gougeres that’s French for frenchy cheese puffs

My first friend in nyc, Sofi, gave me this cookbook twenty years ago. There’s a smutty poem handwritten on the title page surrounded by chocolate spatters from the first chocolate mousse I ever made.

handwritten smutty poem in cookbookThis book, Simply French, reminds me of coffee with a shot of Cointreau, Varda boots, plastic cups of free wine at art openings and being a young artsy chick in the West Village circa 1992. Sofi, my Finnish, film-making friend, lived a few blocks away. We haunted that neighborhood with all sorts of late night, Cointreau-fueld art talks. We howled in the middle of the Halloween parade to heal a break up. For real…howled. Helped. I had on an excellent Mad Hatter costume.

This book and I have prepped twenty years of parties together. It could tell you who I have been and have become and all the versions in between.

Simply French by cookbook author and food journalist Patricia Wells is about the cuisine of Joel Robuchon. It changed the way I think about preparing food. This book introduced me to technique, bouquet garni, madeleines and the idea of details in cooking. It taught me to have a more mindful, yet still unfussy, approach to preparing food. The first recipe I tried was gruyere puffs because the method interested me and the result…airy puffs of cheesy bread…heck oui!

gruyere gougere whole and halved

Water, butter and salt meet heat.

water butter spice

Add flour, stir and you’re making dough…right there in front of your face. Dough is being made. I totally dig that part and still find it amazing. Stir the dough around the hot pan until it forms itself into a big doughball and dries out a bit.

gougere dough forming in pan

Transfer to a bowl, mix in eggs and cheese. I’m more generous with the cheese than Monsieur Robuchon. At this point your dough will look goopy and unlikely to become an elegant party starter but it’ll work out. Persist. Pipe or dollop onto a baking sheet. I prefer the dollop. It’s easy, one less step and it works. Bake.

gruyere puffs gougeres

Be awed by the amazing puffiness of it all. Serve proudly. Feel French. Call them cheese puffs or gougeres depending on the vibe of your shindig…

ccokbook and curtain  …or the decade you’re partying in.

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6 Responses to gougeres that’s French for frenchy cheese puffs

  1. Oh my geesh, I love these. And I really appreciate your unfussy approach to cooking, it’s really the best way to do it methinks. I haven’t done puffs like these before but I like how easy they seem to be. And that they’re French, even better. I love my Julia Child’s cookbook more than life itself, I’m never too far from that thing. She’s shown me so much technique and little details of cooking that I never took the time to pay attention to and now can’t live without.

  2. james says:

    I’m still addicted to the madeleines from ‘Simply French’. They’re simply perfect.

  3. So French and fancy, yet not so hard to make. We make them with a maple-smoked gouda! Delicious!

  4. Wonder Wheel says:

    I think I love you. And that you have the sixth sense …. Or at least you’ve been eavesdropping on my daughter’s taste buds. Lulu LOVES gruyere puffs, and I’ve always promised to pursue the recipe (secretly intimidated by what was surely difficult and beyond my abilities). And voilà! I can do this, man– and I’m gonna, like tomorrow! Merci, mon amie.

    • fatpig says:

      Do it! They really are easy and the part when the dough comes together is totally cool.

  5. Ruth says:

    Argh, these look amazing. I’m a sucker for gruyere cheese and REALLY good bread as it is, I am definitely trying these. I can already tell they’re going to taste every bit as delicious as I’m imagining!
    Thanks for sharing this one!
    Ruth