Cheese Gougeres

Cheese Gougeres
I’ve been meaning to try making these for a while and finally got around to it (and editing the photos, and writing a post). Since I didn’t change a thing besides halving the recipe, I won’t list the steps here but just link to the kitchn’s recipe here.

Counterclockwise: ingredients, prep, plenty of butter, cook, add eggs, pipe out.
Counterclockwise: ingredients, prep, plenty of butter, cook, add eggs, pipe out.

Ingredients
1 cup (8 ounces) water
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional, I forgot to include this)
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) grated cheese, like gruyère or cheddar (I opted for gruyere)

Procedure
See the kitchn’s recipe.

I used a ziploc instead of a pastry bag, with a corner cut out.
I used a ziploc instead of a pastry bag, with a corner cut out.
Cheese gougeres the diameter of a silver dollar: ready to bake!
Cheese gougeres the diameter of a silver dollar: ready to bake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
3 of 5 stars.
Completely new recipe, with cheeeeeese! Ding!
Likelihood of Repeat: 60%
These were delicious. I thought making a dozen tiny ones would leave plenty of extra to bring to work, but then I ate them all during a Netflix marathon, with a bit of jam. I think this either means (a)I should never make them again, since they are not the healthiest food to eat, and/or (b)I should only make them when they are destined for other peoples’ houses, so I don’t eat them all. Next time I would definitely rather try baking dollops of dough rather than bothering with the weird-looking piping, and make a full portion so the water ratio is not off.
Lesson Learned: Cheese + flour + butter = oops, ate them all. These were not as difficult for me to make as I imagined.

Cheese gougeres ready to eat, with a tiny side jar of jam.
Cheese gougeres ready to eat, with a tiny side jar of jam.

Mung Bean Sprouts

I was looking for bean sprouts at the grocery store for those summer rolls i posted about, but I couldn’t find any fresh ones, besides which they always go bad so fast when fresh that I don’t get to use them before they all go bad. I am so sad when that happens that I don’t buy them much, so this time I found some mung beans from the bulk section to sprout myself, in smaller portions. It helped that my spouse was out of town at the time, so if anyone was poisoned, it was only me.

Ingredients & Supplies:
mung beans
water
mason jar
cheesecloth
a tray and towel

Sprouts: day 1
Sprouts: day 1

Procedure
1. Pick over the beans and throw anything that looks suspect out (see reference links for warnings about sourcing), rinse with running water.
2. Pour rinsed beans into jar, cover jar with a secured cheesecloth (with an open mason jar lid, or rubberband), soak for 8-12 hours.
3. Drain the water and rinse through the cheesecloth, then set it upside down to drain in a dark space, atop the tray and towel (to absorb the water).
4. Tedious: rinse and set to drain at least twice a day, returning to dark space, until sprouts are appropriate length, 2-5 days. I stopped after four because that was when I wanted to make summer rolls.

Sprouts days 2, 3, 4 and 4.
Sprouts days 2, 3, 4 and 4.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
Very novel, never tried sprouting stuff before. Was it slightly more interesting with an edge of self-poisoning danger? Maybe…
Likelihood of Repeat: 15%
Ugh, so tedious to remember to check it day and night whenever I woke up or was trying to go to bed. One of the references below even says “as frequently as four times a day,” who has time for that?!
Lesson Learned: Somebody else spends a lot of time sprouting beans so I can enjoy their crunchy deliciousness when I’m eating out. I am ever grateful. Also: home-sprouted beans can taste more nutty, in a good way.

References:
Primary: Serious Eats: How to Grow Bean Sprouts in a Jar
Secondary: Sproutpeople.org on Mung Bean Sprouts

Jicama, 2 Ways
Salad vs. Summer Roll

First up, the recipe that uses more jicama:

(1) Citrus-Spiked Jicama and Carrot Slaw
Originally from Cooking Light, (David Bonom July 2007) via Yummly search via myrecipes.com. The original recipe calls for much larger amounts, I scaled it down and did some relatively arbitrary proportions for convenience to make one lunch-salad size and one tiny dinner side salad.

no advance prep for this dish, yay
no advance prep for this dish, yay

Ingredients
1/2 a jicama, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/6 red onion, sliced in thin strips
~1 Tbs orange juice
~1/4 tsp lime rind
~2 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
a dash of salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)

Gross! cilantro!
substituted: 2 sprigs mint, stems removed and leaves cut in ribbons

 

Preparation
Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl, and toss gently to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in the mint just before serving. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

jicama salad, served with a side of leftover red rice, pot stickers, and [not shown] the rest of the oranges that provided orange juice.
jicama salad, served with a side of leftover red rice, pot stickers, and [not shown] the rest of the oranges that provided orange juice.

