Suit on up and come play Bridge!

Today was a momentous day. Today I could feel the earth shifting. Today, over lunch (no less!), I started Bridge lessons. Anyone who does not understand the gravity of those words probably never had a mother in a Bridge group.

I can recall my mom’s 1970 era bridge group luncheons with crystal clarity. If I close my eyes, I can see the pair of folding tables- each outfitted with a corduroy tablecloth, a deck of cards, a score tablet and sharpened pencil- set up in our living room. The room is filled with my mom’s friends, their bouffant hair and their fabulous polyester- but very chic-pant suits. The smell of their stale cigarette smoke-it was the early 70’s after all-mingles with their perfume. And, I can taste the leftover Pepperidge Farm cookies- my mom always bought the Entertaining Mix-and the rare but fabulous candy that sometimes appeared.

I loved when mom hosted Bridge, though it only happened once a year. There was always something fabulous and very adult sounding for lunch- like Waldorf salad, quiche or soufflé. My mom’s friends were always very solicitous of me and always made me feel so adult. And then, after some pleasantries, a stolen cookie or two, I would get shooed away and mysterious words like “trump”, “trick”, and “bid” would echo through the laughter coming from the living room. I wasn’t sure what they were doing with those cards and those words- but everybody sure seemed to be having a great time!

After today’s lesson, though I barely know anything about Bridge, I can already tell you that it is a fabulous and very smart game. I get it! I get why Mom and her friends loved and looked forward to that once a month meeting. It wasn’t just about seeing each other- although that was great too- it was about a challenging, competitive and spirited game.

While I am certainly nowhere near Bridge Club worthy yet, I can dream- and plan a menu. I’m already sure that a Blue Cheese Soufflé with a green salad is a perfect lunch-with or without cards. So, I am planning ahead. Consider yourself warned, when I host Bridge Club girlfriends, we’ll be having Blue Cheese Soufflé and salad! Just watch your cards…’cause I am completely without scruples when it comes to that kind of thing!

Blue Cheese Soufflé
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 4

3 T unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the dish
¼ c finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 T extra for sprinkling
3 T flour
1 cup scalded milk (preferably whole)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/8 t cayenne
1/8 t nutmeg
4 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
4 oz St. Agur blue cheese, chopped
5 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 t cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the inside of an 8-cup soufflé dish (7 ½” diameter x 3 ¼” deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a whisk stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, ½ t. of salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the blue cheese and ¼ c. of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Putt the egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until they form high, firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into soufflé dish and smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with a spatula to help the soufflé rise evenly and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375. Bake for 30-35 minutes until puffed and brown- DON’T PEEK!!!! Serve immediately!

One Comment

  1. Lisa Fitzgibbons
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink | Reply

    Ooooh! I remember this bridge parties…vividly. In recalling these oh-so-lovely luncheons, what amazes me is that the ladies drank and managed to play bridge. Counting must have been interesting. Thanks for taking me back.

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