Now, most people would probably agree that souffle is a bit intimidating. But my sister and I were brought up on it; to my mum (and now my sister too) it's an easy-peasy weeknight dinner that you whip up in a few minutes. Ha.
Anyway, turns out it's sometimes best just to stare that monster right in its yellow cheesy eyes.
When we saw the souffle through the oven window, and it was puffing up and turning golden just like it was supposed to, I nearly cried.
The Recipe: Cheese Souffle
From How to Cook Everything (10th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman
My mum gave me a lesson in souffle-making a couple of weeks ago when was in UK (see Microwave Mornay). But (being a dingbat) had lost the recipe, and it was too late to call, so used Mr. B's instead.
I made half this amount, and it was perfect for two. We even had a 1-quart souffle dish, bizarrely enough.
- 4 tbspn (0.5 stick) butter, plus butter for dish
- 0.25 cup all-purpose flour
- 1.5 cups milk, warmed until hot to the touch (about 1 min in average microwave)
- 6 eggs, separated
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Dash cayenne or 0.5 tspn dry mustard
- 0.5 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 0.5 cup grated or crumbled Cheddar, Jack, Roquefort, Emmental, and/or other cheese [we used mature Cheddar]
Serves 4-6 [I'd say 4 for a main course]
1. About an hour before you're ready to cook, heat the oven to 375F.
2. Use a bit of the butter to grease a 2-quart souffle or other deep baking dish, or 4-6 1.5-2 cup ramekins. (Hold off on this step if you're not going to bake the souffle until later.)
3. Put the remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When the foam subsides, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture darkens, about 3 mins.
4. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the milk, a bit at a time, until the mixture is thick. Let cool for a few mins, then beat in the egg yolks, sprinkle with salt & pepper, cayenne or mustard, and add the cheeses. (At this point, you may cover the mixture tightly and refrigerate for a couple of hours; bring back to room temperature before continuing.)
5. Use an electric or hand mixer or whisk to beat the egg whites until fairly stiff. Stir about a third into the sauce to lighten it, then gently - and not overly thoroughly - fold in the remaining whites, using a rubber spatula or your hand.
6. Transfer to the prepared dish and bake until the top is brown, the sides are firm, and the center is still quite moist, about 30 mins. [My mum uses a bain-marie, but this recipe doesn't call for one, which gave me a nervous moment.] Use a thin skewer to check the interior; if it is still quite wet, bake for another 5 mins. If it is just a bit moist, the souffle is done. Serve immediately.
Burned the roux twice, through sheer nerves, and had to start over. But apart from that, everything went fantastically. It was done to perfection at the 30 minute mark.
Due to very high stress level, only have pix of the final product: