The smell of freshly painted walls and sawdust lingers in the air as I sit in the newly renovated house. For the past few months, I have been living in between two places, my loft in Nashville and my in-laws newly renovated home in North Alabama. The house was Michael’s grandmother, Meme’s, home just one short year ago.
Many moments were spent sitting in the short, beige chair in the den listening to Meme’s laughter. She laughed so hard the entire room had no choice but to be engulfed and embraced by her happiness. There was never a time when I didn’t get lost in her hugs or wasn’t welcomed with a smile that filled her entire face and a greeting that didn’t involve the word darlin’ in it. Everywhere she went seemed to be filled with life. Even as I sit here in this beautifully remodeled den, the echoes of her stories live on in my mind, countless prayers she prayed for the ones she loved, and the moments she spent visiting and giggling with her beloved family.
There is a beautiful foundation in this home. There is groundwork of love that has settled in the floorboards, it echoes in the hall and is audible in the laughter this home will be immersed in for years to come. Life springs from this home, it’s a place of healing, of rest. What a beautiful place for Michael’s parents to start their new season of life. I can see Meme, sitting across the way from me, with that contagious smile saying, “Hey, darlin’.”
Now, as I walk up the stairs from the lower den into the kitchen, I am greeted with a warm smile and a, “Hey, darlin’,” from Michael’s mother. Some things we pass on, whether it be a warm smile that can light up a room, a place to call home or a simple phrase that can make you feel like you’re home even if you are miles away. Welcome home, darlin’.
Recipe: Pimento Cheese & Thyme Gougères
Inspired by Southern Living
Note: This recipe combines ones of my favorite Southern treats and the wonderful, traditional French gougère. This is the kind of food that must be shared with others! It makes for a great hors d’oeuvre, appetizer or a lovely midafternoon snack to be washed down with sweet tea.
The gougère dough can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill until ready to use. Also, you can freeze completely cooked and cooled gougères for up to 1 month. To reheat, place the frozen gougères on a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until warmed through.
½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
1 (4 ounce) jar of diced pimento, drained
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) of finely shredded sharp cheddar
1 ½ teaspoons of whole grain mustard
½ teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan, combine butter, salt and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for another minute until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the side of the pan, forming a ball.
Reduce the heat to low, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. At this point, the dough will begin to dry out. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely chop the drained pimentos and drain again on a paper towel.
Add eggs to the slightly cooled dough one at a time, stirring well between each addition. At this point, you will feel as if you completely ruined the dough, but trust me. Just keep stirring. Add pimentos, cheese, mustard, thyme leaves, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Keeping stirring until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, create 1-inch mounds of dough, 2 inches apart either by piping the dough using a plastic bag or by using a small cookie dough scoop or a tablespoon. Whisk yolk and 1 teaspoon of water together and brush onto gougères.
Bake gougères until puffed and golden, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes. Enjoy!
19 replies on “WELCOME HOME DARLIN’”
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Mmm these look so yummy!!
Thanks so much!
These tasty treats might not last long enough to share if I make them! And (as always) I loved your story, I hope those are the memories I’m able to pass on to my family over the years.
You are right, they don’t last long! My husband gave me a funny look whenever I said they were pimento cheese gougères, and then he tasted one and said, “These are the best cheese biscuits ever!” No matter what they are called, they disappear fast!
Thank you so much for the kind words about the story. I love connecting stories and food. Food brings me back to so many wonderful memories. I’m sure you are passing along lovely memories as well!
I always look forward to your post as there is usually a wonderful story in the mix. It seems there is so much tradition in the south. Love this recipe, just pinned.
Thank you so much! You are right, there is so much tradition in the South, but I find that people relate to these stories all over the world. I love how these memories of food translate to other languages and cultures across the world, uniting us at the table. (Sorry for the tangent!)
I just made some pimento cheese biscuits yesterday afternoon! I love gougeres. These look so lovely!
Oh I bet they were amazing! I’ve made these a few times already, and they are just heavenly! They are crisp on the outside and cheesy on the inside… yum!
Oh my goodness. Pimento cheese gougeres have been on my list of things to try for weeks now (though I have to make it to “make my own pimento” first) — these are so so gorgeous and sound so delicious. “Crisp on the outside and cheesy on the inside”? With a hint of spice from the pimentos? Be still, my heart. Love!
You are so sweet! These little babies are amazing. You must try them, even if you haven’t tried to make the traditional pimento cheese! I think you would love them.
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These are currently in the oven. Because you don’t specify how many eggs go in, i went with 3 since that’s what my mom uses for the puffs of creme puffs (same dough). I assumed the fourth was for the yolk. Hope it works out because I’m super excited!
Happy new years! So four of the eggs go into the batter and the yolk is included at the bottom of the ingredient list. So sorry for the confusion! I hope you enjoyed them!
I’m just bought your book and I really love it. This week tried finally this recipe, but I get a liquid batter, so when I went to scoop on the baking sheet, only got a pancakes! 🙁 Maybe I have to refrigerate the batter? Maybe I’m doing wrong with de boiling step? Thank you so much.
Oh no! The batter has to be really dry whenever it’s on the stovetop or else there will be too much liquid in the cheese puff and it won’t set up properly. The consistency should have been more like Play Dough than a batter when it’s on the stove. I hope this helps!