This is my first Recipes to Rival challenge, as I just joined this group of adventerous cooks who challenge themselves with a savory recipe monthly. This month, we had the choice of two of three appetizers, and I choose Thomas Keller's Gruyère Cheese Gougères as well as Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Crostini. For the recipes, you can go here. I realize I'm a few days late, but I wanted to make these for my family and we were in the Colorado mountains skiing for the holidays so this is the soonest I could get to it (that sounds an awful lot like an excuse, but there you have it).
Gougères are magical little things, although for me, almost anything baked is. But the transformation that takes place from liquid to solid occurs right in the pan on the stovetop, quickly and right before your eyes. Like a child performing a science experiment, I think I audibly gasped "cool" as the dough came together. And it is cool, too.
The crostini are more about combining than creating, but the fruit, the cheese, the nuts, they activate every part of the tongue and an equally stunning transformation takes place. For my version, I used pecans instead of walnuts because they are irresistable. So if transformation is the theme, these are perfectly fitting little nibbles for the New Year when everything seems to be on the cusp of change.