01 July 2011

What Would Martha Do?

good old Martha ... smiling all the way to the bank

We have an on-going joke in our house. Whenever there is a domestic quandry from cooking to cleaning to organizing to decorating to entertaining , the question gets asked, "What would Martha do?"  Sometimes it is clearly tongue-in-cheek, but sometimes it is muttered with dead seriousness.

How omnipresent Martha Stewart has become in our media-driven culture. Her magazines, homegoods, books, television programs, and website posts have saturated everyday life with tips, recipes, and crafty projects. And that was her goal when she formed her media enterprise. She is quite clearly a business phenom and deserves being included on the list of 50 Women Game-Changers . This week Mary of One Perfect Bite has challenged us to deal with Martha Stewart ... business phenom, domestic goddess, established 'brand', media diva.

When I began thinking about one thing that is quintessential 'Martha', I immediately thought of all her entertaining tips and recipes. Then, I thought of her clever little ways of using a simple classic recipe and putting a simple and sometimes rustic touch to it. So, I chose to create a small wine and cheese dinner for my husband and I for a Friday evening. What is more classic Martha than a tray of hors d'ouerves, a nice glass of wine and a little table in the garden?

the classic ...pâte a choux & the rustic ... a simple curried onion filling

I think she'd approve. So, I am making classic pâte a choux puffs. I'm going to make her curried onion filling, chill a bottle of Pinot Grigio, prepare a small cheese board, make a platter of mini crabcakes and place them in nests of shredded salad greens and have a small 'garden party dinner' ... here's to Fridays and Martha Stewart.

Pâte A Choux
courtesy of The Martha Stewart Cookbook – Collected Recipes for Everyday


1 c. water
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
1 c. flour
4 large eggs


1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

Making the Puffs:

1. Combine the water and butter in a deep heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. When the butter has melted, add the salt and sugar.

3. Remove from the heat and add the flour, stirring until smooth.

4. Place the saucepan over high heat and cook, stirring constantly until a smooth mass forms and the bottom of the pan is coated with a thin film (the flour is cooked at this point).

5. Transfer the flour mixture to a mixing bowl and cool slightly.

6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the batter until very smooth.

7. Preheat the oven to 425° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

8. Place the pâte in a pastry bag with a ½ inch tip and pipe onto the baking sheets, making mounds that are about 1 inch diameter and about ¾ inch high.

smooth and creamy dough that oozes so sweetly

9. Lightly brush the tops with the glaze, smoothing the tops of each puff.

no perfectionist, I just dabbed down the curleycues with egg wash

10. Bake for ten minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 375° F and continue baking for another 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

11. Lower the heat again to 325° F and bake until the puffs are firm and the insides are not doughy … about another 8 to 10 minutes.

mini muffin pans will give more loft and a popover appearance to the little puffs

12. Cool the puffs on a rack. They can be used immediately or divided and frozen for later use. To use, warm in a preheated 350° F oven.

13. Slice crosswise with a serrated bread knife and fill both halves with a dollop of your favored filling.

sliced in half, one finds a nice little bubble of space for placing a bit of filling

Suggested Fillings:

- crabmeat salad with chive garnish
- sauté of peaches in cinnamon sugar with sweetened brandied whipped cream
- curried onion filling with cilantro garnish
- warm lobster in mascarpone cheese and tarragon sauce

A note on this recipe. I made these puffs in mini-muffin tins so that they would rise high and leave a nice cavity for me to stuff. My recipe made 24 puffs - plenty for me to make my curried onion starters for this evening and some for the peach dessert on another evening. I will freeze the puffs in an airtight bag.

two bites of fluffy pastry and smooth creamy curry and onions

Is this where I say, "It's a good thing." ? Yum!


  1. YUM! What a fantastic idea. Simple, yet elegant...I'm ready with my bottle of wine!

  2. They look truly heavenly.
    Martha is not so well known here in the UK. It's nice to learn more.

  3. I have the wine you make these little morsels with the onion filling and I am there:D

  4. That was my 1st thought: "ooooo, yum, little popovers!" Then I read the rest of the recipe. Well, think I'd probably skip all that and just make a few popovers. Sorry, Martha. (NOT!)

  5. @ Carolina - Oh, dearie! These are much richer than conventional popovers, but hey, those Frenchies know how to make everything complicated! Look what they've done to romance!! Do what you must! Huzzah!

  6. Susan, I think Martha would be proud of you! She always amazes me with her spreads of little bites. Love how you piped your pate a choux into a pan so they look like little popovers!

  7. I love Martha! These look wonderful! I will have to give them a try...they do look like mini popovers

  8. Martha is someone who drives me crazy, yet I watch her TV show, buy her magazines and collect her cookbooks. I don't know why I do that. Glad you and SB had a nice evening with yummy food.

  9. Ahh, the woman we love to hate! I'd love to join you in the garden for a glass of vino!

    Happy 4th!

  10. I love the savoury filling in these, I've only ever tried sweet versions. The possibilities are endless! Unfortunately I am not that familiar with Martha, I know who she is but I was brought up with Delia Smith!

  11. Too funny, I have that exact same cookbook and I've NEVER used it. Not once. I have no idea why! Maybe just too many cookbooks and it's gotten lost in the shuffle. Now these look really good, we would love some of these puffs with some wine. And where did your phyllo dough post go? I was ready to laugh (with you, not at you) but when I clicked on it it wasn't there....I hope you'll put it back up. Sounded like a fun post, lol!

  12. What a marvelous starter. I've missed this recipe but will give it a try when time permits. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  13. "What would martha do?" I like that! Definitely a good question to ask in times of doubt.

    Pate a choux is one thing that I've yet to attempt but with Martha's recipe, I'm sure it'd be a breeze!

  14. Love it! I read several of her magazines. There's always something I can use in them. Amazing pictures! The Pate a choux looks so wonderfully browned and light on the inside. Happy 4th!

  15. These look so light and delicate and I love them filled. They must be delicious.

    Would you add them to my linky - Bake with Bizzy?


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