In preparation for the Festive season parties I started to look at recipes that would be suitable to serve as canapes (cocktail snacks) or starters over the season. One of my favourites is Gougeres, these are savoury choux pastry balls. Whilst they do take a little work to prepare, the taste of the savoury choux pastry is always a pleasure and you can fill them with any filling you like. There are many recipes, but the core of the Gougeres is the choux pastry. A secret is to make sure each egg has been properly beaten into the dough mixture prior to adding the next one. I used a traditional French recipe but I added a tip from Alain Ducasse, the great contemporary French chef, he adds a pinch of nutmeg, I think this is a great idea. I included some 26 months matured Beemster XO instead of Comte or Gruyere. This strong, dry cheese heighted the flavour of the pastry. I made a filling of smoked salmon roses and mixed in some chopped salmon with cream cheese. The recipe is really easy, it just requires a little bit of extra care especially when baking the choux puff balls that they are properly cooked and dark golden. They should be dry and crisp, leave them to cook longer if they look a bit pale. You can turn off your oven after cooking them, then leave them to cool down in the oven with the door open, as this will help the pastry to dry out. Gougeres can be made in advance and frozen. You just need to crisp them up a bit in the oven once they have defrosted which is ideal when you are planning your party in advance. I recommend pairing these Gougeres au saumon with a Rust en Vreede Viognier.
Ingredients for 32 gougeres
- 240 g sifted flour
- Half cup water
- Half cup milk
- 100g French butter unsalted
- 4 eggs for pastry plus 1 egg for basting
- 100g Beemster 26 months or Comte du Jura from the French Market shop
- Pinch nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
Filling – ingredients from the French Market shop:
- 2x200g pack salmon – marinated or smoked
- 300g American Cream cheese
- Zest 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons capers- (32 for the roses and rest to go in sauce)
- Ground black pepper
- Dried Oregano from Crete
Directions Choux pastry:
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Put milk, water, butter and pinch of salt into saucepan and bring to boil
- Remove from heat and add the flour in one go
- Beat firmly with wooden spoon until completely mixed in together and dough comes away from side of the saucepan
- Put dough in a bowl and leave to cool for 1 minute.
- Add eggs in one at a time. Thoroughly mix each egg into dough before adding next egg
- Add grated cheese
- Add pinch freshly ground nutmeg and black pepper
- Pipe large teaspoonful size blobs onto greased baking paper
- Separate egg yolk and brush surface lightly of each blob with egg yolk glaze
- Bake for 22 minutes , Gougere should have risen to a ball shape and be dark golden. Leave in longer, If it still looks pale
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack
- Once cool slice the top of ball, centre should be hollow.
- Carefully roll each thin slice of salmon width ways into a long, narrow cigar. The one end will look like a rose. You should have 16 thin slices of salmon
- Cut the rose about a finger width long from the thickest end of the cigar and set on its base. Cut a second rose from the cigar.
- Place a caper in the centre of each rose
- You will be left with the second half of the cigar.
- Grate the zest of the lemon.
- Chop up all the rough ends of salmon and mix in a bowl with cream cheeses, ground black pepper, half the lemon zest and the balance of the capers. Mix until sauce is creamy.
- Open up choux pastry lid and spread small quantity of salmon cream mix on inside of choux pastry. Top with salmon rose and place pastry lid on side of pastry like an open clam so you can see the rose
- Place on a serving plate and sprinkle rest of zest plus some dried origanum from Crete over the Gougere.
- If you are serving as a starter, I recommend you add a small green salad to the centre of the plate and arrange 4 gougeres around the salad.
Serve with a glass of chilled Viognier from Rust en Vreede