Soufflé. I don't know about you. But what I grew up knowing about the soufflé was two things: (1) that it's a "fancy" thing rich people ate, and (2) it is so delicate that any loud noise will make it fall. C'mon don't you remember those sit-coms that used the baking soufflé as a comedy trope? Remember? The Brady Bunch? The Mary Tyler Moore Show? (Or am I aging myself?)
It turns out that making a soufflé isn't really all that hard and magical. But it is really, really good - and really doesn't fall like it did on TV. So, with a nod toward breakfast (yay!) and toward making the soufflé accessible, I came across this recipe and thought it would be great for this week's Recipe of the Week. So, here's to the Cheese Soufflé with Fresh Chives recipe I found at the Williams-Sonoma Taste blog.
I'd say give yourself a good 45-50 minutes to make this recipe. It begins with buttering a soufflé dish and coating the inside with grated parmesan. (OK, is that one of the best ways to begin a recipe ever?!?!?!?) Then it's off to your saucepan. Heat the butter (medium heat) and whisk in flour. Reduce the heat and let it bubble without browning. Then you whisk in the milk (gradually) and bring it up to a boil while whisking frequently. Then you reduce the heat again (yeah, I know) and cook the mixture (and still whisking frequently) for a few minutes until it becomes very thick. Next you remove it from the heat and whisk in the gruyère cheese and chives. (BTW - the recipe says that shredded sharp cheddar or crumbled fresh goat cheese both work great also.) Stir in a little salt and pepper. What you should have at this point is pretty thick cheese-y mixture. Mmmmmmm. The next step is to whisk together the egg yolks and gradually whisk that warm cheese mixture into them.
In a separate bowl you beat the egg whites for about until soft peaks form (handheld mixer, high speed, five minutes). You then add the beaten egg whites to the yolk mixture by first stirring in about 1/4 of the egg whites and then gently fold in the rest.
The whole thing now goes into that parmesan cheese-lined dish. Then there's one last (simple) trick. Use a butter knife to trace a circle in the soufflé mixture about 1 inch deep and 1 inch from the sides of the dish. Why? It creates “crown” in the soufflé which looks great as it rises and also keeps it all from spilling over the edges of the dish.
Now it goes into the oven (preheated to 375°F) and bakes about 25 minutes (until the soufflé is puffed and golden brown and it "quivers" gently when jostled. And, I guess, just for old times sake, remove it quietly. :) It will be at its highest right out of the oven, so serve it immediately. But if it drops a bit, that's okay; it will still look and taste great.
One last note. About that soufflé dish. What the heck is a soufflé dish, you ask? Perhaps think of a really large ramekin. Porcelain. Often ribbed. High straight sides to encourage rising. And just like the soufflé itself, it sounds fancier than it needs to be. It doesn't have to be really expensive. You can easily find good ones in the $12-13 range (all the way up to maybe $50) - depending on size, quality, brand, etc.
As you can see, the soufflé is not anything to be afraid of. So, go make one yourself. You and your family or guests will be impressed and delighted! (And I guess if you feel like getting a little fancy, go ahead and call it "soufflé au fromage".) Enjoy!
HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND!