Souffle: An airy based dish that combines beaten egg whites with a flavorful base.
A couple of months ago, we visited a restaurant in Dallas called Rise No. 1. It is a wonderful restaurant that serves soufflés of every type imaginable – main course and dessert. We thoroughly enjoyed the service, the food more specifically the soufflé. I enjoyed the experience so much that I bought the restaurant’s cookbook and pondered whether I could do this myself. Admittedly, I was a little more enthusiastic than the word ”ponder” would imply – I was sure I could do this.
I Googled. I read. I Googled. I read; after which I thought I may have been a little optimistic in thinking I could just make a successful soufflé on my first attempt. I searched Amazon and various other websites for the perfect soufflé dish. Then I found the how-to video from NY Times Cooking. I watched it over and over again just to make sure I understood exactly what I needed to do. In the process, I also discovered that my good old round Corningware casserole dish would work just fine. (Let’s not get hasty – no need to buy a new dish…just yet!) .
August 5 was the day. I decided it was time for us to try this magnificent food item for brunch – Gruyere and Chive Soufflé. Our rule is always follow the recipe exactly the first time. After that, you can improvise. So per our rule, we followed the recipe exactly – at times referring back to the pictures and the video. Admittedly, the first one was a little nerve racking because we were not exactly sure when parts to the recipe were done. For example, when exactly are egg whites to the point where they “hold stiff peaks”? Or what does “gently fold” mean when you’re mixing ingredients? Why do you have to carve a small trench around the perimeter? Why are you supposed coat the dish in grated cheese? Despite our questions, we survived the initial preparations. We put the uncooked, hoped-for masterpiece in the oven. It took every bit of my willpower not to open the oven (you are warned “Do not open oven door during first 20 minutes…” – again, why?). But at the end of the 30 minutes…the end product was clearly worth our hard work and patience. I need to work on the doneness on the top but it tasted amazing!
I was not convinced that one successful attempt (with room for improvement) meant that I could repeat the fabulousness of another soufflé but I was convinced to move onto more complex types of soufflés – after all a cheese soufflé is entry level. We decided a spinach soufflé should be next. Thank you Ina Garten and Food Network. A recipe and a video is here!
So again, I did my reading and watching homework. Admittedly, the spinach added some complexity to the recipe as even I know that spinach not properly dried can wreak havoc on recipes where liquid amounts are crucial. Again, we followed the recipe just as written and tested. And guess what? Success! A second time!
I’ll be repeating these two soufflés or perhaps venturing out to a new soufflé for our quarterly sister get together that we have with my two sisters. Maybe a raspberry soufflé. Or chocolate, perhaps! In that case, I’ll just remember Julia Child’s words…
“And remember that a soufflé will wait for you. You can get it ready two hours ahead, hold it, bake it about 40 minutes before you serve it. The important thing is how to time it so neither one of you collapses!” – Julia Childs.