Sunday, July 6, 2008
I should know better by now when Safeway has 18 pack eggs at buy one get one free, there will be soufflés. There will also be other fantastic French culinary phenoms such as hollandaise sauce, béarnaise sauce, and omelettes. Not a bad lot, mind you. It’s simply a pattern I’ve picked up on. Until our forays into the finer points of cuisine and culinary experimentation, I hadn’t been acquainted with the importance of the egg. It really was quite a shocker to me how prominent those single-celled wonders are in many recipes. Hence, when there’s a special on eggs, they will be utilized in many forms in Jeffrey’s kitchen craft. If I could only conjure up like-minded specials on butter…hmmm, yes, well, I’ll save that one for another time.
Returning to the soufflé discussion let it be known that Jeffrey has perfected the art of soufflé. This morning’s treat (yes, he has been known to whip up a soufflé in the morning) was a mix of finely diced mushroom, gruyere, and parmesan. Mmm. Quite yummy, and this is coming from a recovering mushroom-hater. Within minutes of waking Jeffrey announced his intention to soufflé. Is soufflé even a verb? Let’s play along like it is for the sake of this story.
Having crafted several soufflés combined with the amazing memory power only elephants rival, he quickly gets to work in the kitchen mixing up the soufflé “base” sans any recipe. The base of the soufflé is essentially a béchamel plus whatever ingredients you’re adding, so in this case Jeffrey also got to work finely chopping up mushrooms and grating cheese. Of course whipping up egg whites is also important just prior to mixing everything together (we let the stand mixer do it, but you can do it by hand if you want to be really old school). My duties as sous chef/kitchen safety monitor/dishwasher is to standby and be prepared to pitch in however I’m capable, seem fit, or deem worthy at the time. I get to work buttering up some ramekins, washing some preliminary prep dishes, and then do some general hovering around. This hovering oft wanders into the realms of “dish cleaning nag”, well-intentioned-but-uncoordinated woman-standing-in-the-way, and disaster recovery technician.
More on that later…back to this lovely soufflé. Twenty-two minutes later at 375° and these little puffers were de-eelicious! The nutty saltiness of the cheeses didn’t overpower the delicate essence of the egg. The earthy and subtle mushrooms rounded out the flavors, making this a nice savory starter to our day. Recipe details are below, pick your own fillings to fit your cravings. Soufflés make great dishes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Dessert soufflés work much the same, however we’ll do a separate write-up for those yummy concoctions in a future posting.
Yield 4-6 Servings
2 T Butter
3 T Flour
1 C Milk
¼ tsp of salt
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1/8 t Cream of Tartare
Filling (optional/change to your taste) Ingredients:
1 C gruyere cheese, grated
¼-1/2 C chopped mushrooms
A Smidge of butter to grease ramekins
4-6 tsp parmesan cheese for coating ramekins
Preheat oven to 375°F
Heat milk to a boil in a small sauce pot. Set aside to cool.
Grease 4 8oz ramekins with butter, coat with 1tsp grated parmesan each and set aside.
Cook butter and flour (roux) in a sauce pan for 3-5 minutes. Place cooled milk into roux mixture, simmer for 15-20 minutes to finish cooking. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Whip the egg whites with cream of tartar until soft to medium peaks are formed. This is easily accomplished by a stand mixer. The firmer the egg white texture, the puffier the soufflé – though it will deflate quickly. Thus, softer egg whites lead to a more subdued though more stable soufflé.
While whites are whipping, whisk 4 yolks into the cooled butter/flour/milk (béchamel) mixture. Add filling of choice; in our case the cheese and diced mushrooms.
Fold egg whites into filling mixture gradually. First add half of the egg whites and fold. Then add the rest in two separate even increments just until mixture is combined. Use a large spoon to scoop mixture into ramekins, filling to the indention on the ramekin. Wipe the outer edge to keep the sides clean.
Place in center of oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately. The soufflés are done when puffed up and golden brown on top. To test further, you can gently shake the soufflé and if it gives slightly, it’s done.