Elegant Entertaining for the Holidays & Beyond! ~ Gougere


Gougere's are sexy hot little puffs of Pate' Choux , filled with gouda cheese and incredible flavor. The best part, is that they're really easy to make and are a perfect quick appetizer to be served with an impromptu glass of champagne! They're also my favorite comfort food, to be served piping hot with a bowl of tomato bisque that's been liberally laced with a tablespoon or two of fine Madeira! 

This is Mirielle Guilliano's recipe from the "French Women don't get Fat" website and it's really a good one. Sometimes I change the cheeses, using a traditional gruyere and smoked gouda mixture. Mostly, I just leave the recipe as is! Try these the next time you get caught with surprise guests or make them for your next cocktail party. Once you get the hang of making the dough it's simple!


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour
5 eggs
2 ounces Gouda (or half
Gouda, half Comté), diced
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Yield: 8 servings


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Warm the oil in a frying pan. Add the shallots, and cook over low heat until golden. Let cool.

Warm 2⁄3 cup water in a saucepan, and add the butter and salt. At the boiling point, add the flour all at once, and whisk it with the liquid until a compact, homogenous ball forms. Remove from the heat, and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the dough is sticky and supple.

Add the cooled shallots to dough. Gently incorporate the cheese and cumin seeds.

Make small balls of dough with a heaping teaspoon, and place them 1 inch apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the puffs are well puffed and golden. Serve lukewarm.

Gougere Photograph courtesy of New York/ Serious Eats

Wild Mushroom Crepes with Spinach, Cream and Sherry!

Every now and then...well actually more now than then I love to make crepes. They take time though and my happiest discovery in quite some time has been the pre-made crepes that I found in the freezer section at my local Whole Foods. They are delectable and yes although not as light and airy as if they'd just slid off of your crepe pan they are a perfectly acceptable substitute when you are in a hurry and guests are arriving in minutes! However for you purists,  I have attached a fun little video showing just how I would make them if I weren't so incredibly lazy!  

The other night presented such a dilemma and I remembered that I had a package of these in my freezer. But what to do? My sister had given my husband a beautiful jar of dehydrated wild mushrooms from Williams Sonoma for Christmas and I had some fresh spinach. I rehydrated the mushrooms and dinner was born!

The next morning I used these same crepes for breakfast and made a topping of apples, almonds and a bit of cheddar. I think that by now your probably seeing just how easy this can be!

Because I've been asked so many time now here is the recipe for the Spinach and Mushroom filling. I have to say that I think that the dried mushrooms were the key. Pungent and flavorful they didn't add nearly as much liquid to the mixture and that made the flavors even more intense and lovely.

You will need:

1 tablespoon of fresh organic butter

Approximately 2 cups of fresh spinach

2 cups of reconstituted wild mushrooms (liquid reserved)

3/4's pint of heavy organic whipping cream

2 tablespoons of good sherry (not cooking sherry-too much salt)

Truffled salt to taste (worth every penny)

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder (or fresh garlic, finely minced)

A pinch of White Pepper

A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (You can use jarred..it's just fun to grind!)

About 2 tablespoons of Saucing flour (maybe more maybe less)

Fresh chives for garnish

Shredded Gruyere Cheese for garnish

1 Premade Crepe for each serving

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the mushrooms (sans liquid), spinach and the garlic. Saute' for about 2 minutes and add 2 tablespoons of the mushroom liqueur. Cover and allow the whole thing to wilt for about 3 more minute and then add the truffled salt, pepper, nutmeg and the sherry.  Allow to cook for a bit more (spinach should still be green and lovely) and add the heavy cream. Allow the cream to blend with everything and then slowly add in the flour, just a little bit at a time whisking continuously. You'll know when to stop, the resulting sauce should have the consistency of a syrup and be luscious, not pasty. 

Place one of the premade crepes that you've folded into a triangle on a plate (you can crisp them lightly in a bit of butter beforehand but I don't think that it's necessary) and gently ladle the spinach and mushroom mixture over the top. Careful with the quantity because you don't want the whole thing to turn into mush. Garnish with the cheese and the chives and serve. 

This dish accompanied by an endive salad with a light vinaigrette  and a glass of good wine is a simple yet perfect quick dinner!

Wild Mushroom, Spinach and Sherry crepes

Chicken Legs braised in Garlic, Mushrooms and Red Wine

Sometimes, I'm not sure where the inspiration for a recipe comes from! Those are the days when I know that it's going to be good if I just follow my instincts and allow myself to simply create whatever it is I think that I want to eat.

The other night I was longing for a long, slowly braised aroma intoxicating meal, but I didn't have a lot of time. What I did have was a package of free range chicken legs and a bottle of red wine! What followed pleased me very much and satisfied my desire for some serious comfort food in a hurry! This recipe contains quite a lot of garlic as you will see, but it gets soft, sweet and mellow in the cooking process! This also calls for about 2 cups of red wine. Always cook with wine that you'd want to drink, because you will taste it in the food!

For 4 servings you will need:

4 free range, organically fed chicken legs -
I cannot stress enough that you should be using free range and organic poultry products. Not only is the flavor better, but you will sleep a bit more easily knowing that you are participating in a global community that is devoted to create good and healthy food! Always wash them first before cooking!

1 Can of organic diced tomatoes with garlic and basil

20 peeled cloves of Garlic 

2 cups of a good red wine

2 and a half cups of fresh mushrooms- mixed varieties
The exotic mushroom mixes definitely have more flavor than the plain button mushrooms!

1 cup of diced onions 

About 3 tablespoons of assorted fresh herbs, dill, thyme, chives and parsley- finely minced

Truffle Salt and pepper to season- You can use regular salt, the truffles just add an extra dimension of flavor that I love.

To begin:

Swirl some very good olive oil into a saute pan and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Turn up the heat to medium and add the chicken legs and allow to caramelize until golden. Season them with the herbs and the salt and pepper and continue cooking on a lower heat while you add the tomatoes,mushrooms, onions, garlic and wine. Simmer gently until the cooking juices are reduced and everything just tastes and smells really good! You'll know if the chicken is done because it will begin to fall from the bone, about 45 minutes to one hour.

Serve with a nutted rice pilaf or mashed potatoes, a simple salad of mixed greens and vinaigrette and a glass of that delicious wine that you've used to prepare this dish. Then relax, you deserve it!