Croissants

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Croissants are probably one of my favorite foods.  I am really not a bread person.  I don’t really buy it and I don’t miss it.  I will make a cinnamon roll or the like, but I consider that to be a sweet.  I prefer a savory breakfast and eat eggs in some form every morning.  However, if I am having a rough time of it, a croissant is in order.  When I was working in NYC, every time I departed from the subway in the morning, I passed a bakery that had bagels, rolls, and fresh croissants.  It was so easy to dip in, get my warm, buttery, flaky croissant, and continue the route to work.  Also, my favorite place to eat in NYC is City Bakery.  They take the classic croissant and step up the game with a Pretzel Coissant.  They use a salt wash on the outside of the pretzel and it is a bit dryer (in a good way) than a classic croissant.  The croissant at Starbucks is not great, but not bad, and it will do in a pinch.  Also, it has less calories than most of the stuff in their pastry case.  So, croissants are a health food.

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I am currently in transition from one job to another and I have some extra free time.  It is just so much easier to devote your time to these lengthy project when you know you have limited distractions (like a job – hah).  I was inspired by Dominique Ansel’s Cronut recipe that has been recently published.  However, I thought if i were going to ever attempt making the cronut, I needed to make a classic croissant first, to understand the basics of a laminated dough.

I did some research and was pointed to the Cooks Illustrated method.  I read about other home baker’s errors and made a game plan to avoid them.  I loaded up on King Arthur All Purpose flour (not an ad), just recommended since it has a slightly higher gluten content than other all purpose flours.  I also loaded up on Plugra, a high fat content butter.  I scoped our house for a cool spot for the final rise.  I was concerned about this, being in the desert, but I found a closet that is nice and cool.  I watched the Cook’s Illustrated video about a million times and got to work.  The process was lengthy, but straightforward.  I was nervous at the end, just because so much work went into the pastries, but they turned out great.  When I was rolling them, I put some 60% chocolate into some of the croissants, and gruyere sticks and prosciutto in others.  I left more than half plain and wish I had filled more, but all were wonderful.  I found the process a lot less tedious than making a pie.  I think that says something about me, not sure what!

 

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Start the week off right!

For the past 3 months, I have eaten the same thing for breakfast pretty much every day: a banana and an egg muffin (or two, depending on how hungry I am).  The mix of veggies in the egg muffins vary, depending on what we have in the fridge and my mood but I find that protein rich start to the day makes all the difference.

I make a batch of 12 (or 13) of them on Sunday morning and we are set for the week.  I heat them in the microwave for 1 minute and that’s it!

Egg Muffins
Ingredients
Pam
1 tablespoons EVOO
1 onion, chopped finely
1/2 bell pepper, chopped finely
2 turkey sausages, out of casing
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
12 eggs, beaten (or 6 eggs beaten and 1 1/2 cups of “egg whites” only)
3/4 cup of grated carrots
1 cup of chopped spinach

Directions
1. Preheat the oven for 350.  Spray 12 muffin cups with Pam.
2. Heat the EVOO in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onions, peppers, sausage and mushrooms.  Break the sausage into small pieces while cooking.  Cook mixture until softened and the sausage is cooked through.  Let cool.
3. Beat the eggs, stir in grated carrots and spinach.  Add the sausage mixture.
4. Ladle the egg mixture into the muffin tins with a 1/4 measuring cup.  Tin should be full.
5. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.  Take out, let cool in tins and use a butter knife to loosen up the egg muffins from the tins.