Monday, December 29, 2008

Little Christmas Cheese Poofs

For Christmas, Matthew and I wanted to share one of our new favorite recipes, Gougères au Cumin, with our families. This recipe comes from the Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook and is extraordinarily easy to make, with few dishes to clean up because it's all mixed in one pan.

We often try to make various changes but the original recipe usually turns out the best. Extra cheese makes them go flat and cooking at a lower temperature doesn't allow them to rise as well. A few large pinches of paprika is a fine addition but doesn't make them significantly better. This is one instance where I've actually made a recipe correctly the first time and haven't preferred my personal changes over the original recipe(as Matthew can tell you, that is highly unusual for me).

I've made this recipe so many times that I actually have the ingredients memorized and of course the method is just basic. You make
pâte à choux and add cheese then bake.

Gougères au Cumin

1 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) grated cheese, swiss, sharp cheddar or whatever you like
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
ground pepper

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil. Add flour and stir until dough forms a soft ball in the center of the pan. Remove from heat and let sit three minutes before you add the eggs one at a time, stirring each egg in completely before adding the next. This takes patience as the eggs will very stubbornly insist on remaining slimey until all of a sudden they will give up and mix into the dough. Once all the eggs are incorporated, add the spices and fold in the cheese. Allow to chill for at least 30 min or up to 8 hours(I've even let sit in the refrigerator 24 hours without any adverse affects).
Bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at 400 F for 20-25 min. When they are done baking, make sure you turn off the oven and crack the door for five min. before you remove them from the oven. This should prevent them from falling. They are perfectly reheatable and can be frozen as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is having a fun and joyous Christmas Day Celebration.

A photo of red berries(Lynnea's favorite)

A photo of red berries(Matthew's favorite)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowy, snow, snow

Well, it's been rather snowy for this x-mas trip home. Kind of fun, but a little scary during the seven hour(usually takes 4) drive though the snow. Chains are great but slow.

We stay busy with all sorts of toys to play with: Toby, the new cats, snow. And, we're almost done with christmas shopping and wrapping.

I found a little snow family and thought they were cute!

The little snow family walking in the snow fields

The snow family in the woods

Snow family in the trees

Friday, December 19, 2008

Persimmon Scones

The two persimmons that I packed in my carry-on did not come through their long trip unscathed. So, this morning I decided to turn the rather bruised and squished little fruits into scones. I just used my basic scone recipe and added whatever sounded like a yummy combination.

Persimmon Scones

Two Fuyu Persimmons, peeled and diced fine
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of a tangerine
1/4 cup butter, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla
approx. 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine dry ingredients, rub in butter with fingers, add persimmons and vanilla.

Gently toss together with hands. Add milk and mix. I didn't measure the milk, I just added it until it was a nice scone batter consistency. So, if you need more or less then adjust accordingly.

Dump batter onto counter and pat into a round. Then cut into triangles. Bake for 15-20 min.

I discovered something while making this recipe: I don't know how to remove the zest of citrus without my microplane grater. This was a rather disturbing realization; I am so dependent on modern inventions. Could I make a recipe successfully without a modern kitchen? I tried using a mini grater but it just chewed up the skin. So, I peeled the tangerine and used a knife to cut away the pith from the zest. This was way too much work, so after zesting a quarter of the tangerine that way I just gave up. If you have a microplane grater or a zester, then add the zest of a whole tangerine; it would be delicious in this recipe.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cherry Apron

Last year I was very good and made most of my Christmas gifts. This year I was mildly good and made some of my Christmas gifts(well, one so far, but I have plans for another). The little cherry apron that I'm wearing in the photos was hand stitched over the course of a couple weeks. I think it's super cute! Too bad it isn't for me, but rather for a coworker of mine who doesn't have a single apron, a sad oversight.