As a child I used to love to eat soufflé. We had it often thanks to the good folks at Stouffers. Frozen foods were never shied away from back in the seventies. No one in my house ever made a soufflé so I did not learn to make one myself until Julia Child taught me at a cooking class at the Greenbrier. A day spent in the kitchen with Julia is still one of the great days in my life.
Since make a cheese soufflé with her I quickly learned that any cooked vegetable that has been either chopped or pureed finely enough could be added to the base of a soufflé. The other night I had a big bag of spinach that needed to be consumed. I cooked the leaves up in a big fry pan with the tiniest amount of water then squeezed it as dry as I could get it and chopped the hell out of it. Of course frozen chopped spinach cooked and drained well would work just as well for this recipe.
1 c. cooked spinach – if using fresh you need at least 2 pounds or one 10 oz. box of frozen
2 T. butter
½ c. Parmesan cheese
3 T. flour
1 c. scalded milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
4 egg yolks at room temperature
1 c. shredded cheese- I used Jarlsberg
5 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Spray the inside of a soufflé dish with Pam and sprinkle ½ the Parmesan cheese in the container and twist it around so the cheese coats the inside of the dish.
IN a saucepan melt the butter and add the flour to it when melted and cook the flour on a low heat, stirring constantly for two minutes. Turn off the flame and add the milk and whisk it like hell. Put the pan back on a low heat and cook it until it gets thick, whisking the whole time to make sure it is not lumpy. Add the spices.
Turn off the flame and egg the egg yolks one at a time, whisking. Then add all the cheese and the spinach and mix well.
In a big very clean bowl beat your egg whites until they are white fluffy peaks. Take one quarter of the egg whites and whisk it into the cheese mixture then fold the rest of the egg whites in carefully. Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and put the pan in the oven and shut the door for 30 minutes. It is not exactly diet food, but it is worth the calories.
In the spirit of the Olympics and wanting to use up a cabbage that was in my veg drawer I made up this three-ingredient dish that is reminiscent of Russian peasant food. It does not look or sound as appetizing as it tastes, but on a cold dark snowy night it will keep you warm and satisfied.
1 small green cabbage shredded
1 medium onion thinly sliced
4 eggs – beaten
Salt and Pepper
Spray a large skillet with Pam and place the cabbage and the onions in it on a medium heat. Cook, turning the vegetables often for about ten minutes, until they are wilted and the cabbage is not giving out any more liquid. Salt and pepper the vegetables. Pour the eggs into the pan with the veg and stir until the eggs are lightly cooked, about one minute. Taste for seasoning, more pepper is better.
Here I am with Julia. Pictured from left to right Anne Willan, a famous cooking teacher herself, Julia Child, Riki Senn of the Greenbrier, some woman I can’t remember and ME in Pink.
If Julia Child were still alive today she would be 100 years old. She made it to 92 years old with great style. I was lucky enough to take a cooking course from her at the Greenbrier in 2000, which was one of her last classes she taught.
Even though she was 88 years old she was still sharp as a tack, according to the notes in my scrapbook. She came into the demonstration kitchen where twelve of us sat in rapt attention waiting to hear what fabulous thing she was going to teach us that day. She sat down at the counter and just started a conversation with us like she was an old friend in our home kitchen.
She said that she was going to teach us “EGGS.” We were all fairly accomplished cooks and one woman in the room made an audible sigh of disappointment. That was the last time anyone in the room felt dismay.
With the help of her assistant who just fetched things so Julia could stay seated while cooking, she was 88 for goodness sake; she made 15 egg dishes from soufflés to custards, talking all the while.
I have never learned so much about cooking so quickly. She answered questions and let us try to flip omelets one handed, which despite most peoples posturing about their cooking skills, they could not do. She never made anyone feel badly by telling us that if you don’t make mistakes in the kitchen you aren’t learning anything new.
One person asked Julia a question about eggs she did not know the answer to. It was, “If eggs are sold based on size, Jumbo, extra-large, large, etc. what does the grade, AA, A or B mean?”
Julia quickly said she had no idea. I raised my hand and she said, “Do you know?” Julia Child was asking me a question. I answered in my best not-always-correct-but-never-in-doubt voice that eggs are graded on the quality of the shell thickness and the yolk to white ratio that can be seen when holding eggs to a light.
“Wonderful,” Julia bellowed, “I learned something new about eggs today.”
I have never been so proud of my vault of often considered useless knowledge. I felt a little pat on my back as one of the other cooks whispered to me, “Wow, you taught Julia something.”
So today on her birthday I think back on what a thrill it was to meet her, learn from her and teach her too. I still may not be able to flip an omelet one-handed but I will keep practicing. I can always say that Julia encouraged me to make mistakes.
This is not an original idea for a recipe, but it is such a good things to know how to make I am writing my own version of this Spanish classic. It is also very healthy and good for any time of the day.
1 onion chopped (I like lots of onion so I use a big one)
1 ½ cups other chopped veggies – for this one I used Zucchini and green pepper. You can use leftover cooked veggies or raw. Asparagus, artichokes, red or green peppers, squash, cooked potatoes, green beans, spinach, broccoli or any creative combinations you can think of will work.
7 eggs beaten
½ cup of shredded cheese – I used a mixture of Parmesan, Jarlsberg and Gruyere
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400º
You need a 12-inch skillet that can be put in the oven (that means it does not have plastic handles). Put skillet over a medium high heat and spray with Pam. Add onions to pan and cook for 3 minutes. If you are using raw peppers add them at the same time. Add any other raw veggies after the onions are partially cooked. Cook until veggies for another 3 minutes. Salt and Pepper the veggies. If you are using pre-cooked veggies add them now and get them warmed up.
Beat the eggs and add salt and pepper to them. Spray a little more Pam in the skillet with the vegetables, making sure the bottom gets lubricated and spreading out the vegetables evenly across the bottom of the pan. Turn heat on medium and pour the eggs into the skillet. Do not stir anything and let the eggs cook for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the still runny eggs and put whole skillet in the hot oven.
Continue cooking in the oven for another 5 minutes. The eggs may puff up a little.
Can be eaten hot or cold.