Would you like Cheese Puffs with That?

A few weeks ago we made Parisian style gnocchi to serve with a steak dish.  These are made from Pate Choux (cream puff or eclair style dough) that has been flavored with aromatic herbs and Parmesan cheese, then pushed through a pastry bag with a straight tip into boiling water, poached for about two minutes, cooled then sauteed.  Served in this manner they are quite lovely and they make an unusual accompaniment to a grilled steak or hearty pork dish.  They’re certainly much more interesting than any number of potato or rice dishes and one of the many reasons people dine at Stella’s Southern Bistro.  So a few weeks back Jason had made a batch of these and they were flavored with truffle peelings and thyme.  Sounds amazing, right?  Well one of the other cooks had one in his hands and he looked at me.  I think he was going to eat it cold, just to taste it but he tossed it in the fryer.  It was pretty delicious and we agreed it had sort of a Chee-toh-ishness to it.  So right away I started thinking about a cheddar cheese version and a few nights ago we did just that.  You can find recipes to Parisian style gnocchi all over the internet, it’s hardly new but only found one link to deep-fried, pan-fried yes but not like this.

Start with Pate Choux.  This is fairly easy to make but you’ll need a stout wooden spoon, trust me on this, don’t try this with a metal spoon or a rubber spatula.  Since a lot of chefs will look at this recipe the quantities are large but fairly easy to scale down for home use.  You’ll need a heavy duty stock pot with a long handle, a Kitchen-Aid style stand mixer with the paddle (works better than the dough hook), a large pastry bag with a straight tip and a pair of scissors.  When it comes time to poach the gnocchi, you’ll also need an extra pair of hands.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Three cups water

12 ounces whole butter

Two teaspoons salt

Four cups sifted, all-purpose flour

One teaspoon powdered vinegar

Twelve eggs

Two tablespoons Dijon mustard

Four tablespoons finely chopped chives

Four tablespoons finely chopped parsley

One teaspoon fresh black pepper

Two cups grated Cheddar cheese

Powdered vinegar is exactly what it sounds like, chefs can order this through a food supplier but sadly I’ve never seen this in even the fanciest of grocery stores.  Try a few dashes of red wine vinegar.  After making this I would love to see your own photos or comments, especially from chefs Jacquelyn Brassell, Art Smith and Andre Carthen.

Butter, water, salt and pepper go into the stock pot and are brought to a boil


Flour gets added ALL at once, just dump it in, then start stirring with that wooden spoon. Stir vigourously until a smooth paste is achieved. If you're using the powdered vinegar, sift that into the flour first



And I mean stir vigourously! If you've never done this before, stir until your forearm hurts, then stir some more


Now place this in your stand mixer, I know this shot shows the dough hook but later we tried it with the paddle and that works better. While the mixer is turning on a medium low speed, add the eggs one or two at a time, DO NOT dump them in, add one, let in mix in then add another



Once you have the eggs added, toss in the herbs, vinegar and cheese. Do all of this while the mixer is turning, The finished product will be fairly rich and dense


Here's the tricky part. The dough goes into the pastry bag with the straight tip, the dough is then pushed out in a steady stream then clipped of in two or three inch pieces with a pair of scissors. This is a job for two people and I would not recommend having anyone too young help. You're going to have to hold your arms over a hot pot of boiling water and one false move and you'll have boiling water everywhere. One person squeezes the pastry bag while another cuts. It's also handy to spray your scissors with Pam otherwise they may get choked with the sticky dough. Drop about two dozen in at a time, allow them to poach, then lift them out with a strainer, place on a pan lined with paper towels or on a tray with a baking rack so the water drains away. They only need about 120 seconds in the water


Ready to come out of the water, these guys have puffed up and are floating, if they stay in the water too long, they'll start to break up


This is Chelsea, she works for Parson's Produce and she just delivered some broccoli, right out of the garden and what goes better with Broccoli then Cheese Puffs, right?


So we blanched the broccoli, brushed it wih olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper then grilled it. The puffs get deep fried, 350 degrees for two minutes then tossed with a bit of salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese. We served them with Grilled Hanger Steak and Truffle Butter. Pretty cool, huh? They were delicious 😉



and of course, Daniel prefers his Cheese Puffs with a Strawberry Mojito








2 Responses

  1. Oh honey, that looks so yummy! Ever since I stopped being a pastry chef, I’ve avoided Pate Choux like the plague – is that wrong of me? My mom makes amazing Pate Choux, so light and full of holes!

  2. Fried Pate Choux? Oh yes! Yes I would love Cheese Puffs with that and everything. Cursed is the power of suggestion. I’ve already attached the paddle on the mixer. 🙂

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