28 July 2010

French Cooking with Sophie

For the month of July we have been hosting a young woman from Paris by the name of Sophie. We have had a wonderful time! We have stayed here in Michigan, and found new joy in some of the everyday things we do!

Last night, Sophie and I baked for The Boulevard Market's first-ever "French Social"! The French Social was created as a way to get friends and neighbors together, that have a common love of France, French cooking, travel and wine! Each guest is invited to share photos, food and memories of their time in France or their dreams of going to France. Who has the best advice, but the ones who have done it?!

I put together a small basket of treasures that I purchased in France just for this occasion, to have a prize giveaway and Sophie and I tied up bouquet garni with Le Monde newsprint as a small gift for each attendee, herbs courtesy of Prochaska Farms!

Gerard Bertrand Pinot Noir is on the menu and of course a bevy of beautiful french cheeses, Cantal, Roquefort, Morbier, Camembert and Baguettes!

Sophie and I went over a few recipes and decided on a few easy appetizers to share, that she loves and misses! Cheese Straws, Gougeres and Meringues!

We had a great time baking together and sampling our efforts! These are fairly simple recipes with a bit of technique involved, but no one will criticize that...they will be too busy eating! I will post some photos of the event tomorrow...berets included!


1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan , over medium heat, combine milk, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg until scalded. (Scalded is just below boiling point) Add flour all at once and stir until smooth dough is formed. Turn heat to low and continue cooking about 2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat eggs & cheeses until smooth. Dump hot mixture into eggs and whisk until smooth and eggs are incorporated.

Spoon mixture into a pastry bag and pipe out into approx. 2 inch balls. You may need to press lightly after piping to form a nice little ball. Bake 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve immediately, or if making ahead, warm in a 425 oven for 5 minutes.


6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a whisk attachment on an electric mixer, beat egg whites & cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar, raise speed to high and beat until whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar carefully.

Fill a pastry bag with meringue and pipe onto parchment paper into desired shapes. You can make a style, or try making small bowls to hold fruit and whipped cream!

Bake for 2 hours or until meringues are dry but not browned. Turn off heat and allow meringues to sit in oven 4 hours or overnight.

Store in airtight container!

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