Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Failed But Yummy Souffle

I've had a lot of fun cooking this year.  I ate a lot of things I never thought I would, cooked things I've never attempted before and learned a completely new way of eating.  There are just two cooking goals I had for myself before the year ended that I didn't get around to: mastering a soufflé and making a gelatin dessert that set properly.  So on Christmas day with the chef to egg me on I thought I would try a simple (or so I thought) soufflé so I could get that obstacle out of the way. Like so many things in life it didn't turn out the way I thought it would but it was still fun and delicious.

A lot of little things went wrong while I was trying to soufflé  I forgot to sift my flour.  The whisk wasn't perfectly dry.  My safety net disappeared to attend to a cat feeding before the snow got too bad emergency just as I was starting the part of the process I was unsure about.  I was flustered from being at an annoying job for the 6 hours before dinner.  And my family was walking in the door just as I got to the step where I couldn't walk away from my ingredients without them falling.  It wasn't an ideal situation to begin with so I wasn't too surprised when my soufflé didn't poof.  Fearing just this out come I had given the fella strict instructions on which bottle of wine to open for me in my fallen soufflé sadness and just the right tone to say “there there bunny” to me.

I pouted over the sad looking soufflé but since everything else on the table looked so fabulous I never managed to look any where near as pathetic as my fluffy obviously starving to death princess did. 

Besides I had every one I loved around a big purple table with amazing food, even a soufflé failure couldn't get me down.  And the surprising thing was that the soufflé, as unattractive as it looked tasted really great.  A creamy cheesy warm treat.  It nicely filled the gap in the dinner left by the crispy rolls or focaccia  we usually have at holiday dinners. 

So the good news was the soufflé despite its ugliness was tasty enough to warrant the effort which means I'll be motivated to try it again on a day with less stress when I can better focus.  And Julia Child has an entire section devoted to soufflés in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I apparently need to read over a couple more times.  I will make a puffy wonderful soufflé happen.  Most people have resolutions about losing weight, I have them about cooking somewhat complicated food stuffs.  I'll let you know when I succeed.

Cheese Soufflé

1 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon Parmesan

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sifted rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 egg yolks

5 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely grated swiss or Parmesan cheese

Before you start:  place your eggs on the counter so they will be room temperature when you need them, measure out all your ingredients and have them close at hand, and make sure all the bowls, whisks and mold are very clean.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter inside of soufflé mold and sprinkle with cheese.  Set aside for later.

In a small pot put the milk on a medium heat to begin boiling.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the flour with a wooden spatula and cook over moderate heat until foamy, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  When mixture is no longer bubbling pour in the boiling milk.  Beat vigorously with a whisk until well blended.  Beat in the seasonings.

Return to medium high heat and boil, stirring with the whisk for about 1 minutes.  Sauce will be very thick when you're finished.  Remove from heat and set aside while you separate eggs.

Drop the four egg yolks one at a time into the hot sauce pan, reserving the whites in a metal or ceramic bowl for later in the recipe.  With the whisk beat the yolks individually into the sauce.  Continue with each yolk until well incorporated.  Keep the mixture at a tepid temperature while preparing the egg white mixture.

Beat the five egg whites and salt with a whisk or in a stand mixer until stiff by starting at a low speed, gradually increasing it as the eggs become foamy.  Take about a minute to raise mixer speed from low to high, constantly using a spatula to push the eggs off the sides of bowl and into the beaters.  Stop when the beaters leaves slightly shiny peaks in the surface of the mixture.

Stir a big spoonful of the egg whites into the warm sauce.  Stir in all but one tablespoon of the grated cheese.  Delicately fold in the rest of the egg whites being careful not to over fold and break the fuffly consistency.

Put the incorporated soufflé mixture into the prepared mold.  It should be about 3/4 of the way full.  Tap bottom of mold on counter to smooth the surface of the soufflé  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Set rack in middle of the oven and immediately turn heat down to 375.  Do not open the door for the next 20 minutes.  In 25 to 30 minutes the soufflé will have puffed a couple inches over the rim of the mold and the top will be nicely browned.   Serve at once.

Gluten free version of recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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