food fanatic.bookaholic.mommy

These past few days I just may have single-handedly kept the dairy/cheese counter at my supermarket in business.  Between making the Tall & Creamy Cheesecake, and the two following appetizers I’ve purchased my fair share of cheese.

 For this month’s Recipes to Rival we were charged to make 2 out of 3 appetizers. I selected to make the Gruyere Cheese Gougeres and the Bleu Cheese Walnut & Pear Crostinis.

The Gruyere Cheese Gougeres were from a recipe from one of my cooking idols, Thomas Keller of French Laundry.  I had a few techincal issues on these. My 3/8″ plain piping tip was M.I.A. so I tried using a smaller one, but my puffs were looking a little weird, so I changed over to using the good old school, bare bones method– put the dough in a baggy and snip off one of the corners… Perfect!  So my gougeres ended up being all sorts of shapes and sizes depending upon which method I used to pipe them.


When folks at the party asked what they were I referred to them as Cheesy Poofs (a homage to Cartman from South Park I guess…although I spared them my Cartman impersonation). These little bites were cheesy AND poofy. The platter quickly became half empty. I liked these a lot, although I thought there was perhaps a bit too much salt. The 1 tablespoon of salt that the recipe called for sounded like a lot to me. I would definitely make them again, perhaps cutting down on the salt a bit.
I assembled the crostinis at the party. Yes, I was THAT person… the person that shows up and demands usage of the oven while the busy hostess tries to put the finishing touches on the meal.
For the crostini, I brushed the sliced baguette with butter instead of olive oil. I spread the toasted bread with a smear of mascarpone cheese and then topped it with pasteurized bleu cheese crumbles (went with a pasteurized variety since a few of the women at this NYE party were pregnant) and a piece of walnut.  Once the cheese had melted a bit, I took the crostinis out of the oven and added some cubed pear.  Next time, I think I will cut the pear into small, thin slices to put on top. I think this will make a better presentation and result in a more stable crostini — sometimes when picking up one of the crostinis, the pear cube would tumble off.
The crostinis were also a big hit. I loved the flavor combo of the bleu cheese, walnut, and pear. They were pretty easy to make with most of the time spent in topping the bread with the assorted toppings.


The recipes are after the jump. Definitely try out these 2 if you are a cheese lover!
Gruyère Cheese Gougères
(Copyright ‘The French Laundry Cookbook’ By Thomas Keller, November, 1999)
Makes about 4 dozen gougères
Gougères are a classical preparation often served at wine tastings in France. The puffs are made from a savory pâte á choux, or cream puff dough-flavored here with Gruyère. They are best served hot out of the oven, offering that creamy-dough gratification. Don’t add the cheese, and the puff is a base for a dessert.
  • 1 cup water
  • 7 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 to 5 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups grated Gruyère (5 ounces)
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (see Sources) or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes).
  3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly.
  4. Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again and, if necessary, add the yolk.
  5. Finally, mix in 3/4 cup of the Gruyère and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.
  6. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese.
  7. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff and hold their shape.
  8. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven and serve the gougères while hot.


Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Crostini

  • a baguette, thinly sliced about ½ inch each
  • olive oil
  • mascarpone, for spreading (optional)
  • any type of bleu cheese (gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton), thinly sliced, or crumbled
  • freshly hulled walnuts
  • a few pears, peeled and sliced into small cubes

1. Brush your bread slices with olive oil, line on a baking sheet, then toast in a hot oven for a few minutes until browned and crispy.  You can broil them as well, if you prefer.

2. Remove from heat and spread each toast with some mascarpone.

3. Lay bleu cheese slices, or spread some crumbles, on each toast and add walnut pieces on top.  Return to a 375-400°F oven for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted.

4. When the cheese is nicely melted, take the crostinis out of the oven and top with a few cubes of pear.  Serve soon after.

Comments on: "A Very Cheesy (and Tasty) New Year!" (5)

  1. I made the same apps as you. They really were tasty, weren’t they?
    I had switched the gruyere for parm and thought that that was the reason they were a little salty, but if yours were too – it must be the recipe.
    The only book on your most recent list that I have read is the Conan Doyle. Hubby has his complete works and one summer I read them all. I love the short stories especially.

  2. OMG those look amazing. all of them! Cheesy poofs- I love it. 🙂

  3. Hmm… I echo that salty sentiment about the gougeres… phew, and here i was thinking that one of the reasons mine didn’t poof up =)

  4. I cut the salt down to 1 teaspoon on my gougeres and I thought it was still too salty. I think next time I make it I’d rather cut out all the salt and use a saltier cheese like a sharp cheddar.

    Your poofs and crostini look great!

  5. Sounds like you were a hit at your party. 🙂 I was bad and hoarded all my goodness, the cheesy poofs were just to good to share.

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