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.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Panettone Time!

TWO YEARS AGO: How the Mighty Have Fallen

THREE YEARS AGO: Festive Night at Central

FOUR YEAR AGO: The Perfect Boiled Egg

FIVE YEARS AGO: Light Rye Sourdough with Cumin and Orange

SIX YEARS AGO: Homemade Calzones

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

NINE YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye

THE SECRET RECIPE CLUB: HERBED GOAT CHEESE SOUFFLES

 

Herbed Goat Cheese Souffle
Last Monday of February, a month that used to be my favorite. Summer in Brazil, carnival (not that I was that much into it, but still, a big break from work in the height of the summer was always well-received). That all changed 23 years ago, when I first moved to France and then, a couple of years later permanently to the US.  February is now a month I do my best to survive. I count the days for it to be over to get some hope of life percolating back into my veins. ANYWAY, I am sure you are not here to read me whine and pout. Instead, you are here for the reward of a revelation: which blog was my assignment for this month’s adventure with The Secret Recipe Club: it was the The Wimpy Vegetarian!  I literally screamed with joy when I got the email notification, because as a regular reader of Susan’s blog, I felt totally at home “stalking” it.  You should visit her “About” page, but let me just say that when she decided to become a vegetarian, or as she put it “to focus more on a plant-based diet“, her husband was not exactly thrilled. He went along with it for a while, but at some point started referring to “farro” as “horse food“. No bueno, folks. But Susan fought back using all the culinary skills accumulated from her classes at Tante Marie Cooking School, and turned veggie dishes (horse food included) into concoctions her husband could not resist. She succeeded big time, and her blog is there to show us how. There were so many dishes I bookmarked as tempting possibilities, but I narrowed them down to these:  Rustic Cauliflower and Tomato Gratin, Arepas Rellenas (I even have the special flour to make them, so I must get to this recipe at some point), Skillet Baked Corn Pudding, Farinata (another recipe I’m always dreaming about), Sweet Potato Biscuit Pillows (excuse me, I need to wipe drool off the side of my mouth), Broccoli-Cheddar Quinoa Casserole Tart. Susan is a fantastic cook and often enters – and wins – cooking contests, so pretty much anything on her site feels quite special.  Pay her a visit, and become a subscriber, even if you are not a strict vegetarian.

For my assignment, I went with very elegant Herbed Goat Cheese souffles. They turned out amazing!

baked

HERBED GOAT CHEESE SOUFFLE
(from The Wimpy Vegetarian)

1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
zest from 1/2 medium lemon
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces fresh soft goat cheese
1 ounce ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon honey
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (I used 4)
butter for the ramekins

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prep the ramekins by smearing them with butter and sprinkling grated Parmesan cheese on the bottoms and around the sides. Set aside.

Rub the dried lavender between your fingers to reduce as much as half of the buds to a powder. Combine this with the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of Parmesan, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the goat cheese, ricotta, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, thyme, honey, egg yolks, milk and flour together. Stir well to completely combine. Add to the reserved lavender mixture.

In a small bowl, whip the egg whites just to a firm peak. Be careful not to get them too firm, or they’ll be difficult to fold into the cheese-yolk mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the cheese-yolk mixture in thirds using a large spatula. It’s fine to have lumps of egg whites in the mixture – it will not be smooth. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and fill the dish with hot water one-half the way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully spoon the cheese-egg mixture into the ramekins, filling them 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned on top and springy – firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool in the ramekins for 15 minutes. The souffles will collapse and start to pull away from the sides of the ramekins. Run a knife around their edges and turn the ramekin upside down. The souffle should slide right out.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite1

Comments: What I loved the most about the recipe was the inclusion of lavender. It gave the souffle a sort of unusual component, Phil could not guess what it was, but once I told him it was lavender he could detect it. You need to add just a small amount, it is quite potent, don’t go crazy with it.  I was also surprised by the method of preparing the base, as I always make a bechamel type sauce. For this recipe, you mix it all and do not pre-cook, it goes straight into the oven, in a water-bath environment. Because I was afraid the mixture was a bit too liquid, I added double the amount of flour.  Not sure it was necessary, but they ended up with a very nice texture, and un-molded easily.

served2

This is the type of recipe that would be perfect for entertaining, or for that special dinner for two, candlelight and all… a first date, a first year anniversary, you catch my drift.  Any meal will be special when these are part of the menu!

