Monthly Archives: January 2010

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

The weekend is almost here.  Do you have any big plans?  If you are doing any entertaining and need something that is both easy and impressive, look no further than these delicious appetizers.  

Golden and delicious butter

These cheesy, crispy puffs are French so they add instant panache to your appetizer spread.  Plus, they have bacon and everything is better with bacon.  They are light and airy with fluffy insides and, the best part, they are really easy to pull together.

Dough ball

Boil (yes, boil) some butter and water, stir in flour until you get a dough ball that somewhat resembles a thick roux, and then beat in eggs until you get the most beautiful and glossy batter you have ever seen.  Fold in grated Gruyere cheese and crispy hunks of  bacon and you are nearing appetizer nirvana.

Batter after beating the eggs in

Once these beauties come out of oven, all golden and crispy, do your best to wait until your guests arrive before you devour them.

Unbaked puffs

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup water

8 tbls (1 stick) butter

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1/2 pound slab bacon, rind removed, finely diced

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

To Make:

In a heavy saucepan, combine the water, butter, and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, and beat with a wooden spoon till a ball of dough forms.  Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating with an electric mixer on high speed till the batter is just thick enough to hold soft peaks.  Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill briefly.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon dice over moderate heat till crisp and drain on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Butter a large baking dish.  Fold the cheese and bacon into the prepared batter till well blended, then drop by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake the puffs for 30 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the stand till they are golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Serve the puffs warm.

To Serve:

Makes about 36 puffs.  Serves 8-10 as appetizers (or 2 people who can’t stop eating the bacon-y deliciousness).

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Recipes

Thai-Syle Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

Thai-Style Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

I came home from work one evening in a little bit of a funk.  I was tired from a long day, it was cold outside, and it was one of those days where I drove both to and from work in the dark.  However, all of my crankiness evaporated when I walked into the kitchen.  There was a big pot of soup bubbling on the stove and the whole house smelled like a Thai restaurant tinged with lime and coconut.

Onions and garlic and ginger, oh my

Marc is a real soup nut… he would eat it everyday if I agreed to it.  On this cold night he was craving something a little different, something that was a little Asian and a little Caribbean.  This soup was the culmination of those cravings and as good as it smelled, it tasted even better.

Sweet potatoes and mushrooms into the pool

There was a nice meatiness from chicken and mushrooms, sweetness from sweet potato and coconut, a little nuttiness from peanut butter, and some tang from a lime.  It was a perfect balance of the different flavors and just the thing to return my mood to its normally cheerful state.  So if you find yourself in need of a little cheering up, just whip a pot of this soup, inhale the savory-sweet smell, and dig in.  I guarantee you will feel better immediately.

Stirring the soup

Thai-Style Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

From the mind of Marc

Ingredients:

2 tlbs ginger oil (if you don’t have any, substitute peanut or other neutral oil and add an additional tbls of minced fresh ginger)

1 tlbs fresh ginger, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 small yellow onion, sliced

16 oz chicken stock (homemade preferred, if you don’t have any on hand make sure to use low sodium broth)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, chopped in 1″ cubes

6 oz white button mushrooms, stemmed, sliced

2 tbls fish sauce

1 – 14 oz can light coconut milk

2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs), cooked* and chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lime

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup shredded coconut

Toasted shredded coconut**, chopped peanuts, and cilantro for garnish (optional)

To Make:

Heat large soup pot with the ginger oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add in the ginger, garlic, and onion and cook until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Add the sweet potato, mushrooms, and fish sauce.  Pour in the chicken stock and add water (if needed) to barely cover the vegetables.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour.

Add in the chopped chicken, lime zest, lime juice, peanut butter, shredded coconut, and coconut milk.  Continue to simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally.

To Serve:

Serve hot garnished with toasted coconut, chopped peanuts, and fresh cilantro.  Serves 4-6 as a main course.

* We brined our chicken overnight prior to oven roasting.  While this isn’t absolutely necessary, it does add a lot of nice flavor to the chicken.

