Traveling to France via recipes, granddaughter's stories

features@beaufortgazette.comJuly 18, 2012 

My granddaughter Makayla Stormer is still catching up on her sleep, but in between naps she has been sharing stories about her trip to Europe, where she toured Paris and Rome, Milan, Florence, Sorrento, Pompeii and Capri. She traveled with fellow Beaufort High School students and chaperones Jeff and Cathy Pitts. She met students from other states. And she toured famous museums and had the chance to hear different languages and learn about other cultures.

Recently, she and I had a "grandmother-granddaughter study" in the kitchen, where we took on French cuisine.

French cuisine is considered an art as well as a science. As a science it is the basis of so much other cooking. As an art, it an important part of French heritage. French chefs take pride in the vegetables they select for their dishes and they have a passion for preparing the simplest of dishes.

They use a variety of fish, meat and produce, and time is not a problem when it comes to making a dish taste as good as it looks. French cooks keep an eye on dishes during cooking, and they taste constantly to adjust seasoning, spending extra time on making sure a dish goes from ordinary to the special.

Knowing how to taste for seasoning is one of the most important skills of a good cook. Even a well-cooked dish with the best ingredients will be disappointing if it is not seasoned carefully.

At the beginning of cooking, you should season a mixture lightly, especially if the dish will cook a long time. Liquid will evaporate, and flavors will mellow. One should taste at least once during cooking and always check the flavors before serving. Sauces and stuffings should be highly flavored to highlight the ingredients they accompany.

This has been a week of searching for recipes of the foods that Makayla enjoyed while traveling. As a family, we will share in her experiences and "travel" with her as we sample the dishes.

CHEESE SOUFFLE

A mixture of Parmesan and Gruyere is perfect for this souffle.

2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs, if desired

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated cheese

1 teaspoon prepared mustard or 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Generously butter a 5-cup souffle mold. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, if desired. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan Whisk in flour. Cook until mixture foams, but do not brown. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks into hot sauce until thickened. Cool slightly. Beat in 1/2 cup cheese with mustard. Taste for seasoning. Mixture should be highly seasoned as egg whites will be added later.

Whip egg whites until stiff. Thoroughly mix one-fourth of the stiff egg whites into hot cheese mixture. Lightly fold cheese mixture into remaining whites. Pour into prepared mold. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until souffle is puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

CREPES

1 cup sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, well beaten

1 cup milk

Powdered sugar

Mix flour and salt. Combine well-beaten eggs and milk. Add flour and beat until smooth. Bake one at a time on a hot greased griddle, making cakes about 3 inches in diameter. Spread each by rolling the griddle. Serve warn with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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