Friday, April 12, 2013

Goat Cheese Gougeres

In Urbana, there is a local farm that raises goats for making gourmet, artisan goat cheeses. I started going to the farm when it was more of a hobby farm and they were only making fresh cheve - like any standard "goat cheese" you would find at the grocery store. Only this stuff was, and is, the BEST. Hands down, I never want to eat any other goat cheese in my life. They sell their cheese at the farmer's market, which I have also frequented since 2004 when I came to college here. The farm was established in 2003, and in 2004 when I went to visit the property, they had a few baby goats (kids) outside in a small fenced area.

Fast forward to 2013, and they have over 150 baby goats this season, are making several different varieties of cheeses, including a brie-type cheese (little bloom), a blue cheese (Huckleberry Blue), and a hard grating cheese (Moonglo), amongst many others. The have also been making goat milk gelato for the past few years that is worth every penny you pay for the little pints. They also grow vegetables and fruits, and have bees for honey. These people are doing it right.

While the farmer's market doesn't start until May, Prairie Fruits starts on-farm sales in late March, to take advantage of all the milk the goats are making during kidding season. To get people out to the farm and for revenue, they have breakfasts available. These aren't ordinary breakfasts. This isn't scrambled eggs and bacon (not that there is anything wrong with eggs 'n bacon...). This is GOURMET food, made with almost all local ingredients. They are making things like freshly stone ground grits, with poached egg, tomato pesto, and blue moon farm greens. That is what I had for breakfast there last week. It is worth the trip, the wait in line, and the money, for not only the food (which I accompany with either a good cup of coffee or some goat milk hot chocolate), but for the atmosphere. You can visit the goats, the kids, and the rest of the farm animals - and take a moment to teach your children about living simply, and supporting others who chose to do the same. I went last week by myself with the two kids - baby girl cried almost the whole time. Still worth it. 

I could go on - but I'll get to my point. The first week we had breakfast on the farm this year they had, in addition to several other menu items, these little gougeres. They made them with their moonglo cheese. Oh MY were they good. So on my way out, I bought the last hunk of moonglo and was determined to make them myself. 

Gougeres are puffy, light, and full of flavor. Some people fill their open centers with filling, but I like to eat them just as is. They take some attention, but are fairly easy to make. 

You start by combining water, butter, salt, and a pinch of chili powder in a pot until boiling. Then you add 1/2 cup flour all at once and whisk vigorously until the dough comes away from the sides of the pot and makes a little ball. 


Just after adding flour

when it starts to pull away

 While still whisking vigorously, you take the dough off the heat and add in 2 eggs. You whisk it fast to make sure the eggs don't curdle. Eventually, it smooths out. 



Then you add in your cheese. Hard cheeses are best. If you can't get ahold of any moonglo, parmesan would be my next best choice. 


After the batter is made, you have to pipe it into little piles on your silpat/baking sheet. To fill my pastry bag, I put it in a cup with the top folded over, like such:

 Then I can just fill the bag...


 And it lifts right out! Just snip the tip and you can pipe out your little golf-ball sized gougeres. 




I put a little extra grated cheese on top for decoration and flavor


Then you bake them! They puff up, and the middle becomes hollow, mostly. They are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. If you want them completely crispy, you just bake them longer. 


 So good!

Gougeres

1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch chile powder
1/2 cup flour
2 large eggs
3/4 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 425. line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Combine water, butter, salt, and chile powder in saucepan and heat over medium until butter melts. Dump in the flour and whisk until the batter forms a ball away from the sides of the pot. Remove from the heat and let sit 2 minutes. Then add the eggs, one and a time, and stir quickly to incorporate them. Add 3/4s of the grated cheese (and some chives or other fresh herbs would be good here) and stir until well combined. Fill a pastry bag with the batter and either use a tip or just cut off the end and pipe out cherry-tomato sized circles. Top each with a little bit of grated cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375 and cook an additional 20-25 minutes, until they are completely brown. Yummy and impressive!

If you would like more information on Prairie Fruits Farm you can find them on facebook or here is the link to their website: Prairie Fruits Farm

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