The Sensitive Kitchen

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cheddar Gougeres

This classic appetizer starts with the same dough used to make cream puffs and takes them for a savory spin. I like to have gougeres ready for last-minute holiday guests by freezing them (unbaked) well ahead of time, then popping them into the oven when I need them. Make sure you use the strongest-flavored, tastiest cheese you can find; as with most recipes, the finished product is only as good as its ingredients.
 
1 c water 
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces 
1/4 tsp. cayenne (optional)
1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, plus additional for sprinkling 
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour 
4 large eggs 
1 1/2 c (packed) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese 
2/3 cup minced scallions, arugula, basil or fresh green flavoring of your choice
 
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Bring water, butter, cayenne and salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat; mix in flour. Stir over medium heat until mixture becomes slightly shiny and pulls away from sides of pan, about 3 minutes. Transfer to stand mixer fitted with paddle. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition to form sticky dough. Mix in cheese and scallions. 

Using 2 teaspoons, form dough into 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" ovals. Drop onto baking sheets 1" apart. (Can be made ahead. Place baking sheets in freezer, remove gougeres to a container or Ziploc bag when hardened, keep frozen up to 1 month.) 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes if at room temperature and 35 minutes if chilled or frozen. Serve immediately. Makes about 36.

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Super-Tender Cashew Burfi

This burfi is crumblier than the other recipe I have on this site, but also very tender.

Hardware:
Candy or frying thermometer
Silpat (silicone baking mat)
Heatproof spatula
Parchment (not waxed) paper
Butter or ghee

Software:
3 c raw cashews
1/2 c water
2 c sugar
1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Grind cashews in batches to a fine powder. Don't over-process, or you'll get cashew nut butter! Set aside. Thoroughly butter your Silpat.

Place sugar in a saucepan. Pour water over, starting at edges and finishing in middle, so no sugar crystals stick to sides of saucepan. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook without stirring until syrup reaches "thread" stage, 223
º to 234º F (106-112ºC) on thermometer.

Remove from heat. Add powdered cashews to syrup. Sprinkle cardamom over top; stir until thoroughly combined. Pour onto buttered Silpat, taking care to make thickness somewhat even and shape somewhat square. Using buttered parchment paper, press until even and square. Let cool 5 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. Allow to sit at least 20 minutes, then break into individual pieces. When thoroughly cool, store in an airtight container.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Chiwda (Bombay Mixture)

Bombay chiwda is the original Kettle corn: a bit spicy, a bit sweet, a bit salty, and thoroughly wonderful. Since poha consumes a lot of oil when fried, this dish falls firmly in the category of "special occasion food." But do make it anyway; you won't be sorry. If your household includes no homesick Indians, you can easily halve the recipe and it will turn out just the same.

2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 c thick poha (beaten rice; available at Indian markets)1 c golden raisins
1 c whole skinned peanuts
1/2 c whole or halved cashews
3/4 c curry leaves, halved if large
1/2 c large-flake unsweetened coconut, broken into pieces if large
1 c rice bran or other oil for frying

Mix together cayenne, sugar, turmeric and salt; set aside. Measure all ingredients; set aside. Have ready a 5-quart stainless steel bowl and two heatproof silicone spatulas.

In a large stainless steel skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil. When it shimmers, scatter a small handful of poha over the top. It will immediately puff. Toss in skillet with a clean spatula until evenly puffed and browned, then remove to stainless bowl. Put another Tbsp of oil in skillet to heat. Using the second spatula, toss puffed poha with a bit of spice mixture until evenly coated. Repeat until all of poha is puffed and all of spice mixture is used.

Fry peanuts and cashews in a very little bit of oil until beginning to brown; add to bowl. Crisp curry leaves in batches in a bit of oil; add to bowl. Toast coconut, using up any remaining oil in skillet. Toss thoroughly. When cool, store in an airtight container. Makes 4 quarts.

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