Category Archives: French

Smoked Cheddar Gougeres

gougere side view

We stood schmoozing around the kitchen island, savoring pillowy gougeres followed easily with sweet champagne, when it happened. Maybe the threat of the impending winter chill drew us closer together, or perhaps it was our need to tangibly express the deep connections we had formed, but suddenly, each person’s arms encircled the two waists of those standing closest, and we broke into singing the alma mater “Hark the Sound.”

When we completed the song, we were changed. What began as a class of strangers became a family. As I would later tell tour groups of potential students and their parents, that fleeting moment reaffirmed my love for the community I found at UNC.

gougere top view

I suppose that’s what I’ve sought to recreate since I’ve graduated. Wherever I go, I crave those arms around me, and I’ve been lucky enough to find them.

Tomorrow I go into surgery, and already I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received from people both near and far. I’ve realized how much I value community — sometimes one needs a reminder. It’s nice to have lots of arms to fall into.

Once again I find myself in a moment like the one that occurred around my professor’s kitchen island, where everything came together in a moment of delicious clarity. And I thank you, friends and family, for that.

Recipe based of off this one. The best smoked cheddar ever can be ordered online here.

Smoked Cheddar Gougeres
Makes about three dozen

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Large pinch of coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup shredded smoked cheddar, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

1) Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.
2) Scrape the dough into a mixing bowl; let cool for 1 minute. (Waiting a bit ensures that the eggs won’t cook and scramble in the dough.) Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.
3) Transfer the dough to a large plastic bag and cut about 1/2 inch off the corner diagonally. Pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350° oven until piping hot.

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Butternut Squash Tart with Caramelized Onions


I’ve officially lived in New York City for one month.

I want to say that I’ve been putting my beautiful black-counter-topped, white-subway-tiled kitchen with cherry cabinets and gas stove to good use on a regular basis, but shoot, kids. I live in New York City. Do you even know how much food exists here? I experience moments of overwhelming anxiety whenever I consider how many restaurants I have to eat at while my metabolism still allows for reckless eating. It’s a rough life.

Also, I’m in love with Brooklyn. In love. I see no reason to leave on the weekends when there are flea markets and food markets and farmers markets to be visited and general exploring to be done.

But, every Sunday, I make lunch for the week. This was last week’s lunch. Sometimes I even paired it with salad.

Butternut Squash Tart with Caramelized Onions:
Makes one 9-inch tart
Tart Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons ice water

Tart Filling
olive oil
1 small butternut squash
1 red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepper

For crust:
1) Blend flour and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter and shortening until pea-size pieces form. With the machine running, add enough ice water by tablespoonfuls to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 1 hour. Soften dough slightly before rolling dough out.
2) Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan. Trim dough overhang to 1 inch. Fold overhang in; press to form double-thick sides. Pierce bottom of dough all over with fork. Refrigerate 1 hour.
3) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake crust until golden, piercing with fork if bubbles form, about 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

For filling:
1) While the tart crust is being refrigerated in the tart pan, slice squash in half and place on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 40 minutes or until squash is soft.
2) Heat a pan on the stove over medium heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook onions for a few minutes to soften, then add balsamic vinegar. Cook for 20 minutes.
3) Beat together eggs, sour cream, heavy cream, goat cheese, cayenne pepper and ground pepper. After the squash cools, remove it from the skin and combine with egg mixture.
4) Pour the filling into the tart and sprinkle with caramelized onions. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Ham & Swiss Quiche with Caramelized Onions

It’s been a big week, folks. On Wednesday, I finished classes. I took my second-to-last-ever exam on Friday, and I turned in my last paper today.

Oh, and I decided to go (back) to Munich for the summer. As many of you know, since I polled approximately 100 of you, I have been struggling with this decision for weeks. I made pro/con lists. I asked my downstairs neighbor. I freaked out and shut down and utterly destroyed my cuticles. And then, at last, clarity.

I’m 22 years old and I should go to Europe for the summer because I can.

And I should eat quiche in honor of my decision. Quiche reminds me of the lovely evenings I spent in London with my friends. I went with this recipe, which only required one adjustment: the addition of leftover Easter ham and caramelized onions. Deadly delicious.

More tomorrow. Right now I am feeling all over the place.