Friday, January 16, 2009

Eggs, eggs, eggs: Cheese Soufflé

Last week I spotted the January issue of City Palate at the Movie Store, so I snagged it for a quick read in between studying. The theme on the cover stated "Cheap Eats," and with me returning to school once again and our relocation to a new neighborhood, Zed and I are definitely on the hunt for some of those.

Upon closer inspection the cheap eats turned out to be eggs and left over turkey. The turkey was out for me, but we had somehow accumulated a couple dozen eggs over the holidays (baking that never happened, pancakes never made, etc.) that needed to be used before they reached their end. Two recipes appealed to me and seemed well within my grasp: the Cheese Soufflé and the Barefoot Contessa's (aka. Ina Garten's) baked eggs (the latter I have made before... they are amazing).

I don't have an 8" soufflé dish and figured purchasing one would make the dish less of a "cheap eat," so instead I divided the cheesy batter into 6 smaller ramekins - this seemed to work out well. I also added about an inch of water to the bottom of the tray to keep them from drying out.


The soufflé turned out fairly well: they actually rose, which I doubted they would at first and they had a nice cheesy, crusty top layer with lots of soft egg beneath. If I made this again though, I think I might add some onion, or even a vinegary salad on the side to cut through the richness of the milk and cheese, otherwise, they were lovely.


CHEESE SOUFFLÉ (from City Palate)

Tips (from City Palate): Have a light hand when folding in the egg whites, and don't open the oven door when they are cooking. Make sure you serve them as soon as the come out of the oven, as they will fall shortly afterwards.

3 T butter, plus extra to grease the dish
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano, and a bit extra for sprinkling
3 T flour
1 cup Milk; scalded (I used 2%)
Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Pinch of Nutmeg
5 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup cheese, crumbled (Roquefort, extra-old Gouda, or aged cheddar - I used Cheddar)
5 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 t cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Butter the inside of an 8 inch soufflé dish and lightly sprinkle with Parmigiano.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Take off heat and whisk in hot milk, salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute until smooth and thick.

Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (I did this by hand with an old fashioned whisk for a fantastic upper arm workout). Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until firm, glossy peaks form.

Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, then fold in the rest. Pour into the soufflé dish and smooth the top. Take a knife or spatula and draw a large circle along the top as this helps the soufflé rise evenly. Place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 °F. Bake for 30-35 minutes (less if in ramekins; I over did mine a bit) until puffed and golden brown. Serve Immediately. Serves 4.

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