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.
This 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!
Water, butter and salt meet heat.
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.
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.
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…
Recipe: cheese puffs or gougeres
slightly adapted from Simply French by Patricia Wells and Joel Robuchon
Summary: Airy, moist-centered puffs of bread and cheese
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch of paprika (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Butter and flour baking sheets or use a silpat.
- In a saucepan combine butter, salt and water (and paprika if you’re using it) and bring to boil. Remove the pan from heat as soon as it boils.
- Add flour and stir like crazy until the dough starts to form itself into a ball.
- Put the pan back on over low heat and stir the dough around to dry it out for 1 minute.
- Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl and add the eggs and 1 cup of the grated cheese gradually while mixing at a high speed. You want to get air into the dough.
- Fill and use a pastry bag to pipe dough or use a Tablespoon and dollop the dough onto baking sheets. Make each pipe or dollop about 2 inches in diameter and leave about two inches in between each of them.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top of the dough.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes. The puffs should be golden brown.
- Cool on a rack for a minute or two then serve the puffs while still warm from the oven.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-23 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 24 small puffs
Culinary tradition: French
Copyright © fatpiginthemarket. Recipe by fat pig. Microformatting by hRecipe.