Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Gougeres,buns or puffs? bacon and cheese from heaven


Eating one´s way through the medieval history of Portugal it is almost unavoidable not to indulge in some sinful treats.Most of these have a conventual history.The one that most often springs to mind is Toucinho de Céu,literally translated as “bacon from heaven”.The origin of this delicacy is said to have come from Odivelas,a Lisbon suburb,where the old convent was famous for its poetry sessions followed by drinks accompanied by conventual specialities.The original recipe was  extraordinarily rich with a heck of a lot of eggs and obviously because of its title, the inclusion of bacon.This was a sweet recipe too,and it inspired me to make my own “savoury” version of bacon from heaven.
Gougéres, cheese buns, pão de queijo,cheese breads, puffs or popovers,call them what you will but I have to say come Christmas time you will be oh so glad to have a batch of these gorgeous puffed up little buns in your freezer when an unexpected poof or two might pop over.
And since we are right on the brink of the busiest entertaining season of the year, I knew it would be the perfect time to share this little something with you.
This is one of those recipes that you can go ahead and begin making one rainy December day in preparation.Just make these now, ahead of time, and you will avoid unwanted tailgating on your kitchen prep when the party season starts.
Cheese and Bacon gougeres make one of the lightest and easiest of appetizers and nibbles, and while they are a taste sensation straight out of the oven, these little balls of air are just as delicious pulled out of the freezer and reheated for a quick nibble. You can whip up these Cheese and Bacon gougeres in less than 30 minutes and then watch them disappear even more quickly,leaving you with an empty serving platter and time to master the rest of the ceremony.Perfection for party peeps I would say.
I had already got wind (pardon the expression so early in the morning )that baby cheese buns are a popular snack and breakfast food in Brazil, so after my early Sunday morning baking bonanza I carefully popped my warm buns into a bread basket,the thespian knocked up some scrambled eggs and after that a good gougere was hard to find.Micro focus group completed without finalizing a name for them, my baby buns are now well on their way to feed festive gobs.
So since this re-invented Brazilian street food is a potential crowd-puller, I highly recommend making two or three batches of these babies so that you have plenty to freeze for later. Make ‘em soon, stock pile a few dozen. You’ll thank me.I Promise.


Bacon and Cheese Gougéres 
1 cup water
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 cup coarsely grated Queijo da Ilha ( substitute mature cheddar )
4 slices cooked bacon chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
generous pinch of dried piri piri (chilli flakes)
Pre-heat your oven to 200C/390 f
Line a baking tray with parchment or silicon mat

Bring water, butter, and salt to a rolling boil in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring vigorously, add in all of the flour and cook until the dough begins to pull away from the edges of the saucepan. Remove dough from heat and transfer to a food processor and allow to cool for approximately two to three minutes. Alternately, you can leave in the saucepan and use a hand mixer, if desired. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating in completely after each addition. Stir in cheese, bacon pieces, black pepper, and chilli flakes making sure all ingredients are well-combined.
Spoon small dollops onto baking sheet. Using a damp finger or back of a spoon, press down any pieces of dough that are sticking up to prevent them from overbrowning. Bake 25-30 minutes,until they  have turned a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Serve immediately or allow to cool completely, place in airtight container or zip top freezer bags and freeze for up to three months.

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