Friday, October 26, 2018

Cook the Books Fridays: Dorie Greenspan's Newest Gourgeres

Well hello old cooking buddies! It has been awhile since I have done recipe posts so it is about time I dust off the oven and get back to it. Dorie Greenspan's newest cookbook Everyday Dorie was just released and I couldn't be more excited! Like Baking From My Home to Yours and Around My French Table there are many Doristas joining in and cooking through the book. This time we will be posting our links to Cook the Books Fridays. We will be doing one recipe a month for the time being and will be posting on the second Friday of the month. This one is special since the book was just released.

As an added bonus, I am heading to Atlanta to see Dorie with my friend Angela next weekend.  I can't wait! The last time I got to see her was in Seattle at the International Food Blogger Conference.

The inaugural Cook the Books recipe is Dorie's Newest Gourgeres, or more simply French cheese puffs. I remember making these early in Around My French Table and how much my kids loved them. This new version includes an egg white and chopped pecans or walnuts. I chose pecans because I found pecan chips at the grocery store and figured they would be easier to chop. I was not wrong. My handy dandy food chopper from my Pampered Chef heyday worked perfectly and I only had to move the pecans a tiny bit to get this adorable heart. It was a sign that this recipe would be loved by my family.

These fluffy little bites took almost no time at all to whip up. They took about 28 minutes in the oven and were still warm when I got them to my kiddo in the car rider line. I did hand off two to her friends as they passed my car as well. I hope they liked them, I mean how could they not? What's not to love? Cheese, milk, eggs, flour, butter, mustard, and pecans.

Like every Dorie cookbook I own this one is going to have battle wounds. At least the first mess is fairly minor. Baking From My Home to Yours is about twice the size it was when I got it.

If you would like to join in on the baking and cooking go buy Everyday Dorie right now! You have plenty of time to get the book, start a blog, and get cooking! The next recipe will be posted on November 9th and will be Maple Syrup and Mustard Brussel Sprouts (212) You can also see if Doristas liked this recipe by clicking here.

If you would like to whip these delicious puffs up you can find the recipe below. Check it out!

Excerpted from Everyday Dorie © 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018 by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Makes about 60 gougères
Gougères are French cheese puffs based on a classic dough called pâte à choux (the dough used for cream puffs), and it’s a testament to their goodness that I’m still crazy about them after all these years and after all the thousands that I’ve made. Twenty or so years ago, when my husband and I moved to Paris, I decided that gougères would be the nibble I’d have ready for guests when they visited. Regulars chez moi have come to expect them.
Over the years, I’ve made minor adjustments to the recipe’s ingredients, flirting with different cheeses, different kinds of pepper and different spices.
The recipe is welcoming.  This current favorite has a structural tweak: Instead of the usual five eggs in the dough, I use four, plus a white—it makes the puff just a tad sturdier. In addition, I’ve downsized the puffs, shaping them with a small cookie scoop. And I’ve added Dijon mustard to the mix for zip and a surprise—walnuts.
1⁄2 cup (120 grams) whole milk
1⁄2 cup (120 grams) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1⁄4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
2 cups (170 grams) coarsely grated cheese, such as Comté, Gruyère and/or sharp cheddar
2⁄3 cup (80 grams) walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
My secret to being able to serve guests gougères on short notice is to keep them in the freezer, ready to bake. Scoop the puffs, freeze them on a parchment- lined baking sheet or cutting board and then pack them airtight. You can bake them straight from the oven; just give them a couple more minutes of heat.
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.
Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working; by the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.
Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (11⁄2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)
Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.
Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.
STORING : The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Grief is a Sneaky Monster

This year has been one of loss. There have been many, many high points but there were many valleys as well. I lost four people and one pet that I was close to at one point or another in my life.

Yesterday marked the one year passing of one of my youth leaders. She was a huge influence on my life when I was in high school.  I got to keep up with what was happening in her life through the magic of Facebook. Her daughter posted yesterday and you could feel the grief in her message.

A couple of months ago was the one year passing of a friend of ours from college. He had been sick for quite awhile but it was still fairly unexpected and shocking.

In October one of my closest friends passed away unexpectedly. Today I haven't been feeling very good but couldn't really figure out why. Part of the reason is grief. We have had a long standing tradition of taking our kiddos out to lunch or for a snack after the first day of school. Our girls are juniors in high school this year and we have been doing this since they were in the first grade. Today is the first day of school and the first time we won't be taking part in that tradition together. I miss my friend.

In November my 19 year old cat died. We loved that cat. My husband and I got her about 5 months after we got married so losing her was very sad. My kids loved her too. We recently got a new kitten and she does some things that make us think of our first kitty.

In February of this year my grandpa was in and out of the hospital. It was not looking good for him so we were preparing for the worst. In that time my grandma passed unexpectedly. My son and I went up for the funeral. Grandma and Grandpa went to a good old Baptist church so there was a big funeral dinner after my Grandma's service. A lady from the church brought over a container of potato salad that was specifically for my Grandpa. It was my Grandmas recipe and she wanted to make sure my grandpa got some of it. A couple of months ago my husband and I went out to lunch and I ordered potato salad. I took one bite and burst into tears because it was the first time I had had potato salad since my Grandma's funeral. It seems irrational but like I said above grief is a sneaky monster.

My Grandpa passed in May. He and my Grandma had been married for over 50 years and they weren't apart for long.

Each of these people in my life knew Jesus. As a Christian I believe they are celebrating in heaven. I know I will see them again one day. Until then I will feel the grief and pray that it turns to fond memories instead of feeling the hole left behind.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

School Walkouts and Pi

There are many feelings on the school walkouts that happened today. If students participated I hope that they understood what they were protesting. Was it to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting or was it to protest gun control legislation? Did they walk out because they understood what they were doing or did they go because they got out of school. We know more than one student that went specifically because they got out of school. I have heard of some schools that planned amazing events today to honor the students at Parkland. I have also heard of a school that had a civil rights activist that undermined the authority of the school and put kids in a terrible position. I am absolutely on board with students being able to peacefully protest. I am not on board with someone coming into the school and undermining the school's authority.

On a happier note today was Pi Day! I was subbing in a kindergarten class so we had a little lesson on Pi. I am not sure any of them remembered at the end of the day to tell their families that they wanted pie but maybe a couple of them did. Did you know that O'Charley's has free pie Wednesdays? How fitting that Pi day happened to land on Pie day! I ordered chicken pot pie and of course had O'Charley's famous Caramel Pie for dessert. It was wonderful to have a meal with my sweet family where we could talk about all of the events of the day and end it with pie.

Monday, March 12, 2018


Several times over the years I have seen people post about Ebelskivers or Abelskivers. These little donut pancakes have always looked delicious but you need a special pan to make them. Well, the other day I found a NordicWare Ebelskiver pan at Goodwill for eight dollars. I thought it was an Ebelskiver pan but I put it down for a moment to check it out on my phone and make sure. A man saw me put it down, walked over an grabbed it. Thankfully he put it back down when he couldn't figure out what it was. It did make me laugh though that he saw I was interested and thought he should check it out. Of course, who knows, maybe he was also in the market for a pan for Scandinavian pancakes.

This morning we had a two hour delay for school due to rain all day yesterday with dropping temps and snow in the middle of the night. Since the kids got to sleep in I decided to try out my new pan! My first batch did not turn out great. I put chocolate chips in the middle and for some reason one of my kiddos thought they tasted weird. The second batch had orange marmalade in the middle and that batch was amazing.  The rest of the batches did not have anything in the middle. To turn them I got to use my Gilmore Girls Lit Cube chopsticks. I had to run the kids to school so I finished them off quickly and put them away where our dog couldn't get them. Little Man suggested that we get plastic syringes and fill them with chocolate. Maybe nutella would be good.

For my first attempt at Ebelskivers I tried the Reluctant Gourmet's recipe. I think it was a good one to start with for sure. After the first batch the kids loved them. I will definitely be making these again in the near future!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Let's Talk Traffic

When we moved to Tennessee almost seventeen years ago people in the metro area would complain about how bad traffic was. We, being seasoned Los Angeles drivers, would laugh at how little traffic there was. Here we are 17 years later, Nashville has 100 people a day moving here, and traffic is starting to really look like LA. A friend posted at three am that she was stuck in a traffic jam on I-24. We drove quite a bit today and there was a ton of traffic, and trying to get anywhere during rush hour? You can forget about it. 

In California we lived 30 miles from the airport. It took 30 minutes to two hours to get to there. Up until recently we haven't had to think in those terms but now we do. How long will it take to get the kids to school? For us to get to work? Etc. We are on track to have traffic like Atlanta in five years. 

