Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

November 19, 2011

Gorgeous Gruyere Gougeres

What appetizers should I serve at Thanksgiving? This is a tricky subject, as you want items that are not terribly filling, but are jaw-droppingly drool-inducing. The answer? Cheese puffs. I make these bad boys twice a year (for the holidays and Easter). The dough is simple to prepare, but the piping takes a while since the recipe yields about 150 puffs. This is a good thing because you can freeze half of them and reheat them for holiday parties in December. Make them ahead of time and save your oven, and your energy, for other dishes on Thanksgiving Day. 
8 eggs at room temperature (+ 1 extra for an egg wash)

2/3 cup whole milk (+ 2 tablespoons for later...)
1 1/3 cup water
1 cup (1/2 #) unsalted butter
Salt (about 2-3 teaspoons, depending on how salty your cheese is)
Freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups flour

2 cups finely grated Gruyere cheese (about 1/2#) (the one from Trader Joe's is good & cheap)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped green onion

In a 4 Qt. heavy pot (Le Creuset) heat the milk, water, and butter until boiling, and the butter is melted. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat, and stir in the flour. The dough will form into a nice, clean ball. Move back onto medium heat and stir for about a minute to cook out the raw flour taste.
Dump the ball of dough into a mixing bowl. Beat in the 8 eggs, one at a time, waiting for each one to be incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the 2T cold milk, the grated cheese, and the fresh herbs.
Fit a pastry bag (or gallon size ziploc bag) with a coupler. Fill the bag about halfway with some dough, and pipe even balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet (about the size of a quarter, 1" apart from each other). The trick to piping is to stop squeezing the bag as you twist the tip away from the ball of dough.

Brush the tops of the balls with an egg wash, and bake at 400' for about 15-20 minutes. The puffs should be nice & brown on top. Serve immediately, or store cooled puffs in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Reheat in a 350' oven for about 5 minutes.
To make sure your cheese puffs are delicious, sample at least 3 from each batch. This could go on & on, but I have faith in your dedication.

This versatile dough is the foundation for many baked goods. A sweet version is used for eclairs, profiteroles, and can also be fried to produce a varied result. The process is simple, but its success can be easily altered by glossing over tried & true techniques. If you have any questions about this, or any other recipe, please drop me a line, and I'll do my best to help you out.

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