So, I wrote a book. And it’s coming out tomorrow. And I don’t know what else to say about it.
In January 2012, I sat down with Marc to discuss his vision for a book he agreed to write for then Wiley (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). We had been in a conversation, on and off, for months preceding, and the ice was finally moving. I was picked out of a number of writers, and here we were, signing the contract and talking about book deadlines, which, by the way, were six months away (ha!). At the time, I was in the final stage of writing the Kimchi Cookbook manuscript. Other than my work for Melissa Clark and a yet-unpublished book, I didn’t really have a resume. I was eager. I was hungry. I wanted this book.
Never, in a million years, did I think that Marc would take a chance on an unseasoned writer like myself. And when he did, I immediately did a celebratory leap around the apartment, which was immediately followed by a complete and total meltdown.How – how?!?! – was I going to write this book?
Marc’s vision, his stories, the whole of it – were big, grand ideas; ideas I wanted to do justice to, and ideas I wanted to distill in his voice as clearly as possible. For months, we met weekly in his apartment and I recorded his stories – from the amazing, dramatic opening of his namesake restaurant when he found himself hospitalized the day of the opening; to the most dire days and months that followed the economic downturn; to the Next Iron Chef win (which was the season I watched with baited breath and cheered in the final episode – all before I had left finance and got on board with this whole food writing thing) – and painstakingly edited recipes, line by line. Was that a teaspoon or a tablespoon? Was Marc sure? What were sous vide alternatives for most of us without an immersion circulator? Did he cook this sauce covered or uncovered?
I’m sure that at some point Marc thought me a culinary moron that burnt toast and didn’t know how to boil water. I tried to ask him everything and anything to the most minute detail. If he did something differently, I wanted to know why.
And somehow, in time, the random jumble of words all dumped in a mess on a page, slowly took shape to form stories, recipes, chapters. A real book emerged with its own voice and structure. I’ve gone through this process several times already, and it never ceases to amazes me – how a shapeless lump of clay becomes an actual thing.
I don’t want to belabor this post. I sincerely hope that you go out and buy this book. Not to pump up sales and not because of any best seller lists (although no author ever refused that honor) – but because I sincerely think that if you read this book and you cook from it, you will improve your skills. You’ll come out more confident, more knowledgeable, more fluid in the kitchen. Marc wanted his true skills and dishes to come through and they did. There are crazy-detailed recipes there that require some molecular gastronomy experimentation, and then there are super attainable ones like his now-famous potato rolls. At the heart of it, are thorough and thoughtful technique, bold and rich flavors, and a great sense of humor.
I wanted to share a recipe with you from the book. Initially, it was going to be short ribs braised in wine and port reduction, but I decided that this recipe for “Everything Bagels” Gougères will be a lot more fun to try, should you make this for the next cocktail party you’re throwing, you will most certainly be the toast of the town. We just had our housewarming where I made these, among lots of other snacks, and they were a big, big, hit.
I don’t know how to write a good kicker for this. The whole thing is kind of blowing my mind at the moment. I am enormously grateful for the opportunity, and I am honored to have worked with some amazingly talented people in the process. Every single person who has touched this book worked really hard to make it amazing. Come tomorrow, this almost 400-page beast will be released into the wild – and then, it’ll have a life of its own.
“Everything Bagels” Gougères
Adapted from Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant
For the Everything Bagel Mix:
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon garlic flakes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
For the Vegetable Cream Cheese:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 tablespoons coarsely grated carrots
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
For the Gougères:
9 tablespoons (128 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) kosher salt
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (267 grams) whole milk
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 scant tablespoons (20 grams) granulated sugar
Make the Everything Bagel Mix:
1. Place the onion and garlic flakes into a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until the mixture is finely ground and resembles the topping on everything bagels. Transfer to a bowl and combine with the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and salt.
Make the Vegetable Cream Cheese:
2. Place the cream cheese and onion in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until the mixture is well combined and the cream cheese is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the carrots and chives. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a metal tip large enough to pipe the filling through (think about the size of your shredded carrot pieces inwhen making this determination). Set aside or refrigerate until needed. If refrigerating, allow the pastry bag to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes to warm up a bit before using.
Make the Gougères:
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; position a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the butter and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the flour and salt. Cook the batter for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until it turns into a thick paste and lo longer sticks to the side of the pan. The mixture should become slightly glossy and will want to clump together in one ball. There should be a slight, filmy trail at the bottom of the pan.
5. Transfer the batter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. If there’s too much steam rising out of the batter, give it a minute or 2 to cool before adding the eggs. Mix on low speed, incorporating the eggs one at a time; do not add the next egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. In a slow, gradual stream, add the milk to the batter with the mixer running. Fold in the cheese and sugar.
6. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a #5 or 1/2-inch tip. Pip 1-inch rounds of batter onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 1 1/2 inches apart. Wet your finger and smooth out the top of the gougères. Sprinkle them evenly with the Everything Spice Mix. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the gougères are puffed up and golden brown; do not open the oven door during baking. Remove the pan and set it on a rack to cool. Leave the oven on.
Assemble the Dish:
7. Take the cooled gougères and pipe ½ teaspoon of the Vegetable Cream Chese into the center of each puff. Place the gougères into a shallow baking pan and warm them in the oven for 3 minutes. Plate and serve immediately.