As long as I can remember, I had a drive/a need/an urge to see the world and learn new things. Growing up in the US Midwest and the daughter of someone who was too claustrophobic to ever get on an airplane, my early wanderings were limited to those places that the family reached by car. We roamed the US and Canada and, as a result, I was lucky enough to see all the provinces and the lower 48 states before I went to college. This was all great but I longed to leave the North American continent so I could walk the grounds, see the sights, smell the smells, hear the sounds and taste the foods of foreign lands.
My Grandma was a collector of cookbooks. She rarely wandered further from home than to cross town but she sure loved to cook. She would spend hours pouring through cookbooks. We were generally the lucky recipients of this passion through wonderful Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house. One year she gave my Mom one of her favorites – “A Treasury of Great Recipes” by Mary and Vincent Price. Mom never made anything from the cookbook, but the gift turned out to be an eye-opener for me!
You may or may not remember Vincent Price. He was well into his career as an actor when I first learned of him. Depending on your age, you might remember him for movies such as “The House of Seven Gables” (1940) or 100’s of TV horror showings (1950s and 1960s) or the narrator on “The Hilarious House of Frightenstein” (1970’s) or the great voice-over in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album (1983) or the inventor in “Edward Scissorhands” (1990). Vincent was known for his distinctive look and voice in the horror genre but he was also a writer and a gourmand.
Vincent’s career took him all around the world. The cookbook he wrote with his wife, Mary, was a collection of the famous specialty dishes from the world’s foremost restaurants at the time. Many of the restaurants that Vincent spoke of are still the world’s foremost restaurants. Places such as Tour D’Argent in Paris, Woburn Abbey in London, Sardi’s in New York, Sobrino de Botin in Madrid, and others. The book had a write-up about each restaurant, a copy of their menu and then a short personal comment giving Vincent’s thoughts about each recipe. There were photos of Vincent dining at many of these establishments and other photos showing him and Mary entertaining in their California home.
I was only 10 at the time, but I could pour over this cookbook for hours. I read it and reread it and dreamed of the day when I would have the good fortune to go to all these lands and try all these foods for myself.
Recently I had the pleasure of pulling Vincent’s cookbook from the shelf and searching for something different to do with the zucchini coming in from our garden. I found a recipe for ‘zucchini soufflé’ that Vincent liked when he went to a restaurant called the Blue Fox in San Francisco. We tried the recipe for dinner and it was phenomenal. I went straight to the internet to see if we could make reservations to try the original recipe at the original source. I found all sorts of wonderful write-ups about the Blue Fox but, alas, it closed its doors in 1993. No luck there.
But I did get lucky while making the dish. A ceramic cup that I made a while back turned out to be the perfect fit to our lemon juicer! A fortuitous accident that I may have to try to repeat in the studio…along with making a soufflé dish!
In the meantime, if you would like to try your hand at the Zucchini Soufflé, here is the recipe. Bon Appétit!
Soufflé – (as published in ‘A Treasury of Great Recipes’ by Vincent and Mary Price)
- Butter a 2-quart deep baking dish or a soufflé dish and chill it.
- Wash: 1 pound small zucchini. Discard tops and a thin slice from the bottom of each, and cut into strips the thickness of a pencil and about 1 inch long.
- In a 10-inch skillet, melt: 4 tablespoons butter. In it cook: 1 clove garlic, minced, and 3 scallions, finely chopped, for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes longer, tossing the zucchini to coat each piece with butter.
- Add: 2/3 cup sauterne, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper.
- Cook over high heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has cooked away and the zucchini is tender but firm.
- Stir in : 2 pimentos, finely chopped. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Separate: 6 eggs.
- Add to the yolks: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and beat until the egg yolks and cheese are blended and creamy. Stir in zucchini mixture.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into zucchini mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Pour into prepared baking dish and bake in the hot oven for 25 minutes, or until set and puffy.
Presentation – Wrap a clean napkin around baking dish and serve at once.