Sunday, January 27, 2013

Making a souffle

Lots of eggs - chicken and duck
Strange things happen when you have an essentially unlimited supply of eggs, but none stranger than Our sudden infatuation with the souffle.

To me, this concoction suggests a nineteen fifties housewife making post-golf brunch for her hubbie and his boss. When my cousins came over for dinner, they had never made nor eaten a souffle, and were as skeptical of us making one as they might be of us hunting a unicorn. The reputation of souffles as fussy, collapsible, kitchy and anachronistic is overrated. If you have an electric mixer and a working oven, a souffle is within your grasp.And unless your doctor has you on a strict diet, one serving will do fairly minimal damage to you diet.

The one proviso is you really do need to eat it within a few minutes of baking.

This recipe was modified from the Joy of Cooking.  It serves 6 to 8 people as part of a meal.

Recipe

6 Eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1 Tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.Butter a souffle dish, or a Pyrex bowl if you don't happen to be set up for souffles.It's a myth that only a straight sided dish works.You may powder the outside of the dish with finely grated dry cheese, such as Parmesan.

white sauce in the blender
Make a white sauce: Melt butter over low heat and stir in flour. Let flour cook till slightly golden. Stir in milk, a bit at a time, breaking up lumps as you go. When it's all stirred in, bring it to a gentle simmer, stirring continually to keep the bottom from burning.

Add pepper to taste and remove from heat.

I don't actually do all that. I place the milk, butter, flour and salt in a high speed blender and run at full power till it heats up and steam starts to come out the lid. Then I drop in the cheese and run another 60 seconds, turn it to low and mix in the pepper.

This makes a perfectly smooth, creamy white sauce, but it does not work in a standard blender, only a fast one like the Vitamix. For such a farmy, DIY person I sure love some electric appliances a lot.






Separate the egg whites from the yolks.

You can do it like my mom taught me to - pour the yolk from one half of the shell to the other,over a bowl.










Or crack the egg into a (clean) hand, cupping the yolk in your palm and letting the white pour through.






                                           


                                                                                                                       

Pride goeth before a fall. if you make the arrogant mistake of separating your last egg into a bowl with the other whites, you may ruin them all.

Always always separate each egg over an empty bowl, not over the precious egg whites you've already separated.

 Even a tiny bit of yolk in the whites will cause them not to expand when whipped.




fluffy beaten whites


Place the egg whites in a mixer bowl. Add the optional cream of tartar and whip till they are white and puffy like cumulus clouds.







Bright yellow yolks



















Put the egg yolks in a bowl that will hold at least twice their volume.Add about 1/2 cup of the white sauce.

Stir to combine with the yolks, then mix the yolks in with the rest of the white sauce. This sounds fussy but adding the sauce in two installations keeps the heat from cooking the yolks.


If that happened you would get blobs of grainy yellow crud in your souffle, and the magic would be destroyed.

Trust me. My wisdom comes from experience.

Stir in the cheese if you didn't do it during the high speed blending above.

Mixing in part of the whites to lighten the mix
Now it's time to fold the yolk mixture into the whites.




Folding is delicate work. Start by mixing about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the sauce mixture. Stir gently, with a wide spatula or wooden spoon. You are trying to incorporate air into the sauce so it's lighter.

Gently folding

Then scrape all the sauce into the beaten whites, and gently, with a spatula, lift the whites up to mix them in with the sauce. Keep gently lifting whites from the bottom and setting them over the sauce. Don't stir around and around. The more gently you do this, and the more you lift rather than stirring, the puffier your souffle will be. When you only have a few spots of pure whites left, you're done.

Over mixing to the point where it's perfectly uniform will break too many air bubbles in the whites and your souffle will not by as puffy.




Scoop the mixture into the dish and place in the center of the oven rack.
























Bake 30 -40 minutes, until dark golden brown on top. It will puff up substantially and have a little 'hat' of golden brown crust over a body of creamy, puffy orange-yellow fluff.

Serve immediately.




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