Appetizer Trio

Our hosts for December were Temperance of High on the Hog and Jen of Delightful Delicacies. (The pictures through out this post are from Temperance of High on the Hog and Jen of Delightful Delicacies) Here is Temperance's post.

When appetizers won our poll for the holidays I knew just what I wanted to do Gougères, I am a cream puff fiend and a savory version just had to be good. For my second choice I wanted something with lots of meaty goodness. I went thru alot of different options before settling on Oysters en Brochette (angels on horseback). Ironically these are the first two things I ever bookmarked on Foodgawker.

Gruyère Cheese Gougères
Copyright 'The French Laundry Cookbook' By Thomas Keller, November, 1999
Makes about 4 dozen gougères

Gougères are a classical preparation often served at wine tastings in France. The puffs are made from a savory pâte á choux, or cream puff dough-flavored here with Gruyère. They are best served hot out of the oven, offering that creamy-dough gratification. Don't add the cheese, and the puff is a base for a dessert.
1 cup water
7 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Pinch of sugar
1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 to 5 large eggs
1-1/4 cups grated Gruyère (5 ounces)
Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes).

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again and, if necessary, add the yolk. Finally, mix in 3/4 cup of the Gruyère and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff and hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven and serve the gougères while hot.

These were good hot or cold. I did two different sizes (Tablespoon and Teaspoon) and had a slight preference for the smaller ones. Feel free to try using a different cheese, it makes a big difference in the taste. You can make them up in advance and stick them in the freezer, let them thaw for 10 minutes and then bake in oven as usual and you have warm fresh Gougères. I also thought that stuffing them would be a really good idea.

From Wiki: Oysters en Brochette is a classic dish in New Orleans Creole cuisine. Raw oysters are skewered, alternating with pieces of partially cooked bacon. The entire thing is then breaded (usually with corn flour) and then either deep fried or pan sauteed. The traditional presentation is on triangles of toast with the skewer removed and topped with a Meuniere sauce. When done right, the dish should have a crispy exterior and a soft savory center with a textural contrast between the bacon and the oyster. It was usually offered on restaurant menus as an appetizer; but was also a popular lunch entree.

At one time it was a ubiquitous option on menus across the spectrum of New Orleans restaurants. Today it is rarely seen (no doubt owing to health concerns over the combination of fried oysters, fried bacon, and butter). An exemplary version can still be found at Galatoire's.

A variation served as an hors d'oeuvres is Angels on Horseback. Single oysters are wrapped in partially cooked slices of bacon, each skewered with a toothpick. They are floured and deep fried and then passed on cocktail platters with a dipping sauce.

Galatoire’s Oysters en Brochette
Copyright New Orleans Times-Picayune December 21, 2000
Serves 4 as an appetizer or two as main course
12 strips bacon, cut in half
2 dozen oysters, raw
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for deep frying
Toast point and lemon wedges for serving

Fry bacon until not quite crisp. Alternate six oysters and six half strips of bacon folded on each of four 8-inch skewers. Make a batter with egg and
milk and season well with salt and pepper. Dip each skewer in batter.
Roll in flour and deep-fry in hot oil until golden. Serve on toast points
with lemon wedges.

Meuniere Sauce:
Copyright Tom Fitzmorris's 'New Orleans Food: More than 225 of the City's Best Recipes to Cook at Home (New Orleans Cooking)'
2 sticks butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1. Start the sauce before the Oysters en Brochette. Place the butter in a small saucepan over very low heat. Let it melt, then let it bubble until it stops. Skim the foam off the top. Keep the butter over the lowest possible heat on your stove top. (you want it to brown)

2. Add the lemon juice and the Worcestershire slowly to the butter sauce just before serving. Careful! This may make the butter foam up again and perhaps splatter!

For a GF option leave off the breading and stick it under the broiler. If Meuniere isn't your sauce of choice there are alot of other options out there. To prevent wooden toothpicks and skewers from burning soak them in water first.


For our last appetizer, we wanted to be courageous and try something we thought we’d never really try otherwise. There’s always been hype for the combination of blue cheese, walnut, and pear; so we decided gorgonzola and pear crostini would be perfect. Neither of us necessarily like bleu cheese, but after this, who knows?

WARNING: If you or any of your guests are expecting, or might be expecting, there is danger in eating un-pasteurized cheeses/other dairy products. There may also be a threat in eating any ‘blue-veined’ cheese. It may be a smart idea to buy pasteurized blue cheese, or study up on it, and decide if this is the appetizer for you and yours. Just to be safe.
Which cheeses are safe to eat when you're pregnant, and which aren't?
Week 13 of Pregnancy: Foods to Avoid
Eating Right When Pregnant

This recipe is easily altered to be gluten free; just use any gluten free bread of your choice for the crostini.

Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Crostini:
a baguette, thinly sliced about ½ inch each
olive oil
mascarpone, for spreading (optional)
any type of bleu cheese (gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton), thinly sliced, or crumbled
freshly hulled walnuts
a few pears, peeled and sliced into small cubes

1. Brush your bread slices with olive oil, line on a baking sheet, then toast in a hot oven for a few minutes until browned and crispy. You can broil them as well, if you prefer.

2. Remove from heat and spread each toast with some mascarpone.

3. Lay bleu cheese slices, or spread some crumbles, on each toast and add walnut pieces on top. Return to a 375-400°F oven for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted.

4. When the cheese is nicely melted, take the crostinis out of the oven and top with a few cubes of pear. Serve soon after.

Notes:…If you don’t use the mascarpone, just go straight to melting the bleu cheese step.
…Of course, it’s always a great idea to use the freshest ingredients you can find.
…You can even mix all the ingredients together and just dollop a spoonful on and melt, or keep it as a sort of dip.
…Feel free to add ingredients, it’d be interesting to see what you pair with it.
…Obviously there are no specific measurements, this is because it’s all according to what you fancy. You can even make just one, just to try. Who know, you may just love it!

There are numerous types of bleu cheese. See here: Blue Cheese from Wiki
The most common types, that I found at most every one of my markets, were bleu, stilton, Roquefort, gorgonzola and ‘amish bleu’. The cheese man at my market told us that gorgonzola is a bit milder than regular bleu. Of course, they both smelled like feet to me, so who knows. Jen

Some pictures and other helps for inspiration:
Pear, Walnut and Gorgonzola Bruschetta from FX Cusine
Search results from Epicurious
Recipe from Hunt County Wines

From the Forum:
Being Christmas time we were all very busy and saved our writing for our journals, so no quotes this month. It was all good though, trust me :) Temperance