Make From Scratch Recipes

Cream Puffs

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs

Heat oven to 400°.
In 2-1/2 quart sauce pan, heat water and butter to rolling bowl over medium high heat.
Stir in flour.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball.
Remove from heat.  Beat in eggs, all at once.  Continue beating until smooth.
On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough slightly under 1/4 cup at a time, about 3” apart.
Bake 35-40 Minutes or until puffed and golden.

TIP:  For appetizer size cream puffs, drop by scant tablespoons about 1-1/2” to 2” apart.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Cool away from draft, about 30 minutes.
Fill as desired, or store in air tight container in fridge until ready to use.
Makes about 12 regular size cream puffs or about 24 appetizer size cream puffs. 

To Serve:
When ready to fill, cut cream puffs in half and pull out any small pieces of dough before filling.  Fill bottom half to above rim.  Push top half down gently to secure in place with filling.
For dessert cream puffs fill with prepared mousse, dust with powdered sugar and/or cocoa, or drizzle with chocolate syrup to garnish if desired.

TIP:  Mayan Chocolate mousse makes a delicious and very unusual cream puff filling.

For savory appetizer cream puffs, fill with chicken, shrimp or crab salad, cream cheese based dip or creamed chicken with veggies. 

TIP:  Crabcake dip, Garlic Blue Cheese dip with chopped walnuts, shrimp mixed into Jamaican Orange dip, chopped ham mixed into Maple Horseradish dip, Sweet Ginger Ham & Cherry salad (substitute ham for chicken in recipe), and Spicy Mango Shrimp salad make excellent filling for cream puffs.  The flavors and textures will be a delightful surprise.

Other Help to Make Great Cream Puffs
Emeril Legasse has an easy to follow recipe that kicks this up a bit, and may improve the success for first time cream puff bakers with the techniques he incorporates into the recipe.  Here’s the link for “EMRIL’S CREAM PUFFS”.

Alton Brown’s Good Eats® episode on pate a choux (cream puffs) is excellent in demonstrating how to make cream puffs for first time or experienced bakers.  It is in re-runs on The Cooking Channel®, or videos are available online (for a small fee).  Here are the links for “CHOUX SHINE YOUTUBE” or “CHOUX SHINE AMAZON”.

Crab Cakes

If you want to make your own crab cakes and need a recipe, we recommend the original Old Bay® recipe (makes 4 sandwich size crab cakes or 8-10 slider/appetizer size).  It’s pretty easy, and really does taste as good as many of the finer restaurants.  The following recipe is based on the original Old Bay Crab Cake recipe, but slightly more flavorful.  The key to success here is buying crab that has at least some big pieces and being careful not to break up those pieces any more than absolutely needed as you mix the ingredients.   The recipe takes care of the rest.

2-3 slices of bread made into crumbs (use food processor)
1Tablespoon milk (to moisten bread crumbs)
2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon dried chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1-1/2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 pound crab meat
1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Soak bread crumbs in milk until crumbs are soft.
Add everything but crab to crumbs and stir until well mixed.
Gently fold crab into crumb mixture, breaking up crab pieces as little as possible.
Form crab mixture into 4 bun size patties.  Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or freeze before cooking.
Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles.
Cook crab cakes about 2-3 minutes and turn when they easily release from the pan.  Cook another 2 minutes until cakes are lightly brown and easily release from pan.

Both the Old Bay® recipe and the frozen crab cakes provide directions for baking and sautéing.  We have found that sautéing works best for both, BUT, the cakes stay together best if they are cold or frozen when they go into a pan with sizzling oil and are cooked on medium heat (about 350°).  Four ounce crab cakes (flat, not round) should be done in 4-5 minutes (2-3 on the first side and 2 when turned over).  Wait to turn them until they release themselves from the oil; they’re ready then and won’t stick or come apart.  If you’re going to bake your crab cakes, be sure to brush the top sides with oil, butter or a bit of mayonnaise before putting them in the oven; it will help with browning on the tops.

TIP:  Lump and Jumbo Lump describe the biggest pieces (they are also the most expensive).  For appetizer size crab cakes, claw meat is fine because you would end up breaking up the larger pieces to accommodate the small size of the finished cakes.  A mix of lump and claw meat produces a reasonably dense meal size crab cake with meat in every bite, and fairly large pieces in many bites.

Baked Wonton Wrappers

These little wonton wrapper baskets are great for holding mini salads and cold or baked dips.  They have very little flavor, so the focus is on your filling.  They’re also great because they are easy to hold while chatting with party guests or having a sip of that great beverage.