Today’s Recipe #1 Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
Never made this before, and it has quite a strong sweet flavor even without sugar. You really get to taste the jicama, which was a novelty to me. I only started buying (and identifying) jicama last year.
Likelihood of Repeat: 80%
I think I have a strong bias for salads that don’t involve any leafy greens, bonus points for the use of multiple citrus items. I think I would like to re-try this with some orange slices thrown in too.
Lesson Learned: 1/6 of a red onion may still be too much onion to rejoin humanity after eating this.

Second way:
(2) Summer Rolls & Peanut Sauce
based on an altered recipe based on one from Chow.com

get all the ingredients chopped and prepped before you touch the rice wrappers
get all the ingredients chopped and prepped before you touch the rice wrappers

Ingredients
For the peanut sauce:
3/4 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons chili-garlic paste
1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste –okay, I cheated with pre-chopped garlic from the jar, fresh garlic is too spicy sometimes..
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For the summer rolls:
24 medium shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined fried or firm tofu, sliced
1 hank dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
5 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers
1/8 cup mung bean sprouts**
4 sprigs fresh mint leaves
32 fresh basil
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-1/2-inch sticks
3 medium scallions, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-1/2-inch pieces (white and light green parts only) -used chives because i had some
8 butter lettuce leaves cut in half
carrots, julienned
jicama, julienned (same portion as cukes)
coconut flakes
a dash of rice vinegar

Instructions
For the peanut sauce:
1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.

For the summer rolls:
1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain, try rinsing, then tossing with rice vinegar and salt; then separate in clumps for each roll lest the noodles get all stuck together during assembly.
2. Place all of the ingredients in separate piles and arrange them in the following order around a work surface: rice paper wrappers, tofu, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.
3. Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface, or lay out a damp wooden cutting board. Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with warm tap water. Working with one wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel/board.

potential layout atop rice wrapper: always less ingredients needed than you expect
potential layout atop rice wrapper: always less ingredients needed than you expect

4. Working quickly, lay down ingredients sparsely atop rice wrapper (see picture), adding lettuce last, and mint and chive leaves near end of roll for aesthetics.
5. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top.
6. Turn the roll so that the seam faces down and the row of tofu faces up. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Leave 3/4 inch between each summer roll on the sheet so they don’t stick together, and replace the water in the pan or dish with hot tap water as needed.
**If not serving immediately, keep the summer rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours, OR wrap individually in plastic wrap, then in tightly-covered tupperware to keep overnight (see below for photo). Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping. If you are worried about it drying out, another precaution is to barely coat the outside of the rolls with sesame or olive oil, then wrap. The oil helps hold in the moisture.

Tip 1: Even when I scale down the amounts for the rolls, it’s been good to do the full or at least half portion of the sauce, since that is really the flavor that adds depth to the light crisp summer roll.
Tip 2: I keep my coconut flakes in an empty spice container for easy sprinkling over this, yogurts, and desserts.
Tip 3: I find my wrapping is more successful when I stretch the wrapper a smidge more than I think it will take. Definitely err on the side of less ingredients when you are first practicing the rolling.

Note: I first tried making these in the height of the Seattle summer (when I didn’t want to cook anything and add heat in a brief “80-degree heat wave”), and I am still using the same bag of rice wrappers, so yes, you will have more leftover, and you can stuff it with whatever leftovers you think will go well.

the finished product, ready to eat
the finished product, ready to eat

Today’s Recipe #2 Rating:
Novelty Rating:
2 of 5 stars.
I’ve made it before. I think it’s tasty, but definitely getting a little stale to eat in the winter when I crave potatoes and meat dishes. ..but it tastes so…healthy..

one bite in
one bite in

Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
As I mentioned before, I am still using the same packet of rice wrappers from the summer, and plan on continuing to put random ingredients together for a slapdash lunch. You will note the significant difference in length of steps between the two recipes above. That alone may indicate that #1 is going to win out in repeats..
Lesson Learned: I will always, always have leftover filling after I run out of those tasty rice noodles. This, in fact, was the original reason for recipe #1, as jicama only comes in certain sizes, so you’d have to make tons of summer rolls to actually use it up.

**Stay tuned for a future blog post on sprouting mung beans! I’ll do it so you don’t have to try it.

the final product, ready to store
the final product, ready to store

oops

Sorry, I missed getting the usual two posts in the last couple weeks. I’ve been busy with life..

