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gougère

you know, i usually try to keep things casual with meals at home. my ideal dinner is pretty much sausage, peppers and onions on an italian roll with provolone cheese and tater tots. but sometimes, when i get in the mood, i like to get a little fancy. fortunately for my sanity (and my wallet), i tend to only get fancy with one aspect of a meal – imagine hot dogs served with caviar – so i’m always on the lookout for dishes that straddle the line.

the gougère is the perfect solution: a french creation made with a swiss cheese, so you know it’s great right off the bat. it’s fancy enough to serve on its own as an hors devour but still goes great as an accompaniment to a hearty meal. gougère are basically extremely light cheese puffs, simple to make, and hard to stop eating.

the secret is to use a very simple pâte à choux – a dough made from butter, water, flour and eggs. although they don’t look so graceful going into the oven, they come out beautifully puffed and fluffy, with no need for yeast or other leavening agents. the cheese flavor is very light, so if you want something more intense, just add more shredded cheese of your choice.

you may be surprised at first bite that such a simple recipe could yield elegant results. no matter what kind of meal you serve these with, they’ll impress. now i’m off to eat my sausage, pepper and onion sandwich with a side dish of cheese puffs. until next time!

gougère
from Great Bar Food at Home [1]. makes 15 1 1/2″ puffs.

1/2 cup water
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) butter
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 oz gruyère cheese, finely grated

1. preheat the oven to 375F. line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it.

2. heat the water, butter and whie pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. when the butter is melted and mixture simmers, dump in the flour all at once and stir. reduce the heat to medium and stir until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly, for a few seconds.

3. add the eggs one at a time, beating well, one at a time. beat in the mustard and all but 2-3 Tbsp of the cheese. drop by teaspoons or pipe through a pastry bag. i poured the batter into a baggie and cut one of the corners so i could pipe it. sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

4. bake for about 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. serve warm. these will keep for 2 days in the fridge in a sealed airtight container, or frozen for up to 2 weeks. reheat at 350F for 10-15 minutes.