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Appetizers, Vegetarian

Blue cheese beignets

Blue cheese beignets
Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

AN elegant mound of tiny Cabrales blue cheese beignets drizzled with a peppery honey gastrique -- at Blue Velvet restaurant, these savory bites are served as a first course. Food editor Leslie Brenner also recommends them as fantastic hors d'oeuvres. ... Read more

Total time: About 1 hour, 20 minutes | Serves 8 to 10

Blue cheese beignets

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 ounces blue cheese, about 1/3 cup crumbled
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Step 1In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the milk and butter. Add the flour and salt, stirring constantly, until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and place the dough in a medium bowl.

Step 2 Beat the dough with a spoon or spatula until it cools down to lukewarm, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until when you dip your fingers in the batter, a 1-inch string develops between your fingers as you separate them. Beat in the blue cheese until incorporated and refrigerate 1 hour.

Step 3Using a pastry bag fitted with a straight tip, pipe dough onto parchment in rows of 8. The circles should be about 1 1/2 inches round and half-inch high. Cut the parchment in strips of 8 beignets each.

Step 4Pour enough vegetable oil into a large saucepan to come a few inches up the sides. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Using metal tongs, carefully dip each strip of beignets into the oil, pulling the strip of parchment out of the pan as the beignets release. Cook until deep golden brown and cooked in the center, about 2 minutes (1 minute per side). Carefully remove and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. (Makes about 40 beignets.)

Peppered honey gastrique and assembly

  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cardamom seed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons Banyuls vinegar

Step 1In a medium saute pan over medium heat, toast the cumin, pepper, fennel, clove and cardamom for 2 minutes, shaking occasionally and watching that the spices do not burn. Using a coffee or spice grinder, grind the spices to a powder and set aside.

Step 2In a small pot over medium heat, bring the honey to a foam, about 30 seconds.

Step 3Add the spice mixture to the foaming honey and cook until it is a thin, caramel-like consistency, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add the vinegar. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. (Makes one-third cup gastrique.)

Step 4Place four or five beignets on a small plate and drizzle the gastrique over the beignets and serve.

Note: From Blue Velvet executive chef Kris Morningstar, who recommends Cabrales blue cheese, available at fine cheese counters.

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