What’s Cooking? – Pablo Picasso
Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, is one of the most iconic artists of all times. Picasso was best known for his unbridled appetite for women. His diet, however, was surprisingly restricted. When he was in his fifties and plagued by worries of ill health and decreased productivity, he adopted what today would be termed the Mediterranean diet, consisting of fish, vegetables, grapes, and rice pudding washed down with mineral water or milk. He ate in silence, uttering not a word from beginning to end.
Picasso’s doctor advised him to eat spinach. One of Picasso’s least objectionable ways to consume this leafy green vegetable was in a souffle.
Spinach Souffle (vintage recipe)
1 package chopped frozen spinach (1 cup)
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
2 or 3 shallots – minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
6 Tablespoons butter
5 Tablespoons flour
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground back pepper – to taste
6 large eggs
1 egg white
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Butter a two-quart souffle dish and sprinkle the sides and bottom lightly with Parmesan cheese.
Melt one Tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan and add the shallots. Cook for about three minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the thoroughly drained spinach and lemon juice and cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has evaporated, which will take about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Melt the 6 Tablespoons of butter in a heavy sauce pan and, over low heat, stir in the flour with a wire whisk; remove from heat.
Meanwhile, bring the milk to the boiling point and add it to the butter-flour mixture, beating vigorously with a wire whisk until smooth. Add the salt and pepper and continue whisking until blended. Let this white sauce cool a little.
Meanwhile, separate the eggs. Beat the yolks into the sauce one at a time. Stir in the spinach and set the mixture aside.
Beat the egg whites, including the extra white, in a large bowl until they hold soft peaks.
Stir a little of the whites into the sauce to make it easier to manage, then gently fold in the remainder.
Pour this mixture into the prepared souffle dish. Place in oven, turn heat down to 375 degrees immediately and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is well puffed up ad lightly browned.