Friday, March 16, 2012

cheese soufflé - French Fridays w/ Dorie

I've made soufflé before. I've made sponge cake before. I'm not scared of the egg white. I am scared of hot and cold and cooking eggs when they're not supposed to be cooked. I'm also usually in a hurry (rushed), so I wanted to give myself time for this recipe. I sort of succeeded. I separated the eggs in the morning, taking care of one task that can be a bit time consuming. I thought I read the recipe thoroughly and saw that I'd need about an hour to bake it. What I didn't realize was I'd need 10 minutes to cook the base and about 10 minutes to let it cool before adding the yolks. The base didn't take the full 10 minutes to make. I also skipped straining the sauce and heated the milk in the microwave. It was the cooling part I wasn't sure about. I put the pan on an ice pack to speed up the process and it did get it down a bit. I also put in 1/2 the cheese, which was just out of the refrigerator. When I was able to touch the bottom of the pan I figured it wasn't hot enough to cook the yolks, so I added those and then the rest of the cheese. For seasoning, I skipped the nutmeg because I put in roasted Szechuan pepper salt for flavoring. Something was telling me that nutty, toasty, roasted flavor would be good. I was thinking of browning the butter but forgot about that idea and added the flour before I could do it, so the pepper salt made up for that mistake!
before egg yolks

after egg yolks
The egg whites beat up in no time and six whites is a lot! I went with my instinct on how much to beat these. I never see "shiny" as recipes suggest, unless there's added sugar. I beat until it stood up tall. Then I added the third to the sauce and mixed it in thoroughly before adding the rest. This is where you have to use judgement as well. There was a definite texture difference between the batter on the bottom and the batter on the top. I wanted it to be the same but didn't want to deflate the whites. I settled on getting most of it to be the same and when I poured it into the soufflé dish, the batter from the bottom of the pan sunk quite a bit in the middle, where I was pouring into (if this makes sense). To fix this, I did a few extra folds of the batter in the dish. I forgot about doing the fancy cap by running a knife in a circle around the middle, but it didn't matter. The folding seemed to take care of this because I didn't worry about making a flat top but just getting it into the over quickly.

As suggested I didn't even look at it until after 30 minutes had passed. At this point, it was getting close to 7 PM, when dance class ends. I was a little worried it wouldn't be done by the time Alan and Shara got home, but then I was also worried they'd be late and the soufflé would be overdone! I don't like having to time the serving so precisely. When they came home, it was ready to be served. I told everyone I was getting dinner on the table. I made a delicious strawberry salad to serve along-side and had that plated and on the table. I wish I took a picture of that. I took the delicious strawberry balsamic vinegar (syrup) and mixed it with walnut oil, a little Dijon mustard, salt, and lots of pepper, tossed in torn leaf lettuce, sliced strawberries and topped it with steamed asparagus. I was going to roast the asparagus but couldn't open the oven for 30 minutes while the soufflé was setting up!

So everything was ready to go. I had turned the oven down to 350 about 5 minutes before they came home and was itching to get this thing on the table. I told everyone dinner was ready and no one came. I then said they need to sit down so I can serve this and ooh and aah appropriately. They did and we loved it. Shara actually loved the salad most! It was much richer than it looks. I used Kraft low fat Swiss slices and sliced into think strips, so there were ribbons of cheese throughout. I'm always surprised by the richness of soufflés. If you make the bechemel ahead of time, this could easily be a normal weeknight dinner, but add in some chopped shrimp or crab - yummy dinner party fare!
Didn't want to wait to get the picture in case it fell! It was pretty sturdy though.

Post a Comment