Monday, December 26, 2016

Jalapeno Cheese Puffs

Today is another holiday in Ireland--St Stephen's Day. It seems like a good idea to have another, more quiet holiday after the excitement and work of Christmas. Of course, for us, Christmas is a lovely quiet day too, but like others, I appreciate a day where there are no expectations and no food to be prepared, thanks to leftovers.

We stopped having a big meal on Christmas Day over 30 years ago. After a simple, but large meal on Christmas Eve, and a birthday meal the day before that, it seemed like too much. Besides, we did not feel like spending our day cooking and cleaning up a mess. So we started having munchies on Christmas with Christmas Eve leftovers for lunch and we still do that now. The menu for Christmas varies--this year after a lunch of leftover lasagne, supper was smoked salmon with crackers and cream cheese, apples, and the one thing is always there--jalapeño cheese puffs.
We love these. I could make them ahead, because they are good reheated or even cold, but I usually make them shortly before we plan to eat some of them, because they are really great hot out of the oven. I do make a double batch though, so we have enough for a few days. I think the original recipe, which I came across 30+ years ago, calls for Swiss cheese and no jalapeños. I have never made them that way, but I am sure they'd be good.

Jalapeño Cheese Puffs
1/4 cup butter
1 cup water
sprinkle of both black pepper and garlic powder/granulated garlic
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 cup of shredded cheddar--or cheddar that has been cut into small cubes (I never measure the amount of cheese, so don't worry too much about being exact)
jalapeños from a jar--I have used fresh in these and they are not as good as using the ones in the jar

Put the butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it is boiling, add the flour all at once and stir in until the mixture clumps up and leaves the side of the pot. remove from the heat. Add one egg at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to incorporate well. I must say that this is not my favourite part! Since I double this recipe, I use 8 eggs and the batter gets stiffer and harder to stir with each addition. Still, it is worth persevering! This is what the batter looks like after the all the eggs have been added.
Then mix in the cheese and chopped jalapeños and mix in well.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet (not an airbake) and drop mounds of the batter onto the baking tray. The size of each puff is not too important. They will expand a bit as they bake. If yours are smaller, then they will be done sooner. Bigger ones will take a little longer. I baked these at about 180C for about 20 or 25 minutes, but ovens here are small and take a while. If you are in the US try 375 and start checking after 15 minutes or so. Once you know how long the first batch takes, you will know how they work in your oven. They will be done when they are golden brown all around.

You can add as much or as little jalapeño as you want--or none at all. They are quite good plain too. I used to make some plain ones for our daughter every year, because she is not a fan of spicy food. You could probably also use roasted red peppers from a jar or even sun dried tomatoes. Add some herbs if you want and/or try a different kind of hard cheese. They lend themselves well to lots of variations and are good as a snack or with a meal (I have had these alongside a bowl of soup), or even for breakfast.

I hope you are enjoying some yummy leftovers on a peaceful and relaxing Monday!

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