Monday, December 11, 2006


Sat 9 Dec 2006

I know there is still a lot to catch up on but ... as it's the run up to Christmas I thought I'd drop in a quick recipe for the ideal winter and red wine snack. These little cheese puffs, which apparently originate from Bourgogne (Dijon, Tonnerre), are excellent winter warmers and very easy to make - ideal for random visitors who need something to soak up the wine!

We had them on Saturday night, with smoked salmon, some brie and some cashel blue, some crusty bread and a bottle of champagne. A very proper way to celebrate the weekend!

Preheat the oven to 200C. In a saucepan put half a cup of milk, half a cup of water and 50g of chopped butter (normally I would use unsalted but circumstances meant I used lightly salted). I also added a couple of sprigs of thyme, to infuse the milk.

Bring this mix to the boil (the butter will melt) and remove from the heat, stirring in 2/3 cup of plain flour. Ensure this is well combined, before returning to a low heat to cook out the flour. Keep stirring.

Remove from the heat and add 3 eggs, one at a time, ensuring each is well mixed in before adding the next. Obviously, as the choux mixture is hot you need to keep stirring, stirring so you don't end up with scrambled eggs. Add a generous tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a good 50g of finely grated gruyere. Ensure it's all well combined. Have a taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Remove the thyme sprigs if using.

Spoon out the mixture onto baking trays (parchment lined to save hassle, or at least rubbed over with some flavourless oil) and bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. You could do teaspoons of the mixture and produce some dainty finger food for a party, or you can do massive, generous tablespoons of mixture, which is more supper-size than society-size. This recipe produced about 14 big ones. All duly scoffed. You rarely have to worry about left-overs with these, which is a good thing as they don't keep.

This recipe is based on that which appeared in the November 2002 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. AGT suggested brushing the gougere with an egg wash before cooking, and also adjusting the temperature part way through cooking (only down to 190C). The egg wash sounded a bit of hassle and if you bake and you know your oven you'll have a gut feeling for when these are done.

They are very soft, hot, squidgy, gooey numbers. You most certainly don't want them cooked through like a biscuit. And of course you can vary them to your heart's content. I prefer the addition of some parmesan (a bit sharper than the gruyere), and also a little paprika or chilli powder. The only thing that you need to be careful about is not overloading the choux pastry mix with cheese, otherwise they won't puff up!

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