So it’s been a bit of a slower week, but I still have lots to share with you today. Firstly, have I mentioned how much I love Macaroni Grill? If not, here it is again: I so love them!! They are currently offering a 2 for $25 deal that sounds amazing! You get 2 tapas and 2 entrees for $25 (though you have to pick from a specific list). The hubby and I were looking at it and think it sounds so tasty. The entrees would be harder to pick, but I know exactly which tapas we’d want to choose: the mac and cheese bites that I’ve discussed here and here and an amazing option that I haven’t noticed before – zucchini fritti. I’m not sure if it means fried zucchini (which I love!) or zucchini fritters. I’m excited either way.
Speaking of fried zucchini, the San Antonio Groupon is currently offering a deal where you pay $10 to get $20 worth of food at Red Robin (which has amazing fried zucchini). If you live near a Red Robin, you might want to check your local Groupon offerings, since they might be carrying one too.
If you go over to the Gud FB page and “like” them, you can sign up to receive a free sample of their lotion. Gud was started by the people at Burt’s Bees, so it’s made from quality ingredient, but these products focus more on scents. You can choose between the scents of orange petalooza (what I chose), vanilla flame, or floral cherrynova. I’ve seen these products in stores, and they really did smell nice.
Now, did I mention the Gruyere? Not yet, well here it comes. If you have some toes in the cooking world, you’ve probably heard the word “Gruyere” bandied about and wondered what the big deal was. Up until now, I just knew that it was a type of Swiss cheese. Like Swiss, it has an odor about it, but the Gruyere really has a more complex flavor than your regular Swiss. Now, I bought 4 oz. for $2.50, so it’s not something you should use all the time. I would definitely recommend saving it for when it’s flavor will really shine in the dish. What did I use it for? Part was for the movie and recipe section, but that only used half of it. I also used it to make one of my favorite ever grilled cheese sandwiches (Gruyere and apple), and today it found its way on top of some scrambled eggs. Did I mention the Gruyere? Yeah, I’m a fan.
A word on the scrambled eggs. I learned something recently from watching Mario Batali on The Chew. He said that you shouldn’t salt the eggs until they’ve been in the pan for a little bit, otherwise they won’t be quite as soft. The biggest thing that I learned from that episode was about stirring the eggs. Mario said that you can achieve softer, fluffier eggs with small curds if you stir them with a whisk. What? I’ve always pushed mine around with a spatula, so this was a new idea. But I tried it today, and really liked it. If you need softer eggs that are easier to divide (maybe for a brunch appetizer or some type of crostini) this is definitely the way you want to cook them.
And while we’re discussing cooking tips, do you know how to make the best grilled cheese ever (besides using Gruyere)? I didn’t either until I read an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (not sure which one). They had some great tips to making awesome grilled cheese sandwiches. The first tip is to melt butter and use it to butter the bread. This way you don’t burn the butter, it gets over the whole piece of bread, and it gets into all the nooks and crannies. The next mind-blowing tip is to use shredded cheese. This way you can get an even layer and the cheese can melt a little faster. The last (and most important) tip is to use low heat. It only takes a couple more minutes this way, but you will have a perfectly golden, melty sandwich. I don’t always do this, but I never regret it when I do.
Maybe you’re wondering what type of movie would inspire me to buy such a wonderful cheese as Gruyere; it’s another Meg Ryan classic, French Kiss. (Trailer here.) This hilarious movie stars Meg Ryan as Kate who goes to Paris in order to win back her fiance. On the plane she meets Luc played by Kevin Kline, a thief who uses her to smuggle in a stolen necklace. When her luggage (with his necklace) is stolen, they go on a wild ride under the guise of him helping her get back with her fiance. There are so many things that I love about this movie. Some of my favorite lines are: “No, not Luc, Luc.” “Shut up. Is it a word?” “Oh please, not the cows. I just ate that cow.” “LACTOSE INTOLERANCE!!” “Oh! Beautiful. Gorgeous. Wish you were here.” “Something, perhaps, maybe a little bit, like this.” and “Luc, look what I found; it made me think of you.” I also love how they show Kate’s fear of flying, the “Bob” conversation, Kate’s 2nd run-in with the concierge, and especially Kate’s search for a look at the Eiffel tower. There are also some nice French songs lending atmosphere throughout. I hope you can watch it and that you’ll find something to love.
For an accompanying recipe, I decided to make the traditional French cheese puff, gougeres. (Rhymes with Gruyere.) Though mine didn’t come out as puffed as they should have been, they still tasted amazing, and I will definitely be making them again. As a bonus, this dough, called pate a choux, only needs a slight modification to be used for making cream puffs and eclairs. I halved this recipe to conserve the Gruyere, but I can hardly wait to make it again. You can also tweak the recipe by using different cheeses (like Parmesan) and adding some herbs or spices. These are so light and delicious that they didn’t even last a day at our house. My husband accidentally discovered that they taste good with mustard, so maybe I’ll work that in some time soon.
Classic Gougeres (from Bon Appetit)
1 c. water
3 tbsp. diced butter
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
4 chilled eggs
1 c. coarsely grated Gruyere
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1. Position 1 rack in the top third and one in the bottom third of the oven; preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
2. Bring the water, butter, and salt to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking til the butter melts. Add the flour and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the flour absorbs the liquid and forms a ball, pulling away from the sides of the pan. Stir vigorously til a film forms on the bottom and the dough is no longer sticky, 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the dough cool 2-3 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Stir in the cheese and pepper.
3. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Use a damp fingertip to press down any peaks of dough.
4. Bake the gougeres til olden brown, about 30 minutes, reversing the position of the pans halfway thru the baking. With a small, sharp knife to pry 1 puff open and check for doneness (the center should be slightly eggy and moist).
Have a great evening, and we’ll chat again soon. Happy Gruyere hunting!