julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Party of One, Your Table is Ready

 

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“Souffles have to be baked just so, and served just when, and are always trembling and on the verge of collapse. They are the boss of things, not you.” – Julia Child

Early Sunday morning my husband headed out of town to embark on a road trip adventure to celebrate his last Spring Break as a student. So that night, with only one person to cook for (I admit, I briefly considered a bowl of cereal instead) and a long list of chores ahead of me, I opted for a simple Julia recipe for dinner. I made Souffle aux Epinards (spinach soufflé) and it was outstanding! It’s a snap to make, easy to clean up after, and the end result is a delicious meal. 

Creamy goodness

I buttered my soufflé mold and sprinkled the bottom with a light dusting of shredded Swiss cheese. Then I cooked some blanched chopped spinach in a buttered pan with onions and, separately, sautéed some cubed ham (Julia says you can add some extra ingredients, and I thought ham would add some nice flavor). 

I made the soufflé base, which is a mixture of butter/flour, boiled milk, egg yolks, seasonings, and finally some whipped egg whites and shredded Swiss cheese. It looks like cream gravy before the eggs go in, and then it becomes a rich yellow filling. The whipped egg whites are folded in carefully to give the soufflé the lightness it needs to puff up in the oven. Finally, I added the spinach and ham and gently folded everything together. 

Here are the layers of souffle topped with cheese, ready for the oven.

I turned the mixture into the soufflé mold and topped it off with a tablespoon more of shredded cheese. The dish went into the middle of my oven (preheated to 400, then diminished to 375 – not really sure why) and sat there for about 30 minutes. 

When the timer sounded, I could smell the cheesy spinach from the oven – delish! – and the soufflé had risen beautifully, turning golden brown on top. I let the dish sit and cool for a bit before spooning a helping onto my plate. It was perfect. Thick, creamy, and the ham added just enough saltiness to the meal. Granted, you pretty much have to be a fan of spinach in order to like this dish, but I’m convinced this is good enough to change the mind of even the toughest spinach critic.

A little toast with grape jelly, and I'm ready for dinner!

The melted cheese throughout the dish bound everything together, and the edges and top formed a light crust in the oven. I went back for seconds, which I try not to do, but this food was so good I couldn’t help myself. It was a perfect meal to have by myself, and I have just a few leftovers for later in the week. 

I have to say, I’m a pretty big fan of soufflés. Now, let’s see what I think when we dig further into the chapter and start adding fish… 

Bon appetit!
– Jessica

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