Theo chocolate, Fremont beer flight, Seahawks superbowl parade, bacon, oatmeal, and citrus salad all from Agrodolce brunch, boring salad for work lunch, Rattlesnake Ridge trail, and center: ad hoc soup with a poached egg
Theo chocolate factory, Fremont Brewery beer flight, Seahawks superbowl parade in Seattle, bacon, oatmeal, and citrus salad all from an Agrodolce brunch, boring-ish salad for work lunch, Rattlesnake Ridge trail, and center: ad hoc soup with a poached egg

Stock Sunday

It’s that time again, about every quarter, my freezer starts to get too full of vegetable scraps, at which point I take ’em all and make some stock. In today’s case, I didn’t happen to have any leftover meat scraps that would have made it into a 4, 6 or 8-hour+ long process. Pffft. Unless you have no day job, or work from home, even the vegetable stock process requires a good chunk of time at home, even though it’s not active tending. This is certainly a recipe for the “60 Minutes – Multiday” folder, due to the freezer, and the collecting of scraps over time.

6 re-used yogurt containers of veggie scraps in the freezer? Time for stock Sunday!
6 re-used yogurt containers of veggie scraps in the freezer? Time for stock Sunday!

When my brother heard I make my own stock, he remarked “how…Depression Era..” I used some wee sage sprouts in the ‘miscellaneous herbs’ category from an herb starter kit gift from same brother this time. Haw.

Vegetable stock
Makes about 4 cups, after 2nd boil for 45 minutes

Ingredients:
5, 32 oz reused yogurt containers of loosely packed frozen veggie scraps*
3 Liters (around 9 cups) boiling water
arbitrary amount of miscellaneous fresh herbs (8/18/13: green onions, oregano, crushed garlic cloves and parsley)
olive oil

Steps
1. Consolidate vegetable scraps in a mixing bowl, and separate out any onions, garlic, celery, herbs and mushrooms.
2. Boil water in percolator.
3. Optional step but tasty: in large stock pot, sauté onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and miscellaneous fresh herbs in olive oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes or however long to sweat them.
4. Add remaining vegetables to pot and pour in boiling water until vegetables are just covered (approximately get to 1:1 ratio of ingredients to water).
5. Bring almost to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Skim any scum off the top occasionally.
6. Pour boiled contents into a mixing bowl with colander, remove spent ingredients with colander.
7. Optional: return liquid to stovetop and boil down to desired more-concentrated volume; I boiled it for another 45ish minutes.
8. Pour liquid through second strainer, and let cool.
9. Chill to use immediately, or freeze stock (I like using an ice cube tray, then transferring after frozen to ziploc bags and labelling with a sharpie).

*I avoid saving the following vegetables, as they have too heavy a taste, or tend to dye the stock a scary deep red: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages (includes brussel sprouts), and red beets. I like using clear plastic yogurt containers, or at least with a clear top so you can tell what’s inside once it’s frozen.

Storage Note: the stock should keep in the freezer for 4-6 months.
Meatification tip: Veggies take around 2 hours, the rest goes: simmer +3 hours for chicken, +5 hours for pork, +7 hours for beef or veal. I tried beef once and it felt like forever since I boiled it down after removing the spent veggies in the last hour. I am never doing that again, too tedious, for similar flavor. One time my house accidentally smelled of curry for 3 days after..
Usage tip: when you use these for a recipe, you may want to salt a little more to taste, since it won’t be as salty as commercial stock.

Saute, boil, skim, strain, boil, freeze.
Saute, boil, skim, strain, boil, freeze.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
1 of 5 stars.
The novelty herein lines in the additional 1/3 of my freezer that is now empty, and 5% now has some free, homemade stock ready for use in soups, roux, cooking rice, risotto, and other things. That, and I like giving my vegetables a second life before they go on to the food/yard waste for their third life as compost.

I measured the stock as I poured it in the ice tray, so I know this freezer ziploc of stock will be 2 cups in liquid form.
I measured the stock as I poured it in the ice tray, so I know this freezer ziploc of stock will be 2 cups in liquid form.

Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
Stock-making has become a chore-Sunday routine every several many months. I see no likelihood of dropping it.
Lesson Learned: from making this, and other items destined for the freezer (like too much soup), I have learned that it’s useful to keep a sharpie nearby in a kitchen drawer for easy labeling of ziplocs.

References:
Salon.com on How to Make Stock
Alton Brown’s chicken stock recipe