12 wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon of oil

Preheat oven for 375°.
Place 12 wonton wrappers side by side on sheet of waxed paper.  Brush both sides of wrappers with oil.
Pleat edges of wrappers.
Place in 12 ungreased muffin cups, pressing in bottom and up sides.
Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
Cool on rack.
Store in air tight container until ready to use.

TIP:  Wonton wrappers are fairly delicate, so be careful not to poke holes with a finger nail when placing the wrappers in the muffin pans.  A mini tart shaper (or the smooth end of a beverage muddler) is perfect for mini-muffin pans, and can help avoid the problem in regular size pans as well.

TIP:  It’s easy to burn the tips of the wanton wrappers before the rest of the wrappers are browned.  To avoid this issue, cut small triangles off each wrapper’s corners.  When they have baked, they will have a flower petal appearance, but no burned tips.

TIP:  If you want to use mini-muffin pans, reduce heat to 350° and cook for about 8 minutes, or wrappers are lightly browned and crisp.

TIP:  If you want to serve a hot dip or a meat and cheese filling in wonton wrappers, instruction are slightly different:

With medium muffin pans:  Put about 1 tablespoon filling in wonton wrappers before baking.  Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and wrappers are browned.

With mini-muffin pans:  Put about 1 teaspoon of filling in each wrapper before baking.  Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and wrappers are browned.

To Serve with Cold Filling
Fill with chicken, crab or shrimp salad or cream cheese based dip.  Garnish with snipped parsley or chives if desired.

TIP: Suggested fillings include Dill Lover’s Salmon spread (garnished with dill sprigs), crab mixed into Mango Curry dip, chicken salad with Ginger Sesame dressing, Bloody Mary Shrimp dip, Spicy Mango Chicken or Shrimp salad, Sweet Ginger Chicken & Apricot salad, and Queen of Sheba hummus.

To Serve with Hot Filling
Slightly cool muffin pan on rack.
Carefully remove cups from pan as filling will still be hot.
Garnish with snipped parsley or chives if desired.

TIP:  Suggested fillings include Caliente Cheddar dip, chicken added to Buffalo Garlic Blue Cheese dip, Crabcake dip, cooked sausages chopped and tossed with Wasabi Lemon dip and cooked ground beef or bacon added to White Cheddar Horseradish dip.

Graham Cracker Crust

1-1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (24 squares),
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 350°.
In medium bowl, stir all ingredients until well mixed.
Reserve 3 tablespoons crumb mixture for garnishing top of pie/tart if desired.
Press remaining mixture firmly and evenly against bottom & inside of pie plate.  If using a muffin pan, insert paper liners before pressing mixture.  Compress crumbs as much as possible
Bake according to pan size:

Pie plate or tart pan:  about 10 minutes or until light brown.
Regular muffin pans:  about 6 to 7 minutes or until light brown.
Mini-muffin pans:  about 5 minutes or until light brown.

Cool on cooling rack completely before filling.

TIP:  Crush graham crackers in a food processor, or in a ziploc bag using a rolling pin or bottle.

TIP:  Save time by using purchased graham cracker crumbs.
TIP:  If you are using muffin pans, be sure to use liners (the crust bottom won’t release otherwise.

TIP:  If you are using a pie pan or tart pan, you must press crust up the sides of the pan so the filling doesn’t stick

TIP:   If you are using paper wrappers, you may press the crust only on the bottom.  When the tarts are placed on a serving platter or individual dish still in the wrapper, but with the wrapper sides are peeled down, the presentation is stunning.

TIP:  use a flat bottom glass or measuring cup to press graham crackers onto bottom of baking pan.  For mini-muffin pan, use a shot glass or coffee measure).

TIP:  Substitute 1/1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (24 cookies), vanilla wafer cookies (35 cookies), or gingersnaps (30 cookies) for graham crackers.  Decrease butter to 1/4 cup.  Omit sugar.

TIP:  Use 1 (16.5 oz) roll Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies instead of making a crumb crust.  Heat oven to 350°.  Grease 24 cup mini muffin tin, or use paper cup liners.  Divide cookie dough into 24 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball.  Place dough in prepared muffin cups (dough will flatten out as it bakes).  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until light brown and almost set.  Remove from oven and use bottom of a shot glass to make depressions in each cup if necessary.  Cool 10 minutes.  If you didn’t use paper liners, using a butter knife, carefully remove cookie cups from muffin tin.  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before filling.

To Serve:
Fill with chilled desired mousse.