A slang way to say "water" and when the French can't get good wine they make it in the hallway!
When an expat's expat parent comes to live with daughter in France: After 25 years in Mexico, Mom is moving in!

Even Cheese Puffs sound elegant in French: Gougères recipe and post by Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage

Ann mah the lost vintage novel in beaulieu-sur-mer France
Our family lived on two French vineyards during the last 10 years, beginning in this 2007 post. Ann Mah's book brought it all back--the sights, the sounds, and the scents--especially the beauty, the history, and the passion behind it all. I learned more about wine reading Ann's book, in addition to details of WWII (like the humiliating punishment for collaboration horizontale--or sleeping with the enemy!). The novel's modern-day narrator, Kate, is curious, funloving, and determined to pass her Master of Wine exam, a feat that brings her back to her family's vineyard in Burgundy where she discovers a hidden side of war and wine. Excellent summer reading! Order a copy here. 

Today's Word: Une Gougère

    : cheese puff

How to pronounce gougères? Click here to listen to the following example sentence
Une gougère est une brioche salée au gruyère. Il s'agit d'un mélange de pâte à chou et de fromage (du gruyère le plus souvent) que l'on cuit au four. A gougère is a savory brioche with Gruyère cheese. It is a mixture of puff pastry dough and cheese (usually gruyere) that is baked. --L'Internaute.fr

Gougères and The Lost Vintage

by Ann Mah

I fully admit that one of the reasons I wrote a novel set in a French vineyard was so I could linger there in my imagination. I've been enchanted by Burgundy's ever since I first visited the region in 2010 to research an article about Thomas Jefferson's favorite wines. And if I also sensed the presence of hovering ghosts, they only added to my fascination.

Burgundy is, obviously, famous for its wine - but the food is pretty fantastic, too. I have fond memories of eating Epoisse cheese so ripe it flooded the plate. There was beef bourguignon that melted under my fork, and snails drenched in garlic-parsley butter. But my favorite treat was the gougère - a cheese puff that is at once savory, crisp, and tender. As it turns out, hail from Burgundy where they traditionally accompanied cellar wine tastings.

Food and wine are a huge part of French culture and they play an important role in my new novel, The Lost Vintage, where they become a metaphor for all the issues that the characters are grappling with - questions of tradition, change, and how ( if) we should confront the past.

I hope you will enjoy The Lost Vintage - and if, like me, you're coming across the kitchen, I'm making a recipe for my favorite cheesy cheese puffs. Made of pastry cabbages, they seem mercurial to cook. In fact, they are ridiculously simple - so easy, I often bake them with my four-year-old daughter. Although some choose to blow the dough into mounds, I prefer to shape it with spoons, which creates a rough surface that turns golden and crunchy in the oven. Gougères pair beautifully with almost every kind of wine - and they also make a great cocktail snack for hungry book clubs. If you do these, however, beware: a batch does not last long!

I'm so excited to share The Lost Vintage with you! Happy reading - and health!

Many thanks to Ann Mah for the previous story and for the following recipe! 

Gougères French cheese puff recipe

Gougères / Cheese puffs
Makes about 35 puffs

2/3 cup (160 ml) water
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons (65 grams) butter
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs 2/3 cup (75 grams)
grated Gruyère or Comté cheese

1) Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line with baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) In a medium saucepan, combines the water, salt, butter, and cayenne pepper. Heat the mixture until the butter melts and it begins to boil.

3) Immediately dump in the flour and stir briskly to combine. Continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture forms a ball and begins to film the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

4) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to slightly cool. Add the eggs one by one, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to fully Add the cheese and stir to combine.

5) Using two spoons, serving the dough into small mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Each mound should be about the size of a cherry tomato; Space them evenly to allow for puffing.

6) Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking for 18-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

Note: Gougères are best hot from the oven, but still appealing at room temperature. To reheat, place them in the oven at 350ºF (175ºC) for 4 to 6 minutes.

Lost vintage 2
“Mah’s detailed descriptions of life on a family vineyard, how wine is produced, and how subtle differences in taste are discerned are so robust that a novice wine drinker may progress to aficionado status by the end. Engaging… will delight Francophiles and readers who enjoy historical fiction with a twist by such authors as Lauren Willig or Christina Baker Kline.” –Library Journal (starred)

Jackie in cap ferrat  ann mah the lost vintage
Our Jackie grew up on the vineyards in Provence and was once crowned Harvest Queen (at age 9) for diligently picking grapes each September. It is all a memory now. Reading The Lost Vintage I can still hear the flutter of leaves and the creaking of buckets brushing by the old vines. Click here to order a copy.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jules Greer

Dearest, Darling, and Precious Kristi,

Once again you have captured my attention with your wonderful blog. Only a mother can
know how lucky I am to have a daughter that shares her life through her writing.

