Pommes Dauphine

Country of origin: France

Pommes dauphine (little dolphin princesses, I like to think) are little potato dumplings – but with a difference. When you bite into one, you go through the crispy outer shell with soft airy potato inside. They are a more sophisticated cousin of the potato croquette, and a bit more exciting than pommes duchesse, which just has egg added to mashed potato. So what’s in them? Mashed potato mixed with choux pastry, formed into little balls and deep fried.

Sadly I ate them all, plain, as they were cooked, but they would be a delicious accompaniment with meat, fish, nut loaf or vegetables, and a sauce.

This recipe was very easy to follow and made about 16 small dauphines. The recipe forms the dauphines with two tablespoons of mixture, but my deep fryer is far too small to cook that size properly, so I made mini-sized ones, using about a teaspoon of mixture. Also, be very careful as you get to the end of the frying time, they have a tendency to burst if cooked too long:

I think you could also make dauphines from sweet potatoes, celeriac or parsnip, ensuring that as much moisture is removed when cooking them. Maybe this is dangerous territory, but I’m also thinking pumpkin, a bit of cinnamon and sugar in the choux…Thanksgiving dauphines?

Tips:

– After forming the mixture of mashed potato and choux pastry, put in the freezer for fifteen minutes or so, to firm it up; it will be easier to form into balls for the frying.

– Flour the palms of your hands when forming the dauphines, it will stop the pastry sticking to you.

– Use the first dauphine as a check for your temperature and seasoning. You want them golden brown and cooked through.

Churros

Country of origin: Portugal?


My first memory of churros was biting into a crisp and crunchy doughnut at an amusement park. Still warm and served in a long paper bag, it was soft and fluffy on the inside, and doused in cinnamon sugar, delicious! They aren’t really widely available in England, so with a heavy heart I gave up on ever finding them again, until Wahaca, where the churros are served with little pots of hot chocolate sauce.

I didn’t realise, but these doughnuts are just deep fried choux pastry. The recipe I tried was quick to prepare and makes about 24 little churros. Water, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt are heated until boiling point. This is then removed from the heat and all-purpose flour added and mixed until the dough comes away from the sides of the pot. Finally, this is cooled slightly and then two eggs are beaten in. In the meantime, oil is heated for the deep frying; you want it around 350 degrees F.

I was so looking forward to the star-ridges of professional churros – which also allow you to scoop up more cinnamon sugar – but I don’t have a piping star tip large enough, so I just cut the piping bag at what seemed the right diameter (about 1.5 cm).

Unfortunately, the churros had air bubbles on them, seen below, which are luckily hidden by the cinnamon sugar. I’m not sure why this happens.

While these are still hot, roll in the cinnamon sugar:

Here is the inside of one of the churros, cooked and crisp on outside, but still slightly soft and on the inside:

Tips:

– Test one or two out when the oil is at the right temperature, to get a feel for how long they take to nicely golden outside, but be properly cooked inside.

– You can make the choux batter in advance and leave in the fridge, then all you need to do is deep fry and dip in sugar.

– Use scissors to cut off the batter coming out of the piping bag and into the hot oil.