Part of the pleasure of cooking is finding new, tempting recipes, trying them out and, if they are up to expectations, adding them to your repertoire. But another part is having an old, well-tested recipe.
If at the same time this recipe happens to be cheap and easy to make -- with ingredients you are sure to have on hand -- what more could you possibly ask for? Oh, yes -- that recipe can be varied in countless ways and become either a light luncheon meal or a more substantial entree, a delightful dessert or tasty cocktail snacks. Then it is definitely one you want to keep handy.
The folowing basic recipe will give you all the above, a trusty recipe on which you can put your own particular touch. It's an egg-flour-milk mixture that can become a base for souffles, or be turned into savory cream puffs or fritters. BASIC DOUGH 1 cup water 1/3 cup butter or margarine 2/3 cup flour 3 to 4 eggs, beaten 1/4 teaspoon salt
In heavy sauce pan heat water and butter until water is boiling and butter completely melted. Add flour all at once and beat vigorously until dough is shiny and no longer sticks to the pan. Remove from heat, add eggs in small quantities to dough, beating each addition well. Add salt.
I use 4 eggs to make 2 cups of the mixture. The first time I tried this, I couldn't get dough to the shiny point and also it was lumpy. The second time I used electric beater and it worked. But the batter is not as thick as the usual cream puff dough since it has less flour. Cauliflower souffle (6 to 8 servings) Basic Dough 1/2 teaspoon baking power 1 head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add baking powder to basic dough. Divide cauliflower into small bouquets. Cook in lightly salted water 2 to 3 minutes -- it should be firm and crunchy. Remove from heat and drain. Mix into dough, pour into greased 3-quart casserole. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Do not open oven door during first 40 minutes of baking.
You can, of course, use other vegetables instead of cauliflower. I find chopped cooked spinach (one 10-ounce package of frozen spinach is enough) or cooked asparagus spears (about one pound) particularly delicious, but you can really add anything according to taste and availablility. A more substantial variation is the meat souffle. MEAT SOUFFLE (serves 4) Basic dough 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine 3/4 pound of ground beef (fresh, or left-over roast) 1 onion, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon chili powder Salt and pepper to taste
Mix baking powder in basic dough. Brown ground beef in butter and add the chopped onion and the spices. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir mixture into dough and bake as above.
Another of my favorite stand-bys is to add about a half a pound of chopped ham and a can of peas and carrots (drained) to dough for another tasty souffle. h DUMPLINGS (makes 20 to 25) 1/2 of basic dough
With two teaspoons, drop small balls of dough into simmering broth or salted water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. CREAM PUFFS (makes 14 to 16 puffs) Basic dough 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Mix baking power with dough. With two tablespoons place dough in balls on greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour. Do not open oven door during first 15 minutes of baking time, and then only carefully. It is a bit difficult to judge exactly when puffs are done, so it is best to remove one from oven first and wait for a minute to be sure that it does not collapse. The puffs can be frozen until ready to use. CREAM FILLING 2 eggs 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar 4 tablespoons flour 2 cups milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat eggs, sugar and flour well.Heat the milk to boiling point and pour over egg mixture stirring constantly. Pour the whole mixture back into casserole and reheat unti it starts to boil again, stirring vigorously. Remove from heat and add vanilla. COCKTAIL PUFFS (makes 70 to 75 puffs) Basic dough 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Mix baking powder with dough. With two teaspoons place small balls of dough on greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees as above for 15 to 18 minutes. Do not open oven door during first 10 to 12 minutes of baking time and test as above before removing from oven. The combined amounts of the four fillings below is enough for all 75 puffs. LIVERWURST FILLING 4 ounces liverwurst (or pate) 2 tablespoons cream 10 to 12 olives, chopped Mix together and fill in puffs. SARDINE FILLING 1 can sardines 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 small onion, finely chopped Mix together and fill in puffs. CRAB FILLING 1 can crabmeat 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped Mix together and fill puffs. BLUE CHEESE FILLING 2 ounces blue cheese 2 ounces butter Mix until smooth and creamy and fill into puffs. SHRIMP COCKTAIL SNACKS (make 20 to 25) 1/4 of basic dough 4 ounces freshly cooked shrimp, peeled and chopped Hot pepper sauce to taste
Mix shrimp and hot pepper sauce with dough. Drop the mixture in small balls in hot oil and fry until golden, turning for even coloring. Serve warm. May be frozen and reheated in oven later. CHEESE BALLS (makes 20 to 25) 1/4 of basic dough 3 tablespoons grated parmesan 1/2 teaspoon paprika Mix and fry as above in hot oil. Sweet fritters (makes 12 to 15) 1/4 of basic dough Pinch of baking powder 1 1/2 ounce candied orange peel, chopped Confectioners sugar
Mix dough, baking powder and orange peel and fry in hot oil as above. Sprinkle warm fritters with confectioners sugar and serve immediately as dessert or with coffee.