December 24, 2019

Dear friends,
You are either knee-deep in latkes or about to dig into the Christmas pudding. Time for me to think about New Year’s Eve.

Throughout my career I have celebrated every holiday, food-wise, one week early in order to create and photograph recipes in time to get them into print. That’s why Tony, my friend, Marty, and I feasted on a Brie soufflé last week. It is the perfect nosh for a New Year’s Eve party, and even better the next day, sliced and plated, for brunch.

I found the recipe in “The Sliver Palate Cookbook,” a classic that has enjoyed a renaissance lately as publications mark its 40th anniversary. I remember interviewing the authors, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. I remember making many of the recipes, from the lime mousse and flourless chocolate cake to the carrot-orange soup and caviar roulade. But until now, not the Brie soufflé.

Yikes, is it rich. Did we really, back then, consider a quarter pound of Brie and a quarter stick of butter, not to mention milk and eggs, one serving? I made the recipe by the book, then remade it with a few tweaks so it’s not quite as sinful. It’s still delicious, although it is not a souffle.

When it’s hot from the oven, it’s like a fondue; no trace of the bread is apparent, just molten strands of cheese. When it cools, it’s like a strata — the bread gives it enough structure to be cut into slices or wedges and eaten with a fork.

So serve the hot soufflé (really, it barely puffs) surrounded by things to dip such as crackers and raw vegetables. Then slice and serve the chilled leftovers the next day for brunch. I liked it both ways, and think it’s even better with a few slices of torn prosciutto added to each layer.

BRIE SOUFFLE

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
Dash of Tabasco
3 eggs
1 lb. slightly underripe Brie, very cold, rind removed
(6 slices prosciutto, torn, Jane’s addition)

Butter a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish. Butter one side of the bread slices and cut each slice into thirds. Whisk together the milk, salt, Tabasco and eggs. Coarsely grate the Brie. (To grate the Brie, I used the horizontal slits on one side of a box grater.)

Arrange half the bread, buttered side up, on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle evenly with half the prosciutto and half the Brie. Repeat, using remaining bread, prosciutto and Brie. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the casserole. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Makes 4 to 6 (or more) servings.

(Jane’s suggestion: Surround with crackers and crudities when hot. Or cool, then refrigerate and serve later at room temperature, sliced, as a brunch dish.)

TIDBITS

I’ve lost count of how many years I’ve been writing this newsletter. At least 20. It began as Second Helpings when I worked at the Beacon Journal and continues as See Jane Cook under the aegis of Mimi Vanderhaven and my friend, Mitch Allen, who support the blog financially and provide staff to handle the copy, manage the subscriber list and wrangle the website. I am so grateful to them, and if you know anyone who would like to advertise in the newsletter, I’m sure Mimi would appreciate it.

Lately, several of you have sent emails thanking me for continuing to write the newsletter. I would like to thank all of you for reading it. I think I’d be lost without it and the connection it gives me to our food community and the friendships — many without ever meeting — we have forged.

Especially now, when there’s so much misunderstanding and plain meanness afoot, I treasure this place we can come together and agree on something, even if it’s just a tub of Aldi’s salted chocolate-dipped cashews. Is there anyone who doesn’t love them? I didn’t think so.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Here’s to another 20 years. Well, at least five.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Corned beef hash with potatoes, carrots, daikon radish, onions, thyme and poached eggs; potato and greens soup; pumpkin custard (twice); stir-fried noodles with pork; cauliflower-coconut soup; pan-grilled pork chops.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Miso ramen with pork, chicken and egg rice bowl and a California roll at/from Tensuke Express and Market in Columbus; chicken and waffles, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, corn and lemon-rosemary cookies at Twisted Grill & Grind in Copley; a Puebla Wrap (chicken, corn salsa, avocado, pico de gallo) and coffee at Musketeer’s in Richfield; chicken curry and hot tea at Chin’s Place in Akron.

THE MAILBAG
From Ellen M.:
Regarding the question about West Point Market’s cheese spreads, I just went to Mustard Seed Market and they have the spread recipes from West Point. The man who made them at West Point makes them there. However, they only make the Bar None and The Other Spread.

Dear Ellen:
Thanks for the great information. Maybe eventually he’ll resurrect Coyote, a mouth burner but so good.

From Kay, Santa Fe.:
Help! Your penne recipe sounds beyond fantastic but my daughter is a vegetarian. Any way of getting around the ground beef?

Dear Kay:
Several people asked if they could leave out the meat to accommodate vegetarians. Yes, you may. Sautéed mushrooms would be a good swap. But there’s no way to omit the cheese, milk and eggs, which also are off-limits for many vegetarians. Before serving the penne to a mixed crowd, you might want to ask whether dairy products are OK.

From Carolyn V.:
My niece did Thanksgiving turkey breast sous vide. She first browned them and sous vided them for 14 hours. Then she oven-browned them for a very brief time at high heat The meat sliced beautifully and was very moist and tasty. The best part was that the leftover meat stayed moist and juicy even after being reheated.

Dear Carolyn:
Oh, boy. Gotta try turkey and chicken.

From Carol P.:
Apparently you can sous vide in your InstantPot. I am researching this idea because I am curious about the technique, too.

Dear Carol:
Do let us know how that turns out. Has anyone else used the appliance for sous vide?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s