I cheated on this week’s Gutsy Cook menu.
It called for us making a Hungarian Goulash Soup, Potato & Parmesan Cakes and Profiteroles.
I made one of the three choices and I totally revamped the whole recipe to suit my needs. I was totally fearless this week.
We had a dinner party for eight over the weekend and I was without an appetizer or dessert idea. I was serving a pretty heavy main course and I knew I wanted a light appetizer and dessert. I also did not want to be running around cooking all day the day of the party, so I wanted something that I could make ahead of time and then finish off during the meal.
For the appetizer I figure a nice salad, and decided on the always sure hit of Caprese salad. Tomatoes, basil with mozzarella and a good dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar was sure to hit the spot and to make it even easier to eat once I turn it into a quick bruschetta with a crusty toasty piece of bread.
Done, appetizer decision over.
Then for dessert I wanted something creamy and comforting, the recipe for Gutsy cook called for the profiteroles to be filled with whipping cream and topped with bittersweet chocolate. A showstopper desert if I ever wanted one.
But… I was just not sold on it.
So I keep looking and looking and after tons of cookbooks and flipping thru my own I stumbled into Crème Brulée– SOLD! It was perfect; I could cook it the day before, then prep it and caramelized the sugar tableside in front of my guest, I mean who would not be impressed with that?
Except, that I was back to thinking about the profiteroles. I wanted to incorporate them in there somehow.
Then I had a light bulb moment.
How about replacing my crusty toasty piece of bread with the profiterole? Turn them into a savory cream puff instead of sweet? Not very hard thing to do at all, and again something that I could cook ahead of time and finish off a couple of minutes before serving them. And they were perfect finger food!
So my fellow cooks, I give you Caprese Salad filled Cream Puff.
A perfect little bite size of dreamland.
I follow the standard recipe for a choux paste but added cheese to the dough as well as basil to give it a bit of speaks of color and to translate into the basil in the salad. They came out perfect. They reminded me of a herb bread, which would remind my guest of a fresh summertime meal.
Cream Puff filled with Caprese Salad
For the Cream Puff
- 1 cup of water
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon basil (I use this product) but I think dry would work well too.
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2/4 cup (about 3 ounces) shredded Fontina cheese
- Preheat oven to 375F and line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat.
- Put water, butter, salt, and basil into a deep saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a ball forms. This happens pretty fast. Return to the heat and cook the mixture for another minute, stirring constantly – this step cooks the flour, so don’t skip it or you will end up with flour taking puff.
- Remove from the heat and continue to stir, you are now trying to cool the dough up a bit, before you start adding the eggs, do this for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time, incorporating the first one completely before adding the next. Scrape the side of the bowl frequently with a spatula. After the eggs are added the dough will be nice and shiny and fall easily. Stir in the cheese at this point. Tip: you can do the above step by using your electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beating a medium speed.
- The next step you can get fancy and use a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I usually use Tips #1A and 2A depending on the size I want my puff to be) or you can go the rusty route and use two spoons to drop the dough in quarter-size dollops on the baking sheet. Make sure to leave about a good inch between each spoonful to allow the puffs room to expand while baking. Tip: if you see any peeks on your puff, dab your finger with a bit of water and flatten the peak - this helps not get any burn tops.
- Bake until puffed, double in size, and medium golden brown in color, 20-30 minutes. Then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Take out of the oven and place in a cooling rack.
Gordon Ramsay has a great video of the whole process (he is making sweet puff, but the process is pretty much the same) you can watch it here
At this point you can you can make the Caprese salad
- 6 ounces of fresh mozzarella, diced into ¼-inch cubes
- 2-3 seeded and chopped fresh tomatoes
- ¼ cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl, seasoning to taste with the salt and pepper. Cover and store in the refrigerator if not using right away. Tip: if you are going to use right away, make salad about 30 minutes before you fill your puff. This will insure that the flavors will really develop during the marinating stage.
- Put together the puffs. Using a small paring knife cut off the top one third of each profiterole. Fill the bottom two-thirds of each puff with a large spoonful of the Caprese Salad. Garnish each with a fresh basil leaf if you want, then put tops on and arrange on a serving tray.
Serve right away.
The verdicts were pretty much the same all around - everyone love the twist to the traditional salad, they were fun to eat, non messy and they were so good. I putting this one as a great appetizer to have for any meal.
And don’t forget this is part of the Gutsy Cook, so get click-y happy and check out the other cooks blog post and their take on the menu this week.