Xmas Eve Hors D’oeuvres

In food on 01/04/2009 at 9:11 am

The tradition during the Christmas Eve present opening marathon is each participant must prepare an hors d’oeuvre we can munch on to maintain our stamina for the >3hr affair. This year the old standbys were broiled bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, Alaskan king crab legs, and assorted Christmas cookies. The new gadget was a warming tray (which works like a solar panel; you plug it in for awhile and it stores up energy when you need it), and on it was baked brie, and an artichokey dip. Father also made a pseudo-hummus which he learned from a chef in the Southwest. It was called hummus but didn’t taste like traditional hummus. It was a little lacking in flavor and seasonings. Sister usually makes pizza bagels, but decided to step up her game and constructed some spanikopita with ricotta and puff pastry. Brother really shocked every one by picking up a knife. He made chicken enchiladas which were mostly cheese, not very saucy. Could our frozen food section days be a distant memory of the past?shrimp roll

We decided to postpone our famous red velvet cake for Christmas day and instead offered up shrimp sushi roll and gougeres. The latter are savory cream puffs that were all the rage this season in the New York Times. We’d made regular choux before, with custard and whipped cream fillings to some acclaim. But these turned out to be chewy and dense. Something definitely went wrong in the translation. The sushi, on the other hand, were quite delicious. A last minute addition of marinated julienne of carrots added a nice crunch. We were afraid the nori would get soggy what with them sitting out so long, but they fared much better than the aforementioned cheesy poofs, or rather lead bombs.

Recipe: Gougeres from New York Times

(in case you want to try it, hope you have better luck)

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups (about 7 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup freshly grated Emmenthal, Gruyère, Cantal or Cheddar cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese.

1. Lightly grease two baking sheets and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine one cup water, butter and salt. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until butter melts. Add flour all at once and cook, stirring constantly, until dough holds together in a ball, 5 minutes or less. Dough will get stiffer as you stir; keep stirring until dough is smooth. Transfer batter to a large mixing bowl or the workbowl of a standing mixer.

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating hard after each addition (this is a little bit of work; a hand mixer will probably not be powerful enough). Stop beating when mixture is glossy. Stir in the cheeses.

4. Drop teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet and bake until puffed and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 30 to 40 gougères.

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