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Gougères with cumin

gougeres plated

This is a favorite recipe around here. We especially love it as a special appetizer or snack, like for Oscar night or New Year’s Eve. These little guys go very well with a glass or two of bubbly. But lately we’ve been making a batch of these to have as a light dinner, served alongside a big green salad.

Gougères are basically like little soufflés or cheese puffs. I first had them when I was teaching English in France. The principal of the school where I was working invited me over for a Sunday lunch and his wife served champagne and gougères before the main meal. They were absolutely delicious.

gougeres ingredients

I thought they would be difficult to make, but they aren’t! There are just a few tricks to remember: measure out all your ingredients beforehand and do not (!!) open the oven door for the 20 minutes of baking time. Once you’ve got those two tricks down, they are pretty easy to make. Make some the next time you’re feeling like something fancy and French!

gougeres from oven

Gougères with cumin
From Chocolate and Zucchini

6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted; if you have salted, use a scant ½ teaspoon salt)
½ teaspoon salt (or just a bit less if using salted butter)
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups freshly grated Gruyère cheese (you can also use a good-quality Swiss)
Method:

1. Measure out all your ingredients. Have everything ready to go.

2. Combine butter, salt, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. I use a 3-quart saucepan and there is plenty of room; a 2-quart pan would probably also work. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Then, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour all at once. Use a wooden spoon and stir the flour quickly until everything is well combined. Then, return the pan to the heat and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has formed into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan. (When I return the pan to the heat after mixing in the flour, it usually only takes 1-2 more minutes of cooking before it’s pulling away from the sides of the pan).

3. Take the pan off of the heat and let it cool for 3 minutes. I always time this exactly, so that’s what I recommend. Then, add the eggs one at a time, stirring very well after each addition. At first it might seem like the egg isn’t blending in, but don’t worry, they do! Just keep stirring!

Sidenote: I once made a double batch of this recipe for my family at Christmas, which meant I had 8 eggs to incorporate one at a time. It took me forever and my arm was killing me!

4. Once the eggs are stirred in, then add the cumin seeds and black pepper. Give the mixture a stir to incorporate those. Then, fold in the grated cheese. You will have a very thick batter at this point! Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. It can stay in the fridge for longer than 30 minutes, too. In fact, I’ve made the batter up to 48 hours in advance and it worked out just fine.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the batter from the fridge. Using two small spoons, scoop the batter into small balls (about 1 inch across) and place on the baking sheet. They need a little room between them, but not much. Keep any remaining batter in the fridge for a later batch.

6. Bake the gougères in the oven for 20 minutes. I always time this exactly. Whatever you do, DO NOT open the oven door while they are baking! This will cause them not to rise properly. If you have an oven window, you can peek on them through that. If you don’t, wait at least 10 minutes before you open the oven door to peek. Once the 20 minutes is up, they should be puffy and golden. Turn the oven off and leave the door open just a crack for a few minutes before you take then completely out of the oven. This helps them not deflate! Although, if they do deflate, rest assured that they will still be just as tasty!

Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy with a favorite beverage, or serve alongside a big green salad for a light meal. Yum!

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3 Comments

spicy popcorn

Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. I love experimenting with different flavorings and toppings. I decided I wanted something spicy, so I came up with this blend. It was pretty tasty and made a nice treat for movie night.

spicy popcorn for movie night

spicy popcorn for movie night

What are YOUR favorite ways to eat popcorn? I need more flavor combination ideas! ~Inge

Spicy popcorn

Prepare ½ cup popcorn kernels using your favorite popping method. In a small bowl in the microwave (or in a small saucepan on the stove), melt 2 tablespoons of butter (or a vegan alternative) with ¼ teaspoon each of paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Use less of the cayenne if you don’t want it too spicy. Pour the spicy melted butter over the popped corn. Add salt, if needed. Toss and enjoy!


3 Comments

basil popcorn

Hello, readers!

Has your part of the world been as steamy and sticky as mine the last several days? I’ve been cooling off with multiple pitchers of iced tea, really simple salad suppers, and frozen chocolate-covered bananas. There was also a failed watermelon margarita experiment around here last week. Good thing we had enough limes left to make our regular house margaritas* instead – crisis averted!

I barely cooked last week in an effort to avoid the heat in the kitchen. But I did make a tasty snack that is worth sharing. Last summer I found this recipe here. I made this basil popcorn all the time last summer, so when I made it for the first time this season a few days ago, it officially felt like summer to me. Of course, the heat wave helped with that feeling, too.

really yummy basil popcorn

It’s such a great way of preparing popcorn. It’s easy and takes about 5 minutes of kitchen time. I make the basil + olive oil blend first, then pop the corn, then toss it all together. The basil makes it super summery, but I suppose you could use other herbs, like rosemary or thyme. Let me know if you fiddle with this and how it comes out.

I hope summer is being good to you. I’ll see you later in the week with one of those salads I’ve been making. And then I should probably start writing about soup, right? Anyone have a good gazpacho recipe? ~Inge

*Our house margarita recipe is straight from Rick Bayless. Watch out, these puppies are strong!

Basil Popcorn
from Tend

½ cup unpopped corn kernels
½ cup good olive oil (the kind of olive oil you would use in a salad dressing)
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
fresh grated or shredded parmesan cheese, optional
salt + pepper, to taste

First, combine basil and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend it up. Then, pop the corn using whatever method you like. While the corn is popping, get the cheese ready, if using. In your biggest mixing bowl, toss the popcorn with the basil oil, cheese, and salt and pepper. Use whatever amount of cheese floats your boat. Eat immediately. This goes really well with lemonade or limeade.