Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shhhhhh! Don't Sink my Souffle!

Have you ever made souffle? Sweet or savoury? Until just recently, I had never entertained the idea of even eating it, much less making it. In my mind, souffle was a trick: it seemed all light and fluffy, but it was like a croissant -- layered with a heaviness that would make you feel slumpy and lethargic all day. NOT true. I eat my own words. Souffle is not a trick, and it really IS light and fluffy in the whole sense of the words.

Whenever I've seen TV chefs make souffle, there's always gallons of cream, tons of cheese and too many eggs to count. That's what turned me off. But little did I know! You can make a gorgeous souffle with just 2 eggs and it will taste amazing even if there's no cheese, cream or butter. Amazing! You want to know another souffle myth that I've debunked? You DON'T have to tip-toe around your kitchen! Ever see or hear people talk about whispering and tip-toeing when there's a souffle in the oven for fear that it will sink? Well, here's news. First, some souffles just don't rise that much. They rise, but not overly so. Second, even if you're the best chef in the world, you souffle is bound to fall just a touch right when it comes out of the oven. Note: that does NOT mean that it sank. And last, I wasn't particularly quiet around the kitchen, and our souffles rose just fine, thank you very much.

We made a broccoli and walnut souffle the first night. The next, we made a broccoli and cheese one, and then we made one with roasted squash. The method was simple: Make a pureed (or almost pureed!) mixture of vegetables, plus whatever flavourings you want (in our case it was walnuts or cheese) and mix it in with egg yolks and yogurt. Fold that into your whipped egg whites and you're ready for the oven. Totally easy, even for a week night.

Souffle tips? It's all in the eggs. Don't over beat your egg whites; stop when the peaks stand up on their own. And when you're putting the mixture together, fold, don't stir. Be gentle. I've heard and read that you should grease your ramekins and then coat them in bread crumbs so that the souffle can climb. I'm sure it works, but we forgot (oops!) and our souffles still climbed up nicely. The most important part, was that they were delicious. Very light, fluffy, totally flavourful and filling. Don't be scared. Make souffle today!

Broccoli and Walnut Souffle

adapted from Super Cookery Potatoes & Vegetables page 412.
serves two

half a head of brocoli
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoon of yogurt

1. Cut the broccoli in florets and blanch in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, sautee the onions in olive until soft and fragrant. Add the dried oregano and salt and pepper.

3. Place the onions, brocoli, walnuts and broth in a food processor or mini chopper and pulse until you get a chunky puree.

4. Beat the egg yolks and yogurt together until combined. Add in the broccoli mixture and mix well. Set aside.

5. Beat the egg whites until you see stiff peaks. Add a third of the broccoli mixture to the whites and fold gently until combined. Repeat until everything is combined.

6. Pour the mixture into ramekins (our mixture fit into three very small ones) and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until your souffles have puffed up and the tops are golden. Do NOT open the oven before it's time.

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