Saturday, December 10, 2016



When we were in Tuscany last summer, my husband had a delicious vegetable soufflé at a sweet little restaurant in San Quirico D'Orcia, a charming, medieval village in the Orcia Valley. Trattoria Osenna, located right on the main cobbled street, is family owned and operated and most ingredients are grown by the family including the grapes to make the wine and grappa!

To learn more about San Quirico, go to:
Every Tuscan village has a central well or cistern.
I love eggplant cooked any and all ways. I love the rich, dark purple, almost black color of the skin; the fine, velvety texture of the pulp and the intense earthy flavor. Unfortunately when eggplant is cooked it turns brown, which is not exactly attractive, but it sure is tasty!

I coaxed the waiter to give us the recipe and hurriedly scratched this on my napkin. This is what I came away with:

He said he might lose his job if the chef knew he was divulging the ingredients. Not sure that is completely true, but it did make for good 'drama' at the moment! That wasn't much to go on, but this is what I came up with.

1 large or 2 small eggplant, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
About 1/4 cup chicken stock
4 Tbsp. Bechamal Sauce (recipe follows)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
Salt/Pepper to taste

For a little more background on Bechamal Sauce, go to: and scroll down to MAKE A ROUX.

Bechamal Sauce:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cup milk
Melt the butter, add flour, stir or whisk vigorously over medium high heat until a thick, smooth sauce is formed. Season with salt and pepper. This will make more than 4 Tbsp., but good to have on hand. Try adding a tablespoon to your scrambled eggs in the morning!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, liberally salt the cubed eggplant. Toss to coat evenly. Let eggplant sit for about 15 minutes until it begins to 'sweat'. Rinse and pat dry.
Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat until melted and bubbly, but not browned. Add eggplant, season with a little salt, reduce heat to medium and stir to coat all pieces evenly with oil and butter.  Cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes until eggplant is very soft. You do not want to brown the eggplant. Add chicken stock if necessary so eggplant does not stick to bottom of pan. Once eggplant is softened, remove from heat and let cool. Puree eggplant until very smooth and add salt/pepper to taste. Add 4 Tbsp. Bechamal Sauce and 1 slightly beaten egg. Gently whisk all ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Grease 4 custard cups. Pour eggplant mixture into the cups and bake at 350 degrees until set; about 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly. Carefully run a knife around inside edge of cup. Invert cup and gently release the Eggplant Souffle. You may have to pat the soufflé into place. Served individually, this makes an impressive presentation, although you may also bake in a larger soufflé pan and cut to serve.
Sfromata di Vedure is more of a rich, creamy pudding than a soufflé. You could change up the recipe by adding garlic, herbs, onions or shallots cooked down and blended with the eggplant. I like it plain as the flavor of the eggplant is intense. Cheese would make a nice addition, too. I am going to try it next with asparagus. Possibilities are endless.

Great accompaniment to roasted chicken. Also delicious along side a grilled steak.

Here are a couple shots of San Quirico D'Orcia.

Peaceful gardens right at the edge of the village.

...with majestic sculptures within...
Reminders of life 3000 years ago.
...including Grappa, which has been around since the Middle Ages. Distinctly Italian,
Grappa is the fermented pulp, seeds, stems, skins of grapes left after wine-making.
Perfect way to end a perfect meal.

The D'Orcia Valley in Tuscany is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The scenery, people, architecture, art, history, culture are ALL magnificent...I felt very much at home...And the food and wine are unsurpassed. Such a treasure...
This is the house red-Cardinali- at Tratorria Osenna.
Christmas is right around the corner.
I will be sharing my Christmas Eve and
Christmas Dinner menus with you soon.
Thanks again for tuning in to another episode of: