Appetizers · Cheese · Crab

Crab and Cheddar Gougères

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A couple of days ago Bill and the kids and Bill’s friend and one of his kids went crabbing.  Gone are the days when crabs were the occasional bonus goodies brought home in addition to the major prey – the clams, the bluefish.

Now, we are The People Who Hunt the Savory Beautiful Dancers of the Sea.  Well, of the Bay.  And I haven’t even been hunting for them myself.  (Because of course I am The Woman Who Tends the Hearth)  (okay, enough with that silliness….)

Bill and his crew set out with clam nets and buckets and a sense of purpose the other day and came home with 28 blue crabs.  Julia wasn’t really interested in catching crabs, so she stayed on the sand and created a collage/self portrait out of seaweed, sticks, shells, rocks, and fish skeletons.  I wish I’d seen it.

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Did I say 28 crabs?  Make that 27 and a few soft shell legs that weren’t ripped apart by sturdier-shelled bucket neighbors.  It was rather sad, that the poor little soft-shelled crab was drawn and quartered by his bucket-mates.  And yes, I know, we were planning to kill and eat all of said bucket-mates, so what did it matter.  But still.  It’s how my brain works. 

Bill did up a crab boil with his own seasoning blend, potatoes and corn and, of course, the crabs (the kids helped), plus some macaroni and cheese I’d made, and our group ate eleven or so of the cooked crabs.

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The next day there were sixteen crabs left to pick.  Bill picked most of the crabs himself, which is, after a while, pretty tedious, but Julia stopped in and helped out until she thought of something better to do.

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She’s quite skilled at getting the huge piece of claw meat out without breaking it into pieces.  We tell her this is a valuable skill to have if she ever wants to catch a man. 

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We don’t really tell her that, by the way.  The thing about catching a man.  But it is a nifty skill. 

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While Bill was whining working his way through crab bodies I was making a few things to pack into the freezer, and I’d also decided to make gougères.  I made them – wow – nearly three years ago, and forgot all about them until the other day when one of the chefs I work with mentioned reading something David Lebovitz had written about them and how good they sounded…and I remembered that yes!  They were really really good!  I should make some! 

So I did. 

Gougères – a bit crisp on the outside and steamy and soft and cheesy on the inside – are really quite simple to make.  You just whip up a batch of pâte à choux (cream puff dough), add cheese, drop or pipe onto a baking sheet, and in about fifteen minutes you can burn your mouth quite blissfully.

And after that crabbing trip, I thought maybe some crabmeat in a gougère wouldn’t be all that bad an idea.

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And it wasn’t. 

Except that you couldn’t really taste the crabmeat.  Crab has a pretty delicate flavor, and the cheddar (not traditional, but yummy) and baked pastry pretty overwhelmed it.  I’m thinking either a different, less assertive cheese next time, or triple the amount of crab. 

OR, I could make a little crabmeat salad, and split the gougères open a bit when they come out of the oven, spoon a bit of the crabmeat inside, and…hmmm…that sounds like something I should definitely do after the next crabbing trip….

But I digress.

Though the addition of crabmeat wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, the gougères were still very, very good and I ate far too many and there were none for the freezer this time around.

Which means I should make them again.

Soon.

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