Light-as-a-feather French nibbles
Compiled by Chris Lau
Delicieux! Last week, two junior reporters met Towngas Cooking Centre's tutor Margaret Fu. She is an expert in Western cuisine, and she taught our junior reporters how to make gruyere cheese puffs. Check out the recipe and what our junior reporters learned:
Gruyere Cheese Puffs (Gougeres) Choux pastry:
100 grams unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
150 grams flour
5 large eggs
100 grams grated gruyere cheese
200 grams canned tuna
1/8 red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
150 ml mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Tabasco, to taste
1 Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2 In a saucepan, melt the butter, then add the water, salt and sugar, and bring to a boil. Add all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon over low heat until the mixture becomes a sticky paste.
3 Remove the paste from heat and use an electric hand mixer to loosen. While the paste is still hot, add the eggs one by one, beating thoroughly after adding each one. Keep mixing until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in cheese.
4 Using a plain nozzle, pipe blobs of the pastry mixture, the size of ping-pong balls, onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper.
5 Place the pastry in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and puffed up. Lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees C and bake for 10 more minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the puffs inside for 30 minutes.
6 Combine all the tuna mayo ingredients. To serve, cut the cheese puffs in half and fill with mayo. Serve immediately.
This wasn't my first time cooking, but it was the first time I'd cooked with a professional chef in a cooking centre, so it was very special. I carefully followed every step Margaret gave us. I learned it's important to choose the tools for each task with care - if you use the wrong one, it could lead to a huge difference in the end product.
The most useful thing I gained was the sense of achievement and fulfilment.
Here's a tip when you try these wonderful cheese puffs. When you're making the dough, it's crucial that you add the eggs one by one, and mix well during the dough-making process. Always give it a stir before adding the next egg. That way, the heat of the mixture won't cook your eggs into a servable breakfast before it becomes part of the dough.
This class has inspired me to make more pastry dishes. Margaret said gruyere cheese puffs are a popular French appetiser, made with simple ingredients. She said they are easy to make, but you still need to pay close attention to the steps.
It's important to watch the oven temperature. To ensure your puffs are crispy outside and moist inside, you bake them in two stages. The higher temperature makes the dough puff up, while the lower temperature continues the cooking, and keeps the shape. Don't be tempted to open the oven door until the time is up, as the puffs may collapse. And don't forget to preheat your oven!
Eva Chan So-yan
Registration for the Towngas Young Master Chef challenge is now open. Irresistible prizes include trips to Le Cordon Bleu in France, and a cooking school in Beijing, and cooking classes in Hong Kong's Michelin-starred restaurant Cuisine Cuisine. For more details, visit yp.scmp.com > Over to You >Competitions, Young Post's Facebook page.
The last Towngas cooking workshop will take place next Tuesday. To sign up, send your name, age and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org now!