Ode to the French

Well, maybe we aren’t saluting the French yet, but we are celebrating their food and quite enjoying it, too! This past weekend Matt and I just had an itch to make all new dishes for Saturday night dinner. 75% of the recipes came out of the Les Halles cookbook, the cookbook from the restaurant Anthony Bourdain is head chef. So Matt contributed Poulet Roti (roast chicken), Vichyssoise, (cold potato-leek soup), and the wine pairing, which was amazing, by the way. Pepperwood Creek Viognier – such a gorgeous wine to have with chicken and all the richness of our dishes. It was slightly apricot, green apple, and citrus but smooth smooth. Might I recommend!
The roast chicken, stuffed with lemon, rosemary, thyme and onion, rubbed with Kosher salt and honey herb butter.

The honey herb butter. It had thyme, sage and basil – all fresh. SO GOOD on my Gougeres!
The Vichyssoise – pureed potato-leek soup served cold in a chilled bowl. I was a bit of a philistine and preferred mine hot…I like it cold, but I have to get over my mental aversion to things that should be hot, being cold. Train that palette, Palmsey!

To our meal, I contributed Gougeres, (Gruyere cheese puff pastry bites) and a proper Caesar salad. I say proper because there is hardly ever a Caesar dressing that I think should legally be called Caesar. I have NO idea what people do to make it white and gloppy, but the traditional way is lighter, spicier and has a bite. We also got to buy anchovies for the first time to put in the dressing and I really liked the briny addition it gives. So proper Caesar = anchovies, garlic, olive oil, salt, lemon, Parmesan, Romaine and homemade croûtons.
Gougeres coming out of the oven. Topped and filled with Gruyere cheese.
Light as air and chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside. You can seriously eat a dozen and not feel a thing.
My Caesar salad – Spicy!
Because the Gougeres are so easy and so amazing, I want to write out the recipe here. Make them a little bigger than the recipe says and you have an amazing alternative to the dinner roll. I can’t explain how wonderful these are. Don’t skimp out on the cheese – yes, Gruyere is more expensive, but the taste is so fantastic, it’s worth it to splurge now and then.

1 cup water
8 tbs unsalted butter
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 cup diced Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the water, butter and a teaspoon of the salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, let cool slightly, stir in the flour, and mix well. Return the pan to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon over high heat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan (for me, I didn’t have to return it to the heat for it to do this). Remove from the heat.
Stir in the eggs, one at a time until well combined. Add the diced cheese, the remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper, stirring well.
Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto a well-buttered baking pan. Smooth the top and sides of each gougere with a knife, and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Bake in batches for 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
Serve immediately!



Filed under Food Stuffs

2 responses to “Ode to the French

  1. Libby

    Oy, could you just go ahead and move right next door to us, please! Right this minute! you guys are my culinary heroes…love it, i’m sure you’d be sad to know that our dinner last night consisted of opening 2 cans of soup, pouring and eating. not near as yummy:(

  2. Lora Chandler

    How do you pronounce “gougeres”? They look fabulous. I’m with Libby on the canned soup. Whatever is easy seems to be my choice these days. I’m proud of you and Matt. It says something about your character that you take time to learn new things and enjoy it as you go. Fun, fun!

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