June 7, 2023 - Written by: Nancy Pollard
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The Start Of It All

KD’s Horses Doover issues appear only twice a yearDuroc Pig image from the Britixh Pig Association website – one for cold weather and one for the hot months. Now it’s time for the summer issue of this long awaited event (check our archives for other summer cocktail bite inspirations). The term horses doovers decidedly came from my younger daughter, who had her own vocabulary as a toddler – such as closhwoth for washcloth. She also was famous for not eating pork products because she loved piggies. Her big sister once convinced her to eat a strip of bacon by telling her that it came from a really evil big pig who had murdered baby piggies.  That worked only once.  She even wanted to raise Duroc pigs when she grew up, and caused a scene at the meat counter at our Giant grocery store by sternly and loudly telling people “Don’t. Eat. Piggies!” The fact that she lives in Bologna, a city famed for its pork products, is perhaps a perfect example of the exactitude of Karma. 

Fresh Herbs Only

In honor of a porkless horses doover, KD presents this one without a whiff of piggy. I have crashed and burned in trying to make gougères – including some from veryHerbfarm Cookbook cover simon and shuster website French cookbooks tailored to American audiences — with sad results that were too doughy on the inside or that flattened like a pillow you slept on too vigorously.  I have to hand it to Dorie Greenspan that the first really good ones  I achieved were from her cookbook, Around My French Table This recipe, though, takes gougères to another level.  Meet Cheddar and Fresh Thyme Gougères from The Herbfarm Cookbook.

This is one of those cases where the addition of fresh thyme over its dried version makes all the difference. While I fling dried thyme around quite freely, it really does not work well in this instance. So, if you have a clump of straggly thyme either in your garden or perhaps a pot or window box, this is the perfect recipe for only the fresh version. Jerry Traunfeld  wrote this cook book when he was the chef at the Herbfarm Restaurant outside of Seattle, Washington. His ingredient ratio for the choux dough produces the most gossamer puff I have ever made. 

cheddar and thyme gougeres in KD kitchenYou can make these, freeze them unbaked on a sheet and then store in a freezer bag (don’t forget to label and date) for hot weather emergencies when an accompanying glass of cold white wine is the best answer. Then bake them from their  frozen state following the Traunfeld’s recipe. I normally use Silpats instead of parchment paper, and I find the pastry bag to be faster and more even in creating mounds than two teaspoons. I also make mine twice the size of his, so I get two bites instead of one. 

Many of us grow herbs as a summer pleasure, and there are more ways to feature them than in pestos or as a final garnish. This video from the author gives a quick, informative care overview for  black-thumbed herb growers  like myself.  You can substitute finely chopped marjoram, its ubiquitous cousin oregano, dill or even chives – but always use fresh for this summertime bite. I use a pale cheddar rather than the orange one for these puffs. In addition to the pinch of grated cheddar on the tops of the gougeres, I add a few flakes of Maldon salt also before baking them off.

Bite Size Cheddar and Thyme Gougeres
Yields 36
The lightest and delightfully subtle choux puff I have ever made
  1. 3/4 cup (177ml) water
  2. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  3. 6 tablespoons (85gr) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  4. 3/4 cup (96gr) all purpose flour (spoon and level)
  5. 4 large eggs
  6. 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped FRESH English thyme
  7. 1 cup (237ml) grated sharp Cheddar or Gruyere cheese (2 oz)
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.(205C)
  2. Put the water, salt and butter in a medium (2-3quart saucepan) and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a sturdy wire whisk, still over heat.
  4. It will form a very firm mass of dough that should pull away from the sides of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Crack an egg into a small cup and pour it into the saucepan and immediately beat it into the dough using the whisk or a handheld electric mixer.
  7. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs, incorporating each one thoroughly before adding another.
  8. The mixture will be satiny and sticky and have a consistency between soft dough and thick batter.
  9. Stir in the thyme and 1/2 cup of the cheese.
  10. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  11. Using 2 flatware teaspoons, drop balls of dough (each measuring1 teaspoon in volume) in rows on the paper, allowing 1 inch of space between them for spreading.
  12. Or use a pastry bag with a large plain tip and pipe the dough in 1/2 inch mounds.
  13. Place a pinch of the remaining cheese on top of each gougere.
  14. At this point you can cover the pans tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.
  15. Bake the gougeres until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  16. Serve while still warm.
  1. I use a pastry bag and large plain tip and make my gougeres twice the size he suggests.
  2. I also top mine with a sprinkle of Maldon Salt flakes in addition to the cheese before baking.
Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook
Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/

