Okay, okay, it’s time for the reveal! We’ve been teasing you all week, posting French-inspired recipes here at The Café and sponsoring a guessing game with a giveaway for the Café follower with the closest “Why all the French recipes?” guess. You’ve been giving fabulously, fun, fabricated guesses, many of which I wish were true! No one hit the nail perfectly on the head, but there was one that came close, at least in a general sense………. It went like this ………
Andrea said “Are you celebrating something? A wish come true? I love your cake! and the pictures!! I can taste the caramelized crust just looking at it:)” Yes, it is certainly a wish come true! Congratulations Andrea, you’re the winner of a year’s worth of Maldon Sea Salt, my favorite sea salt.
Many of you don’t know this about me, but my career has been as a registered nurse. A mother-baby nurse, for the last 25 years, to be precise. I love my job, taking care of new moms after they bring their babies into the world, teaching them the ins and outs of newborn care and hopefully sending both mom and dad home ready to embrace this awesome new responsibility.
I’ve also loved to cook for as long as I can remember, though when choosing a career back in the ’70s, a culinary education was not something that even entered my mind. Coming from a small town in the Midwest, culinary school was not conventional choice at that time. I was encouraged to go into something practical, something that would be useful, even when I’d later enter the child-rearing years.
Nursing has served me well and, in turn, I’ve had the opportunity to serve and help others. I’ve been blessed in my occupation in a myriad of ways from getting to know wonderful patients, working with a team of awesome co-workers and having a very flexible schedule. If I could go back, would I have chosen a culinary career instead? Probably not but…..
…… my curiosity and passion for cooking and baking has increased over the years and though I’ve learned a ton through everyday experience, I’ve always wanted to study at a professional institution. I’ve never had aspirations to open a restaurant, catering business or any other business along those lines, just always want to learn more of a subject that fascinates me.
Well, all this to say that I’m super excited to have an amazing opportunity not only to go to culinary school, but to study at one of the finest, most reputable schools in the country; The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York! woooooooohoooooooo! 🙂
I’ll be spending next week at the CIA studying French cooking. Thus the reason we’ve been cooking “French” all week. I got my “marching orders” a few days ago informing me to report for duty “at 6 a.m. on Monday morning to the East Wing Dining Room of the J. Willard Marriott Continuing Education Center”. Guess what? You’ll be there too ……………cause I’ll be blogging my experience all week so you get to be “a mouse in the house”!
While I’m busy doing my “dream school”, Scott, my husband/photographer, will be attending The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City to study food photography! Scott’s passion for photography will be ignited by professionals at ICE during his weekend course in the Big Apple. He also can’t wait!!
So enough of that, you probably want to know more about these delicious Gougeres (pronounced like this). Gougeres originated in the Burgundy area of France, but are now popular throughout the country. They are made from a pâte à choux dough (the same dough as cream puffs are made from) and almost always have cheese or some combination of cheeses. They are light as a feather and are delicious served either as an appetizer or a yummy dinner roll.
I served these Gougeres at a birthday celebration for my daughter-in-law, Lindsay last night and they flew off the plate. They’re crispy on the outside and melt-in-you-mouth delicious on the inside. I used Gruyere and Parmesan cheese but Cheddar or any other flavorful cheese would be equally delicious. They can be made early in the day and stored in an airtight container and can also be frozen for several weeks. A smear of honey butter on a warm gougere is a slice of pure heaven. Re-warm them right before serving so they’re crisp and hot. Expect gasps of delight when they’re brought to the table!
Oh, there’s another winner! They give-away deal involved 2 prize-winners; one who had the best guess and the other chosen by random. The random winner is ………………. Kim from the lovely Canadian blog Les Adventures Culinaires de Kiki. If Kim and Andrea would please send us their addresses we get their packages, both a years supply of my favorite sea salt, Maldon, in the mail pronto!
Fresh Rosemary & Thyme Gougeres
8 tablespoons butter, (4ounces) cut into several pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup Gruyere cheese, finely grated
½ cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (glaze), for egg wash
1. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Arrange oven racks near center of oven to accommodate sheet pans with rising gougers Preheat oven to 450˚F.
2. Combine the water, butter, and salt) in a medium size heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil.
3. Remove the pan from heat and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until all flour is incorporated,
4. Return the pan to medium heat and stir for approximately 3 minutes to dry out the dough. The dough is ready when a thin starchy layer coats the bottom of the pan and mixture is thick enough to hold a wooden spoon upright.
5. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the dough for one minute until it stops steaming and is warm to the touch.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition till all egg is incorporated and dough becomes smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. After the dough comes together and is very smooth and creamy add the cheeses and the fresh herbs.
7. Using an ice cream scoop (I use a medium size scoop), scoop mounds of dough onto prepared sheet pans, spacing dough 2 inches apart. Gently brush mounds with egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
8. Place pans in oven and set timer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 350˚F and continue baking for 20-25 minutes or until deep golden brown. If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate the pans once or twice during baking.
9. Remove from oven and serve immediately or allow to cool then store in an airtight container. Rewarm in 325˚F oven for 5-10 minutes or until crisp and hot. Serve as a delicious appetizer or a unique delightful dinner roll. I love to serve these for dinner with honey butter (4 ounces of softened butter combined with 2 tablespoons honey).