Directions for puffs:
1 C water
3 tblsp butter
1-1⁄2 tsp salt
1 C all purpose flour
4 large eggs
3⁄4 tsp black pepper
2 oz gruyère cheese, grated
1 oz fontina cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Add the water, butter and salt to a medium sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, stir in the flour and continue stirring to create a sticky dough allowing the raw flour flavor to disappear, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Pour the dough into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed.
Once the steam disappears, add the eggs one at a time. After the last egg has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in the pepper and grated cheeses.
Drop spoonfuls 1” apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside and let cool.
Directions for pickled tomatoes:
1-1⁄2 C champagne vinegar
1-1⁄2 C water
3-1⁄2 tblsp sugar
3 bay leaves
1 small dried chili
12 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp salt
24 cherry tomatoes, blanched with skins removed cheese
Place all the ingredients for the pickled tomatoes, except the tomatoes, into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer until the sugar and salt dissolves, about 7 minutes. Allow the mixture to slightly cool.
Place the skinned tomatoes in a bowl and pour the cooled vinegar mixture over them to cover completely. Set side and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Directions for assembling cheese puffs:
12 slices prosciutto—baked crisp and cut in half
1-1⁄2 C baby arugula
Cut each cheese puff in half and fill with a couple pieces of arugula, a slice of prosciutto, and a pickled tomato cut in half.
—everyone loves these…so I make a lot of them!
—I like to use a small ice cream scooper to dish out the dough so they are all the same in size.
—you can bake the puffs a day in advance. Just warm them up in the oven for a few minutes before stuffing and serving. You can even pop the crispy prosciutto in them while you warm the up in the oven and, once they’re warm, then stuff with the tomato and arugula.
—to bake the prosciutto: I use a wire grid cooling rack on a baking sheet. Just give the rack a spray of oil and place a thin layer of the meat on it. This is a great way to make sure it gets really crisp since air circulates better through the rack.
—bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes and keep and eye on it. In this case the meat is all ready cooked so if you like super crisp or a little chewy, you can adjust the cooking time.
—or don’t even bake it at all! Just stuff the prosciutto into the warm puffs and serve.
note: you can bake bacon the same way, just make sure its fully cooked before serving.
—experiment and try stuffing these with any cured meat such as: thin sliced Spanish chorizo, manchego cheese with a slice of quince paste… bresaola, sliced fresh tomato, with a thin slice of red onion and a sprig of watercress… crispy bacon, sliced tomato, lettuce and a dollop of basil mayonnaise…
—to skin tomatoes of any kind, cut a small X on the bottom and drop into boiling water. Let cook for 10-60 seconds depending on the size and then quickly remove to an ice bath. Once cooled the skins are easily peeled.
—the pickled tomatoes can be made several days in advance will keep well in the refrigerator.
—when serving these tasty treats, I like to sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper and a nice chunky finishing salt over the top…even spilling both around on the serving platter.