I have a large, ever growing cookbook collection. I also have a bookcase filled with heavy, glossy art and design books. I honestly don’t know which of these two piles the Eleven Madison Park cookbook belongs in. This book is an absolutely gorgeous large volume filled with beautiful photos of dishes that look like works of art. In my opinion, it definitely belongs in the art book category more than it belongs in the cookbook category. You don’t expect to be able to make all the dishes just like you don’t expect to start painting like Dalí when you buy a Dalí book. That being said, you might be able to reproduce a small sketch that Dalí might have made, just like there are several recipes in the book that can absolutely be made.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you must know by now that Eleven Madison Park is my favourite restaurant in the world. I have had the good fortune to eat there on several occasions and I always choose to go back whenever I visit NYC. This past year has been an incredible one for EMP. They have climbed up 26 spots in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, have won several James Beard Awards and have gathered 3-Michelin stars among many other accolades. Chef Daniel Humm and general manager Will Guidara have also bought the restaurant from restaurateur Danny Meyer and as if that wasn’t enough to keep the EMP team busy, they have also just published this gorgeous book, which has been in production for the past two years. Flipping through the Eleven Madison Park cookbook is truly like flipping through an art book. The colours and textures are reminiscent of an artist’s brush strokes and although you may think that the recipes are complicated, some of them seem very feasible from what I can guess by reading through them. They are however, time consuming since each plate requires several recipes. I have promised myself that if I ever find the time, I will make some of them. You can also of course omit certain steps and make a simpler final dish, as recommended by chef Humm himself at the beginning of the book. In the meantime, the collection of basic recipes at the back of the book is definitely one that can be easily explored. The pickles, dressings, purees, stocks, butters, doughs, crumbles and granolas, among many others, are there to be used in the book’s recipes but will also elevate any dish of your own and make it extraordinary. If there is one thing I’d want to voice a complain about when it comes to this book, it’s the fact that the recipes are in cups instead of grams. Other than that, it’s pretty much perfect.
As an ode to my favourite restaurant and as a token of appreciation to you my readers for all the support throughout this past year, I am giving away a copy of this beautiful book. All you have to do is leave a comment here, on my Facebook page or tweet me that you’d like the book. You have until Christmas day to participate! I will draw a name on December 26th then personally deliver the book to the winner so unfortunately, this is only open to people in Montreal.
Now, onto the recipe. I chose to share this particular one not only because it is simple to make but because it reminds me of my first lunch at EMP. The cheese gougères are always the first items to arrive at the table at EMP and I remember biting into one and knowing immediately that this meal I was about to have was going to be a very special one. They are best eaten while still warm but if you have to make them ahead of time, just be sure to warm them up in the oven before serving so they can crisp up again.
Gougères (makes 32)
(Taken from the Eleven Madison Park book by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara)
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp grated Gruyère cheese
- 5 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup cream
- Fleur de sel
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets wit parchment paper
- Place the water, butter, salt, cayenne and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add the flour in one shot and mix well with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes
- Place the dough in a cake mixer with the paddle attachment and mix with one cup of the grated Gruyère until it stops steaming
- Mix the cream, the eggs and the egg yolk in a bowl. Add the egg mixture to the dough 1/3 cup at a time and mix well between each
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag with a 1/2″ round tip or simply a snipped tip
- Pipe 1/2″ to 2″ flattish mounds on the cookie sheets and top each with a bit of Gruyère and some fleur de sel. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden.
- I got a lot more than 32 gougères, closer to 50 of them actually
- You can pipe them pretty close to each other since the dough doesn’t expand while baking
- The gougères took a few minutes longer to cook in my oven so leave them in there until they turn golden