This post is sponsored by Weight Watchers Canada. Find out more about the WW Freestyle program, which encourages the freedom to eat the foods you love while nudging you towards healthier choices using the SmartPoints system. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.
With the holidays fast approaching, we all need a few back-pocket recipes that are good for crowds, easy to prepare, and — most importantly — delightfully delicious. This is one of those recipes for me. Gougeres, or French cheese puffs, are made with the classic pate a choux dough. But instead of filling the puffs with cream or custard, you mix some herbs, cheese, and spices into the dough to make savory little appetizers that go down just right with a glass of wine or a cup of mulled cider. I dare you to eat just one!
A couple of notes:
- If you’ve made pate a choux before — perhaps for eclairs or cream puffs — this recipe should feel very familiar to you. I prefer using bread flour and a mixture of milk and water when making pate a choux. The bread flour gives strength to the dough and helps the gougeres keep their shape better. The mixture of milk and water gives the puffs a more tender chew and flavor, but you can also use all water.
- You can substitute other sharp, hard cheeses (or use a mixture) for the cheddar. Part of the fun of this recipe is making it your own: add some cayenne if you like a little heat, or switch out the scallions for other fresh, chopped herbs of your choice.
- You can make smaller, bite-size gougeres if you prefer (this recipe will probably yield 30 or so). Just keep an eye on them in the oven as they’ll likely be done sooner than these large ones.
Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Gougeres
Makes about 15 large gougeres
- 75g water
- 75g milk
- 75g butter
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
- 100g bread flour, sifted
- 150g eggs (about 3 large), room temperature and lightly beaten to combine
- 100g grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/4 c finely chopped scallions
- Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the middle and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (I used a 13×18 sheet pan; if yours are smaller you may need two. Bake on the top and bottom racks in the oven).
- Combine the water, milk, butter, sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a strong simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the mixture is simmering, remove the pot from the heat and dump the flour in all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is completely incorporated.
- Return the pot to low heat and continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and a thin film forms on the bottom of the pot, 1-2 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 170F. Immediately transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Mix the dough on low speed for a couple of minutes to release the steam. An instant-read thermometer should read no warmer than 140F (any hotter and you’ll cook the eggs when adding them!). When the dough has cooled sufficiently and with the mixer still on low, add about half of the eggs. Mix until the egg has been completely absorbed, then add more egg about a tablespoon at a time, mixing completely before adding more. When you’ve added most of the egg, check the dough consistency — a finger dragged through it should leave a trough and a peak of dough should form where the finger is lifted. Once the dough passes this test, it’s ready. (You may not need all the egg.)
- Set aside about a quarter of the cheese. Add the remaining 3/4 of the cheese and the scallions to the dough and use a silicone spatula to combine.
- Using a cookie scoop (I used an OXO #40), scoop golf-ball size portions of dough onto the prepared sheet, leaving a couple inches between each. (You can also transfer the mixture to a piping bag pipe out mounds, or use a couple of spoons.) Sprinkle the tops of the gougeres with the reserved cheese.
- Bake the gougeres for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, or until the gougeres are browned and feel hollow when you pick one up. Avoid opening the oven for the first 20 minutes of baking or the gougeres may collapse. Cool in a slightly ajar oven for about 10 minutes.
- Gougeres are best served still slightly warm from the oven, though I’ve heard you can recrisp them in the oven for a few minutes. Mine have never lasted long enough to test, though…
This post is created in partnership with Tre Stelle’s Great Canadian Cheese Summer Sweepstakes; as always all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.
It’s officially farmer’s market season here in Toronto. Most Saturdays we head down to our local market and let the best looking produce dictate our weekend meals. And for the last few weeks, it’s been all about juicy strawberries and fresh herbs.
While dessert is usually the first thing that comes to mind when berries start cropping up, I also like adding berries to salads and savoury dishes for natural sweetness and pops of color. Since strawberries and basil pair so beautifully, I decided to take it one step further by adding strawberries to some pesto toasts. To complement the bright, sweet strawberries and sharp, herby pesto, I also added a handful of fresh Tre Stelle Bocconcini Pearls for some needed creaminess and texture. The result is a fresh summery toast that’s great on its own for breakfast or paired with a bowl of fresh tomato soup for lunch or a light dinner.
