Best way to sum up this post? It’s a sequel to the book chapter about a movie based on a blog inspired by a master chef. Easy, right? Let me explain…
“Instinct” is a thread that runs throughout Pizza for Good, as you’ll find out after buying and reading. My instinct antennae went up when I was visiting my parents recently; my father, credited in the acknowledgements as teaching me my first lesson in chopping garlic, was making Julia Child’s Gougères—a light, fluffy cousin to the croissant. After sampling the concoction, I noticed ample space inside the mildly flavorful pastry for filling.
“The sky’s the limit,” I thought to myself.
And WHAMMO, a new Pizza for Good recipe was born.
Chapter 9 of PFG is entitled “Only Child,” and uses a French-twist on the standard chicken piccata for the base of the pizza. The chapter recounts how Richard Blais, Top Chef champion and now-prolific Atlanta restaurateur, sees Child as a hero to chefs everywhere. “She is simply a legend, and all of us who now get to carry out our dreams, cooking on television, stand on her shoulders.”
My father feels the same way, as do I. When it came time for filling, I gravitated to a soft cheese that would hold up inside the Gougères, so I went with part-skim ricotta. I kept it simple after that: just diced green onion, salt and pepper, and a dash of onion powder for flavor.
The best recipe I found for Gougères is actually from Mitch in the Kitchen, who, as it turns out, had the same thought I did in stuffing the insides with cheese or some other filling. Follow his recipe to the letter (I’ve included some photo-tips below), with the following advice:
– depending on your oven, you might want to swap out the baking sheets to ensure even baking.
– I found the Gougères very sturdy at the end of baking, so what I suggest is filling them after the main-baking cycle but before the 10-minute resting period.
– use wax paper to make sure they don’t stick to the pan, but just make sure to peel them back gingerly when removing them.
– serve them right out of the oven because they’ll be warm and ready to go, but heads up: I served them up to my tennis team hours after getting out of the oven and they were still good. They had a different consistency (always serve them hot or warm), but still passable. In other words, I think they’d keep in the fridge for a few days and you can warm them back up—but I wouldn’t go any longer than that.
Here’s the recipe I used for my filling. Feel free to augment with things like diced sausage, or even pepperoni or any other meat if you want to un-vegetarian the dish.
– 1 15 oz. container of ricotta, part-skim
– gueyere or parmesan cheese, grated finely
– 1 head of green onions, washed and minced
– kosher salt, ground and cracked pepper, onion powder – all to taste
– as your pastries are baking, combine all ingredients in a stainless-steel bowl
– mix thoroughly with a spatula, and put in a pastry bag or a large Ziploc (the Ziploc doubles as a pastry bag quite well; just snip off the end of the corner and you’re ready to go), and cut a small opening in the corner
– after the baking process but before the 10-minute crisping period (see recipe), remove baking sheets and fill each pastry with filling
– replace baking sheet in the warm oven