07 March 2011

for ms. julia child, a soufflé and beignets

There's a virtual book club meet-up happening over at Jana Laurene's blog later today and everyone's invited. I'll admit that I've barely made a dent in the assigned book, My Life in France by Julia Child, but I did complete a bit of extra credit on the food assignment. Jana posts a recipe for everyone to make before the book club, so we can pretend that we're together in someone's living room with the same snacks and the same book. I'm glad I recently heard about this from Marta because this month's treats are French beignets (pronounced ben-yays).

I used this Buttermilk Beignet recipe from Epicurious, but halved it. Even so, I ended up with about 30 small beignets, enough to absolutely satisfy 8 or so people. While the dough was rising, I started on a Classic Cheese Soufflé, adapted by the lovely Molly Wizenberg from Julia Child's The Way to Cook.  Neither of these recipes are for the faint of heart, or those short on time or patience. If you click over to the original recipes, you'll note that the beignets require a lot of mixing, kneading, rising, rolling out, deep frying and then sugaring. But they are so very worth it. And, a tip, you can make the dough in your bread machine and avoid the kneading. Just be sure to add all of the liquid ingredients first, then the dry ingredients and then the yeast. The dough was very soupy, so I added another 1/2 cup of flour (probably will need an extra cup if you make the whole batch). My machine has a dough cycle that I let go for about 10-15 minutes and then manually shut it off so it could rise for an hour before I took it out and shaped it.

I'd never had a beignet before so I had no idea how incredible they would turn out to be. They are these little fried dough, chewy, sugary doughnut-like pastries. And they are irresistible. I've probably eaten about six or seven so far and there's no end in sight.

The soufflé was a totally new experience for me. I'm not used to following recipes exactly, or worrying too much about process and technique. But I had a feeling that a dish like this demanded attention to detail. You put milk on the stove and while its steaming, you whisk together butter and flour in a separate pan over medium heat until thickened. You stir in the steamed milk and egg yolks and then you start beating a bunch of egg whites senseless for what seems like eternity. Combine it all together with a bit of Swiss cheese and bake for 25 minutes-- no peeking in the oven! We served it with a quick sauté of veggies in balsamic vinaigrette.

And that was our French evening, in honor of Ms. Julia Child's memoir of her time in France. Which, I best get to reading, STAT. Stop by Jana's blog later today to join in her book club and get a taste of France, wherever you are. Have you read this book? Don't worry if you haven't or if, like me, you are a bit behind. You can stop by the virtual club and join in whenever you get around to it :) I'm a little bit late on the Julia Child bandwagon, but now that I'm here I'm in love. Though I certainly won't be tackling her Mastering the art of French Cooking anytime soon.


  1. Sounds and looks wonderful, Christine!

  2. Ohhhhhh my....this looks amazing. I want to read this book too!

  3. i couldn't cook up all of the dough for the beignets because i had already eaten so many!

    but aren't they delicious?!

  4. I love Julia! I actually have some of her old episodes on DVD :-) "Baking with Julia" is a well-used cookbook in my house, as is "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom." Your creations look divine! Invite me over sometime!!


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