Mr. Hercule Poirot is a stickler when it comes to eating the correct things in the correct order at the correct time. Any mistake in this area seems to be as much of a serious affair as murder. Food plays an integral role in Agatha Christie’s stories whether it turns out to be the murder weapon or just a perfectly served cup of tea. In The Book Lover’s Cookbook Shaunda Kennedy Wenger features foods mentioned in our best loved stories. Since Mr. Poirot is a favorite of mine, I had to try the infamous soufflé and hope that it would turn out as well as our finicky detective would like.
I needed help with this recipe, stirring help mostly. I had to be careful not to scramble the eggs as I added them one by one to the hot milk. My eight-year-old did the job perfectly. I only changed one small thing about this recipe. I didn’t have Dijon mustard, so I used regular old yellow mustard. I even bought freshly ground Parmesan instead of that stuff in the green container that has been in my fridge door since I don’t know when.
The results looked nice, and it didn’t fall until it had been sitting on our table for a while. It tasted like a quiche to me and my son mentioned it was like eating an omelet. Cooked spinach is not something my small people are used to eating and the look on my son’s face as he ate a bite of spinach was priceless. He didn’t quite know what to think of it. It was quite mild and if I made it again I would put more than a pinch of cayenne and use the Dijon mustard as I think that would up the taste factor.
Thankfully there was no loss of life at the dinner table tonight. To experience that I will have to crack open a Poirot mystery tonight or log onto Overdrive and watch a streaming video, maybe Alfred Hitchcock’s Murder!
Anticipation Cheese and Spinach Soufflé
5 tablespoons butter or margarine
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
6 eggs whites (about ¾ cup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
¾ cup frozen spinach, drained and chopped
Preheat oven to 400º. Grease a 2-quart soufflé dish with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Melt the butter or margarine in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue cooking over low heat until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and peppers.
Beat the egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon salt until stiff, moist peaks form. Stir 1 cup of the beaten eggs whites into the base mixture. Fold the remaining egg whites into the base mixture. Add the cheese and spinach with a whisk. Do not over stir. Scoop the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish. Sprinkle the mixture with about 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS