Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cheese Flops

When I first bit into a gougères, a savory French cheese puff, at Tartine in SF, I wondered, "Where have you been all my life?" The treats are crisp on the outside, puffy on the inside and infused with fresh thyme and gruyere.

I was delighted to learn later that Fraiche in Culver City baked their own gougères and even served their hamburgers on the puffy buns.

But, alas, I discovered during my September visit that Fraiche no longer bakes or serves the bread.

"Where can I buy fresh gougères?" I asked the Food Librarian, who had just posted about the perfect puffs she made at home.

"In your own kitchen," she wrote back.

I was about to pop open a bottle of champagne I'd been saving and decided that gougères would be the perfect accompaniment.

I turned to the master source, the Tartine cookbook that I had purchased during a recent visit to the venerable bakery. I'd no longer have to journey to SF to sink my choppers into a gougères.

But this beautiful cookbook was not a fit for baking-challenged moi. The ingredients and directions were listed on two different pages and I had to keep flipping back and forth. The directions were written in long, narrative paragraphs, not bullet points. And the directions left some confusion. (It said to stir in the flour. Should I turn off the flame first or keep it on high?) They didn't say, so I guessed wrong and turned off the flame.

Perhaps that's why my puffs were a flop, as flat as giant buttons. But that didn't stop friends and family from asking, "Are there more?" I baked up tray after tray of the flops, and they greedily ate them.

Just imagine how gaga they'll go over a gougères done right. (Next time I'll follow Tartine-loving Jen's instructions on Oishii Eats.)

(PS It may be a while before I can bake up another batch of gougères. I broke a hip, had pin surgery and will be hobbling about on a walker for a few weeks.)


Cafe Observer said...

Thank God I don't care much for cheeze xcept when taking fotographs or on pizza.

Petrea Burchard said...

A broken hip seems to be a boon to your blogging. I'll take a cheese flop, please. Or a taterap (my WV). Keep feeling better.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

If the food is rotten at club Huntington I do hope you were able to score a room with a view.

WV: Cheet-O-s

they're in the gift shop

Jean Spitzer said...

Your flops sound like they deserve a better name. Then you can share your modified gougeres recipe, with its spiffy new name, as your own variation on a classic.

Margaret said...

Sorry to go off topic, but I'm craving your wonderful nicoise salad, and I've lost my recipe. Anyway you can help me find it here?

Margaret said...

Found it, thanks to Cafe Observer.

Desiree said...

Boy, who'd a known wrestling with gougeres woulda put you outta commission!

Along These Lines ... said...

We were looking for something new to cook next week - gougères! Nice odea, thanks!

The Food Librarian said...

Sorry about the broken hip! That sucks!

Oh, those instructions don't sound too user friendly. You need to dump the flour in all at once and stir stir (with flame on) until a thin layer of stuff is at the bottom of your pan. You are trying to dry it out a bit at the same time. Once you dump the flour, it shouldn't be too long before you move to the KitcheAid. If you find a good cream puff recipe, the instructions are exactly the same, but you add cheese to the savory ones. Feel Better!!! - mary

Mari Mansourian said...

susan missed you darling :)
just popped by to say hi and invite you to check out my new blog :) hope all is well, stop by at the shop and say hi

Food Gal said...

OMG, I can't even imagine burgers on gougeres. Talk about a dream come true. Even if your first attempt didn't succeed, your next one will. You always learn from the flops. So they're never done in vain.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Oh no! I hope you're OK?

Anonymous said...

Where you been? The Two Guys want to see some Cheese Flips.