Susan, it was a great pleasure to indulge a little more deeply into your blog, I hope you also had a blast with your assignment this month…

For my readers, the usual reminder to poke the blue frog at the end of my post. She will take you to plenty of great recipes made by my fellow virtual friends at The Secret Recipe Club.

ONE YEAR AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

TWO YEARS AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

THREE YEARS AGO: Scallops with Black Pasta in Orange Cream Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn

FIVE YEARS AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo (one of the best breads I ever made!)

 

 

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… 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Voila’ les baguettes!

TWO YEARS AGO: Cornmeal English Muffins

THREE YEARS AGO: Butterflied Cornish hens with apricot-pistachio dressing

MUSHROOM SOUFFLE FOR TWO

One of the lessons we’ve learned in four months of cooking in the nano-kitchen is to keep our meals simple, even on special occasions. To bid 2010 goodbye we settled on grilled T-bone steaks and a Caesar salad.  We also sought an additional side dish with a celebratory aura, but we struggled with various options until my beloved said “I’ve got an idea for you: mushroom souffle!”

Back home we have three different sizes of souffle dishes,  but none here. And, to further complicate matters, our electric oven is not very tall, so anything rising to full deliciousness might burn on the upper heating element (don’t ask me how I became aware of this problem… ;-)).  Still, once the idea of a mushroom souffle got in our heads, it was impossible to resist.

Starting with Julia Child‘s basic master recipe, I down-sized it for a small baking dish, gathered the ingredients and went to work, with fingers crossed for a great New Year’s Eve meal!


MIXED MUSHROOMS SOUFFLE

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

bread crumbs and butter to coat the dish

1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
10 ounces of a mixture of mushrooms, diced
(I used 3/4 of fresh shiitake, 1/4 of cremini)
salt and pepper

for the bechamel base
2 + 1/2 T butter
2 + 1/2 T flour
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed in the microwave
salt, pepper, dash of ground nutmeg
3 egg yolks
1/4 to 1/3 cup of grated gruyere cheese

4 egg whites + pinch of salt

Prepare your baking dish (8 inch diameter, 3 inches tall; about 6 cups volume) by coating it with butter and sprinkling bread crumbs inside, tapping out the excess.

Break the eggs and separate yolks and whites – allow the whites to sit at room temperature while you prepare the souffle base.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the shallots, cook until translucent and starting to get golden. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring a few times, until they release all their liquid and it completely evaporates. It is important to have the mushrooms without excessive moisture. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly, trying to spread them out as much as possible to release steam.

Prepare the bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, adding the flour and cooking for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add the warm milk all at once, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook until it thickens (about 5 minutes on low heat). Remove from the heat, let it cool slightly, then add the egg yolks, one at a time. Reserve.

When it’s time to bake the souffle, add the sauteed mushrooms to the bechamel sauce, mix well. Add the grated cheese, a little at a time, mixing to incorporate (you may not need to use it all, don’t make the batter too heavy).

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in a very clean bowl using an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Add 1/4 of the egg white mixture to the mushroom/cheese base, and mix well. Now, working gently, incorporate the rest of the beaten egg whites, carefully folding it, trying not to loose too much volume. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake in a heated 420 F oven for 30-35 minutes, reducing the temperature to 375 F as soon as the dish goes in.

Remove from the oven and serve right away – it will collapse quickly, but it won’t lose its “wow” factor…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: My husband commented that “this souffle should be a regular side dish in every classic American steak house.” How’s that for endorsement? It was  unexpectedly excellent, considering that I improvised every step of the way through it. Shiitake mushrooms have an assertive taste, and adding some cremini to the mix mellowed the flavor a bit.

If you have individual souffle molds, simply pour half the batter in each, and bake for slightly less time – say, 25 to 30 minutes. It’s a perfect amount for two (hungry) people; a perfect way to close a wonderful year!

ONE YEAR AGO: Stollen

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