To celebrate the season, Tre Stelle is currently running their Great Canadian Cheese Summer Sweepstakes with over 150 prizes up for grabs — including 3 trips for two to the Tre Stelle cooking school in Niagara! To be eligible to win, purchase any specially marked tubs of Tre Stelle Feta or Bocconcini from your local grocery store and head over to the Tre Stelle website to enter now through August 31st. Good luck!
Note: You can make these toasts with store bought pesto, but I highly recommend hand-chopping your own. The texture and flavour is far superior to the pasty, flat-tasting types typically found in supermarkets. You can also use regular sized Bocconcini balls, sliced, to top the toasts — I just liked the festive look of the pearls!
Summer Pesto Toasts with Strawberries and Bocconcini
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- Four 1/2” thick slices of crusty sourdough bread, toasted
- 4 Tbsp pesto, homemade (recipe below) or store-bought
- 4 large strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 container Tre Stelle Bocconcini Pearls
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Spread each slice of toast with a tablespoon of pesto. Top with strawberry slices and a generous handful of bocconcini pearls. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!
Makes ~1 cup
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 large bunch fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 c pine nuts, toasted
- Kosher salt to taste
- ~1/4 c olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Smash the garlic clove and chop along with a handful of pine nuts. Add a handful of basil and continue chopping, scraping your knife off as needed.
- Continue this process of chopping and scraping, alternating between adding handfuls of basil and pine nuts, until you’ve used them up and the desired texture is achieved (I like it fairly fine, but with some bigger chunks in there for texture).
- Transfer to a bowl and add a generous pinch of salt and the juice of half a lemon. Stir to combine, then add a tablespoon of olive oil at a time until you reach your desired consistency. You don’t need a lot of oil, just enough to cover the mixture. Usually about ~1/4 cup does it for me.
- Taste and add more salt if necessary. Best enjoyed immediately, but you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for a few days. Just stir before using.
Both my husband and I are food nerds in our own ways. I’m into baking and he’s into meat. (For the past year he’s been curing his own bacon and once you’ve had that, there’s no going back.) The ultimate dream is to collaborate on some from-scratch charcuterie boards — he’ll provide the sausages and cheeses and I’ll do the breads/crackers/dips. We’ll get there eventually. But in the meantime, these tasty little sausage rolls are a team effort that will be showing up on our appetizer tables for the years to come — he made the sausage, and I wrapped them in pastry.
I’ve made sausage rolls in the past using store bought puff pastry and that works perfectly well. But lately I’ve been into making my own rough puff. I use this pastry recipe for the base and simply add 2-4 turns to the process, resting the pastry in the fridge as needed (for me this is typically for 10 minutes after the initial mixing and after the first two turns). For or this savory application, I reduce the sugar to 1 teaspoon.
Also, the filling is very adaptable — skip the apple if you want and add in some sauteed onion and garlic; and feel free to play with the spices. You can also use regular ground pork, seasoned to taste — in this case I would add a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs and an egg to help bind the mixture together.
Pork and Apple Sausage Rolls
Makes 24 two-bite rolls or 40-48 one-bite canapes
- 1 pound puff pastry, thawed (1 store bought box or homemade)
- 1 pound pork sausage, casings removed
- 1 baking apple, peeled and finely diced
- 1 scallion, finely diced
- 4 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 egg, whisked with 1 tbsp water
- Flaky salt, to finish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Mix sausage, apple, and scallion in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl, beat egg with 1 tbsp water.
Roll out each sheet of puff pastry into a large square or rectangle (about 12″ x 12″ or 9″ x 13″) and cut each in half (for a total of four pieces).
- Spread a tablespoon of mustard down the center of each rectangle lengthwise.
- Divide the pork mixture into 4 equal parts and arrange on top of the mustard.
- Fold the bottom half of the pastry over the meat.
- Brush the top part of the pastry with egg wash and roll the puff pastry so the seam is facing down. Repeat with the other sheets. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes, or until pastry is firm.
- Cut each roll into the number of pieces desired (I like 6 per roll for a 2-bite snack — top photo or 10-12 for a one-bite canape — lower left photo). If making larger rolls, cut a couple steam vents on top; if making the one-biters, no vent is needed.
Arrange about an inch apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets.
Brush with remaining egg wash, followed by a pinch of flaky salt if desired.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Serve warm or cold with ketchup and/or mustard.