Growing up, my mother and I watched cooking televisions together. Julia Child was a marvel and the one she most identified with, The Galloping Gourmet was the most entertaining (she loved his British accent) and her favorite was…Jacques Pepin. She cooked dishes very much like his, made with fresh vegetables, sauces and stock she made from scratch.
We NEVER went out to eat in restaurants and when McDonald’s opened a fast-food place in town, she was perplexed at the thought of “fast food”. She cooked every meal with what she had on hand from a menu she created from weekly sales posted in the newspaper or what was featured at the butcher’s. She could poach eggs perfectly (my favorite) and even though her kitchen was very simple, without the latest gadgetry (we didn’t have a dishwasher or a microwave; toaster ovens and food processors hadn’t been invented yet) she turned out wonderful food . Her goulash, salads, ice box cookies, dressing, and hamburgers are still talked about…and those are just a few of her recipes she became well-known for in our family. Every fall, I crave her vegetable stew and yams sweetened with maple syrup.
I’ve continued watching cooking programs on PBS and Jacques Pepin is still MY favorite. His new series, “Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul” is an intimate look into his career in the kitchen, special moments in his life and family all wrapped up in his final series. I’m looking forward to more episodes and purchasing his book.
This recipe featured in the Episode ‘Recipes at Le Pelican’ was inspiring! So much so, I immediately went out and bought the ingredients I didn’t have on hand, and made it the next day! It’s very easy to make and it’s layered with marvelous flavors. I added diced, smoked country ham and it complemented the dish perfectly! This recipe is recreated from my notes…
I miss you, Mom.
Recipe adapted from Jacques Pepin’s book: “Heart & Soul”
A bunch of Swiss Chard (I used rainbow Swiss chard)
1 cup mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 1/2 cups smoked country ham, diced in small cubes
8 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled (2 eggs per person) and sliced
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheesse, grated
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon, flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
Pinch of salt and pepper.
In a sauce pan melted 1 tablespoon of butter, add 1 tablespoon of flour and stirring with a whisk stir flour mixture for several minutes, add milk, salt and pepper. Stir continually until sauce is thickened.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly butter casserrole dish. Wash and slice mushrooms. Peel (under cool, running water) and slice, hard-boiled eggs.
Preheat a large pan on the stove over medium heat. Wash (do not dry) Swiss chard and chop into 2-inch segments. Place wet chard in pan and a pinch of salt; reduce heat to low, cover and steam. Check often so it doesn’t burn. Note: It may appear to be a lot of chard, but it drastically cooks down to a small amount. Place witled chard in bottom of casserole. Return pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. When melted add sliced mushrooms and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
Place chard on the bottom as the first layer. Followed by a layer of cooked, sliced mushrooms, then layer country ham. Arrange sliced, hard boiled eggs over the ham. Ladle bechamel sauce over layers and top with grated, Swiss cheese.
Bake at 350-degrees until cheese is completely melted and lightly browned. Serve.