Another five inches of snow fell from the sky here in the Northeast last night. This is the 5th. major snow storm in just a bit over three weeks.
As I was shoveling the driveway this morning I was thinking that shoveling snow is much like grief work. I have been digging myself out of the snow and digging myself out of grief every three to five days only to get dumped on by both once again.
Speaking of digging. Digging into a soft, creamy, perfectly baked souffle is one of life's pure pleasures, but many home cooks won't attempt a souffle proclaiming them too complicated, too temperamental or just plain difficult. Not so I say! (have I steered you wrong yet?)
Souffles are easy to make; take very few ingredients and with a little time and attention can be a delicious evening meal or late lunch. Why not reward yourself and those you love with a tender, perfectly baked souffle? You will be hooked in no time.
Goat Cheese and Chive Souffle (with two variations) makes one 1 1/2 quart souffle or six individual 8 ounce souffles*
Unsalted butter and grated Parmesan Cheese for preparing the dish
1/2 pound fresh goat cheese brought to room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
5 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground white (or black) pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Butter a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish or six 1 cup (8 ounce) ramekins and dust bottom and sides with Parmesan cheese.
In a large bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, cream the goat cheese on medium-high speed until light. Beat in the sour cream, egg yolks, mustard, salt, nutmeg, pepper and chives until combined. Set aside.
In another large, clean bowl, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Using a rubber spatula, fold one-fourth of the beaten egg whites into the cheese mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites just until no white streaks remain.**
Spoon into prepared dish(es) and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese. Using your thumb, run it along the inside rim of the ramekins or souffle dish, this will ensure the double crown that souffles are famous for.
Bake the souffle until set, puffed and the center still jiggles a bit when the dish is shaken, 20 - 25 minutes for a large souffle or 8 to 10 minutes for individual ramekins. Serve immediately.
*I prefer individual souffles. It is a special treat for each person to have a perfectly puffed, golden wonder set in front of them.
** Folding: the proper way to fold egg whites into a batter is to place about 1/4 of the egg whites in the middle of the batter, using a spatula, cut down the center of the egg whites away from you and sweep the whites through the batter. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.
A Cook's Notes: serve souffles with a simple spinach salad tossed with pine nuts and a mild vinaigrette and a good cold, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Variations: Use all Parmesan cheese and Rosemary or Cheddar Cheese and Thyme in place of the Goat cheese and chives.
As always, whatever you are digging into today, Bon Appetite!