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Soufflé skill rises with plenty of practice

March 25, 2012
By ANITA HANABURGH , For The Leader Herald

We moved with our guests to the center of the room to a table for eight. I gazed upon the large pewter plates marking each of our places. The water goblets were amber glass topped on silver stems. The ice water was already sparkling inside.

As we sat, four waiters assisted with the chairs of each couple. Like a well- choreographed waltz, each waiter stood between each couple and placed a napkins on each of our laps. A large menu appeared and was handed to each of us.

The room was open to the sea air; one could almost see the turquoise Caribbean in the distance.

What a night. I was excited, sitting in a Caribbean Castle - known for its great foods - while sitting with my friends who are known for liking to eat fine foods.

"Our specialty here at Bluebeard's is the dessert souffl for two. It is prepared by our chef while you are eating your meal. If you would like, it can be pre-ordered at the time you order dinner."

Guess what? Each couple ordered one.

My story changes here. I began to feel ill. As each course progressed, my feelings of discomfort progressed. Eating less and less until, just when the souffls came out, I could eat nothing more.

Oh busboy. I felt good enough to stay but not good enough to eat. I listened to the enthusiastic crowd. I listened to my greedy friends chomp down my desired dessert and my "I don't really like desserts" husband managed to finish our souffl with no problem!

A souffl - the king of culinary capability. A souffl - made from a French crme patissiere base and beaten egg whites. A souffl - named for the French word "to blow up" or "puff up." A souffl - one of my favorite desserts and one I have finally mastered.

Serving a souffl to guests has a lot of benefits. It will impress the heck out of guests. It looks great and it tastes great. It is not really hard to make, but it does have one downfall (pun intended). This beautiful, tender custard cooked with meringue, when removed from the over, has a risen life of 5 to 10 minutes.

When I managed to recover and returned home from vacation, all I wanted was a souffl every day. I practiced and practiced until I finally mastered the little bugger.

A souffl is basically an egg custard of flour and butter, milk, egg yolks, and flavorings folded gently into whipped egg whites and it's really easy if you follow basic techniques.

Basic cheese souffl recipe

Serves four.

Ingredients.

cup margarine or butter.

cup flour.

teaspoon salt.

1 cup milk.

pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated.

4 eggs separated.

Directions.

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit. Prepare a 2 qt. clean souffl dish with straight sides

2) Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in flour and salt until there are no lumps.

3) Stir in the milk. Stir constantly until the milk just comes to a boil and thickens.

4) Remove from heat and add grated cheese.

5) While the cheese melts, beat the egg yolks.

6) Carefully add the egg yolks. Begin by placing a spoonful of the hot sauce into the yolks to "temper" them then slowly add these yolks to the sauce. Cover and set aside

7) Beat the egg whites until the peaks just bend over or the mixer makes a mark. Avoid overbeating.

8) The next step is important. Gently pour the hot cheese sauce down the sides of the bowl of the beaten whites.

9) With a spatula, fold the sauce and whites together completely, dragging down the sides across the bottom and then up the other side until the mass is homogeneous.

10) Quickly and gently pour the souffl mixture into a casserole.

11) With a table knife trace a circle about an inch from the edge in the upper one inch of the souffl.

12) Place in the center of the oven. Bake for 1 hour

13) Serve immediately

Technique Points:

Making a souffl is fun.

Have everything ready before starting even serviceware.

Separate the eggs first then let them rest. Eggs separate best when cold. Egg whites whip best when room temperature

Use clean, clean equipment. Egg white foam is tender and doesn't like dirt or fat.

Use 3 bowls to separate eggs. Discard any egg white that has even a speck of egg yolk as it will keep the whites from whipping.

Folding means just that, do not whip together. Treat the souffl gently; every jiggle breaks the cells holding the air thus lowering the size of the souffl.

Add the egg yolk slowly in the hot sauce so they don't scramble

Use one egg per person. Two eggs for two guests etc. Use a one quart casserole for 2 eggs, two quart for 4 eggs etc.

Do not open the oven for the first 15 minutes or until time has lapsed.

Once cut into the souffl will fall, this is OK.

A couple summers ago, we returned to Bluebeard's in St. Thomas. The souffl was good, but not as great as I had imagined.

Comments? anita@anitaalacarte.com

 
 
 

 

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