Thursday, May 3, 2007

Gruyere Gougeres - A Taste of Yellow

LIVESTRONG Day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country. LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, May 16.

Almost everyone knows someone touched by cancer. For a long time, I was one of the few people who did not, but then a few months ago my uncle found out he had colon cancer. Cooking for him is my way of helping him keep his strength and energy up through the long and difficult battle. When Barbara announced the “A Taste of Yellow” Event in support for LIVESTRONG day, I knew I had to participate. Barbara is currently fighting cancer herself and it’s truly wonderful that she organized this event. The goal is to spread awareness by cooking or baking something that features any yellow food. I made some Gruyere Gougeres featuring my favorite yellow food, eggs.

I first made these Gruyere Gougeres after being inspired by a dinner at Campagne, a small French restaurant in Pike Place Market. A gougere is a savory cheese puff made with pate a choux dough, the same dough used for cream puffs and eclairs. These make wonderful appetizers or hors d'oeuvres for a party.

If you haven’t already participated in the “A Taste for Yellow” Event, please do, it’s a great event for an important cause.

Gruyere Gougeres
1 C water
1/2 C/1 stick unsalted butter
1 C AP flour (4.6 oz.)
2 oz. grated Gruyere or Parmesan
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Optional: 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Optional: 2 Tbsp chopped chives
3 to 4 eggs (I always end up using 4 eggs)

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Add the water, butter, and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Take off heat and add the flour all at once. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon until no streaks of flour remain and the dough is evenly mixed. Put the pan back on heat and stir for 30 to 60 seconds to evaporate excess moisture.

Scoop the mixture into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and let it cool for 15 minutes or until the mixture is no longer hot.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat in one egg, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and wait until it is fully incorporated then add the second egg. Scrape the bowl down between each addition. Repeat with the third egg. After the third egg, lift up the beaters. If the mixture falls from the beaters then you don't need the 4th egg, if the mixture clings to the beaters without falling, beat in the 4th egg. After the eggs have been evenly mixed in, mix in the grated cheese, then the chopped chives if using.

Pipe or spoon 1 Tbsp (cookie scoops are pretty handy for this task) of the mixture onto a parchment sheet lined baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake at 425ºF for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature down to 375ºF and bake for another 15 - 20 minutes, until puffs are golden brown. Try not to open the oven during baking. To test if they're done, take a puff and break it open. If the insides are still moist and doughy, bake them for a few more minutes. If you take the puffs out too early, they'll deflate.

They're delicious fresh out of the oven. You can store them freezer (I always double bag them so they don't absorb any odors from the freezer) and reheat them in a 400 deg oven for 5 minutes. Or instead of serving them hot, you can wait until they are room temperature and fill them with a mousse or dip.

Yield approximately 30+ puffs.

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