Dinner Party Menu: Part One-Appetizers

When I was teaching "live" cooking classes, my most frequent request was for a dinner party menu that would allow the hostess (or host!) to serve a delicious meal but also be able to spend time with their guests.  The following series of videos will do just that: from appetizers, salad, main course, side dishes to dessert.  All designed to let you entertain with ease.

French Gougères

1½ cups water
½ cup butter, cut into cubes
1½ cups flour
6 large eggs
1 cup grated gruyere or Swiss cheese, packed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, packed
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400º and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the butter, water and salt in a 3 to 4 quarts pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring until the butter melts.  Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and thick with no lumps.  Remove from the heat and allow mixture to cool.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating with a hand-held mixture until all are incorporated into the mixture.  Stir in cheeses and pepper.

Transfer mixture to a large piping bag fitted with a plain tube and  pipe mounds onto prepared baking sheets.  Alternatively, you can drop mounds using two spoons.  You should get about 4 dozen from this recipe.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Rotate your baking sheets about half way through the coking time.

The puffs can be frozen before baking, simply add a few minutes to the cooking time.

These may be made the day before your dinner party and reheated just before serving

Melon and Proscuitto

Cut a melon of your choice into bite-sized cubes, wrap with a strip of thinly sliced proscuitto. 
You can make these in the morning, wrap with saran and arrange on a tray with a toothpick in each cube just before your guests arrive.

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