Oh, bad, bad Stephanie. I am soooo cheating on my blog with a new (equally, fabulously) narcissistic online addiction – Facebook! Help, my friend Maud “friended” me and it’s been all (fun, decadent) downhill ever since! Here I am, on a beautiful, sunny Labor Day – at my computer. And loving it, what can I say? Throw in some gougere (recipe posted in comments below) and champagne and it is a damn fine day. A movie in awhile, then, later, abuttery roast chicken, sliced tomatoes, and brie, all washed down with a sick white Burgundy… And some more Facebook for dessert. Dang. Nice.
And nice to be chillin’ because we had a HUGE night at Debbie & Stu The Wine Genius’ lovely home last night. Rudy& Ana were there too, another Team Napa Reunion. So fabulous. Mountains of farmers’ market tomatoes, with cheese and herbs as a starter, then in a gorgeous soup with a floating gougere as a first course (yep, that’s where I got the gougere inspiration for today), alongside perfectly creamy risotto and grilled grass-fed-beef steaks for our main. Lovely and merry, and then of course, the wine…Harlan Estate jewels, the likes of which only exist in (rare) smart, deep, fascinating cellars like Stu’s. I would never drink these wines if not for Stu so generously sharing them with us, what a treat. Thank you, my friend! It’s very well appreciated! We of course toasted Stu’s recent summit of Grand Teton (yeah, even though he’s a serious eater/drinker, he’s a serious biker/climber too, sooo not fair).
Dinners like that just kill me (in a good way) because I’m so buzzy and jazzed from all the social and palate-tickling stimulation (aka Stephanie Sensory Overload) that when I get home I just can’t go straight to bed. Hell no! I have to blog, or…now…screw around on Facebook. And stay up way too late. And be worthless the next day – in a good, cozy, lazy way. Lord help me.
I hope you’re all enjoying your last summer weekend, too. It’s gorgeous here in Minnesota, and in NYC (according to my bro-in-law Tom), how about where you are? Soak it up, my friends. It’s been a special one.
Adapted from The Doubleday Cookbook by Anderson & Hanna
Makes about 24, 2-inch puffs, serves 6 as hors d’oeuvres
1 c. water
½ c. (1 stick) butter
½ tsp. salt
1 c. sifted flour
4 eggs at room temperature
½ c. shredded cheese (gruyere is the traditional; I’ve found a softer cheddar, like Monterey Jack, works very well)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Have flour measured and ready. Also, have a mixer bowl and beater ready. Quickly bring water, butter, and salt to boiling. Immediately (and carefully) pour boiling water into the bowl of the mixer, then dump in the flour all at once. Beat on medium speed until mixture forms a ball. Break an egg into a cup and slide into flour mixture. Beat on medium speed until egg is fully incorporated. Add remaining eggs, one at a time, beating well. Each egg must be blended in before the next is added; mixture will look odd at first, almost curdled, but as you beat, it will become smooth. Mix in cheese on low speed.
Drop pastry by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2” apart, on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 45-50 minutes (on two racks, switch half-way through baking time) until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.