jalapeno cheddar gougeres… with a side of loneliness

It is challenging to be a transient.  Living out of a suitcase, logging miles on the road, and being far from the ones you love tend to wear on one’s spirit and tug at the heart.  All of this and it has only been a week and a half.  So maybe I have a flair for the dramatic…  I do miss home though.  I miss the comfort of a normal routine, the warmth of my pup on my lap, and the reassurance of B lying in the bed next to me at night.  Weekdays take far too long and weekends fly by much too quickly.  So when my very accommodating hosts let me, I turn to the kitchen where I can always find something familiar – a friendly face, so to speak.

There is something comforting about the routine of preparing a meal.  A knife runs through a jalapeno the same in Kansas City as it does in Des Moines.  But there’s learning where tools and gadgets are stored in friends’ cabinets and drawers, understanding where the stove or pans run hot, and piercing a bite with an unfamiliar fork on a different colored plate to remind me that home is too far away. 

I’m out of practice it would seem.  After weeks of home improvement projects and quick-fix meals, I transitioned to borrowed time in a new kitchen and want to tread lightly given I can do some serious damage to the cleanliness factor of a kitchen in short order.  And there are new faces to share with – friends and co-workers who don’t know yet about my culinary obsessions.  So with all of the newness in my life, I decided it was time for a new recipe.  One that had the familiar feel of home, but with a new twist.  And yes, I’m betraying my new city – there is nothing smoked or barbequed in this recipe.  Stay tuned though, I have a feeling that once B joins me here, all of that goes out the window…

With the holidays right around the corner, the basics of this dough are a good thing to have in the event you have unexpected company arriving or need something easy to bring for a festive fete.  When prepared in a savory fashion with cheeses or spices, they are called gougeres (say go-zhair) or puffs, if you don’t want to put on airs.  From parmesan with a marinara dipping sauce to tangy goat cheese or a pungent blue, you are only limited by your imagination.  But if sweet is more your style, the dough can be prepared simply without any additions, cut horizontally, then filled with ice cream of your choice and drizzled with sauces galore for a treat called profiteroles (say pro-feet-eh-rolls).  Either way, they are delicious.

Oh and please forgive the quality of the photos.  It seems my camera is among the items I left at home, so the Blackberry had to suffice.

jalapeno cheddar gougeres

recipe:  jb’s pour house

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. whole milk

1 stick unsalted butter

1 tsp. salt

1 c. flour

4 eggs, room temperature

1 jalapeno, very finely minced (seeds and all!)

1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine water, milk, butter and salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil – watch carefully, as milk really can cause a mess if it boils over!  Once boiling, add flour and remove from heat.  Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Let cool for two minutes and place in a stand mixer.  With the mixer running on medium speed, add one egg and let it fully incorporate into the dough.  Continue adding eggs, one at a time, until eggs are fully mixed in.  Turn off mixer, add jalapeno and cheddar, and turn mixer back on low just until fully incorporated. 

Using a rubber scraper, transfer dough to a large resealable plastic bag.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Snip a small corner off of the plastic bag and squeeze about 1 Tbsp. dough onto baking sheet.  Use a butter knife to separate dough from plastic bag.  Pipe another 1 Tbsp. dough about 1 inch apart.  Continue piping dough until complete.  Dip fingers into water and gently smooth down any rough or pointy edges on each gougere.  Place in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 375 degrees.  Bake for 24 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Here’s hoping you spend the holidays with those you hold closest to your heart.

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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