Julia Child. For me, the mere mention of her name invokes visions of…butter. Lots and lots of butter. After all, in her last magazine interview, Julia was asked, “Do you have a favorite ingredient?” She replied, “Yes. Butter.” Amen, Julia. Such a wise woman.
Back in October, Whit, Ellie and I decided to hold our very first “Julia Night.” We would cook from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and watch episodes of The French Chef, Julia’s cooking show produced and broadcast in Boston from 1963 – 1973. (Ellie owns the box set.) All three of us are Julia fans. Meaning, we were admirers before Julie and Julia hit the theaters. We all thoroughly enjoyed reading My Life in France. It’s a story based on love – love of cooking, love between husband and wife, love of France, and love of life. Of course, Julie Powell of “Julie and Julia” fame is to be commended for cooking every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking – it takes a brave woman to dedicate an entire year of her life to expanding both her culinary knowledge and her waistline.
For our first “Julia Night”, the menu consisted of the following:
Cheese, olives and fruit.
Bouillabaisse from MTAOFC – a traditional fish soup from Marseille.
Chocolate Souffle from MTAOFC.
And lots of wine.
We finished grocery shopping around 8pm and didn’t eat dinner until after 11pm. After devouring our seafood soup and souffle, we selected another Julia episode and retired to the couch. I fell asleep before the opening credits finished rolling and didn’t wake up until 4:30am, shoes still on and smelling like a French fish monger. But it was entirely worth it. Our first Julia night had been a success!
On Monday, the three of us reunited for “Julia Night Part Deux,” this time at Ellie’s place. We were so inspired from the airypuffedgrandness of our chocolate souffle that we decided to adopt a souffle theme, whipping up one savory and one sweet – a Gruyere and Parmesan Cheese Souffle and a Grand Marnier Souffle with Creme Anglais. Plus a spinach salad with apple and almonds that provided a refreshing intermission between our souffle saga.
Here’s the thing. Souffles aren’t very difficult to make and the wow-factor is immense. A souffle hot from the oven – puffed and proud – is a sight to behold. Both our savory and sweet souffles were delicious, but I’ve decided to post the savory recipe because it was truly the best in show. We poured the souffle batter into six ramekins and one large coffee mug. 25 minutes later, we opened the oven door to behold golden domes of goodness. Each spoonful was simultaneously rich and light. We decided that souffle is the perfect comfort food – a beautifulbutterybloated wonder. I can’t wait to bake more.
Gruyere and Parmesan Cheese Souffle
Adapted from Bon Appetit. Not MTAOFC. Sorry Julia.
Grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 large egg whites
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F.
- Generously butter one 10-cup soufflé dish or six to eight ramekins, depending on size
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to coat. (If using 1 1/4-cup dishes, place all 6 on rimmed baking sheet.)
- Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cook without browning until mixture begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk in milk, then wine. Cook until smooth, thick and beginning to boil, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Mix yolks, salt and pepper in small bowl.
- Add yolk mixture all at once to sauce and whisk quickly to blend.
- Fold in 1 1/4 cups Gruyère cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (cheeses do not need to melt).
- Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites.
- Transfer soufflé mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Gruyère cheese.
- Place soufflé in oven and reduce heat to 375°F.
- Bake soufflé until puffed, golden and gently set in center, about 40 minutes for large soufflé (or 25 minutes for small soufflés).
- Serve immediately (or risk serving a sad, limp souffle.)