Pate a choux ("pot o' shoe") is a pretty versatile thing to whip up and is great for a large crowd if you're entertaining. There are several ways to build it up from it's base, and you can either bake it to a puffy pastry balls that you can fill with whatever you want either sweet or savory, cheese puffs (gougere), or you can make dumplings to finish off your chicken soup. You can even make gnocchi out of this "dough."
Ruhlman's ratio: 2 liquid, 1 fat, 1 flour for the base.
Pate a choux
8 oz water
4 oz flour
1 stick of butter (4 oz)
1/2 tsp salt
Heat the water to hot simmer in a saucepan, add the stick of butter and melt it. Reduce the heat and stir in the flour. The dough should come off the sides and turn into a hot batter. Take it off heat and let it cool a bit, then add the eggs one at a time.
|From Drop Box|
At this point, you can do nothing, or you can turn it into a cheese puff, otherwise called a gougere ("goo jair", funny right?).
To do that, add another tsp of salt to your water bath, then stir in a half a cup of your favorite cheese after your, I happened to use Gruyere, but you could put whatever you want, Ruhlman recommends Parm-Reggiano, but you could use romano, Emmantaler, anything on the harder size that will shred and give more of a savory flavor.
Once you've got the paste, you can cool it down a bit, and put it in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, cut the end off and use like you're going to ice a cake. I heated the oven to 425 on convection bake, and piped out a few golf-ball sized dough balls on a silpat/baking sheet combo. Wet your fingers, and make sure the edges are smooth because little peaks will burn. Bake for 10 minutes on high temp, turn the oven down to 325 and cook another 10-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. In my oven on convection bake, it took another 12 minutes or so. The result? That's right, cheesy poofs!
|From Drop Box|
Other alternatives are to pipe it out in long strings on parchment paper, run grooves in it with a fork, and freeze until hardened. Take them out and cut into gnocchi, and put them back in the freezer in a bag, until you're ready to use. I think I might recommend not using the gougere recipe, instead, just use the regular pate a choux.
I can't believe I waited so long to make this, it's really versatile. You can make desserts (fill with chocolate sauce, custard), appetizers (fill with a cheese sauce, chicken salad, confit tomato and garlic with herb, etc.). Experiment and go crazy!