I like to cook, and I love to eat. And I have certainly never considered myself a gourmet chef.

Raised on meat, potatoes and anything fried, "gourmet" to me has always meant fancy and expensive. I think of high-end foods such as truffles, escargot and caviar as being gourmet and a luxury. Gourmet also refers to a person who appreciates that food. Remember the Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr?

Then there was Julia Child, who made food with fancy-sounding French names. Her recipes were sometimes very involved, but she made them look easy enough for even the most basic cook.

Chicken cordon bleu is chicken and ham. Crepes Suzette is basically pancake batter minus the leavening so it stays thin. With a definition of exceptional ingredients skillfully prepared and presented artistically, "gourmet" can be applied to many home cooks.

Today, a gourmet cook is probably recognized as a "foodie," perhaps using ingredients that are unusual or hard to find. I think that's where they lose me. I usually pass on long recipes with ingredients you buy and use once.

I'll bet all of us can be considered gourmet if we pick one description from the definition. Use exceptional ingredients. Prepare skillfully. Present artistically.

Make macaroni and cheese with gruyere instead of cheddar. Strain your brown gravy to make it more of a sauce. Buy single baking potatoes instead of a bag of russets. Sprinkle some paprika and dot some butter on your mashed potatoes.

Or simply pick a dish with a fancy name and automatically raise the rating. I think I may like thinking I'm a gourmet cook once in a while. Bring on the paprika.

Today's recipes are from Lawery's Weekly Gourmet. Both are called souffle, which sounds gourmet, but only the broccoli is an actual souffle. It's an easy way to serve up something special, but timing on this one is crucial. It's easy peasy, yet something special. The lemon dessert looks fancy in individual glasses and decorated with fresh fruit.

Have a wonderful week, and happy eating.

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Easy broccoli souffle

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and drained broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

In blender or food processor, puree thoroughly drained broccoli. Add remaining ingredients; blend well. Pour into medium casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until puffy and top is browned. Serve immediately. Yields 6 servings.

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Lemon mousse souffle

  • 3 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel
  • 1 cup nonfat lemon yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 ounces whipped topping
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Fresh raspberries, strawberries or blueberries

In large bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, powdered sugar and lemon juice. Gently fold in whipped topping and lemon peel. Reserve some fruit for garnish; place remaining fruit in individual dessert glasses.

Spoon mousse over fruit. Garnish with remaining fruit. Refrigerate. Yields 4 servings.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.