's from paper mache to mashed potatoes.

Ms. GREENSPAN: Well, what we're looking for it to be, and it's going to take us about a minute and a fair amount elbow grease.

NORRIS: But you have to work fast, I see?

Ms. GREENSPAN: Yeah. Because if we don't - there you can you see it's smoothing out?

NORRIS: Wow. Yes, yes, yes.

Ms. GREENSPAN: It's becoming...

(Soundbite of stirring)

Ms. GREENSPAN: Smoother almost - almost a little silky looking. And it's holding together.

NORRIS: A very silken dough.

Ms. GREENSPAN: Exactly, the cooked dough.

NORRIS: Now, from the stove top to the mixer, where the eggs are blended in one by one.

Ms. GREENSPAN: We're turning up the speed of it just to get everything incorporated.

NORRIS: Ah, but a warning here. When that first egg goes in your lovely dough still steaming from the stove, it will fall apart, but don't fret. By the time you got three of your five eggs blended in, your dough will be back to looking all thick and shinny.


NORRIS: We removed half our dough and set it aside. We'll bake regular puffs and stuff them later. The rest of the dough still in the mixer gets a cup and a half of the grated Gruyere cheese.

Ms. GREENSPAN: OK, done and beautiful.

NORRIS: We preheat the oven. 375?


NORRIS: And out comes the cookie sheets covered with silicone baking mats, very handy, but parchment papers works well, too, and our tool of choice for today - the old kitchen teaspoons.

(Soundbite of teaspoons)

NORRIS: We drop the dough by the spoonful onto the cookie sheets and four rows of three. One sheet for the cheese puffs, the other for our regular puffs, and then into the oven with them.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: At this point, I should tell you, it's good to have an oven with a window. It's all the better for spying on your puffs. After the first five minutes of baking...

Ms. GREENSPAN: OK. So come take a look. Take a look. See, what starting to happen.

NORRIS: They're getting a little chubby.

Ms. GREENSPAN: Yeah, that's their job. Their job is to chub, chub, chub.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Our puffs are spreading and getting a crust around the edge. After 15 minutes, the cheese puffs in the last row are starting to get brown. The front ones not so much, so we quickly turn the cookie sheet and we wait.


NORRIS: We need to leave the regular puffs in for five more minutes, but the cheese puffs, they're ready after 25 total minutes in the oven.

Ms. GREENSPAN: Break them open, and they're cheesy, and they have craters and...

NORRIS: A clear opening inside that would be very easy to stuff and fill with all kinds of tasty things.

Ms. GREENSPAN: But with the cheese, they're also good just the way they are, you know, and they don't need anything else except...

(Soundbite of buzz in the oven)

Ms. GREENSPAN: You see, except maybe a glass of wine.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: Forgive me for chewing on the radio. However, we nosh a few more cheese puffs while the regular puffs cool, and then time to gussy up the leftovers. On my counter, slices of turkey, some mashed potatoes and gravy, and turkey salad.


NORRIS: Dorie cuts a little cap off the top of one puff and she starts stuffing.

Ms. GREENSPAN: OK, so - just a spoonful of that mix in there, and now, let's put this little cap on, sits on top, and it gives you - it's kind of a peek-a-boo effect. You can see what's inside. You can make this a little bit ahead and just heat them in the oven. And, you know, with that leftover gravy, once you've heated the puff with the turkey and potatoes, you could serve the gravy and pour it over. Like this, like have like biscuits and gravy.

NORRIS: Mm hmm.


NORRIS: Oh, that's sounds good.

Ms. GREENSPAN: The hot gravy, just a little bit over there, that would be nice.

NORRIS: And you mentioned the cranberry sauce also...

Ms. GREENSPAN: Wanted to give it with cranberry sauce?


Ms. GREENSPAN: So, you've got the whole meal. It's a little bit like the turkey sandwich, the day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, but just a whole lot more elegant, I think.

NORRIS: What's the French word for leftover?

Ms. GREENSPAN: Le reste.

NORRIS: That sounds so much better.

Ms. GREENSPAN: Le reste.

NORRIS: You know, Thanksgiving is that time of the year where we count our blessings, and we think about all the thing that have come to us that have made us smile and brought us good cheer, and among the many things that I am thankful for this year, it is that you have come into my orbit and have taught me very new ways to nourish my family and show off for my guests. So happy, happy Thanksgiving, Dorie.


NORRIS: Hugs are for you.

Ms. GREENSPAN: It's been so special for me, really.

NORRIS: And it's just beginning. We have many more adventures ahead of us.


(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: You can find a link to Dorie Greenspan's blog, complete with her cream puff recipe. And by the way, that cream puff recipe is fabulous when you turn it into profiterole, a scoop of your favorite ice cream, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and, man, that's good stuff. Anyway, Dorie's link is at our website. You'll find that at npr.org. Bon Appetit.

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