My actual “birthday” is over and it while it was a lovely day, I love claiming a full month to share merriment with other March babies, including son Master J. Making a special effort to reach out to friends for lunch or perhaps Afternoon Tea is a great way to make the best of March while we wait for Spring flowers to emerge. While Granny might not approve, many tea houses now offer champagne or celebration teas.
I love hosting virtual tea parties Downton Abbey and other topical issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a recipe with an interesting history. You may find my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to help you host your own tea party with family and friends. For those of you who have just discovered Downton, enjoy the ride but watch out for spoilers.
Today’s treat is a savoury tea treat: Gougères, french name for cheese puffs. The nice thing about savoury items is they can also do double duty as appetizers and vice versa. They pair nicely with your champagne tea.
- Canada’s Zoomer Magazine for boomers with attitudes certainly picked the right cover girl for their April issue. A great feature on all things Downton, including my own treacle recipe.
- Downton Abbey S4 Casting News: Danger, Spoiler Alert.
- Wall Street Journal article reminds us to head the Downton lesson: diversify…and avoid anyone named Ponzi.
- Will she be back? Spoiler: I wonder if we can expect a visit from Grandmama in S4?
- Video Clip: Great DWNTN KDS montage of Downton Abbey scenes from S1-3.
Downton Rewind: My Weekly Downton Dish Column
Whether you are watching Downton for the first time or reliving it all over again, it has been a pleasure to watch episodes of Downton on Vision TV in Canada. They started back in January and are working their way through each and every episode.
I write a weekly column, The Weekly Downton Dish, offering major plot lines mixed with some interesting bits of history, and serving up a recipe which hints at what is to come in the coming week. My articles to date:
- Introduction: Combining Fine Food with Delicious Drama
- S1E1: New Beginnings
- S1E2: Tea Manners Matter
- S1E3: Fox Trot
- S1E4: All’s Fair in Love and the Great Matter
- S1E5: Life is Not a Bed of Roses
- S1E6: Suffering Suffragettes
- S1E7: The Garden Party
- S2E1&2: Downton at War
- S2E3: Downton Reborn
Gougères, the Cheese Cream Puff
- ½ cup water
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter cut into cubes
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. savoury spice (i.e. cayenne or chili powder)
- ½ cup Flour
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup grated cheese (traditionally Gruyere)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- Heat the water, butter, salt, and chile or pepper in a saucepan until the butter is melted.
- Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let rest two minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly. The batter may start off looking lumpy, but keep at it and it will smooth out. You can always time travel and use your food processor for this stage if you wish if you doubt your arm strength.
- Add the ¾ of the grated cheese to the mixture and stir until well combined.
- Wet a spoon and drop thumbnail-sized spoonfuls on a parchment lined cookie sheet about an inch apart.
- Use your handy little scoop here if you have one. Top each puff with a bit of the remaining cheese, then pop the baking sheet in the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re completely golden brown.
- For extra-crispy puffs, five minutes before they’re done, poke the side of each puff with a sharp knife to release the steam, and return to the oven to finish baking. It you take them out too soon they will deflate.
- The puffs are best served warm, so if you have made them in advance, simply pop on a cookie sheet and reheat in a low oven for a few minutes. You can serve them plain, fill or cut and spread with your favorite soft cheese.
For the Downton Abbey Collector