To make up for that yummy but less-than-cost-conscious post I wrote for last week’s ad (tenderloin crostini if you didn’t catch it), I figured I owed you a recipe for something you could probably make from ingredients you already have in your fridge. And no, I’m not talking about scrambled eggs, grilled cheese or bologna on white, either. I’m talking about a recipe that will make you look like a 4-star, fancy pants gourmet chef – for pennies. Hard to fathom, I know. But it can be done! Let’s make gougeres!An ultra chic French specialty, gougeres (“GO-zhair”) are luscious bite-sized cheese puffs. They’re luxurious, crisp and light and the perfect starter to any high heeled, little black dress gathering. They’re at their best when served straight from the oven, but no need to stress! They freeze beautifully and are easily re-crisped in the oven just before your guests arrive. Once you perfect the technique, they’ll be your best friend when it comes to last minute cocktail bites. The ones pictured above are already tucked away in my freezer, waiting for Christmas Eve.
I’ve made many batches over the years and have found that using a hand mixer works best. The dough gets pretty thick, and to mix it well by hand you’ll need biceps like my neighbor Jane. And let’s not kid ourselves, Jane did not arrive at those biceps by hand mixing a lot of pate a choux – but that’s a topic for a different day.
Try this basic recipe, but feel free to swap in different combinations of cheeses, herbs, and savories. Today I had a chunk of prosciutto and a bunch of fresh parsley hanging around, so I minced them up and tossed them into half the batch. I’ve also used crumbled bacon and minced scallions, and I’ve played around with the cheeses too – while Gruyere is traditional, I’ve changed things up based on what I’ve had on hand – crumbled blue and shredded fontina are also amazing!
Prepare yourself for guests effusing with compliments.
Source: Food & Wine Magazine, January 2011, p. 102. Recipe by Veronica Pedraza.
1 stick butter (Land o’ Lakes is on sale)
1 c. water
½ t. kosher salt
1 c. all purpose flour
4 large eggs (Sparboe Large Eggs are on sale)
1 c. shredded, good quality Cheddar Cheese (I used the Sendiks 1 Year Sharp Cheddar)
Preheat the oven to 425 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, water, and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly, then using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat in the eggs 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between additions. Beat in all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese.
Using a 1-tablespoon ice cream scoop (or melon baller), scoop level mounds of the dough onto the baking sheets, 1 ½ inches apart. Sprinkle with the remaining two tablespoons of cheese and bake for 28 minutes, until golden and risen. Shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time.
Lower the oven temperature to 400. Pierce each gougere near the bottom with a skewer and return the pans to the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes longer, or until crisp and deeply golden. Transfer the gougeres to racks to cool. Serve warm from the oven.
To freeze, cool completely then transfer to freezer bags. To re-warm, place frozen gougeres on a baking sheet and recrisp at 325 for 5-10 minutes, then serve.
Posted by Leah DamronLeah Damron is an avid home cook who believes in using the freshest ingredients available, and she challenges herself weekly to create meals out of (mostly!) sale items. If Sendik's ever gave a title for "Biggest Fan", she believes she would win, hands down. Leah lives in greater Milwaukee with her husband, three children, and her big black lab, Daisy."
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