Baked Cheese Puff Appetizer

My grandma called these cheese puffs, but if you prefer the French name, Bon Appétit calls them Gougères.

These delicate cheese puffs always impress. The dough takes a couple of times to get “just right,” but this is now one of my favorites to make for a crowd.

  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 ounces (1½ cups) grated Comté cheese or Gruyère
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Bring butter, salt, nutmeg, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add flour, and stir to combine.

Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring vigorously, until a dry film forms on bottom and sides of pan and dough is no longer sticky, about 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat and let dough cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole eggs one at a time, incorporating fully between additions. Mix in cheese and pepper.

Scrape dough into a piping bag fitted with a ½” round tip (alternatively, use a plastic bag with a ½” opening cut diagonally from 1 corner). Pipe 1” rounds about 2” apart onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Whisk egg yolk and 1 tsp. water in a small bowl; brush rounds with egg wash.

Bake gougères until puffed and golden and dry in the center (they should sound hollow when tapped), 20–25 minutes.

Tip** These go FAST!  I’d advise you make a double batch.  

Dough can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.  Gougères can be baked 2 hours ahead; reheat before serving.

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Did You Know…?

freezer_openThere are many foods I didn’t know could be frozen, saving me from the inevitable time when I need something like buttermilk, which I never have on hand when I come across a recipe that calls for it.  Learning this led me on an internet search to see what other seldomly stocked foods can be frozen for use later.

You Can Safely Freeze:

  • Buttermilk:  Fill an empty ice cube tray.  Freeze overnight and transfer frozen cubes to a freezer bag.  Keeps up to 3 months and each cube slot measures 1 ounce (1/8th of a Cup)
  • Bananas:  Freeze them overnight when they are at their ripest point (when skin is browning but not going bad) in their skins. Using a sharp knife slice the frozen bananas in half lengthwise and peel off the skins.  Store in freezer bags for use in smoothies.  Homemade Frozen Bananas: Put two frozen halves together with a popsicle stick between them and coat with melted chocolate. Immediately sprinkle with/roll in nuts, coconut, or rainbow/other sprinkles and place on a pan lined with waxed paper.  Freeze an hour or two and enjoy for dessert.
  • Butter: This is particularly good to know since I rarely need unsalted butter and buy it 1 pound at a time (4 – 1/2 Cup cubes) when it’s on sale.  Now I can cut cubes in half  (1/4 C portions) and freeze them in freezer bags for later use!
  • Cheese: Don’t freeze whole chunks – it crumbles when you defrost and try to slice it.  Instead grate or shred it and freeze in 1 Cup portions in zip bags for recipes at a later date.
  • Eggs:  Remove the shells and freeze individually in snack sized zip bags.  You can also freeze egg whites separately from their yolks.  I’d recommend marking the bags with the number of egg whites or whole eggs you freeze per bag to make using later easier.  Frozen “pre-made” omelettes:  In a large measuring cup crack the desired number of eggs and whisk .  Stir in 2 TBLS milk, 1/4 Cup each chopped bell pepper (or any pepper you desire) and chopped ham (bacon, turkey, chicken breast, ground beef, sausage, etc.) and 2 TBLS chopped onion (if desired).  Pour into sandwich sized zip bags and freeze until needed. Great weekday breakfast option.  You can remove a bag to the refrigerator the night before to thaw, pour into a preheated pan to cook, sprinkle with a bit of frozen grated cheese & eat right before running out the door the next morning.
  • Garlic: Separate cloves but leave skin on and freeze in a doubled zip bag to keep freezer odor free.
  • Wine:  Unlike hard alcohol, wine does freeze solid.  Freeze in 1 ounce portions in an ice cube tray and transfer to a freezer bag to use in sauces or other recipes.
  • Yogurt: Measure it into 2 to 4 TBLS (aka 2 to 4 oz or 1/4 to 1/2 Cup) portions and freeze in zip bags.  Don’t forget to mark the bags for later recipe use.
  • Lunch meat: Can be safely frozen in zip bags for up to 2 months.
  • Bread:  You can freeze a loaf of sliced bread for up to 3 months and you don’t even need to thaw it before eating it. The freezer is a better storage option than the fridge, which can dry bread out.
  •  Milk / Half & Half:  Milk can be frozen for 3 months.  Half & half stays good for 4 months in the freezer, but never freeze heavy cream.  Cream doesn’t freeze well at all.  I never understood why my mother-in-law always shook the milk before pouring out of the carton, now I do!  She kept it frozen in the chest freezer in the garage and was breaking up the ice.
  • Grains:  Quinoa, farro and bulgur last 3 months in the cupboard but up to 6 months in the freezer!
  • Tofu:  Chop it in chunks and freeze for up to 5 months to add to smoothies, soups, stews, etc.
  • Tortillas:  That at room temperature, not in the microwave.

