The strangest thing happened to me when I was walking the streets of San Francisco last month. For some reason I wanted to enter a camera shop so I can find a way to clean the lens of my Powershot G7 and a good tripod. Being a tourist (and click-happy at that), I was always armed with my G7 hanging around my neck, but I found that I couldn't enter the camera shop. Because there were enthusiasts hanging outside the door. With their spiffy SLRs.
Can you believe that? I was embarrassed. I'm trying hard to think whether I embarrass easily. There was a party where I once set the dance floor on fire-- and not in a good way. But I was completely untouched by alcohol; I just did it because I liked moving my ass. I eat out by myself all the time. And I am not ashamed to fall hard on my ass on the skating rink; I just laugh it off (serves me right for going so fast). But just put a group of photogs together and I shrink.
"Oh, how adorable," I imagine them thinking, "he's come to the shop to upgrade his widdle toy." I have NO idea where I get this perception that photogs are snobs (or bullies)-- certainly I'm friends with many who are not-- but there's something intimidating about putting them all in one place. Click click click!
Maybe the difference is that no-one expects me to be Wayne Gretzky on the ice or, uh, (some professional dancer) at a party. Except I don't understand what it is in me that thinks everyone who steps into a camera shop is a pro. But I do know that if I never took a chance snapping away on the street with my camera or picking up speed on the ice, I would never get anywhere with my photographs or my skating. (On the other hand, no amount of crazy dancing will make me good!)
This recipe is again from one of my favorite cookbooks, Tartine. I recently reviewed it over at The Gastronomer's Bookshelf, finally!
This is the eleventh month of my Tartine journey with Lisa, though I've made a few more recipes from the book than we talked about. These gougères are great served as hors d'oeuvres with a glass of wine, but when you make the large versions as I've done here, they're also quite nice for breakfast. Be sure to check out Lisa's version to be published in a few days!
Gougères from Tartine
- 310g (1-1/4 cups) nonfat milk (or water, or half whole milk and half water)
- 140g (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 140g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs
- 115g (4oz or 3/4 cup grated) Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced Topping:
- 1 large egg
- pinch of salt
- grated Gruyère cheese for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a sheet pan with parchment.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, butter, and 1 teaspoon salt and place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a rolling boil. Dump all the flour in and stir madly with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth mass that pulls away from the sides of the pan, leaving a thin film of dried dough on the bottom, about 3 minutes.
Place the dough in a large mixing bowl and beat for about a minute, then add each of the 5 eggs, one at a time, beating at medium speed until smooth. Stir in the cheese, pepper, and thyme. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe 3-inch rounds about 1 inch high onto the baking sheet about 2 inches apart (if making hors d'oeuvres, make 1-inch mounds 1-1/2 inches apart).
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and salt together and brush the tops of the mounds with the egg wash. Lightly sprinkle each with a little grated Gruyère. Bake them for 35 to 45 minutes (25 minutes for the small versions), or until golden brown. Puncture the bottom of each with a knife and cool in the turned-off oven until serving (I store them upside-down to allow the steam to escape). Serve warm or at room temperature.