A Wrap Up

platter of Asian lettuce wraps from Victoria SackettOne of the most delightful ways to spend a sultry evening outside is to have a dinner of a few different horses doovers. Once you set it up, there’s no need to move to a dining table from where you are comfortably seated (hopefully outdoors with the humidity not too overwhelming) with a glass of something refreshing in hand. And this discovery from our sharp-penciled editor is perfect. This recipe can easily become an entree — just eat more! It’s also  an excellent way to use the often hydroponically raised lettuce called Buttercrunch, which now seems to be available everywhere. A certain person prefers this soft (I almost think of it as the equivalent of American white bread sandwich loaves) and malleable green leaf for his beloved BLTs. I think they get totally lost in a salad. But any soft butter lettuce is perfect for this horses doover. 

I did not realize the extensive food writing of Nina Simonds, identified on her website as “an award-winning journalist and author of eleven books, who is one of the country’s top authorities on Asian cooking with a special focus on health and lifestyle.”  Victoria has made this recipe from A Spoonful Of Ginger, published in 1999 and rich with healthy, restorative recipes. I also remember reading articles Simonds wrote for Gourmet Magazine in the 1980s. She went to Taipei at the age of nineteen to study Chinese cuisine and culture. Being fluent in a Mandarin dialect, she translated a few Chinese cookbooks into English. Nina Simonds also holds a Grande Diplome in Classic French Cuisine from La Varenne in Paris.  And she currently is utilizing her extensive knowledge of Asian cuisines to promote healthy eating on her website and through her lectures in association with the Harvard School of  Public Health. 

Saucy Ground Turkey Wrapped in Lettuce Leaves
Can be used as an appetizer or as an entree, made with almost any type of meat — ground turkey, chicken, beef, or pork. Probably shrimp. Or a combo!
  1. 1 1/2 pounds (680gr) ground turkey (I used half turkey and half chicken)
  2. Seasonings
  3. 3 1/2 Tbs minced scallions, white part only
  4. 1 1/2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
  5. 1Tbs minced garlic
  6. 1/2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  7. Spicy sauce (mixed together)
  8. 5 Tbs Chinese sweet bean paste (I couldn’t find so subbed Lee Kum Kee brand Cho Hou paste)
  9. 2 Tbs sugar
  10. 1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  11. 1 1/2 tsp hot chili paste
  12. Filling
  13. 2 bunches Boston lettuce, rinsed, drained, and stems trimmed
  14. 2 cups (473ml)canned water chestnuts, blanched in boiling water for 10 seconds (I chopped the chestnuts and used only one 8oz can), refreshed in cold water, and drained
  15. 3 cups (710ml) scallion greens cut into one-inch pieces
  1. 1. Put the ground turkey in a bowl, add the Seasonings, and mix together with your hands.
  2. 2. Lightly flatten the lettuce leaves with the flat side of a cleaver or knife and arrange in a basket for serving.
  3. 3. Heat a wok or heavy skillet, add half the oil, and when hot (about 30 seconds) add the turkey and stir-fry over medium-high heat, mashing and breaking it up. Cook until it changes color and separates. Drain in a colander and wipe out the pan.
  4. 4. Reheat the pan, add the remaining 1/2 Tbs oil, and when very hot add the water chestnuts and scallion greens, tossing them over high heat about one minute. Add the premixed Spicy Sauce and stir, letting it thicken. Return the cooked turkey to the pan and toss to coat with the sauce. Scoop the mixture onto a platter. To serve, pass the platter and the basket of lettuce leaves; each diner spoons some of the cooked meat onto a lettuce leaf, rolls it up, and eats it.
  1. I use an extra bit of chili paste, or a shot of sriracha to spice it up a touch.
Adapted from A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, health-giving recipes from Asian kitchens
Adapted from A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, health-giving recipes from Asian kitchens
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/

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1 year ago

I also don’t eat piggies so appreciate non-pork options.