Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irlandais

I hate green beer.  I don't see the point of adhering to a theme at the lowest, least clever level.  Also it looks gross and unappetizing.  (I also hate green mac and cheese, and green butter, and all the other green things our otherwise incredible commissary at work manages to churn out on Shrek days.  Come on, we're adults.  Is this really necessary?)

When it comes to unnaturally green foods, I draw the line at grasshopper pie (though you won't get me to scoff at this truly incredible fresh mint ice cream (I know it looks pale yellow in the photo.  Trust me, it's beautiful pale green.  And insanely good.)).  I like to weave in themes other ways.  More subtle ways.

So, after a delightfully Irish coworker invited me to an office hallway St. Patrick's Day celebration, my thoughts didn't go in the direction of sickly green hors d'oeuvres or sweets.  As usual, they went to cheese.  I decided to take a classic French recipe for gougeres, fluffy savory cheese puffs, and replace the cheese with an Irish cheddar.  Delicious idea.


I came home with a pretty special cheese:  it's an Irish cheddar, but flavored with porter beer, giving it the look of chunks of cheese marbled with deep brown porter.  In the store, it seduced me with its prettiness, but when I got home, I freaked out a little.  What if this brown cheese makes my gougeres look like little turds?  I forged ahead, resolving that I would take them anyway:  if they are delicious, and I have put work into them, what's a little turdish-looking-ness among friends?  Better than throwing away perfectly good food.

Well, it turns out they look beautiful and not at all turd-like!  A deep golden brown, with pockets of gooey cheese and a sprinkling of cracked black pepper on each.  This is my way of cooking for St. Patrick's Day. 

--
And if you're hankering for a little more Irish-ish, how about some fancy cranberry fennel soda bread?

Irish Porter Cheddar Gougeres
adapted from Gourmet

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Irish Cheddar cheese with porter

For pâte à chou (cream-puff pastry)
1 cup water
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 jumbo eggs, or 4 to 5 large eggs
black pepper

In a heavy saucepan bring water, butter, and salt to a boil, then lower heat to medium.  Add flour all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from side of pan, about one minute.

Transfer mixture to a bowl, and beat in all but one egg, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (You can use a mixer for this, but a wooden spoon works fine).  Batter should be stiff enough to just hold soft peaks and fall softly from a spoon. If batter is too stiff, in a small bowl beat remaining egg lightly and beat into batter a little at a time, until batter is desired consistency.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper or foil.

Stir cheese into pâte à chou.  Arrange level tablespoons about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle tops of gougères with black pepper and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching positions of sheets halfway through baking, 30 minutes, or until puffed, golden brown and crisp.

A note on yield:  The original recipe says it makes about 40.  I must have been generous with my tablespoons, as I got about 32.  Guess it depends how big you want your gougeres.

6 comments:

  1. Hi,
    I'm organizing a bakesale for Japan and wanted to know how you got around the health dept. If you could please email me at losangelesbakesale.gmail.com that would be amazing. I would love to have you be a part of it as well. Maybe you could head up a location, since you have done this before.

    Thanks,
    Breanne
    www.bitesofsugar.blogspot.com

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  2. hey breanne, thanks for asking! just emailed you =)

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  3. these look SICKO!! and i mean that in the best way possible.

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  4. amelia, they were so good! and super easy. i will make them for you one day. have a potluck or something!

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  5. I'll follow your recipe to the last detail and hopefully i can have it done perfectly. 'll try it and share with my family.

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  6. Wow these looks absolutely tasty! Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

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