I can hardly wait to read Ann's latest novel...as I am a BIG FAN of her novels and receipes.

I am so happy and proud of you each day Kristi....thank you for sharing your life with
me once again today.



Hi Kristi!

Thank you, as always, for your excellent blog.

I do have a question, however, about the gougère recipe. Approximately how much grated gruyère cheese should be used?

I can't wait to try the recipe!

Kristin Espinasse

Hello, Diane, thank you for your positive words, which follow the sweet comment by my Mom 💛

It looks like three-quarters of a cup for the cheese... plus ou moins :-)

Alyssa Eppich

Merci, Kristi, for the wonderful gougere recipe! I will try to make them this weekend! I can't wait to try the reciipe!


Merci Kristi, for another fun start to my day. Enjoyed this post from your friend and will definitely try the recipe.

Nancy Stilwagen

Looks like a great recipe, but how much Gruyere?? :)


I feel that I have to comment about the grammatical error in the 2nd sentence of the Mah essay. She uses the possessive form of "Burgundy's" when she meant the plural noun 'Burgundys'. She should know better as a writer. A writer is a teacher as well as a story teller and bears that responsibility. Sorry if I sound pedantic but language is important.
I share the writer's enchantment with both the food and the wine of Burgundy!


Hi Kristi and Ann,
Thanks so much for the blog post today and I can’t wIt to try the cheese puff recipe! I enjoyed reading Ann’s book on vacation here in Europe! 😊

Chris Allin

It is right there in the recipe:
2/3 cup (75 grams) grated Gruyère or Comté cheese



What a nice choice in your guest writer. In just a few words you both drew me in and now I will need to purchase this book! The recipe is a fun addition as well, I love these little puffs. I adore your mother, Jules, and how she penned such a sweet comment here on your blog as well; Maryann would do well to follow her as an example instead of being so pompous and critical.

Keep up the good work! I love your blog and your books! You're a natural.

Cynthia Rowden

To those sitting on the fence - order the book! It has food, wine, history, mystery, and romance. The only think I found odd was that the protagonist ate toast for breakfast in France. In my French dream, everyone eats croissants! I've stayed near Beaune in a house owned by the author of the My Grape Year books, and this book made me want to get on a plane and get back there right away.


Another vote for The Lost Vintage! It’s a captivating read, especially for anyone who loves France. A great addition to your summer book bag!
And gougeres are easy to make and always well received, perfect with a glass of wine or champagne. Thanks for pairing the recipe with the book promo!


To the grammar police: an editor needs to read with care. The apostrophe refers to a possessive, as in Burgundy's vineyards. Such a lovely post. Well done, Ann Mah!

Chris Allin

Considering your remark about this guest post, I would offer that this could be an auto-correct situation.

I am surprised that you did not notice that burgandy (wine) in the plural is burgandies and that a capital B usually refers to the region.

This post was written in good earnest. Why not just accept it as that?

Karen Cafarella

Another great post. I love all of Ann Mah's books and read this one in a few days. I wanted to savor it but couldn't put it down, it is that good.

Thanks for the recipe Ann!




I have been looking for a good summer read, thank you. I order it this morning. Will try the cheese puffs as well. I just used that same cheese for a fondue as well as a topping for tomato and fresh basil soup with croutons. Hope all is well and you are enjoying the summer.


Dear Grammar Police,
Please don't go! I love you both, and as a grammarian manqué myself, love the discussions you provoke. If only there were a way to nitpick without driving us all to drink! For a hilarious take on Burgundy v burgundy, see William Safire, WINES WITHOUT CAPS.
Dear Kristi,
I've just ordered the book. Cheers!


Hi I believe she was referring to the vineyards in the first sentence. Thus, Burgandy’s vineyards. That’s how I read it.


It's so strange! I sent this essay to Kristin in Google docs, and I think something formatted incorrectly. There are words missing from this version, and some words appear translated when I wrote them in French. My original sentence read "I’ve been enchanted by Burgundy’s vine-covered slopes and quaint villages ever since I first visited the region in 2010..." There are other funny errors, too – I wrote that gougères are "Made of choux pastry, they seem mercurial to cook" – which somehow (via Google translate, perhaps?) got changed to "made of pastry cabbages." Actually I kind of prefer this poetic description!

Thanks to those who gave me the benefit of the doubt! :)

maria bergman


I thought of you many times while reading this delicious book!

I absolutely loved it and devoured it way too fast ,sad to see it end!

