Monday, January 5, 2009

R2R: Holiday Apps

This month's Recipes to Rival challenge was to make 2 of 3 given recipes. Oysters though yummy were not something I was 'daring' enough to attempt... plus I didnt have any real interest in deep frying. Ill stick with the 'healthy' cheese, cheese, and yes more cheese instead :)

The first recipe I made was the Gruyère Cheese Gougères. These were good and came together very easily (though my arm ached from the 2 minutes of beating!). However, they were altogether too salty for my taste. I think I would have prefered a different (less salty) cheese - they were great otherwise!

Gruyère Cheese Gougères

Copyright 'The French Laundry Cookbook' By Thomas Keller, November, 1999

Makes about 4 dozen gougères

Gougères are a classical preparation often served at wine tastings in France. The puffs are made from a savory pâte á choux, or cream puff dough-flavored here with Gruyère. They are best served hot out of the oven, offering that creamy-dough gratification. Don't add the cheese, and the puff is a base for a dessert.

1 cup water

7 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Pinch of sugar

1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

4 to 5 large eggs

1-1/4 cups grated Gruyère (5 ounces)

Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (see Sources) or parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes). Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again and, if necessary, add the yolk. Finally, mix in 3/4 cup of the Gruyère and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff and hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven and serve the gougères while hot.

The second appetizer I made was the Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Crostini... except I used apples since I somehow lost my pears! It was a fortuitous accident though since I and my family do not really care for pear and they were great with apples topping them! These were so so so good. I could have eaten them as my entire meal... yum. I will definitely make them again! I did use the marscapone, and I used gorgonzola. It seemed to mellow some in the cooking process as well. YUM!

Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Crostini:

a baguette, thinly sliced about ½ inch each

olive oil

mascarpone, for spreading (optional)

any type of bleu cheese (gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton), thinly sliced, or crumbled

freshly hulled walnuts

a few pears, peeled and sliced into small cubes

1. Brush your bread slices with olive oil, line on a baking sheet, then toast in a hot oven for a few minutes until browned and crispy. You can broil them as well, if you prefer.

2. Remove from heat and spread each toast with some mascarpone.

3. Lay bleu cheese slices, or spread some crumbles, on each toast and add walnut pieces on top. Return to a 375-400°F oven for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted.

4. When the cheese is nicely melted, take the crostinis out of the oven and top with a few cubes of pear. Serve soon after.


JMom said...

Great looking gougeres and crostini!

I agree with the saltiness on the gougeres. I would definitely cut it out next time.

That Girl said...

Your gougeres look beautiful. I bet they melt right in your mouth.

Temperance said...

You can't go wrong with cheese (all three would have been cheesy but we thought that was a little much)

I was wondering how the crostini would be with apple, I am not a big pear fan either. These were everyones favorite it seems.

The gougeres are lovely!

Lori said...

Great job, they look so good.

Caitlin said...

The crostinis were sooo delicious!! Oh man I want to eat them again right now. They were amazing :o)