Today we’re sharing a guest post by Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage!
About the Book:
“If you enjoyed my Sarah’s Key and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, then this wonderful book by Ann Mah is for you.” -- Tatiana de Rosnay
The Lost Vintage is a page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II.
Enjoy this special note from the author along with a special French recipe perfect for book club parties.
From the Author:
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 vine-covered slopes and quaint villages 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 ghosts hovering amid the beauty, 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 boeuf bourguignon that melted under my fork, and escargots 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, gougères 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 The Lost Vintage, where they become almost a metaphor for all the issues that the characters are grappling with – questions of tradition, change, and how (or if) we should confront the past.
I hope you will enjoy The Lost Vintage – and if, like me, you like to travel via the kitchen, I’m including below a recipe for my favorite gougères cheese puffs. Made of choux pastry, 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 pipe 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 make these, however, beware: a batch doesn’t last long!
I’m so excited to share The Lost Vintage with you! Happy reading – and santé!
Gougères / Cheese puffs Recipe:
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 a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) In a medium saucepan, combine 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 incorporate each one. Add the cheese and stir to combine.
5) Using two spoons, portion 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.