I have a friend who said she vacuums every day before going to the office. Every day! I was too humiliated to admit ours might be done once a month (before she comes). But what I think is that her daily meditation to arrange her mind and feel at peace is her relationship with the vacuum. Perhaps its enveloping noise and instant visual erasing of tracks and worries erases yesterday’s errors and sends her on the way to the corporate battleground she faces.
Sometimes cooking is my meditation with its comforting smells, textures,
and a final result to enjoy right now. In the smallest measure (please note the association to cooking) cooking also allows me to experience a pleasant sense of accomplishment against the self-inflicted embarrassments of daily writing.
Writing is as nearly necessary to me at this time in my life as breathing, but it is not often comforting or rewarding like a hot bowl of soup on a cold night. It is laying out sloppy words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories, looking at the mess that made its way to paper and then cleaning up the result, which can take years for a book.
To the recipe. Gougère originated in medieval France with meat and egg fillings. Only very recent history has given some of the masses (count me a member) a stable enough source of food that living without meat through the winter was possible. Quoting from Food and Feast From Medieval England by P.W. Hammond, peasants ate “wortes flechles wroughte” which is translated to be vegetables cooked without meat but looks like early English “worthless, fleshless rot.” Please do not mentally associate that with the recipe below.
The picture was pretty and I had mushrooms and time so I made it for dinner. It’s from The Ultimate Vegetarian Cookbook by Roz Denny.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp., salt 6 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup cold water, 3 eggs beaten, 3/4 cup diced Gruyère or aged Gouda
1 small onion diced, 1 carrot, coarsely grated, 8 oz. button or crimini mushrooms sliced, 3 tablespoons butter, margarine, or olive oil, 1 teaspoon tikka or mild curry paste (used dried curry seasoning), 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 cups milk, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (or sprinkling of dry), salt and pepper, flaked almonds
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, grease shallow approximately 9” ovenproof dish.
2. To make pastry sift flour and salt, set aside.
3. In large saucepan, heat butter and water until butter melts. Do not let boil. (French technique here: Roll the wax paper and shoot the flour into pan all at once.)
4. Using wooden spoon beat mixture rapidly until smooth and mixture comes away from sides of the pan. Cool for 10 minutes.
5. Beat eggs gradually into mixture until it is soft, but still stiff (use left-side brain judgment here), dropping consistency. Book’s hint: You may not need all the egg.
6. Stir in cheese. Spoon the mixture round the sides of the greased dish.
7. To make filling, saute onion, carrot, and mushrooms in butter or oil for five minutes. Stir in curry, then flour.
8. Gradually add milk and heat until thickened. Add parsley, salt and pepper. Pour into center of choux pastry.
9. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until beautiful, sprinkling on almonds last five minutes. Serve at once.
This really was a pretty dish that I used as the bread interest for a lighter dinner with a salad. I’m sure there is room for creativity with the filling and for those who have leftover meat or suitable vegetables, the dish could be returned to its French roots (or bones).