I am not a fan of French cooking – it’s time intensive, fussy, and in general just not my cup of tea. I know everyone’s into it again after the delightful hoopla of the movie/book/blog Julie & Julia, which sparked a resurgence of Ms.Child and the return of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but… I remain a naysayer. I’ll take the cheese and baguettes and a croissant or two and that’s about it, thank you very much.
The one caveat comes with this: ham and cheese puffs. The recipe is one my mom found years ago in a magazine somewhere and has become a family staple. The basic recipe (before you add the ham and cheese, and sans mustard) is a cream puff recipe – this just makes them savory. You can experiment with types of cheese, herbs, etc but I’m a fan of the plain and simple ham and cheddar. They’re great when first made – perfect snacking for during a movie or at a potluck – and they’re yummy reheated in the micro for 10 seconds as a simple breakfast. Yum yum yum. France, that’s as much of an homage as you’ll get from me.
Ham and Cheese Puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard
4 ounces ham, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I always add an entire 8oz block of cheese, grated. Forget this half cup nonsense)
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and margarine to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the flour and mustard all at once and stir till it forms a ball, pulling away from the sides of the pan. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring till well incorporated (I always despair that the last one will ever get thoroughly mixed in – trust me, it will happen). Mix in the ham and cheese. Grease a cookie sheet and drop the mixture in 12 mounds onto it. Bake 35 minutes at 375 degrees.