Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cheese and Spinach Soufflé

This basic soufflé recipe can be used for a variety of cheese and vegetable combinations. First, the basic recipe, then some suggestions for variations on the theme.


5 eggs (yolks and whites to be separated)
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp. flour (rice flour works just as well as wheat if you can’t eat gluten)
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ c. finely diced onion or 2 tsp. onion powder
1 large crushed garlic clove or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
9 oz. fresh spinach
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. tarragon
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
dusting of paprika
salt to taste


Preheat the oven to 325°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet until frying-hot then add the onion. Reduce the heat and gently sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down low and add the spinach. If you use fresh basil, tarragon, and/or parsley, add that with the spinach. Cover the skillet and steam the spinach until it wilts.

Separate the yolks and whites. Place the whites into a mixing bowl by themselves to be used shortly. Note that this recipe only works if the eggs are cold because the egg whites will need to be beaten stiff. The yolks go into a mixing bowl to be blended with the other ingredients.

Combine the egg yolks, mayonnaise, flour, baking powder, cheese, and herbs in a mixing bowl. Press all liquid out of the vegetables, then add them to the egg yolk mixture. Blend all the ingredients well.

Shake a little salt into the egg whites as this will help them beat up fluffy. Beat them on high until they are stiff and stand in peaks when you lift the beaters out. Grease a deep eight-inch round casserole dish and then put the egg whites into it. Add the mixture of ingredients and fold them gently into the egg whites, blending all together in a soapy sort of soup. Dust the top with paprika.

Bake for 45 minutes at 325°. Check to be sure the soufflé is done by inserting a knife in the middle. It should come out pretty clean with no gooey mixture stuck to it. Bake for longer if the soufflé is not done. You have to serve the soufflé immediately if you want it to be admired for its fluffy appearance because it will drop swiftly, but it will still taste delicious after it drops.

Here are some suggestions for other terrific combinations for this soufflé. Try using chopped marinated artichoke hearts and jack or fontina cheese. Sun-dried tomatoes are a great addition to any combination. Small cherry tomatoes (about a handful) are sweet and tasty. Be sure to pierce each with a knife before adding to the mixture. Mushrooms are a little heavy for a soufflé, but if you chop them fine and sauté them, you can do a lovely mushroom and Swiss cheese version. Asparagus and smoked cheddar is a good combo too, just chop and sauté the asparagus beforehand. Any vegetable that you use should be drained of any water resulting from cooking. If the soufflé gets too wet, it won’t fluff up properly.

Note that these soufflés go well with the roasted potato medley for a fine dinner.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan Three Different Ways

My eggplant parmesan has evolved over the years. Before I had children, I took the time to make a classic old-fashioned eggplant parmesan with each tender piece of eggplant battered and fried to perfection. Once I had children, I couldn’t take the time to make a traditional eggplant parmesan, so I developed a quick and easy version that the children would eat. When the children grew up, I went back to making my labor-intensive classic parmesan. These days, I am working on my gluten-free eggplant parmesan so I have some terrific ideas to share on that topic. Here are the recipes, which comprise the evolution of my eggplant parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan the Old-Fashioned Way


1 eggplant, peeled and sliced in ½-inch rounds
olive oil as needed
2 or 3 eggs (depending on the size of the eggplant, start with 2)
1½ cups flour with a sprinkle of black pepper, oregano, and paprika
4-5 cups tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought, your choice)
1 lb. grated cheese (see below about type of cheese)
Oregano (see below)


Beat the eggs in a wide bowl until fluffy. Put the flour and herbs (blended) on a dinner-sized plate. Grease a rectangular baking dish with oil and preheat the oven to 350°. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.

Pour a thin film of olive oil in a large skillet and heat to frying-hot. Dip each round of eggplant into the eggs (coat completely), then coat it in the flour mixture (completely), then place it in the skillet. Fry the eggplant rounds until the flour is crispy brown, then turn them and fry the other side to crispy brown. When they are done place them in the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Rinse the skillet out with water before frying the next batch of eggplant to prevent it from picking up burnt bits of batter. Re-oil the pan with fresh olive oil for the next batch. Do this between every fry-batch of eggplant rounds so that they are each fried in a clean skillet with fresh oil.

After each batch of eggplant rounds is placed into the baking dish, place a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce on them, sprinkle oregano on them, and then put a generous amount of grated cheese on top. Grated parmesan cheese is excellent. I like to use a combination of parmesan, mozzarella, and mild cheddar. There are also Italian cheese combinations sold pre-grated and pre-mixed. Choose a cheese that you like. Note that Fontina and cheddar is also a terrific combination.

When all the eggplant has been fried and placed in the baking dish, with sauce, oregano, and cheese on top, cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake at 350° for half an hour.

Eggplant Parmesan Quick and Easy for Busy Moms and Young Children

Here is a cheater’s way to make an easier version of eggplant parmesan that children will usually eat.


1 eggplant, peeled and sliced in ¼-inch rounds
4-5 cups tomato sauce
1 lb. grated cheddar and parmesan cheese
¼ - ½ cup wheat germ (note that flax seed meal can be used for a gluten-free version)
Oregano (see below)


Grease a rectangular baking dish with oil and preheat the oven to 350°. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Place the eggplant rounds (raw) into the baking dish. Put tomato sauce on each round, then sprinkle wheat germ on top, then put a generous heap of grated cheese on top of that. Then sprinkle with oregano. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes (until the eggplant is cooked to tenderness but not to mush).

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan the Old-Fashioned Way

Follow the recipe above for the Old-Fashioned Eggplant Parmesan; however, substitute teff flour for the wheat flour. It will cook faster in the frying pan (so take care not to burn it) and be darker in color, but it tastes excellent. You can also sprinkle the top with flax seed meal for some extra flavor. Another variation on this theme that is gluten-free and delicious is to slice polenta into ½-inch rounds, fry it in the frying pan (not breaded of course) and intersperse the layers of eggplant with layers of polenta. You can make the Quick and Easy version with polenta layers as well, just remember to bake raw eggplant longer if you didn’t fry it first so that it cooks all the way through and gets tender. No one likes rubbery eggplant.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!