Julia Child would have turned 100 on Wednesday. She died in 2004, just two days before her 92nd birthday. According to PBS Food, her last meal was French onion soup. The first – and only time – I attempted French onion soup it tasted like something I envision a medieval prisoner slurping up deep within the dungeon keep.
It was that bad.
But a cheese soufflé? That I can make. Sure, there are lots of steps: separating eggs, whipping egg whites, making a béchamel (gluten-free, in my case), shredding cheese, and so on. Just watch Julia prepare it once and you’ll be convinced, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.
Well, maybe not so much. I found this recipe for making a gluten-free béchamel which validated my guess that sweet rice flour would be a good substitute for regular flour in Julia’s Soufflé au Fromage, found within the pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. After reading the eight-page recipe, I downloaded the new Julia Child iPad app and watched the video of her preparing the dish. After all, overbeating the eggs or improperly folding the béchamel into the whites would certainly mean defeat. I did, however, ignore her when she told me to use a 6-cup soufflé mold; my 8-cup mold had worked perfectly well in the past when I’d made a Barefoot Contessa soufflé recipe.
Somewhere along the way, however, some piece of the chemistry puzzle slipped out of place. The soufflé didn’t rise and in fact, as you can see above, it became positively concave just seconds after emerging from the oven. I don’t know if it was the flour or the mold or the chef herself, but my soufflé didn’t match the photos in the Julia Child app or video. Le sigh.
Nonetheless, each and every morsel was divine: creamy bites of silky cheese surrounded by a cloud of egg, seasoned with just a hint of Himalayan sea salt. So even if my dish wasn’t the prettiest on the table, it tasted like a million bucks.
I think Julia would have been proud, even without the pouf.
Visit PBS Food’s Julia Child tribute site for recipes, trivia, interviews and more!