Autumn is coming. It might not feel like it — the temperature on this lovely late September day is expected to reach about 90 degrees — but the 2017 fall equinox is right around the corner. Autumn is coming. The MLB playoffs are on the horizon, I’m trying my best to ignore the leaves beginning to drift down into my backyard, and you can’t turn around without seeing something pumpkin-flavored. Autumn is coming.
And while I don’t really think my life needs pumpkin-spiced margarine, I still do think autumn is a wonderful season. I dug my favorite flannel shirt out of storage the other day. My beloved Lions are tied for the best record in the NFL. (I know it’s only Week 3, but it’s the Lions and I’ll take anything I can get.) My dog, at least, is enjoying the piles of leaves that I should probably do something about this weekend.
But who are we kidding? Instead of raking, I’ll be spending my Sunday afternoon watching football with a steaming hot toddy and a plate of warm cheese puffs. Tea is lovely by itself, but gets even better if spiked with a hit of bourbon and one of our aged Balsamic Vinegars. The light and airy cheese puffs will fill your kitchen with the heady aroma of baking cheese, and using our Ultra Premium Olive Oil instead of butter means I can eat a tray’s worth without feeling too guilty about what will happen to my waistline. The dog will handle the leaves. She’s a good dog.
Harvest Hot Toddy
- – hot water
- – 1 teabag of your choice
- – 1 Tbs Harvest Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar (or your favorite flavor; Cinnamon-Pear is wonderful, for example)
- – 1.5 oz (1 shot) bourbon or brandy (optional)
- – honey or sugar to taste
Combine all ingredients except teabag and sweetener, and stir to combine; steep teabag according to manufacturer’s instructions, and sweeten to taste.
Harvest Three-Cheese Puffs
- – 3/4 cup whole milk
- – 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs Harvest Ultra Premium Olive Oil (try Butter, Tuscan Herb, or your favorite flavor!)
- – 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- – 1/3 cup water
- – 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- – 5 eggs, room temperature
- – 12 oz cheese, grated (see note below)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring milk, Olive Oil, salt, and water to a boil over high heat. Add flour, and stir until a clumpy dough forms; reduce heat to medium, and stir constantly until it comes together and begins to look a bit dry, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and beat in one egg with a hand mixer until smooth; repeat with each egg, beating well, until dough is smooth and sticky. Stir in half of the cheese.
Using well-floured hands, gently roll dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and transfer them to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. (Piping the dough through a plain, 1/2 inch tip works as well; use a swirling motion to make small mounds.) Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and place in oven. Reduce temperature to 375 and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating the entire tray at once.
Note: I made my test batches using 4 oz each of Swiss, sharp white cheddar, and a good, nutty Gruyere. Feel free to experiment with your favorite combination of semi-hard cheeses or to use just one variety, but a good-quality cheese does make a big difference in the finished product. Don’t worry if some cheese ends up on the baking tray instead of the puffs themselves; the best puffs are those that come out of the oven wearing a little skirt of crispy, toasted cheese.