I like cooking big family dinners or special dinners for company. Some of my favorite entrées are country captain, a chicken curry dish; vegetable lasagna starring lots of spinach; or boeuf en daube, either as a roast or stew. But there hasn’t been much company to cook for lately. So I cook for myself, and I tend to make a lot of soups and simple chicken or vegetable entrées. And like everyone else, I’ve been baking bread; my favorite is Italian olive oil bread.
I discovered this cheese puff recipe recently in the New York Times and it reminded me of Gougère, a choux paste recipe I used to make as part of an appetizer selection. This Gruyère Puff is a simpler version and makes a wonderful eggy, cheesy entrée. I made this for my New Year’s Day dinner, along with a green salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing. If you want to give the meal a little more substance, you can add a protein to the salad, like canned tuna or shredded chicken, and top with some feta cheese and nuts.
Unfortunately, I started eating my Gruyère Puff without taking a photo of it, but the accompanying photo looks very much like my version. While baking, it puffs up high and flattens as it cools. It tastes good either hot out of the oven or later when the slices are not puffy. Warm up leftovers in the oven or toaster oven.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Start with ingredients at room temperature.
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated or shredded (3 ounces)*
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling later
Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, salt and pepper to a fairly smooth batter or combine in a blender to aerate fully. Stir in cheese. Let the batter rest for a while as the oven heats.
In a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter and swirl it around to cover all sides. Pour in batter. Transfer to preheated oven and bake until puffed and dark golden, about 30 minutes. (I have 8-inch and 10-inch skillets, but no 9-inch. The 10-inch skillet worked fine.) Sprinkle with salt. Cut into wedges. Four servings.
* Gruyère cheese has a, rich nutty flavor. You can substitute Emmentaler, Jarlsberg or plain old Swiss cheese.