Looking to impress? Or maybe you’ve been watching a lot of those baking shows while on lockdown and you’re think you’re ready for some of the “tougher” stuff. Well, here’s a good one for you to test your skills.
I made 17-15: Cream Puffs for Thanksgiving last year (2019), but haven’t written about it until now. Cream puffs feature pâte à choux, which is the puffy, airy dough that you also find in éclairs. We made profiteroles when I worked at a restaurant a few years ago, and it’s essentially the same thing.
Simply Delicious suggests you can fill your cream puffs with vanilla or whipped cream–the most traditional ones also feature pastry cream (crème pâtissière).
The ones we served at the restaurant I worked at were filled with house-made, hand-scooped ice cream that were (sometimes) baked and (often) assembled by yours truly and then drizzled with a chocolate glaze like these. It was one of those trendy gastro-brew pubs that made the beer onsite and had many beardy/tattooed gentlemen working there, so you can imagine the rest of the menu and atmosphere. At least we served most of it on a normal plate. #wewantplates
Here’s a very basic dessert recipe: 14-21: Pear Pandowdy. Pandowdies are typically made with apples, but Simply Delicious offers a pear variation which is also popular. Both are in season right now, so either one would work for this recipe if you’re looking for something to do with all of that fall produce.
An old-fashioned favorite, the pandowdy is, by definition, a cooked fruit dessert sweetened with maple syrup or molasses and topped with a pie pastry. The name refers to the act of “dowdying” the crust — that is, breaking it up with a knife and pressing it into the bubbling juices — midway through baking. While it’s not the prettiest of pastries, what it lacks in streamlined good looks it more than makes up for in rich flavor.
Yankee Magazine, August 2020
Let’s see how close Simply Delicious gets to their definition. They sell this thing much better than I do.
A LOT of the dessert recipes in Simply Delicious feature almonds, and 14-23: Almond-Baked Sliced Pears is a perfect example of these type of “semi-fancy” recipes. I’m not sure why almonds are featured so heavily in the book (or 1980s cuisine in general), but I suppose it’s to lend a sense of haute cuisine to something that would be (in reality) executed in a home kitchen.
The 1980s were all about stylish and flashy veneers without much to back it up underneath, even when it came to food, and this recipe is a perfect encapsulation of it. The fancy top covers up the cheap canned pears underneath, dazzling you with a hint of something high-class to distract you from the less impressive core which makes up the bulk of the dessert. Maybe some things should have just stayed in the 80s.
Today is Independence Day here in the U.S., so let’s do one of my favorite desserts and recipes from this book, 14-8: Baked Alaska. Obviously Simply Delicious didn’t invent this dish–it’s an American dessert that’s existed since Civil War times and is so well known you can even make it as a Sim.
I have a history with this particular version of the dish, however. I first made it as my “showstopper” dessert for a big family dinner I cooked as a teenager (along with a similarly-aged family friend) many years ago.
I also taught about 200 K-8 kids (ages 5-13ish) how to make this recipe and several others as part of an after-school cooking class program that was one of my first teaching-related jobs. I’ve been waiting YEARS to write this one, so now it’s your turn with it.
If you were around in the 1980s-1990s, you may remember the obsession with low-fat everything, and finding ways to make “sinful indulgences” into something “guilt-free“. Note the deliberate choice of words, and that we still use that type of psychological framing around food today (and have been for a long time, even prior to the era in question).
The “low-calorie swap” in 16-42: Easy Lime Pie is cottage cheese, which was all the rage in the 1970s as a “healthy” option, but could still be found in a lot of recipes throughout the 80s and 90s.
I feel like even Simply Delicious didn’t really know how to make this pie sound appealing–do you think halved grapes as a garnish can be considered something notable? You can definitely tell this particular recipe was aimed at the dieting/low-calorie crowd.
Let’s get the first question out of the way right now. Compôte means “mixture” in French, so 15-20: Apple Compôte is essentially fancy applesauce. Don’t even worry about exerting the effort to mash the apples–these are just syrupy slices.
Some of you might have thought of pie filling when you saw “compôte”–I know I did. There’s actually differences between jam, jelly, preserves, conserves, and compote–I still don’t know if this iteration matches up with their definition, but here’s a recipe from my same trusted source (Serious Eats/Stella Parks) for essentially the same thing we’re making here.
I think 14-9: Glazed Crêpes with Pears might be my final untested crêpe recipe from Simply Delicious–but there may be others in there. I’ll even give you a quick spoiler (since this recipe is kind of boring…another spoiler) for upcoming posts–there are more recipes out there than what I had originally. I know because I found (and purchased) some in a local Goodwill.
I’ve still got quite a few posts to go before I dig into some of the *NEW* recipes (and show you the book they came in), but for now, you can read aboutyetanothercrêperecipe after the jump. But this time, with pears! And glaze!
I had extra strawberries left over from 14-22: Strawberry-Peach Cobbler, so I tried to reuse them into 15-45: Strawberries with Cottage Cheese. Simply Delicious is big on using cottage cheese in an effort to be “low-fat” (all the rage in the 1980s when this book was published) and healthy, but they’re not usually very successful.
Don’t be deceived by their pretty picture here. It’s not ice cream. It’s cottage cheese. Just keep that in mind going in.
Finally, we’ve reached the first recipe (for this project) made in my new (to you) kitchen: 14-22: Strawberry-Peach Cobbler. It was summer and 4th of July, so something with fruit that goes well with ice cream was bound to be a hit.
Speaking of 4th of July, I made 2-37: Chicken-Salami-Rice Salad for a party that I attended with a guy that I had just started dating. 10 years later, this is the first recipe I cooked in my very first house, that I bought with that same guy (who I ended up marrying not long after I made that first recipe).
15-23:Kiwi Mousse in Chocolate Cups is the final recipe from last year’s Mother’s Day (MD2019) AND the final recipe from this kitchen, which was the backdrop for this project for 5 of its 6 years (at the time of this writing) of existence. I made this in tandem with 15-10: Frozen Raspberry Desserts, since they both make use of chocolate cups and frozen fillings.
These ones didn’t turn out quite as well as their raspberry counterparts, but they made a nice contrast and provided some variety. Along with these two chocolate cup desserts, I also made 15-17: Summery Cantaloupe as part of my dessert offerings for Mother’s Day.