BROCCOLI SOUFFLE

Some recipes can be intimidating, and soufflé is definitely part of the group. But honestly, it is very easy and flexible, in the sense that you can add pretty much anything you want to the basic formula. Plus, even if it does not rise as high as you would like, it’s always delicious. I guess the only way to really ruin a souffle is baking it to the point it dries out, but to get there the surface would be so dark, it would act as a warning sign. Of course, I suppose one could forget it in the oven. But, I digress. This version is a variation of my default recipe from Julia Child, a recipe that never let me down. Broccoli makes the egg mixture slightly more dense, so it won’t rise as much as a souffle prepared exclusively with cheese. But I will share a couple of tricks to maximize lift under the circumstances. Read on.

BROCCOLI SOUFFLE
(adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

6-cup mold, buttered and sprinkled with grated Parmigiano cheese

Parmigiano cheese for mold (about 2 T)

3T butter
3T flour
1 cup hot milk
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites + pinch salt
3/4 cup broccoli florets
1/4 to 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Before you start, cook the broccoli florets. Place in a microwave-safe dish, season lightly with salt, and sprinkle some water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. Immediately remove from the dish and lay on a plate to cool. Cut in pieces that are no more than 3/4 inch big. Reserve.

Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, don’t allow it to brown.  Remove from the heat, and when the butter stops furiously boiling, add the milk all at once. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly for a couple of minutes more. The sauce will thicken considerably. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Remove from heat, allow it to cool for 5 minutes or so,  and add the egg yolks, one by one, mixing very well after each addition. This sauce can be prepared to this point and refrigerated; bring it to lukewarm before continuing. If you decide not to refrigerate it, then dot it with butter, cover it with a plastic wrap and go work on the egg whites.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form – depending on your mixer or the strength of your biceps it will take 2 to 5 minutes. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the sauce, to thin it slightly – add the cheese and mix well.

Now, add the remaining egg whites and fold into the sauce. You don’t need to mix it until it is all incorporated and totally homogeneous, because the “lift” of your souffle’ depends on the air present in the beaten egg whites. When it’s almost fully folded, add the broccoli florets and fold a few times, very gently.

Fill the souffle’ mold to 3/4 of its volume, place it in a 400F oven, reducing the temperature immediately to 375F. Cook the souffle’ for 30 minutes – do not open the oven door during the first 20 minutes. If you like it moist inside, serve after 30 minutes. I prefer to cook for 5 additional minutes, then the texture inside is perfect, not too dry, not too creamy.

Serve right away, souffle waits for no one!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The best way to maximize lift when using a heavy vegetable such as broccoli, is to cut it in smallish pieces and add them to the base when you are almost ready to pour it into the baking dish. Some recipes will ask you to process the veggies, but I much prefer slightly larger pieces. For that very reason, blanching, steaming (or cheating and using the microwave) is also recommended. I’ve made the exact same recipe using raw broccoli and prefer it this way.

Here’s free advice for my readers: if you are the partner or family member of a food blogger, get out-of-the-way once the souffle is served. Yes, you will be eating it soon, but picture obviously trumps appetite. Obviously.

 

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BROCCOLI-WALNUT SOUFFLE FROM A SPECIAL COOKBOOK

served1Last month I got a wonderful gift from Fer, my virtual friend who hosts the blog “Chucrute com Salsicha“.   She sent me a cookbook:  The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two, written by Anna Thomas.  Anna’s family was originally from Poland, but she was born in Germany, and moved to the US as a young child. While in college at film school in UCLA, she wrote a masterpiece of a cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure, at a time when avoiding meat was not very common.  I enjoyed my gift so much that I could not resist getting her most recent book, Love Soup. It will have a special spot in our home, as the first cookbook I bought this year. By exercising considerable restraint, I lasted through the first week of February. I certainly make  my readers proud!  ;-)Fer’s thoughtful gift arrived at our doorstep on a Thursday.  Forty eight hours later, we enjoyed this very delicious souffle.

BROCCOLI-WALNUT SOUFFLE
(reprinted with permission from Anna Thomas)
Original recipe in  The Vegetarian Epicure Book 2, published by Alfred Knopf, New York, 1988

4 Tbs butter
4 Tbs flour
1 + 1/2 cup hot milk
5 egg yolks
1 + 1/2 cups chopped cooked broccoli
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I lightly toasted them first)
2 Tbs minced onions
2 Tbs grated Parmigiano cheese
1/2 tsp salt, ground black pepper to taste
7 egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar

Butter a 2-quart souffle dish and tie a buttered “collar” made of parchment paper if you want (I omitted this step).

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook the roux over medium heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Then add the hot milk and stir with a whisk as the sauce thickens.

When the sauce is smooth, remove it from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, one by one. Then add the cooked broccoli, the walnuts, the onions, and the cheese. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, add a pinch of cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them with a clean whisk or beater until they are stiff enough to form peaks.  Stir about 1 cup of the beaten egg whites into the warm sauce. Now add the remaining egg whites and gently fold them in, making sure not to lose the air incorporated into it.

Pile the souffle into the prepared dish, place it in the middle of a 375 F oven, and bake it for 40 to 45 minutes.

Serve immediately. Remember, a souffle waits for no one…  😉

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

before

Comments: We always alternate cooking days. One day I’m in charge, the other day it’s Phil.  That Saturday, mid-afternoon, Phil looks at me and asks “Am I cooking tonight?”  Before I could answer, he remembered that no, it would be me.  He quickly changed the question to “What are we having tonight?”  I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, “We are having a souffle“.    Oh, the big smile that I love so much!  But, how could a souffle not bring a smile?  It makes any meal special…

This version is heartier than your regular cheese souffle, with the broccoli and the nuts.  It is satisfying, creamy, and delicious to the last bite!  It won’t rise as lightly as a cheese-only, as the eggs need  to carry heavier stuff with them. But, what it might lack in airy nature, it compensates with flavor.   I think it is wonderful as a full meal, served with a salad and a piece of bread.  But, if you absolutely must have some  meat with it,  a simple roast chicken will do.  French home-cooking at its best!

Double thank you is in order:  Fer, thanks for sending me this book, and Anna, thank you for your kind emails, and giving me permission to publish your recipe in my blog!  Your Love Soup is such a great book, I already have 5 or 6 recipes fighting to be prepared first… 😉

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