I may have had ulterior motives for what I did the other day. Have I ever told how wonderful my husband is to me on my birthday? Oh well, maybe it's because he is horrible. Last birthday guess what I received? NOTHING!! Not even a swift kick in the butt. No cake, no new cookbook, no love note, not even a bag of Rolo's. Not a thing. Just a "Happy Birthday Lis. You didn't want anything did you?" I've learned to not expect anything. It's my lot in life. I'll live.
James has many other redeeming qualities. He loves my guts more than most husbands love guts, but birthday's........he's the worst. So Sunday was James' birthday. He had been out of town for a few days so I figured I had plenty to do while he was gone. Maybe he'll remember this day when Dec. 12th rolls around again. I won't hold my breath though:)
Actually, no matter how bad James does birthdays he is still the best man I know. He is kind and gentle, the hardest worker I've ever seen. He works circles around me. He also knows how to play hard. He can fix anything, and I think my dad loves having Jimmy MacGuiver around. James is also the most handsome man. My grandma tells me this every time she sees me. I love his guts, and I miss him in my new king sized bed. We're far away now at night. We're going to have to do something about this:) So for James' birthday I got him everything he wanted. Actually he doesn't want or need much, but I'm amazed at how much he likes little leather journals. He takes it with him everywhere and takes all sorts of notes. These little journals are going to be treasures one day for the kids, and me. He received a few other fun things that day, but we made his favorite food for Sunday dinner.
The first thing we made was Chinese Pork Roast. It is one of my Granny's recipes out of her "Sister's Favorites" cookbook and it is goooooood! The other thing we made was chocolate eclairs. James is always asking for these, and I always have an excuse not to make them. They seem so hard and time consuming, but you know, I'd do anything for James on his special day. The meal was delish! The eclairs were dynamite! We scarfed it down fast and furious. I'll post the recipe for the eclair today and the roast tomorrow. Wouldn't want to overwhelm you with too much in one day. Or me either. You know after I think about it, I'd do anything for James. No matter if he's a bad birthday-er or not. Who cares! I'm just one lucky girl to have him!!
Chocolate Eclair (Courtesy of Gale Gand at the Food Network)
2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
1 cup water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, plus 1 extra, if needed
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the saucepan. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.
Pastry: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time. Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog) onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. You should have 8 to 10 lengths.
Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet. Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or just use your fingertip). Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip, gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside (don't stuff them full). I cut the eclairs in half and spread the pudding in.
Glaze: I doubled this part and used half semi sweet chocolate chips and half milk chocolate. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.
Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.