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