More like this Ann Mah! I love your beautiful writing!

Thank you!!


Dear Kristi,
Thank you so much for reading The Lost Vintage, for this generous post, and all your support and encouragement over the years. I am so honored by your friendship. I'm glad you enjoyed the book and that the vineyard portions rang true for you – that is the highest praise I could receive.

Sending all my heartfelt thanks and love.


Our dear Kristi,
Thank you for sharing Ann's post(and recipe!)with us today.
You two ladies are awesome and,needless to say,favorites!
Because of your suggestion,Kristi I got Ann's book on Kindle and could not put it down.
I also enjoyed reading how Ann and her daughter make gougeres
It was one of the first things my beloved Mama taught me to make,and thanks to Ann,I was transported back to such happy times and loving memories.
So good to see dear Jules' words in the comments box!
Natalia. Xo

Kristin Espinasse

Oh my goodness, Ann--I just realized what happened. I had copied the text from your Google doc and, in order to take out the formatting, which my blog does not recognize, I ran it through a Google translation box (not meaning to translate it!) Next, unwittingly, I selected the French box instead of English). Normally I would have run it through word counter.net, but I have an article-in-progress there! (It is my Plan B second back up!). Thank you so much for your good humored response. There is a lot going on here, at the moment, and I am distracted. :-)

Jules Greer

Hi Chris,

Thank you so much for responding to Maryann's comment...i wanted to but i just didn't have the energy at this time to put in my two bits worth. As an expelled high-school student I believe that it is important to communicate in whatever way anyone is able to and to always do you best to be kind and not bitchy in the comments box.
I loved your response to Maryann.


Chris Allin

Mystery solved and we can continue to enjoy our two authors as they are, spirited, engaging, well-written and kind!

Chris Allin

Thank you, Jules. That means a lot to me!


Sorry Typo-Burgundy.

Chris Allin

PS...burgundy and Burgundy !!

Laura C

Encouragement for potential cooks: in high school I learned how to make pate choux. It was fast, easy and very tasty. I loved the change in texture from butter in water to which flour is added and stirred with wooden spoon. Then each egg added made a subtle difference. Spoon this onto baking pan (these days I use non-stick paper on the pan), pop in oven, and voila! I fill the cream puffs with chopped strawberries or peaches plus whipped cream. The gougere recipe is just one more step, and the result is a savory rather than a sweet. Yummy.
For potlucks I bring these or deviled eggs. Always they disappear quickly!

Katherine Johnsen

Dear Kristi ,many months ago I bought French perfume listed on your site. I have never seen them posted again. I tried one and now would like to try another. Thank you in advance for reposting.I am an appreciative reader of your blog and a Francophile.I am the proud grandmother of 3 1/2 french grandchildren. My daughter-in-law is from Fouesnant.


Amazing book!

Leslie NYC

Thanks, Kristin, for introducing me to Ann Mah’s blog. From there, I was lucky to get to hear her read her new book at Politics & Prose the day it was released. She made some delicious cabbage pastries then for all of us that night. It is a book that I am loving and trying not to gulp down too fast. I look forward to moving backwards in time to her other books. It is lovely to see two writers’ generosity towards each other. Let’s all enjoy our foibles and the poetic mangling of google and take a breath before lashing out.

Susan V Rak

re: Gougères
If you make a batch and do not want to bake them all at once, you can freeze them. After forming them on a tray, put the tray into the freezer and when they are frozen carefully put them in a freezer bag or container. I cushion them with baking parchment. Then just take out how many you want and bake them (still frozen) per the recipe. They might require a longer bake, though.

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Thank you --- Ann's book and the cheese puffs are sure to be devoured!

Sarah LaBelle

So glad I can read these comments now. For no known reason, I could not see them yesterday. The explanation for those strange words in the post makes all the difference. When there is time, it would be nice to see the post as the author wrote it, not as google translate inserted its usual confusing terms. I shared this post with lots of nieces and nephews, who all cook, hoping one will make these and share them with me!


You're absolutely correct. Thank you.

Patricia Sands

Hi Kristi ~ I can get through here again! For some reason the "comments" link was not co-operating a few days ago. Thanks for this great post. I've been dying to read Ann's latest novel and am even more delighted to order it through your website. Mille mercis!

Pauline Lowe

Hello Ann, made gougeres last night and enjoyed immensely with a 1986 bottle of a quintessential Australian red wine, Penfold's Grange Hermitage. We opened the bottle especially, to celebrate our daughter's engagement.
This recipe will become a favourite in our house along with your Ratatouillaise. I am looking forward to reading your book, (kindle version) as said not able to deliver hard copy to Australia.

Thank you for the joy.

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