There is a big push for public transportation. We have a train that services one side of the city, and we have buses that run around the county. We also have 3 lane interstates and carpool lanes that run from 7-9 am or 4-6 pm and are a complete joke. Single drivers use the lanes all the time and there seems to be no fear that tickets will be issued. 

Transit for Nashville has a 9 billion dollar plan for a light rail and other improvements. Better Transit for Nashville has 74 reasons you should not vote for the plan. It is a lot of information. Better transit would be good if it actually would reduce traffic. Friends in LA how has the light rail helped in your neck of the woods in regard to reducing traffic? No matter what, something has to be done because sitting in traffic on a Saturday is the pits!

Back in September I posted on Facebook about How to Die in Nashville as this is another huge problem. This was my post:

How to die in Nashville:
1) Choose one of the busiest intersections in Nashville at rush hour. Preferably one with at least 5 lanes
2) Make sure you are around 10 -25 feet from the nearest crosswalk
3) Run across traffic against the light while talking on your cell phone
4) Make sure to stop in the left hand turn lane and give dirty looks to the cars that are barreling toward you at speeds of 45-60 mph
This would be 2 days in a row that I saw people almost hit in the road because they were on their cell phones and not in a crosswalk. As of August 16 pedestrians were killed in Nashville.
I almost hit two boys on bikes that rode right out in front of me as I started to turn on a green arrow today.
People have got to get off their phones, actually follow the rules of the road,  and pay attention. Maybe that would help traffic in Nashville as well.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Holler and Dash

One of the things my hubs and I like to do together is try out new restaurants. I then like to tell others about them and our experiences. Maybe you will find something you would also like to try. Yesterday my hubs and I got to have a quick unexpected lunch date. The band bake sale at which I was volunteering ended early and I didn't have to be at my new job training until 12:30. While traffic in Nashville has almost gotten to Los Angeles levels you can still make a quick trip around 11 in the morning.

We decided on Holler and Dash in Brentwood for our speedy lunch date. I swung by his new office and picked him up, we found a close parking spot (it was like they knew we were coming), and rushed in to the restaurant.

We were greeted at the door with an explanation of how the restaurant worked. "We Holler at the register and then they Dash our table." We actually had been there before but it was during their preview day so things were more rushed at then. We were early for lunch so there was no line and we felt like we could take our time deciding on what to get. Holler and Dash is a subsidiary of Cracker Barrel but it is focused on the biscuits and accouterments. 

My hubs ordered the hot chicken biscuit (of course) he loves all things hot and spicy. I ordered the BLT. Which included a fried green tomato, guacamole, and bacon with Hollerback sauce. We also got a tot bowl, which I thought for some reason would have a cheese sauce but didn't. It came just as the description read on the menu with melted cheese, bacon, and chives. The last time we were there they were out of the beignets so those were on our definite must try list. They delivered in their flaky deliciousness.

Since I am shunning diet coke at the moment I discovered they had a tasty peach tea instead. My biscuit was really quite huge and I wasn't quite sure where to start so I cut it into pieces to enjoy in smaller bites. That lovely top there though was really thick and I didn't want to put it on top of my sandwich. I thought it was much better suited to butter and jam so I went and asked for some. They have Kerrygold butter (for those that want the real thing) and delicious raspberry jam. I meant to check and see if it was from the Nashville Jam Company but I forgot before we left. I will check that next time. We really enjoyed our quick lunch date to Holler and Dash. It was a bit pricey but we decided it was worth it. We were celebrating an impromptu date, Hubs getting his project at the office working, and me going to training for a new job. If you get a chance, check it out!

Thursday, March 08, 2018


As you can see I am entering back in to the blogosphere one shoddy, slow post at a time. Someone said you will never write if you never write. So here I am trying to write. 

This morning I asked my daughter what she thought I should write about today and she said "Pancakes!!"  So that is the topic of the day.

Who doesn't love a good pancake...except for those that shun all gluten and sunshine. I'm kidding! Of course you can make gluten free pancakes if you want to. 

I do like to make pancakes on occasion. I usually make them all kinds of fun colors for Doctor Seuss's birthday but didn't get a chance this year. With one kiddo in high school, one in middle school, and our crazy jobs this year it didn't happen. Perhaps I will try for this weekend. 

