"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sources of Joy

It has been a fairly decent couple of days, I must say.  How could it not be when yesterday began with this? 

And continued on to this:

Not bad, not bad at all.  This is a seriously beautiful bit of the world to call home, isn't it?

And, while clouds may have rolled in a bit today, and I may have forgotten I was baking granola this morning (oops), and I wasn't able to find any good leeks anywhere (where are all the good leeks!?) to make the recipe I had planned to share with you fine folks...things worked out just fine.  As they usually do.

Let me just say, Dorie Greenspan, you are a culinary goddess.  I've been hoarding her book, Around My French Table, which I borrowed from the library (my sincere apologies to anyone who has it on their hold list!), because it is absolutely, completely marvelous.  This is my kind of food.  Simple, yet elegant.  Nourishing, but a little bit sinful (butter, baby, it is French after all!).  And just so not fussy or awkward.  The kind of food that you sort of drool over (again, apologies to you library folk who use this book after me!) while you read the recipes.  The kind of food you sort of sigh over while you plan your meal.  The kind of food that makes you smile when you take that first bite and think:  Oh yes!  I'm getting giddy all over again just thinking of tonight's dinner.

Gougeres.  Can I tell you that I am in love with french words?  I don't speak French.  The only words I know are food words, and it's quite possible that I'm making an utter shambles of them when I speak them.  When I come across a french word in a book, often a recipe book, I catch myself mouthing it, and sometimes even quietly saying it aloud, savoring it.  Which is rather embarrassing in public.  I can't help it.  It's all just so delicious, isn't it?

Right, focus.  Tonight's treat was gougeres, these heavenly cheese puffs, airy and holey and so, so cheesy...and I'm so not hungry right now, but there they are! Just sitting over there on the counter...yum.  As it was my first time making choux pastry, I wasn't sure how it was going to go, and on top of that, I didn't have whole milk, but hey, what's life without a bit of risk?  I went for it, and I am so glad I did.

The only fiddly thing about this was spooning them all out, quickly, onto baking sheets, because the recipe does make a fair few.  Really though, it's easy peasy, and while Dorie recommends champagne with gougeres, I figured since it's Thursday I'd better not open that bottle just yet, so instead, had them with the Pamplemousse, that Molly recently posted on Orangette, and which pretty much is the best thing I've had in a while now.  Next to these gougeres.

Gougeres (adapted from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan)
makes about 36

1/2 cup whole milk (I used 2%, but I imagine whole milk would be even better, if that's possible)
1/2 cup water
8 Tbs butter (one stick), cut into 4 pieces
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar (I used New Zealand cheddar)

Preheat oven to 425 and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring milk, water, butter and salt to rapid boil in medium saucepan over high heat.  Add flour all at once, turn heat to medium low, and stir energetically (Dorie's word) with a wooden spoon.  The dough will come together in a big ball and a light crust forms on the bottom of the pan (don't worry).  Keep stirring - with vigor - (Dorie's word again) for another minute or two to dry the dough, which should be very smooth.

Turn the dough into a bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, or large bowl with a hand mixer (which I used), and let it sit for a minute.  Add eggs one by one and mix in completely before adding the next one.  Beat until thick and shiny.  The dough may separate as each egg is added in, but will come back together as the last is incorporated.  Once the dough is made, it needs to be spooned out, onto baking sheets, immediately.

Use about 1 Tbs of dough for each gougere, leaving about 2 inches of space between for puffing room.

Slide into the heated oven, and turn heat to 375, bake for 12 minutes, then rotate pans from top to bottom, front to back.  Continue baking until gougeres are golden, firm and puffed, another 12-15 minutes.  (My oven is highly tempermental and it took about 20 minutes more, so just keep an eye on them.)  Serve warm, or cool on racks and serve at room temperature.

These are delicious, your belly, your family, your friends, whoever, will be oh so grateful!  And have someone else do the washing up!

And, to make a good day even better, I just ordered my very own copy of the book, so the lovely folks at the library can have theirs back!  And I will definitely be posting a few more of Dorie's recipes on here, because it would just be greedy not to!

Good day, indeed.


  1. I have been hoarding a library copy of Around my french table as well (took forever to get my turn too!)...looks like no one on the Eastside should count on finding it in the library. :)


  2. I am totally getting that book. And love your writing, by the way! Yay for french food!