It’s good to be home. Especially when home is tied with order, where life is clean and bright, cozy and slightly inebriated, as it appears in the staged pages of food and decor magazines. Where the dining table is always set, with bright table runners, fit with place mats and name cards, the silverware is polished, and all matches, the dishes–there are enough of one kind, and each type of wine has its proper glass, shining and clear of marks, prints, or dishwasher spots. Cheeses are on a wooden board, netted in cheese cloth (oh, that’s what it’s for). The music is piped in. Clean socks, sheets, windows, and floors. There’s new wine to try. Cab Francs and white burgundy. New silky cotton sheet sets, crisp cold bedding. The tater tots tucked into warm jammies, with new toys, and books, a big chair, the three of us cuddling as I read to them a new journey. Homemade parsnip puree. Apple pie with cheddar crust.
The weather is cold enough for mittens and bulky cashmere sweaters, scented lingerie, warm and clingy. I’m making homemade hot cocoa kits, fresh tomato soup with gougeres (light and airy cheese puffs made with gruyere-laced pastry). I love that I can make these, pipe them onto a baking sheet, then freeze them for future use, as they’re best eaten still warm. Oh, how I’m enamored with this season of delights. I want to spend the next few days buying holiday ribbons and preparing the house for the season, a season of wreaths and homemade marshmallows. I want to do prep work, so all that’s left to do is light some candles, and reach for that handsome and well=placed throw… and brush up on some good tasty books.
Ah the recipe for Gougeres from Artisinal
4 Tbl. unsalted butter
1/4 C. milk plus extra for brushing
1/2 tsp. each salt and ground white pepper
1/2 C. all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. grated Gruyere plus extra for garnish
Coarse sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a saucepan, bring the butter, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of water, salt, and pepper to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the sifted flour and baking powder. Stir well and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Place the 1/2 cup of cheese and the milk mixture in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, and beat until just warm. Add the eggs slowly as the mixer funs, until the dough is smooth and shiny. (Alternatively, stir to cool by hand and beat in the eggs with a wooden spoon.) Transfer to a pastry bag and pipe in 1-inch mounds using a No. 4 tip, or drop with a teaspoon on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (At this stage, the gougeres can be frozen and then stored in a plastic bag. They do not have to be thawed before baking, but 1 1/2 to 2 minutes should be added to the cooking time.) Brush with milk and sprinkle with cheese and sea salt.
4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes; when the puffs are golden-brown, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve hot or at room temperature. May be reheated. Yum… serve also as “croûtons” in any winter or autumn soup!