gougères with chestnut, mushroom and ricotta cream

SAM_9689SAM_9658

Today, instead of writing a blog post, I bring you an excerpt from the world-renowned and very insightful website, Blog Tropes. Is this the equivalency of submitting a Wikipedia page for an assignment? Well yes, you can certainly see the state of inspiration that I am in.

Writing about How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About

A staple in the blog post topic repertoire, Writing about How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About, uses the body of the blog post, ideally reserved for witty anecdotes or relevant tips and advice, to describe how the author is struggling to write said blog post. When phrased that way, Writing about How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About sounds almost clever and meta, but this lowbrow technique may be employed as a desperate method of getting out of needing to think of something actually engaging, original, or interesting.

SAM_9642SAM_9654SAM_9688

It is often used in conjunction with Lamenting the Sheer Quantity of Drafts and citing Lack of Blogging Inspiration as though an existential crisis of the most significant variety. Curiously, lamenting the number of drafts only seems to precipitate the accumulation of more and more drafts (see Vicious Circle Theory or how in this post from a couple of years prior, a naive blogger complained about having 27 drafts, then 40 drafts, when now they have over 70 – and yet still nothing to say).

This topic may be brought into use when the stores of Throwback to Childhood Memory of Physical Education have been exhausted or become rather repetitive. Not just mandatory gym class, any childhood memory is apt to being overused–while spaced out over a few years, the same glorious yet essentially cliche lemon cake becomes a bit dull when it is so lovingly described for the second third time.

SAM_9661SAM_9664SAM_9672

Now, Writing About How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About can appear to be successful because it is:

  • extremely relevant (see Blogging about Blogging)
  • a personal anecdote (see Revealing Too Much Information on the Internet)
  • an anecdote that others can likely relate to (see Being as Generic as Possible)
  • sufficiently anonymous (see Not Revealing Too Much Information on the Internet).

However, it falls prey to a number of pitfalls, namely Lack of Novelty and Substance. Indeed, superfluous adjectives and excessive comments in brackets (for example, a comment such as this one) are able to expand a few sentences into a brief, yet lofty blog post. However, with no input of new ideas and material, writers may fall back onto the same combination of words which take on a stale and repetitive taste, for both readers and the writer themself. A blogger in trouble can be identified when they have used this very topic for severall[sic] blog posts, transforming their blog into an endless Echo Chamber.

SAM_9679SAM_9687SAM_9682

While it is true that in certain cases, originality in the mode of delivery can the message “I am simply having such a dreadfully difficult time thinking of something to write about” a bit less dull, Gawkish Attempts at Poetry are always a flop and are strongly cautioned against.

Fortunately, for the beleaguered blogger there are some alternatives to the prosaic and hackneyed Writing About How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About: Recipe Amalgamate (which appears long, not due to a deeply though blog post, but due to so many recipes), pseudo-profound Photo-centric Posts, Trick Your Little Cousin into Writing Posts for You, and the most reliable, Copy and Paste Entries from Blog Tropes (with the valiant intent of better informing the general public).

Subtrope of Blog Fatigue and Blog Block.

gougeres

gougères with chestnut, mushroom and ricotta cream

There are other choux pastry recipes on the blog, but ah I quite like this one! The proportions are easy to remember, and instead of relying on my faulty instinct as to how much egg I should add, I  followed the recipe. Which I do not always recommend because most people have much more reasonable and helpful instincts than me. But I think was a useful exercise in helping me recalibrate my choux-pastry-consistency-instincts a bit. I found the choux pastry consistency was thicker than I usually make it, and it puffed so nicely!

The filling is quite fun–a chance to use all sorts of yummy-sounding things like chestnuts and mushrooms and ricotta, and use them together! It turned out really nicely actually, though it took some tinkering. The filling began as far too rich–after all, strained whole milk ricotta and heavy cream? Followed with butter-cooked mushrooms? Then the shallots added a bit of sweetness that pulled some dessert-y notes out of the ricotta. I added enough lemon juice to bring the filling from cloying to, no, not a staple of the balanced diet, but to a balanced taste. Plenty of finely chopped chives and herbs also helped to brighten the filling. I think the key is to keep tasting as you make it to make sure it tastes right. Which is not something I get to say too often when it comes to baking.

Each gougère is quite rich–as far as serving size goes, I recommend cutting them into pieces. The choux pastry makes 12 puffs, but the filling is sufficient for around 8 (filled quite generously!). The gougères are very pleasant eaten on their own as well–they’re light, crisp, and savoury. If the plan is to eat them without filling, even consider sprinkling them with some very flaky salt before baking (or more cheese).

I think these would be lovely augmented with some cooked vegetables or greens, layered above or below the filling as well for something more substantial and less solid cheese.

SAM_9647

gougères with chestnut, mushroom and ricotta cream

gougeres

Borrowed, in their near entirety, from Alain Ducasse via Food and Wine.

  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • good pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 c flour (a good time to sub whole wheat because they are already quite rustic looking)
  • 2 large eggs
  • pepper, nutmeg
  • 1.75 oz gruyère, grated
  • pecorino romano or more gruyère for sprinkling over top

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a saucepan, warm the water, milk, salt and butter until the butter is fully melted. Bring to a boil, add the flour and quickly mix in with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and continue to cook the mixture until it forms a ball. Remove the pastry from the heat and let cool slightly before adding the eggs one at a time, beaten into the pastry most easily with the aid of a wire whisk. The dough should now be shiny, but not fluid. Mix in some ground black pepper and nutmeg, followed by the grated cheese.

Transfer the pastry to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe mounds of pastry, around 1 1/2 tbsp to 2 tbsp in size evenly spaced on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Lightly wet a finger and smooth the top of the piped choux pastry. Finely grate a bit of pecorino romano (as I had, shortsightedly, used up all the gruyère I had in the choux pastry) or more gruyère over top of the puffs.

Bake for around 25-30 minutes or until puffed and well browned. Poke a hole in the bottom of each puff to let the steam release and let cool on their sides or on a wire rack.

SAM_9690

filling

Makes enough filling to fill around 8 gougères.

  • around 7 medium button mushrooms
  • 1 small shallot
  • 3/4 c whole milk ricotta, drained overnight in a sieve lined with cheesecloth and set over a bowlaround
  • 6 small chestnuts, finely chopped
  • a small bundle of chives, minced
  • leaves picked from a few sprigs of thyme and tarragon (or any other preferred herb)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • chive flowers

Cut the mushrooms into small pieces; heat some butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the mushrooms with a bit of salt and pepper until browned. Mince the shallot and cook with butter until translucent and browned as well. Let the mushrooms and shallots cool.

Combine the ricotta with the mushrooms, shallots, chestnuts and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and the lemon juice. Whip the cream until stiff, then fold into the ricotta to lighten.

Slice the gougères leaving a thin base and a tall domed top. Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a ring of filling over the base of the gougères. Sprinkle with chive flowers and place the top of the gougère on top.

4 thoughts on “gougères with chestnut, mushroom and ricotta cream

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s