Monday, December 10, 2007

Vegetable and Cheese Soufflés

I don’t know why people are so intimidated by soufflés. They’re actually really easy to make, and they’re also incredibly versatile. I guess a soufflé is really just a glorified omelette, but it’s so much prettier and the texture is just wonderful – the inside is still a little soft and custardy, and the towering dome makes for a great presentation.

This recipe can be easily multiplied to make more than one (but it’s nice to have a recipe for just one when you live alone and frequently are cooking for one), and it’s totally amenable to a variety of vegetables and cheeses, as evidenced by my dinners for the past few days.

Vegetable and Cheese Soufflés
(recipe is for 1, but it can easily be multiplied)
2 teaspoons butter, plus more for greasing the ramekin
1 tablespoon flour, plus 1 extra tablespoon for dusting the ramekin
¼ cup milk
1 egg, separated
¼ cup vegetables*
1/3 cup shredded cheese*
¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
* I’ve made a bunch of soufflés over the past few days. Here are the two combinations I made:
  • Mushroom and gruyere: I made one of these. I sautéed ½ cup chopped chanterelle and crimini mushrooms in 1 teaspoon of butter along with some thyme leaves – this ended up being about ¼ cup of cooked mushrooms. I finely grated gruyere cheese and used 1/3 cup.
  • Spinach, roasted yellow pepper, fontina, and mozzarella: I made three of these, so I multiplied the basic recipe by three. I defrosted about 2/3 cup of frozen chopped spinach in the microwave and squeezed out as much water as possible. I used ½ cup of this, ¼ cup of chopped roasted yellow peppers (you could use red ones, but I prefer the yellow ones), and ½ cup each of shredded fontina and mozzarella cheeses.

Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400° F.

Butter a 6 ounce ramekin, making sure to evenly coat all surfaces. Put 1 tablespoon of flour in the ramekin and turn it to evenly all the surfaces. Bang out the excess flour and set the ramekin aside.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes very thick. (If you are making more than one serving, leave the pan on the stove until the mixture starts to get thick, then take it off the heat and continue whisking until it is very thick.) Add the egg yolk and whisk until incorporated.
While this mixture is cooling, beat the egg white with a handheld mixer until the egg white holds soft peaks.
Stir the vegetables, cheese, salt, and pepper into the egg yolk mixture. Add half of the beaten egg white and gently fold to combine. Add the remaining egg white and gently fold until no streaks remain.
Pour the mixture into the butter and floured ramekin. Run your thumb and forefinger around the edge of the ramekin. (Supposedly this helps it rise. I did a little experiment whereby I did this on two of the ramekins and left the third one alone. The two rose straight up, and the other one was a little crooked, but it rose just as high. I suppose that if you’re going for an aesthetically perfect soufflé, you should do this, but it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.)
Place the ramekin on a baking sheet and place the sheet on the oven rack. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 20-22 minutes.
(Important: do not open the oven door while baking! Turn on the oven light instead to see if the soufflé is ready.)
Serve immediately. (Leftover soufflés can be refrigerated and then reheated for about 20 minutes at 350° F.)


K8teebug said...

mmmmmm that sounds perfect for the snowy Sunday we are likely to have this weekend.

M^2 said...

They were so good I had the leftover for breakfast...and I hate leftovers.

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