Friday, February 15, 2008

Beth: Onion Cheddar Breadsticks Recipe

onion cheddar breadsticks
When I was a young'un, I moved from "Baja Oregon" to a very small coastal town in southwest Washington. A town where the locals joked, in some cases bragged, that, upon arriving, you should turn back your clock 20 years - to the '50s. (um, no) A town where, in the only 'ahead of their time' moment I witnessed there, they hated Calif…er, Baja Oregonians with a vengeance.

Well, mostly.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Kevin: Bite-sized Bread - Gougères Recipe

In casting about for a topic for February we somehow came up with bite-size breads with cheese. Go figure. However, having arrived on that topic the first thing that occurred to me was gougères.

Gougères are savory Pâte à choux puffs typically made with cheese, usually gruyere, but other cheeses are sometimes used. I frequently make them for parties because they keep easily for a day in the fridge (or a month in the freezer) and reheat beautifully in the oven.

Making this dough can be intimidating the first time because it's unconventional. But in fact it's easy and fast. Choux is a bread (pastry) leavened with steam. A wet dough, as it heats up the liquid in it turns to steam and causes it to rise and forming large internal bubbles which are stuffed with something sweet in the case of eclairs and profiteroles. According to Wikipedia:

A chef by the name of Panterelli invented the dough in 1540, seven years after he left Florence, along with Catherine de' Medici and the entirety of her court. He used the dough to make a gâteau and named it Pâte à Panterelli. As time passed, the recipe of the dough evolved, and the name changed to Pâte à Popelin, which was used to make Popelins, small cakes made in the shape of a woman's breasts. Then, Avice, a pâtissier in the eighteenth century, created what was then called Choux Buns. The name of the dough changed to Pâte à Choux, as Avice's buns looked similar in appearance to choux, which is French for cabbages. From there, Antoine Carême made modifications to the recipe, resulting in the recipe most commonly used now for profiteroles.
The recipe below is based on one by Thomas Keller, the owner and chef of The French Laundry. But I've tweaked it and the inclusion of prosciutto is completely my own (albeit obvious) idea.

Prosciutto Gougères
Makes about 24.

Ingredient US volume Metric volume US weight Metric weight
prosciutto 6 thin slices
water 1 c 236.6 ml 8 oz 225 g
unsalted butter 7 tbsp 105 ml 3.5 oz 100 g
kosher salt 1 1/2 tsp 7 ml -- --
ground mustard 1 tsp 5 ml -- --
freshly ground white pepper 1/2 tsp 3 ml -- --
all-purpose flour 1 1/4 c 295 ml 6 3/8 oz 183 g
large eggs 4 - 5 ea
gruyere grated -- -- 5 oz 142 g

Heat the oven to 450F/230C.

Slightly cook prosciutto in a skillet over medium heat — about 10 seconds per side. Then coarsely chop by hand, you should have about 1/3 cup lightly packed.

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Mix the mustard, salt, and pepper with the flour. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and butter and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir, smearing and cutting through the batter, 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).

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Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand 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 Gruyere and chopped prosciutto.

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Line a pair of baking sheets with parchment paper, (or Silpat if you have one). Fill a one-gallon heavy plastic bag with the batter and snip off a bottom corner. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon (15 ml) mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) between the gougères. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) of the remaining grated cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes (my oven needs 10 minutes), or until they puff and hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (175C). and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes to a light golden brown color.

(Note: Unless you have a convection oven, I recommend cooking these in two batches, if you have a convection oven you may be able to cook both sheets at once.)


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