** To toast shredded coconut, place coconut on a foil lined baking sheet.  Place in a 325 degree oven until browned and toasty, 8-10 minutes.  A toaster oven works well for this.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Soup

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Pancakes

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Pancakes

In our house, weekday breakfasts are typically composed of utilitarian fare like cold cereal, yogurt, or the occasional oatmeal.  However, on weekends, we like to pull out all the stops and make things a little more interesting.  We often find ourselves trying out various pancake recipes; buttermilk, cornmeal, buckwheat, etc.  Then one day, we stumbled on this recipe for chocolate chocolate-chip pancakes and we were hooked.

Mixing in the chocolate chips

These pancakes are thin and light (which is how I like them best) and just barely crispy around the edges.  They are full of rich chocolately flavor courtesy of cocoa powder and chocolate chips but they aren’t too sweet.  They are delicious topped with fresh fruit, especially strawberries or blueberries, maple syrup, dusted with powdered sugar, or eaten warm off the griddle.

Fluffy egg whites

If you are looking for something to make a weekend breakfast a little more special, definitely whip up these pancakes.  With all of the chocolate, you really don’t need maple syrup, but if you want to pour it on we certainly won’t judge.

On the griddle

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups milk

4 tbls (1/2 stick) butter, melted

2 eggs, separated

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

To Make:

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites in a clean metal or glass bowl until they hold soft peaks.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  The batter will still be slightly lumpy and that is okay.  You don’t want to over mix.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.

Drop batter by 1/4 cup fulls onto pre-heated and lightly buttered griddle.

To Serve:

Serve warm.  Makes about 18 4-inch pancakes

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Filed under Breakfast, Pancakes, Recipes

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier?  If so, then this is the recipe for you.  This beet salad has it all.  It is light and healthy.  It brings a hefty dose of color to the otherwise gray winter landscape (can you tell we haven’t seen the sun in days?).  Most importantly, this salad is delicious.  Even my 3 year old eats it with gusto.

Delicious dressing

Don’t like beets you say?  I am willing to bet that’s because you have only eaten those nasty canned ones.  You know the ones I mean, they are smushy and smelly and taste vaguely of tin.  Of course you don’t like those… you have better taste than that. 

Salad ingredients

Fresh beets, however, are a revelation, especially when they are roasted.  They get soft and sweet and stain everything they touch that beautiful  rich purple color.  So, pick up some beets from a local farm and try this recipe.  Then, if you tell me that you still don’t like beets, I guess I can respect that.

Roasted beets

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Adapted from the Produce Bible

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon capers, chopped

5 small to medium sized beets (1 lb 2.25 oz/516g), feel free to use classic purple beets or any of the cool heirloom varieties that are often available these days.  This salad is especially pretty when you mix purple and gold beets.

~2.5 oz/68 grams crumbled goat cheese

To Make:

Make the dressing first so the flavors can marry.  In a container with a tight fitting lid (good Tupperware or canning jars work well), combine the red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, capers, and smashed garlic clove.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Shake until all the ingredients are integrated.  Set aside at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Scrub the beets well, trimming off the tops and the long tap root.  Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.  Roast beets in the oven until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about an hour.

Remove the beets from oven and unwrap.  Cut each beet in half and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Using a clean tea towel or a paper towel, rub the skins off of the beets.  Chop the beets into 1/2 inch pieces and place in your serving bowl. 

Remove and discard the crushed garlic from the dressing.  Toss the warm beets with the dressing.  Refrigerate the beets until chilled, at least 30 minutes.  Once cool, fold in the crumbled goat cheese. 

To Serve:

Serve either chilled or at room temperature.  If you are in a hurry or don’t have time to chill the beets, you can eat the salad warm.  The goat cheese will melt into the beets, turning the whole thing a light pink color.  It doesn’t look as pretty but it still tastes darn good.  Serves 4 as a side dish.

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Filed under Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian