Monday, August 9, 2010
Appetizers - Gougeres & Bruschetta
I apologize for not posting as much as I should be - I've just been so busy! Sunday night presented a great opportunity for me to make a couple of my favorite appetizers so I thought I better document them for you all! Trey's wonderful cousin and wife invited us over for a BBQ and asked if I would bring appetizers. Of course! I love appetizers. Sometimes I will make a meal just out of appetizers! A long, long time ago I worked a summer for a caterer and she made wonderful little bites for the parties she catered and I've been in love with small "amuse-bouche" type foods ever since. In fact, I'm pretty sure the bruschetta I made last night was inspired by her. The gougeres (accent over the first "e"), I found on Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs. Who can resist a fluffy cheese ball? Not this guy. They are also super easy, fairly quick and will wow anyone who pops one in their mouth (of course, not everyone will be able to stop at one. I usually eat like five myself). Also, my friend Ric pointed out that the choux paste can be used for pretty much anything! Here's his advice:
"Pate choux is one of the most versatile doughs there is. It's kind of a cross between dough and batter. When you make it, save some out before you put the savory ingredients in, and pipe out a few to make cream puffs, and eclaires. Your recipe is for a cheese puff, but you can add other stuff, black olives, diced sun dried tomatoes, capers, previously browned sauteed garlic cloves, You can split them to add little pieces of rare beef, rare barbecued beef, filet tartare, it's endless. Pate choux is also basically the same recipe as is used to make yorkshire pudding, that classic served with prime rib."
The bruschetta is a little labor intensive, especially if you are cooking for more than two people. I used about 10 heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market and opted to peel and seed them before I chopped them. It's nice not to have to worry about the skins as you serve guests and it gives a cleaner presentation, I think. Anyway, everybody loved them (I think!) and we had a wonderful time hanging out with Trey's family.
Tomatoes (one for each person you're serving), peeled, seeded and chopped
Mozzrella, chopped into little squares
Basil leaves, chopped
Salt and Pepper
Bread, I used baguette cut into about 1" pieces
To peel your tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the bottom of each tomato in an "X" pattern using a paring knife. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water for a minute and remove. Dunk into an ice bath. Using your fingers remove the skins and let cool. To seed, cut each tomato into fourths and remove seeds. Chop the tomatoes into about 1/4" cubes. Place in a large mixing bowl.
Chop your mozzarella, garlic and basil and add to your tomatoes. Cover the mixture with olive oil, about 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Let rest.
Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to broiling and brush one side of your cut bread with olive oil. Toast for about 3 minutes or until crisp and slightly brown. Remove from oven, let cool.
When you're ready to eat, just top a piece of bread with the tomato mixture and devour...Yum! A note: If I had been making these at my house, I would've omitted the chopped mozzarella and instead topped each slice of bread with a slice of mozzarella before I toasted it to melt the cheese a little.
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp Tillamook)
Coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher salt) to sprinkle on top
Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute to dry the mixture a bit.
Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds.
Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until well mixed.
Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl, and let cool for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese, then add the remainder and all the cheddar cheese to the choux paste. Stir just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougère, spacing them about 2-inches apart on the sheet. Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt and a little of the reserved Parmesan cheese on each gougère. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature with drinks.