I’ve written this before, but I feel I should give another plug for lovely souffles. They seem so intimidating, especially given all the fallen versions we’ve seen on TV comedies, mocking some poor cook for daring to try one. But seriously, they’re ridiculously easy, and cheap, and stunningly delicious (even if they fall), and not at all overly rich. When John and I are alone for dinner, I’ll often whip one up for a simple dinner. Separated eggs are the heart of the dish – the yolks are cooked into a quick custard, with cheese whisked in (and sauteed mushrooms, my personal favorite; but I’ve also added small blanched broccoli florets or crab meat). Then the whites are beaten to soft peaks, folded quickly into the custard, the whole mess is poured into a round, deep casserole (or hollowed out tomatoes, salted and drained a bit), baked until puffy and browned, et voila, souffle. Serve immediately, alongside a simple salad – cheesy, eggy heaven. (Recipe here.)
Souffles are wonderful for dessert as well, of course. The lemon souffle I’ve made for the past couple of Christmas Eves is my family’s favorite all-time dessert. Served warm, with a dollop of softly whipped cream – unbeatably delicious. I make the custard right before the guests arrive, hold the custard at room temperature, then beat the eggs whites (takes approximately 3 minutes with a stand mixer), fold them in, and pop the souffle into the oven right as we sit down for dinner. Try it, I swear you’ll love it.
Note: John and I had dinner with Debbie and Stu the Wine Genius Williams last night, at Heartland in St. Paul (home of our Bizarre Foods appearance). Chef Lenny Russo is a local-ingredient pioneer, so his menu is always studded with local game, fish, eggs, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. He and his staff even preserve the bounty of end-of-summer produce, pulling jars of this and that out for delicious mid-winter menu items like preserved tomato and smoked freshwater fish stew, and a homemade ketchup that was so spicy-rich-good, I could have licked my husband’s plate (he had it alongside a bison ribeye steak, serious). My favorite dish of the evening was the house-made (of course) chicken-liver pate, plated with kohlrabi slaw and toasted bread. Give me that for dinner, and the beautiful wine that we drank (specifics forthcoming, I had to email Stu…), and I’d be a happy chick. Must be the reason that I am a happy chick. And oh! Almost forgot, we had a little taste of cassoulet as well, which convinced me that I must make some soon. I’ve not made it before, although I came home and immediately googled a Julia Child recipe and plan to give it a go in the next few weeks. Need to put my hands on goose (or duck) fat, preserved goose (or duck) with cracklings (that might be impossible if I don’t make it myself), although the rest looks doable, if time consuming. I can only hope it will be half as fabulous as the cassoulet Debbie, Stu, and I enjoyed at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville (Napa Valley) a few years ago. Stay tuned for the details…