Vincent Price Treasury Cookalong!
Soufflé au Grand Marnier from the Tour d'Argent

Tour d'Argent from 'A Treasury of Great Recipes' by Mary and Vincent Price, via Cine Gratia Cinema

I have been to Paris many times but I had never heard of the Tour d’Argent. It was through Mary and Vincent Price's masterpiece of cookbooks, that I learned about this ancient French restaurant located in a privileged spot. After a visit to the establishment a couple of years ago, it became even more apparent to me that A Treasury of Great Recipes was indeed one of the most amazing publication I had ever acquired. In commemoration of the book's 50th Anniversary Edition, thanks to Cooking with Vincent Price, I wanted to participate in this celebratory cookalong by Silver Screen Suppers and pay my own tribute by cooking a recipe from La Tour d'Argent. A magnificent opportunity to talk about the book, the restaurant and to travel back in time from the kitchen. Bon appétit!

"One of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Paris is the Tour d'Argent –the Silver Tower. On the Left Bank of the Seine, in the heart of Old Paris, the Tower was built in 1582 [...]"

Tour d'Argent, Paris, via Cine Gratia Cinema

Un peu d’histoire…

As the book explains, the history of the Tour d'Argent dates back to the XVI century. Its location, on the Quai de la Tournelle near Notre Dame, was of strategic purpose back in the Middle Ages since since there was a military fortification –hence the tower– at the same spot. The shimmering mica used in its roof inspired its lable d'argent, or in English 'silver'. 

The Tour d'Argent location in Paris by Cine Gratia Cinema
Map of the site of the Tour d'Argent on le Quai de la Tournelle 15, by the river Seine.

So it seems that this establishment was around even before the word 'restaurant' was originated. From the Latin restaurare,  the term was adapted by the French which originally stood for 'food that restores'. A fairly accurate concept since, for many of us, food transcends language, boundaries and preconceptions. It is also a way to express love and creativity.

Thus, the idea of visiting the Tour d'Argent sprung from A Treasury of Great Recipes. Afterwards, to my surprise, I even read that Ernest Hemingway mentioned it in his memoir A Moveable Feast and that Pixar's animated movie "Ratatouille" (2007, Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava) took a lot of references from this restaurant. It is no wonder for the experience was, by no means, disappointing. Famous for its pressed duck, as the book accounts, I didn't order it though for there were other treats to be enjoyed. It is certainly expensive but there are few places in Paris that could beat its view on the river Seine. A Paris memorable experience.

La Tour d'Argent by Cine Gratia Cinema
Pathe d'Automne à la Tour d'Argent, an appetizer.

The recipe

When I decided to participate in the cookalong,  I was determined to cook something from that particular chapter from the book, the chapter dedicated to the ancient French eatery. The soufflé au Grand Marnier seemed to be the pièce de résistance. An avid cook myself, soufflés were always a dreaded dish. Will they rise? Will they stand? I was filled with doubts and fear. I guess it was own way to pay tribute to Vincent Price's career in horror movies by making a horrific dessert. Jokes aside, my soufflés were not as perfect as the one in the cookbook but I must say, for my own sake, that they tasted superbly. All thanks to a great recipe:

Confectioner's sugar, eggs, flour, butter, milk, Grand Marnier, ladyfingers, salt, granulated sugar.

1. In saucepan beat: 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar and 5 egg yolks.
2. Stir in: 3 and 1/2 tablespoons flour.
3. Add: 1 and 3/4 cups hot milk and cook, stirring rapidly, until mixture is smooth and thickened. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat. Add: 1 tablespoon of butter, and cool. Stir in: 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier.
4. Soak: 2 ladyfingers, halved, in 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier.
5. Preheat oven to hot (400º F.) [200º C]
6. Beat: 6 egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and fold into the egg yolk mixture.
7. Butter a 6-cup soufflé dish and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar. Put in half the soufflé mixture. Place the ladyfingers on top and cover with remaining soufflé mixture.
8. Put soufflé into hot oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 375º F. [190º C] and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle on top 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and continue to bake for 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

Soufflé au Grand Marnier from A Treasury of Great Recipes by Cine Gratia Cinema

Aside from the fact that I convert measures such as cups and Fahrenheit degrees to grams and Celsius degrees, the recipe was extremely easy to follow. For final touches I added confectioner's sugar and a bit of raspberry jam, a favorite of mine over orange marmalade. It surely is a keeper for many other occasions. I still have to improve the whole 'rising' business but I very much recommend to have all the ingredients measured and prepared beforehand because this recipe is really a matter of timing and temperature.

Here's the final result...

Soufflé au Grand Marnier from A Treasury of Great Recipes by Cine Gratia Cinema

To be continued...

Keep posted on more 'treasuries' through:

Vincent Price Legacy Tour – for details of celebratory events in the UK.

Amazon Page for the 50th Edition of A Treasury of Great Recipes.

A Treasury of Great Recipes Facebook page

Silver Screen Suppers Facebook page

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