I am, as always, behind the eight ball on this one. Julia Child would have been 100 last month. She was remarkable and funny and talented and tall. And she seemed like a joy to be around. She came to the cooking game “late” in life, after spending time over seas as a SPY. That is awesome. I always wanted to be a spy. Or a fighter pilot, or an astronaut. I didn’t quite get there. I do real estate now though, so…close. But maybe I can still follow in Julia’s footsteps someday. Have a second career in food. That seems more manageable (says the girl that can’t even maintain a blog with any regularity. Or figure out how to add an accent to an “e” on a Mac.)
At any rate, I made a soufflé for Julia’s birthday. I also made one a couple days later, just for the hell of it, when Meredith and Baby M came to visit me on M’s first big city adventure, because they are delicious. The good thing about that is I made an individual one, AND a full size one, so I can share the recipes for both of them with you. So if you are chillin by yourself and craving soufflé, as one does, don’t despair! It can be done.
For the full-sized soufflé I turned, of course, to Mastering the Art of French Cooking because where else would you turn? That book is perfect. For the single serving, I turned to Judith Jones, and her book The Pleasure of Cooking for One. Judith, as you might know, was Julia’s editor for MTAOFC, so it was an appropriate birthday tribute.
The way people speak about soufflés, you would think they were these super sensitive explosive devices that detonate the moment you don’t fold egg whites correctly or look at them the wrong way while they are cooking. They are not. They are actually mostly hot air. Since air pressure increases when it is hot and decreases when it is cold (science!!!) soufflés love to puff up really beautifully when they are in the oven, and then deflate pretty much immediately when it is removed from the oven, so you want to make sure you get the most puff for your buck when it is cooking, and have the table set and your guests sitting down and ready to eat by the time it’s finished.
This is also the reason you will have to excuse the photographs, the more I took and the more time I took to set each one up, the more the soufflé deflated, so they are not looking super puffy. I also think in the case of the big one, I could have cooked it for 4-5 more minutes so it set up a little firmer, which would have helped it keep its puff, but since there was a 6-week old baby to hang out with, I got distracted and forgot how many minutes I had put on the timer and didn’t want to overcook it. (I would have made a really terrible spy. Foiled at every turn by babies and kitchen timers.)
But really, soufflés are actually pretty easy, especially after you’ve done it once or twice. And there is a good chance you have everything you need in the house at any given time. Eggs, milk, butter, flour, cheese. That’s it. A standing or hand held mixer is certainly helpful, but I whipped the egg whites by hand for one of these and it worked out just fine! Soufflés for everyone! Go forth and impress yourself and your guests!
So many thoughts…
It’s the fall guys! I love the fall! The cooking is so good, and the weather is so great. What should I make? And football! And new tv is back. Have you guys watched Homeland? It is so very good. You should watch it.
This is terrible news…Ry! How could you? No, jk jk. Good luck you crazy kids.
This made me inappropriately sad, considering I have never met them.
Bought my ticket to the west coast for Thanksgiving and I cannot wait. It’s been too long.
What I’m reading: Zone One by Colson Whitehead. It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie book. Post-apocalyptic books might actually be last on my list of genres I’m interested in but the writing is pretty much perfect. I am very glad I gave it a try.
What I am listening to: Miles Away from Sam McCarthy – Short and sweet, and fantastic; and The Wheeler Brothers – my sister studied in Spain with one of the guys in the group, and they are great.
Craftiness of the week: I’m working on pillow covers for my living room pillows. Pictures to follow.
If you get a minute, this is pretty amazing and heartbreaking.
Other things I’ve been eating:
You will see that one again, the recipe is a work in progress…I’ll keep you posted.
This you will be seeing again. Probably like tomorrow, because it is JUST SO GOOD. You need to make it. I will share post haste.
I just found my new comfort food people. Fideos are kind of like a pasta version of paella.
Be good to each other.
I am just going to go ahead and get to the recipes, because if I don’t this post might sit around another month and that would be the worst…
Cheese Soufflé according to Julia
1 tbl butter, softened (for preparing the mold)
1-2 tbl grated parmesan cheese (for preparing the mold)
3 tbl butter
3 tbl flour
1 cup milk, brought to a boil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper
5 eggs, separated (you will need four yolks and all five whites)
3/4 cup grated swiss cheese (or gruyere if you’re fancy)
1 tsp butter, softened for preparing the mold
1 tbl grated parmesan for preparing the mold
2 tsp butter
1 tbl flour
1/3 cup milk brought to a boil
pinch of salt
small pinch of cayenne
2 eggs, separated (you will need one yolk and both whites)
1/3 cup grated swiss cheese (another option is to use “an aged mountain cheese.” I…have no idea what that is, but if you find it, feel free to give it a whirl!)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. For the large soufflé, prepare a six or eight cup soufflé dish with the melted butter and sprinkle with the parmesan, for an individual soufflé, prepare a 1.5 cup ramekin with the butter and parmesan. (The butter keeps the soufflé from sticking, the cheese gives the batter something to climb as it rises.)
Set aside. Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the flour. Stir for a minute or two until it foams. Remove from heat and whisk in the boiling milk. Return the pan to the heat and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Season with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites with a mixer or a wire whisk until stiff peaks form. Add about a quarter of the beaten egg whites to the egg yolk mixture with the grated cheese, and mix. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently, and transfer the mixture to the prepared mold.
Put the soufflé in on the middle rack of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake the small soufflé for 18-20 minutes and large soufflé for 25-30 minutes until the soufflé has puffed up an inch or two over the top of the dish. The top will be golden brown. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the soufflé is firm, remove from the oven and serve immediately.