Summer evenings mean a cheeky mid week spritzer or beer and sumptuous salads for dinner. This week I knocked French off my list with my take on a classic french chicken and walnut salad. I paired it with one of my favourite sometimes foods, gougères. Gougères are a savoury version of choux pastry (for sweet – think profiterole or Croquembouche). Alain Ducasse, the 3 Michelin-star chef, has a perfect recipe for gougères that I have used time and time again.
Chicken & Walnut Salad
- 400g cooked chicken, diced (left over roast chicken works well, or poached breast)
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 red apple, diced
- 1/2 green apple, diced
- 80g chopped walnuts
- 4 tblsp sliced shallots
- a couple of handfuls of mixed salad leaves
Dressing (makes about 1 cup)
- 100ml natural yoghurt
- 100ml olive oil
- 1 tblsp dijon mustard
- 2 tblsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tblsp ground walnuts
- salt & pepper
Toss the apples with the lemon juice straight away, to avoid them turning brown. Mix the chicken, chopped walnuts, shallots and apples together. Make the dressing by adding all of the ingredients together and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Add half the dressing to the salad mix and toss to coat. To serve, make a bed with the salad leaves and gently place your dressed chicken salad mix on top. Serve the rest of the dressing on the side for others to adjust to their liking.
Serves 2 main or 4 entree sized
Alain Ducasse’s Gougères
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
115g unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
large pinch of sea salt
1 cup plain flour
4 large eggs
100g grated Gruyère cheese, plus extra for sprinkling (try other Swiss cheeses as a substitute)
a pinch of freshly ground pepper
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Set the oven to 200°C and line 2 oven trays with baking paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and continue to stir over low heat until it starts to pull away from the pan.
Scrape the dough into a bowl and let the mixture cool for 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, making sure to beat thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese, pepper and nutmeg and mix to combine thoroughly.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip (make sure it is big enough to fit the grated cheese through, as I have learnt from experience). An easy way to fill a piping bag with little to no mess is by sitting it into a jug or similar shaped receptacle, like below.
Pipe tablespoon size mounds onto the baking trays, about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the mounds with the extra cheese, and bake for 22 minutes, until puffed and golden.
You can serve these hot, or let them cool and refrigerate or freeze (great for lunchboxes too). Reheat in a 170°C oven until hot.
Makes about 28 Gougères
Try out these recipes as an appetiser by turning the gougères and salad into French Chicken Salad Sliders. This definitely added appeal for our 8 year old food critic.