Last night my hubs and I had our regular midweek dinner date while the kids were at youth group. After a delicious dinner at Chickfila we ran by Goodwill to see if they had any cheap pants. No go there but I did find an Ebelskiver pan for $8!! Since my hubs is half Swedish, making my kiddos also part Swedish I purchased said pan to make some light and fluffy Scandinavian pancakes.

A quick perusal online resulted in quite a few recipes of these little dough balls so  I think I can find a good one to use pretty soon. If you have a go to Ebelskiver recipe though please feel free to drop it in the comments! We will be happily munching away on our pancakes this weekend!

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Diet Coke

You've all seen them. The posts telling you that Diet Coke is going to kill you. The aspartame is poison. Blah, blah, blah. Diet Coke is my vice. Well, that and chocolate of course. I have only had Diet Coke once since Lent started. And then it was on a Sunday. I am not a die hard Lent person. Some years I do great at giving something up and sometimes I don't. I didn't grow up with Lent as part of our church tradition but met people who did when I went away to college.

Yesterday I almost caved. I could feel the withdrawal headache beginning behind my eyes, I was subbing, and knew that refreshing, bubbly, cold beverage from the vending machine down the hall would make it all better. Yet, I held strong. It may have been the fact that I didn't have any cash on me that helped but that is neither here nor there. :)

Are you giving something up for Lent? If so what is is and what helps you stay strong?

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

My Poor Kiddo

This morning I was up and about doing my thing, getting ready for the day when all of a sudden I heard a thump and a cry. My growing, super coordinated teen boy/man child fell down several stairs. He is ok. No need to worry. A couple of bumps and bruises but over all he is fine. This comes on the heels of spraining his thumb at his first flag football practice. I am chalking some of this up to being on the verge of a growth spurt. When you are thirteen going on fourteen accidents happen.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Cats and Dogs

In November our sweet kitty cat passed away at home. She was almost 20 years old so she had a good long life. Our son found her on the floor in the bathroom. He said he put his ear on her and heard her heartbeat a few times and then it stopped. He called us right away so we could come get here. We had had a scare with her several months before where she was butting her head against the wall. The vet gave her fluids and said she was dehydrated. She bounced back after that and was great for awhile. Our cat that will be four on April Fool's Day irritated her so much every single day. Now she just irritates our 12 year old dog.

I have written many times in the past about all the things my dog has eaten. Well, she hasn't stopped. If she can snatch it off your plate she will do so. We just changed her food but I think we will have to change it back. This food is making her have the worst gas we have ever smelled and it lingers. Blerg! Of course it is pretty funny to see her jump up and run away when she farts in her sleep and scares herself awake. 

Pets are fun aren't they? :)

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Seasons of Life

Here I find myself, almost 5 pm on a Sunday evening, sitting in a Starbucks waiting on my daughter. She is with two classmates shooting videos on their phones for a Spanish project. I am not with them but I am not far away.

My sweet son had flag football practice miles away from here so my hubs and I went separate directions for the sake of our kiddos.

I don't mind the waiting, or the time to sit and think about the season we are in. My daughter is close to feeling the freedom a drivers licence will bring. But in the meantime I am going to cherish the time I get to have with her between the waiting.

My son is in the midst of middle school craziness. He has one more year of middle school but is on the cusp of having to decide (and us decide with him) where he will go to high school. In the meantime I am going to cherish the time I get to have with him amidst the craziness.

My hubs is in the midst of a job transition. It is stressful but I think it will be great. In the meantime I am going to cherish the time I get to have with him during the transition.

Here I sit thinking about the season I am in and what I need to do differently. What do I need to do to make a difference in the lives of other? I teach, I discipline, I love, I cherish, I whine, I complain, I berate myself. I want to love more freely, laugh harder and more often, I want to encourage others. that is the season I am in.

This week on the Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge the theme is "Picture a song". The goal is to find imagery in one of your favorite songs and capture it. One of my favorite songs is "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfeld. The lyrics I chose to capture were:

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

What about you? What season are you in?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Hello friends!

It has been quite awhile since I have posted here. I am hoping to do a redesign on my blog in the near future and get back to it! I have missed writing and I looking forward to entertaining you with my cooking foibles, photography, book reviews, and other such craziness.

In the meantime, things have been a bit crazy and since it is the holidays things always tend to get crazier. I just baked a whole bunch of Swedish Visiting Cakes and sold them in my neighborhood today. I love this recipe and my hubs was thrilled that he gets to have one as well!
I hope your holidays are wonderful!