I bet you wonder what I have been up to, huh? Well, in January I visited Phoenix and spent Super Bowl Sunday with Mom. After spending a few days with my sister, it was Mom’s turn. When we all arrived, we were greeted with mouth-watering smells drifting out from the kitchen. Mom had made some Gougeres (small, delicate cheese puffs – recipe below) that were flavored with smoked Gruyere and rosemary and still hot from the oven! We opened a bottle of Prosecco, toasted each other and sipped while we savored every bite of the gougeres. Mom and I had already decided our menu before I came out and it wasn’t the traditional Super Bowl fare. Instead, we planned out a fun menu with a gourmet flair:
Gougeres with Smoked Gruyere & Rosemary – Ponte Prosecco
Baby Greens with Warm Brie & Apples and Toasted Bread
Grilled Chicken & Vegetable Skewers
Boston Cream Pie
The fun didn’t end there – the next evening we attended a glass making class at Circle 6 where we made heart shaped paperweights. It was fun and scary at the same time because I was working with red-hot material (always under the protective guidance of the experts).
After collecting some molten glass on the end of an iron rod, it is moved over to the always-fired-up furnace (protective eyewear required) and continuously rolled, the rod is removed and the glob is rolled in color chips, and it is heated again. Then you move to a seat so you can knead the glass a few times with large tweezers to mix the colors. The glass glob is transferred to a mold, pressed down, released and transferred to a kiln to fire. It was a blast. Mom and I actually swapped paperweights because I liked how her colors came out better than mine. It’s now on my desk at work as a reminder of my visit.
Now, back to our Sunday Super Bowl menu ……….
Our first course was an incredible salad of Baby Greens with Warm Brie & Apples (adapted from Barefoot Contessa recipe). It’s easy to put together with brie wedges that are drizzled with honey and chopped pistachios, then heated in the oven until soft and almost oozing. The baby greens are simply dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper, and the warm cheese tops the salad. Toasted French bread slices make for the perfect scoops and add just the right crunch.
Dinner was simple with chicken and vegetable (yellow bell pepper, red onion and cherub cherry tomatoes) skewers. We marinated the chicken in a mixture of olive oil, white wine, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. After we were done assembling the skewers, the sauce was drizzled over for extra flavor while cooking.
It was delicious and the perfect light finish to the meal.
My childhood favorite dessert is Boston Cream Pie and Mom makes the best! In fact, it was usually my birthday cake when I was a kid. Straight from the Betty Crocker cookbook, it is a white cake filled with homemade vanilla pudding and topped with a thick chocolate icing. It is a treat for me because I can’t seem to make the cake at this altitude, so it’s not often that I get to enjoy it. I wish I could dig into a piece right now!
1 cup water
8 tablespoons butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups Smoked Gruyere cheese, grated
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves, plus 2 teaspoons for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large saucepan, bring water, butter, and salt to a rapid, rolling boil. Make sure all the butter is melted, and then add flour. Stir the mixture for 20-30 seconds, until a sticky dough ball forms and begins pulling away from the sides of the pan. Reduce heat to low-medium heat and cook, stirring, for 90 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, along with cheeses, seasonings and rosemary. Place heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. The gougeres are done when they are a deep golden brown and puffed.
Sprinkle with chopped rosemary and serve immediately.