Cheese puffs and khachapuri

Friends came over for dinner on Saturday. The weather was actually decent enough that we fired up the grill one last time, producing some truly excellent lemony lamb kebabs and spiced eggplant (I have no pictures, sorry – we ate everything). To go with the lamb and eggplant I whipped up a batch of Khachapurikhachapuri, Georgian cheese-filled yogurt flatbreads (again, forgot to take any pictures before they were gone, but here’s a borrowed image that looks similar). The recipe for these is out of Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and they were described by our friend as tasting like “Mac and cheese in a bun!” I assume that’s a good thing – anyway, I like them. Come to think of it, they’d be really good stuffed with eggplant. Or lamb.

But before all of this other food, I wanted something fun and noshy to go with Prosecco while we worked on dinner, so I cracked open my shiny new copy of Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier and found a recipe for “gougères au cumin.” Oh yeah – crispy little cheese puffs with a soft melty interior and specks of cumin and black pepper. Easy to make, and they disappeared so fast they almost didn’t exist. Next time I might make them with rosemary or sage. Thanks, Clotilde!

cumin and pepper gougeres

Gougères au Cumin

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese

Put butter, salt and water in a medium saucepan. Heat to a simmer, then remove from the heat and add the flour. Stir to blend, then put back over low heat and keep stirring until the dough pulls into a ball (this happened almost immediately for me). Take back off the heat.

Cool for 3 minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, making sure to incorporate each one into the batter (I made J. do this so my arm wouldn’t fall off). Add the cumin and pepper, then fold in the cheese. Cover the pan and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Take the batter out of the fridge and drop spoonfuls onto the sheet as if you were making cookies. They can be spaced about an inch apart. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and prop the oven door open slightly for 5 minutes. Take out the puffs and attempt to let them cool for a short while so you don’t scald the inside of your mouth.

Leftover batter can be baked up immediately (make sure to bring the oven back up to temperature) or the next day.

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