Gougères

I believe everybody is familiar with the savory cheese version of cream puffs. The technique is the same, and it’s not complicated. The only problem these little appetizers present is a possible overindulging; it’s difficult to eat just a few. This particular recipe is from the mentioned earlier Gale Gand’s “Brunch!” How are these gougères different? She added a bit of Dijon mustard to the choux (such a lovely touch), brushed the freshly baked gougères with a mixture of garlic-infused melted butter and fresh chopped parsley and then sprinkled them with Parmesan (maybe the latter makes the gougères a little bit less authentic but, dare I say, even tastier).

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Zucchini Roasted Tomatoes and Chèvre Rounds

I seldom consume a large meal myself. I’m more sort of a bite-size finger-food lover. And these zucchini things are among my new favorites; the simplest but yet so flavorful.

Adapted from Gale Gand.

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Fig and Olive Tapenade with Pine Nut and Thyme-Coated Goat Cheese

It doesn’t involve any baking, and I don’t think it can be considered as a dessert. But the whole combo is so good I’d readily take a pass on any pastry and have more of this instead.
The goat cheese I used was a mild unripened cheese with added figs as well (quite sweet but nice). I customized it a bit by coating the cheese with finely chopped toasted pine nuts and thyme. Freshly baked (better yet – homemade) bread is a must here.

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Mustard Cheddar Crackers

One friend of mine told me I could freeze extra cheese for later use. Maybe I should have clarified for what kind of use, because after defrosting, once perfect cheddar became … lets say … not so perfect and completely unsuitable for eating. The texture got all crumbly and the flavor changed (it didn’t improve). I resisted my first impulse to throw the whole pound away and decided to salvage the cheese somehow. Generous addition of mustard seemed like just the way.

For my dear friend who recommended the freezing option (I know she occasionally reads my blog) I want to tell there are no hard feelings :) The crackers were yummy (very much so), the wine was great, and everybody was happy, eventually.

The moral of this story – do not freeze the cheese unless you are planning to use it for cooking; buy only as much as you can shortly consume.

The recipe is slightly adapted from the “Gourmet”.

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Dog Biscuits

I bake these often. And we don’t even have a dog. We do have a son, though, who loves them; honestly, the whole family enjoys these bones with soups and salads, and on their own – they are very munchable. If you are hesitant to offer the biscuits to guests thinking they might accuse you in serving them dog food, just shape the biscuits differently (but I think they are kind of cute the way they are).

I’m so done with festive sweets for a while (oh, these holidays)… Now I crave dog food.

Adapted from the “Gourmet” magazine.

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Crisp Lavash Crackers with Roasted Pepper Sun-Dried Tomato Anchovy Dip and Sweet and Sour Asian Eggplant Sesame Dip

Roaster Pepper Dip

Another month, another Daring Bakers’ challenge. This month challenge is quite different from the previous ones. First of all, it’s a savory dish and the second, it’s vegetarian. Even more, the dip or spread for serving with crackers is supposed to be vegan. Well, the eggplant dip matches this category, but the roasted pepper one is not-so–vegan, since I couldn’t resist the temptation and added the anchovies. I love these gutsy things that much.

The both dips are delicious and different. The crackers that I served with Italian pepper dip are sprinkled with coarsely ground pepper, sea salt, and fennel seeds. And the second batch, meant for the Asian eggplant dip, I sprinkled with sesame seeds. I didn’t serve them all at once of course. Every dip-crackers set was served, on its turn, with a nationally appropriate dinner.

Eggplant Asian Dip

The dough recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart.

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