Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gorgeous Gougère

I've been busy.

Busy looking at a computer screen, waiting for the phone to ring, or watching a LOT of TV.  And not busy playing in the kitchen.

I guess you could say I've been in a funk.

Today, I vowed to slap myself out of my pity party and try to create one of my favorite San Francisco treats.  Not Rice-O-Roni.  But those delicious gougères from Tartine.  These fluffy, eggy pastries are one of my absolute must eats when I go to the City by the Bay.  Tartine makes them with just enough Gruyère and black pepper to keep things interesting and savory.  I didn't have any of that nutty cheese around, but I did have some Asiago...

Flecks of pepper and thyme make this a purty dish, too!
Asiago, Black Pepper, and Thyme Gougère

These tasty bites are a great little nibbley for a cocktail party or with Pesto Chicken Salad.

1 cup water
1 stick of butter
pinch of salt
1 cup of flour
4 eggs
1/3 cup Asiago, grated plus 2 tsp. reserved
2 Tbl cracked black pepper
1 Tbl thyme, minced

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

In a sauce pan, bring water, salt, and butter to a simmer. Once heated, add all of the flour at once and stir in the same direction with a wooden spoon. It will look freaky to begin with, but it will turn into a lovely little ball of dough in no time. You want to cook it until it dries out quite a bit. Take off heat and cool slightly

Transfer dough to food processor or mixing bowl, and add the eggs one at a time until dough is completely mixed and glossy. Stir in cheese, pepper, and thyme.  We're moving the dough again...this time to a piping bag. Or in my case, a gallon freezer bag with the end snipped off. Pipe out golf ball sized little poofs of love onto baking sheets.

Damp your finger and give the little poofy tops a push down so they don't burn. Pop 'em in the oven for 10 minutes on 425, then lower temperature to 375 for 20 minutes. During the last 7 minutes of cooking, sprinkle these poofy puffs with the reserved Asiago.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Point of Inspiration

I'm a kind of "Go With the Flow" kinda guy.

Well, not so much in life.

Perhaps in the kitchen.

Actually, I think my friends would probably tell you that I am quite bossy in the kitchen and a bit of a control freak.  My students would probably tell you the same.

But with a recipe, I kind of look at it as a jumping off point: a source of inspiration for some culinary play.  Last summer my friend and I were trying to be "good" about what we ate, and, as a result, I was trolling the interweb searching for healthy recipes with substance.  I found a FABU recipe for Hoisin Chicken with Cucumber Salad

I have since used this marinade for pork and sauce for grilled salmon, but I am constantly playing around with the ingredients:  using less garlic, adding Dijon mustard, using Thai chili paste instead of jalapeños, adding a ton of cilantro, using red wine vinegar.  You get the idea.  And it would always come out really tasty, but I would usually have a goodly bit left over (about 1/4 cup).

What to do with this extra deliciousness?

I know!  Add two additional teaspoons of rice wine vinegar and whisk in some olive oil and *VI-OH-LAY* you have a tasty vinaigrette perfect for hardy, bitter, greens.

Play wit-cho-food!

Bitter radicchio, radishes, and spicy wasabi peas play famously off the sweetness of this plumby vinaigrette!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

GLOBO to the Rescue!

I'm in a jam.

I am underemployed and in need of some funds.  Unfortunately, alas and alack, I need to break into ye olde retirement fund.  The only problem is, in order to get the ball rolling, I have to fill out a rather extensive form.  A simple task for most folks, however, when I first looked at this thing, it scrambled my brain and threw me into a full on panic.

Never fear!  The Glamorous Ladies of the Business Office are here!  Faster than a speeding email, those lovely ladies who crunch the numbers hours on end have agreed to help me get my do re mi!

And to thank them for helping me out of my jam, I'm bringing them jam.  Onion and Fennel Jam to be specific.  Something sweet and savory and a little out of the ordinary.  Like me.

Onion and Fennel Jam

This delicious condiment is a perfect accompaniment to a cheese plate, pork, and can liven up any sandwich.  Try it, you'll like it!

3 lbs. yellow onions, sliced
2 fennel bulbs, cored and sliced
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 Tbl salt
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Melt butter over low to medium heat. Add onions, fennel, and salt.  Stir to coat the veggies. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until onions and fennel begin to caramelize.  About 45-50 minutes.  Once mixture has reduced significantly and reached a rich caramel color, add sugar and vinegar.  Continue to simmer jam and reduce by half.  Cool and store in sterilized jars.  Refrigerate.