Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gougères Filled with Whipped Butternut Squash, Dill, & Gruyère Cream for the Five Star Makeover Tailgate Party

Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.
--Juvenal, Satire X
I don't want to be a party pooper, but the fact is, I do not like football, American or otherwise. I don't care for any team sport, really, and Poppa Trix and I don't follow any. For one thing, something about the randomness of madly cheering for a bunch of men just because they happen to be wearing a particular color jersey does not appeal to me. For another, I am a functional introvert,  and as such I am not a big fan of crowd activities. Besides, my contrary streak is a mile wide, and if a bunch of people are going mad over something, I grow suspicious. I am likely to at best ignore it; at worst, despise it. 

So you can imagine the blankness of my mind when this month's 5 Star Makeover challenge - hosted as ever by the lovely and talented Natasha of Five Star Foodie and the always creative Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! - was announced: Create a gourmet version of your favorite tailgate party food. And I have never even been to a tailgate party.

But then I rallied. This is supposed to be a challenge after all, right? My mind turned towards the ancient Romans and the Circus Maximus, and the phrase "bread and circuses," or "panem et circenses," first coined by Juvenal in Satire X. The phrase refers to the political philosophy of the late Roman Empire: Give the citizenry plenty of cheap food and entertainment, and they would happily abandon their political involvement and relinquish their rights, living only for fleeting distractions, thinking only of  their own pleasure and comfort.

And so, in a rather literal-minded move,  I decided I would make something containing bread (or wheat flour - close enough!)  for my tailgate party. I chose gougères, a delicate, puffy contrast to the brutish, gladiatorial-style  combat that would likely accompany them. And, in a nod to the season (in my hemisphere anyway) I filled them with a whipped butternut squash, dill, and gruyère concoction. A note to purists - yes, I know that gougères by definition contain a French cheese such as gruyère, and  mine did. But I am of the mind that there is no such thing as too much cheese, and so I added more to my filling.

And a word of warning: Because the filling contains (savory) whipped cream, wait until the gougères have cooled to room temperature to pipe it in, or it will melt. Pretty obvious, but I am an impatient creature, and I learned this the hard way.
 
That mishap aside, these are dead simple to make, and they're even good the next day. In a decadent - and fittingly late Roman Empire - move, I had some for breakfast!
For the gougères, I followed Michael Ruhlman's pate a choux ratio: 1 cup water, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter, 4 eggs. He tells you how to do it here.

For the filling, I cut a butternut squash in half, cleaned out the seeds and pulp, drizzled on some olive oil and lightly salt and peppered it, then roasted it, cut side down, at 375 F, along with a whole bulb of garlic, until soft.

When it cooled, I scooped out the flesh and mashed it, along with the entire garlic bulb, some butter, a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, more salt and pepper, grated gruyère, and a healthy handful of dill. Make the flavors a bit stronger than you'd prefer, as they're going to be muted when you add the cream. Next, I whipped 1/4 cup heavy cream until light and fluffy, and folded  in the squash mixture. To finish the dish, cut the tops off of the gougères and pipe in the filling.Dust with a bit of sweet paprika.

And there you have it: the perfect snack to munch on while watching bloody chariot races (whoops, I mean  football)!
Thanks Natasha and Lazaro - it was a fun challenge, as always. Make sure to check out the round up of dishes on Friday by following the link below. 





26 comments:

  1. Beautiful gougeres! That savory butternut filling is a brilliant idea. I love how your mind went to ancient Rome and the days of the gladiators at the mention of football...football has the same effect on me, lol!

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  2. Love the quote and the story that inspired these gougeres. I've never been to a tailgating party either but I'm very happy to attend one if it means there will be all these gourmet dishes on offer! (I'm happy to wear a team shirt too - a fashionably fitted version - if the occasion calls for it..LOL).

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  3. Wonderful fillings! Extra cheese is always a good idea! ;)

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  4. These are great for anytime. I'm with you, not a football fan or a tailgater.

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  5. These gougeres are gorgeous! You could have fooled me 'cuz this is one tailgate I'd love to attend.

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  6. Wow! What a great write-up, and such a delicious result... these are so fancy! I'd be thrilled to have these as a snack for watching any sport! Actually, I'd have them as a snack when doing anything!

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  7. These are beautiful - although now I have a mental image fo a group of Roman deinizens at the Circus Maximus waving grougeres & grapes around while watching their sport.

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  8. okay, let's face it, the empire would have fallen quicker and gladiators lie beneath your feet at the mere sight of these beauties..... brilliant and thanks for bringing them to my game, you're one hell of a sport

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  9. I'm sorry for my bad english, but I wish say - that is very beautiful idea!
    Thank you!

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  10. Ditto on all that was said in the first section of this post; now I know what to answer to this person who asked me yesterday what are my favorite team sports ( I will say " I am a functional introvert"); thanks!
    culinary speaking I love choux, and if they are filled with butternut, even more so. The sweet ones tend to be well, too sweet; these are perfect, tailgate or TV dinner.

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  11. These are to die for. My mouth is drooling just reading this post. Plus they look beautiful. Just printed this recipe and look forward to trying it.

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  12. Savory filled cream puffs???? Oh, my, Trix, these look out.of.this.world! And you plated them so beautifully!!!

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  13. I love gougeres and the filling is perfect. We are also on the same wavelength about football!!! The photos are magical and I can nearly feel those little puppies explode in my mouth. WHoever invented gougeres was a genius. Great response to the challenge... bravo!

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  14. That is one gourmet game time food for sure! I love your choice of filling - awesome!

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  15. You are a good sport Trix!
    And these sound fantastic!
    LL

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  16. We do not need football--we need Gougeres!

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  17. I've always wanted to make gougeres! I think you just gave me a reason to really go for it. Yours turned out perfect! The filling sounds amazing too.

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  18. You did it Trix! You did it great too! From not knowing what to make and not a big fan of crowd activities, you made such a beautiful dish. I like your filling a lot, Whipped butternut squash sounds really good. I don't cook with butternut squash often but I have a secret love to it. I don't know why! It's always intrigued me in any dish. Great dish for our tailgate party!

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  19. I am a non sports person as well. Except for the olympics. I love them. These are lick the screen incredible.

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  20. Its true... tailgating is not for everybody but if you are so oriented and put out a bit of effort it really can be good clean fun. I would think that with goodies like this to entice one over to team tailgating there would be a lot less fear of it in the world. All you have to do is take a deep breath, relax and let the happen.

    Love the photos. Love you!

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  21. This is definitely a 5 star makeover if I've ever seen one! Clearly, you don't need to like football to make a kickass tailgate dish! :-)

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  22. I am not sure what is a tailgate party?

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  23. I'm glad you rallied and brought a literary twist to the challenge. Juvenal's observation of human behavior is timeless and gougeres as deliciously savory as these, would be devoured at any time - no sport required :)

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