Important things to remember about freezing any food are:

  • Make sure you are using a bag or container meant for freezer use to ward off freezer burn, keep smells from escaping into the freezer, and keep your food fresher longer
  • Remember to mark the date frozen as well as the last date you should use the food directly on the bag or on a piece of tape with a permanent marker.
  • Don’t over stuff your freezer.  A well organized freezer gives you the ability to easily see what you have on hand and helps food freeze faster/stay frozen because cooled air can flow between and around the packages.

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Doc Says It Might Be Time To Cut Back a Bit

childdietI hate dieting!  Me without a hearty breakfast (think coffee, eggs, bacon, and some kind of bread), lunch, a snack around 4, and dinner + wine = a grumpy, hangry girl with a raging headache!

But I’ll be a good girl, at least as much as I can be, so my doctor gets happier with my blood tests and that stupid body composition machine she likes to torture me with every few months.

So, I grudgingly started today with a meal replacement shake prescribed by my doctor: Designs for Health PaleoMeal Plus Lean Body 14 Day Program.

There are some pluses to this choice:

  • It’s only available with a doctor referral
  • You get a significant discount off the regular $139 with a doctor referral
  • It’s made with Proserum, exceptional quality, native whey protein concentrate
  • Comes from cows that graze on pesticide-free, chemical-free natural grass pastures, and which are never given hormones, genetically modified organisms, or injected pathogens
  • The most important part, I get to eat between meals!

In addition, I know that I’m not making an effort to drink enough water, so 1 stocked up on liter bottles of Essentia 9.5% alkaline water.

Lunch was a really exciting smoothie concoction that I threw into the Vitamix:

  • 2-3 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1 Large Ripe Nectarine – seed removed
  • 1 Naval Orange Peeled
  • 8 Medium – Large Frozen Strawberries
  • 6-8 Ice Cubes

I mixed the fruit & spinach together on 2-5 speed until blended then threw the ice cubes in and popped it up to 8 until the ice cubes were crushed up.  It was a very putrid shade of green but surprisingly sweet.

Big Bonus:  I got 5 of my fruit/vegetable servings out of the way in one fell swoop!

sugarbabiesTattling on myself:  While I was digging through the refrigerator I came across a bag of Sugar Babies.  The bag of Sugar Babies is no longer in the refrigerator…  Baby Steps.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Bananas Foster Bread

ripebananasI was looking at 4 very sad – very ripe bananas while cleaning up my counter this morning and knew this was likely the last day they’d be good for anything more than freezing for smoothies.  I still feel crummy and wasn’t really in the mood to bake, but I went online in search of something easy, outside the ordinary banana bread, to do with them.

Like I knew they would, Food Network came to my rescue:

Damaris Phillps’s Bananas Foster Bread

  • 4 Medium ripe bananas mashed
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 TBLS plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp rum extract (I used a tsp of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup spiced rum (Captain Morgan is my favorite)
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Combine the bananas, eggs, sugar, coconut oil, yogurt, and rum and vanilla extracts in a bowl.

In another, larger bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the flour is incorporated and batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the glaze.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 1/2 cup water and stir. Cook until the sugar dissolves, and then continue cooking another 3 to 5 minutes over low heat until the mixture bubbles around the edges. Turn off the heat and carefully (in case it flames) stir in the rum and the orange zest.

Slowly pour half of the glaze over the banana bread, allowing it to seep into all the surfaces. Wait until the glaze has been absorbed, about 30 minutes, and then turn the loaf out of the pan.

Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream, if using, and the remaining glaze.

bananasfosterbreadThis was easy to put together and made the house smell amazing while it was baking!

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood