Sunday, February 24, 2008

*cheese pucks.

This constitutes my sincere, heartfelt apology for ever having strayed from Ina. She gave me gougères (freedom cheese puffs, for the French-averse) that were as pictured on that Wiki page. Round, fluffy, and light as air.

These little buggers came out more like something Wayne Gretzky would fancy on the ice.

I'll just wait for the applause to die down at my having made a sports reference. A completely obsolete one, no less. THANK YOU, CANADA.

I did everything precisely as indicated (and the recipe isn't even all that precise, with its "wait about 3 minutes" and its "bake about 25 minutes"). My oven isn't reliable, F&W! See evidence here. I know you're hedging your bets and all, but I need more to go on.

Not surprisingly for me, research shows I'm pretty sure things went wonky before I even got started. It seems simple enough: 1 cup of water, some butter, salt, 1 cup of flour, four eggs, and the blue cheese.

See, Ina uses MILK in her gougères. The recipe for which she does not grace us with on the Food Network Web site. She's all proprietary and secretive. But you can get it here, or you can probably find it with a sneaky Google search. Not that I'm advocating. Buy books!

You'll look at Ina's recipe, and you'll be all, "Noooooo, I can't doooooo it. It's paaaaaaaastry. It's haaaaaaard." Stop whining, you. It's easy! And she lets you use your food processor. She's no snob, with her house in the Hamptons with a "barn" out back that exists to serve its purpose as a kitchen/studio despite her owning, best I can tell, no animals whatsoever. She's everywoman!

But milk? Instead of water? That has to make a big difference for pastry! Whatever was I thinking? I soldiered on, boiling the water (bah!), butter, and salt together, then adding the flour (off the heat) in one fell swoop and stirring like a crazy person. Everything came together as advertised.

Then ... well, things got a little manic. I had that out-of-control feeling you get when you're hurtling down a hill on a sled and you pass that split second where things go from, "wheeee!" to "um ... ". After that, well ... it's all ... down ... hill.


I waited the requisite about 3 minutes for the dough to "cool slightly," but when the eggs went in, everything went ... spaetzle. You can see the non-smoothness here:

and, more incriminatingly, here:

That was as smooth as it was going to get. I wasn't too worried that they'd taste any different, because things were well-incorporated. It just didn't seem to want to hang together. The food processor version Ina does is DEFINITELY your friend here. Her dough comes out like buttery velvet.

I fretted for 25 minutes while my house filled with the smell of blue cheese and butter (not altogether unpleasant at 5 pm, less so at 5 am. Not ventilated, is my kitchen).

Things looked rather promising during the resting phase:

But I could tell already that they weren't quite right. The air tends to come out of these puffs a little bit after they've had a chance to lay around. In fact, in Ina's profiteroles recipe, which also uses the pâte à choux dough, she tells you to cut a slit in the side of the little puffs so the steam can escape, which keeps things from collapsing. These just never puffed.

Now I'm deflated.

Oh, but hay! Loyal blog readers? Ignore the above failure. I am a terrific, talented, accident-prone cook with an attention defecit! Don't you long for me to make you something tasty? If you buy the ingredients, I'll do it! E-mail

It's just my little way of saying thank you for reading these missives, that I love you all and would like nothing more than to spend your money for you.

You're welcome.


at: 1:44 PM said...

Having been the recipient of these lovely little puffs of cheese ... I can honestly say ... buy her the stuff and let her cook them for you!!!!

K. says:
at: 3:03 PM said...

jeannieb205 always goes this route! she's been buying me dinner for years. and god bless her pea-picking soul.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.