Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stuff I want to make: Gougeres

I've been craving certain foods: and not just the food itself but the cooking process that precedes it. I've actually reached a point where I'm not sure if I like cooking or eating more. I think it's still on the side of eating - but I definitely get more excited about cooking.

I really want to make Gougeres, which are little cheese puffs made from choux dough. A lot of people think choux dough is really difficult - but really it's just a bit of work. There's a lot of stirring, and if you've ever tried to work fresh eggs into dough, you know it's like trying to convince your grandmother you couldn't possibly eat any more buscuits and ham or matzoh ball soup (depending on the grandmother), you need to be persistent and unwavering. Other than that its just about watching it while it's on the heat and making sure it doesn't over cook. Watching and stirring... not too bad.

Though that may not sound like much fun at all, I actually find a lot of joy and serenity in watching milk and butter boil, and then how everything changes so quickly when you add the flour. And then the smell of adding the cheese is just dreamy. And once you've mixed everything together and it's all one cohesive paste it's like a great big "fuck you technology, I used my damn hands!" And then when you bake them the entire house fills up with this cheesy smell so intoxicating that you can't possibly feel anything less than blissful content.

I've got some ideas of different things I want to try with this. Bacon, cheddar and leek gougeres as I mentioned in a recent post. Also spicy buffalo cheddar gougeres with a tempered cheese glaze.

And then there's beignets: this is the result of deep frying the choux dough instead of baking. Typically these are made with sugar in the dough and then filled with cream or chocolate. But as much as I love sweets, I'm much more of a savory kinda guy. So how about this: parmesan beignets with an herbed whipped goat cheese filling. I've never tried beignets but I'm fairly proficient at frying (considering I never use a thermometer which I probably should start doing) so I can't imagine it being too difficult - I want the outside crispy and the inside soft and fluffy.

I also want to use Seelander, which is a rich and creamy and stinky swiss cheese, and my favorite. I'm not sure if this would be better as a gougere or beignet. I guess I'll just have to try both and find out.

And since I hate when you read someone's ramblings about something delicious and then you're left without the knowledge of how to make them, here's the recipe I use.

1 Cup milk (Some recipes say to use water or half water / half milk but I say use milk it comes out richer and fluffier)
1 Stick butter
1 Tsp salt
1 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup grated cheese: gruyere is the standard but you can use pretty much any cheese you like. If you're doing a softer cheese that you can't grate I'd use more like half a cup.
5 eggs at room temp (if they aren't don't worry about it, I never remember to warm them and I haven't had a problem yet)
Pinch of fresh ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 425F.
Start with a medium saucepan and bring the milk, butter, salt and pepper to a boil on a medium flame.
Add the flour, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula (I like the silicone spat because it doesn't stick and i find it easier when you get to mixing in the eggs.)
Place back on flame and drop the heat to low and stir/mix for about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in the cheese.
Then start mixing in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, making sure that each one is completely encorporated before adding the next. (You can do it all at once, pulsing in a food processor, but I like the satisfaction of mixing it by hand, also I trust myself more than a machine.)

Grease 2 large baking sheets or line with parchment. And then pipe the dough into inch wide dollops onto the sheets separating each by 2 inches. You can use a pastry bag or just put the dough in a ziplock bag and snip one of the corners. You can also just use a small (1-1.5 inch) icecream scoop, but it can be hard to keep the dough from sticking.

Beat the last egg and brush it on each of the gougere. This will give them a nice golden shine once baked.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Thats the basic recipe. From there you can feel free to experiment. You can throw any herbs or spices into the mix. You can sprinkle extra cheese on top before you bake. You can even add a 1/4 cup of sugar to the boiling milk and butter and then skip the cheese (or switch it with something like 1/3 cup fresh ricotta) and then you'll have sweet puffs that you can fill with whipped cream or cover with chocolate.

Your own immagination is your only limitation.


Stroud Out.

*Photo borrowed from until I can take my own (please don't be mad)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hot Sauce News.

I made some hotsauce.
It's my best one yet, Chris can testify to that having eating about 2 medium/large bottles in less than 3 weeks.
Very delicious but also very hot, not for the timid.
I'll get a picture of it up here later.
Its based with carrots, oranges and habaneros.
I don't have a name yet.
But I do have a few bottles at home for sale.
Mostly big bottles - 20 bucks will get you over half a liter which is quite a lot of hotsauce, I also have one or two small bottles left.
So if you are interested, let me know. I can drop you off a bottle if you're in the metro boston area or if you're out of reach you can throw in a few extra bucks and I can ship it to you.

I'm hoping I can start selling these, and with that money make more sauce and hopefully snowball effect my way to an actual hotsauce company.

B. Out

Love | Cooking

Its cold outside. Not so cold that I'm all grumpy and achy, just to the point that I'm gonna need a hat soon, and I really want to cook and cook and cook. There are dishes that I can just about taste on the tip of my tongue as I imagine them.

Red and green bell peppers sauteing with habaneros, jalapenos, garlic and onions. A sprinkle of salt. A grind of pepper. More salt. A quick swish and drizzle around the pan with the olive oil. Cooking it down just till the hab's start to smoke and tickle your throat.

Arborio rice toasting in duck fat. Shyly adding a splash of black truffle oil and a pinch of white truffle salt just to get that wonderful aroma going.

That perfect cheesy smell of gougeres as they rise.

I love it. I love it all. I love cooking. I love that satisfaction of being able to make food that is just awesome. And there are certain things I just cannot wait to make - such as Fire Chili and Many Mushroom Rizotto and Gougeres with cheddar, bacon and leeks.

But, as with any love, there is always complication.

The biggest problem is that I find that my motivation and enthusiasm to cook things goes flat if no one but me is going to eat. Cooking for my parents is great; I get a lot of joy cooking for them, especially after they cooked for me most of my life. It was truly their gourmandise[new favorite word] that taught me to cook and brought out the foodie within me. And I've always loved cooking with friends. Whether it's Indian/pan-Asian food at William's house in Concord or homemade pasta with mushroom sauce at Emily's or making a giant pot of chili with the roommates and we'll all eat it over the course of weeks or even months. Or every now and then I'll make a big batch of hot wings. It certainly isn't limited to that, but it all has its limitations, because, while I thoroughly enjoy all that... they aren't really my target audience.

I want someone I can cook for. Someone to seduce with my culinary creations. Someone to get impatient and hungry when she smells the aromas wafting through the kitchen. Someone to watch as her eyes light up with excitement when I give her the first taste of a sauce in progress. Someone to convince to try flavors and foods foreign to her palate. Someone to be both muse to bring inspiration and goddess to present the divine sacrifice to. Someone to make soup for when she's sick. Someone to indulge me when I fully dork out about food.

Basically I need a date. Cooking, as fun as it is, isn't as fun without a beautiful girl to cook for.

Back in September there was a girl I was supposed to cook for [As you can tell I did not get that opportunity. Long story short I was led on and then blown off, which I must admit still kinda hurts and I hate that I let things like that get to me.] But just as a result of that excitement I was able to think up a rather fantastic meal that some girl, at some point, will get to fully enjoy.

I know that with someone to cook for; inspiration can be plentiful - enthusiasm can be boundless - and motivation can be strong. Until that point... I'll certainly have things that I will want to make... but without someone; my inspiration may run dry - my enthusiasm will certainly have short limits - and my motivation will undoubtedly waver.

What thrills the tongue and fills the stomach cannot alone satisfy the heart.