Monday, February 15, 2016

Gougeres, a Savory French Cheese Puff

Gougeres: Think of them as a refined alternative to the cheese biscuits at Red Lobster
I like to say that I'm "practicing cooking" in much the same way that I'm "practicing yoga." I don't believe that practice makes perfect, but practice definitely makes progress. 

Take, for example, the first time I attempted to make gougeres, the savory French cheese puffs that I discovered at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. I bought the Tartine cookbook and carefully followed the recipe. Instead of light and airy puffs, my gougeres were flops, as hard and flat as silver dollars.

Fast forward more than five years later for my second attempt at practicing making gougères. This time,  I ignored the hard-to-follow instructions in the Tartine cookbook. And I turned away from a friend's recipe (from the Dinah Shore Cookbook) that called for scalding the milk in the first step. Scalding milk on purpose? That frightened me. 

This time around, I turned to David Lebovitz's blog for a simple, easy-to-follow recipe. I'm happy to report that practice (and finding the right recipe) did result in progress. I made them on a Thursday for a women's chocolate and wine party and then practiced making them again on Valentine's Day. My sweetheart and I washed down a half batch of these addicting treats with a bottle of champagne. 

I like the helpful hints that David adds throughout his instructions. He doesn't just suggest that you use a pastry bag to pipe the dough onto a baking sheet. He also recommends a freezer bag with the corner snipped off OR two spoons to portion and drop the dough. I used the two-spoon method but would probably go with a freezer bag if I was making a double batch. 

I used fresh rosemary and thyme instead of chives as David did, but you can use any kind of herb that suits your fancy. As a matter of fact, these are perfect for improvisation. My friend Lori told me that her mother often served these with an olive in the middle as an appetizer. Or you can mix in chopped olives with the dough. 

Try them once and I predict you'll be making these golden, herby, addicting puffs again and again. 

No comments: