Weeknights with Jenny

Up In The Air

March 8, 2010 • 21 Comments

- Jenny from Rancho Park

Sometimes I think our relationship to the food we make mid-week is akin to a romance with a long-term lover.

We like the comfort factor, the familiarity, the consistent place it has at our table. But we dream of spicing it up a bit, making the old somehow new. We introduce red pepper flakes. We grill instead of broil, broil instead of fry, toss a trendy new outfit of juniper berries or artisanal relish on a chicken breast, a mustard-sauce hat on some fish, and feel this will sufficiently infuse our daily dining routines with the exciting sense of the new.

But sometimes I think instead of gussying up our existing sources of sustenance, we need to rethink the entire plate. Enter the soufflé.

In my mind, a soufflé is not a week night meal. It is something slightly fancy, a little daring (Will it rise, or fall like so much drywall in my oven?) and just a bit too 1987 dinner party to really make sense on a Monday night.

Of course like almost everything I assume (except that I won’t like a movie with Steven Seagal, I’m always right about that), I am easily proven wrong. In fact, other than making sure you have a really nice cheese on hand and grating it up, what really is there to a soufflé? You butter your dish, you cook up a nice custard thing, whip some egg whites and voilà -- dinner for four!

I embarked on the lovely Simple Cheese Souffle before I even noticed it was written by KelseyTheNaptimeChef. When I realized she was the author, however, I immediately became excited. This is a woman who tries to design recipes around her child’s nap schedule, so you know things are going to be easy and straightforward.

This recipe is no exception. There is really nothing to this except to make sure that you don’t scorch your egg and milk mixture, which you won’t, and to use patience in getting those whites to a lovely stiff peak. The whole thing took me about 10 minutes to whip up, and another 35 minutes in the oven, which leaves plenty of time to make a nice big salad, dig around in the back of the fridge for a bottle of white and set the table. (I think maybe I also sent an ill-advised email to someone. Who remembers?)

I experienced a bit of panic when my soufflé did not become a lovely cheesy top hat, but I think this is because my soufflé dish is 8 inches, not 7 as Kelsey advised. That was okay; it emerged that lovely nutty color that cheese takes on when properly cooked, and offered that divine, slightly resistant stretch and tang that a good soufflé often does.

My children stared at their plates for a moment, wondering who this new visitor was. But as we played our nightly dinner games, I noticed they would take a pause now and then. They didn’t want to be torn from their delicious hot morsel on the plate for too long.

Simple Cheese Souffle

Makes one 7-inch souffle

  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 tablespoons gruyere, grated
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter a 7" souffle dish and then toss finely grated parmesan cheese over the butter.

2. Using a whisk, or an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then, in a separate bowl, beat the yolks until they are smooth.

3. Melt the butter over low-heat. Add the flour to melted butter and blend with a whisk. Add the milk and keep stirring the mixture until it is thickened and smooth. Bring to a boil and then remove it from the heat.

4. Once the mixture is off the heat add in the cheese and egg yolks. Then, fold the stiff egg whites into the white sauce and pour the completed mixture into the buttered souffle dish.

5. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes, or until the souffle has risen and set (it is no longer watery looking in the center and the edges are slightly browned). Serve immediately and enjoy.

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Comments (21)

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over 4 years ago April

i am totally going to try this. i recently ventured into the souffle world only to be disappointed - an important lesson I learned - don't get any egg yolk in the whites or they will NOT EVER get stiff. I did not know this and my very promising looking souffle collapsed minutes after I took it from the oven :(.

And your egg photo is just beautiful.

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over 4 years ago My Little Expat Kitchen

This sounds like an easy soufflé recipe... if there is such a thing. As you mentioned, soufflés are a little daring. So do I dare make it? I never attempted it before.
I must! I will!
Magda

Lnd_jen

over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Souffles are something I've been wanting to tackle at home for ages, and this sounds like the perfect way to start.

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

You're such a great cook it can only work out well!

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over 4 years ago JenniferF

Oooh, this is comfort food to my raised-on-Stouffer's-souffles-while-mom-was-at-grad-school childhood. Can't wait to try it!

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

DO IT!

Miglore

over 4 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I want to hear more about these nightly dinner games...

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

It is called The Original Dinner Games from some company called FamilyTimeFun. It is basically a box of cards, each containing a game to play at dinner.

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over 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Wow! Thanks Jenny! I am thrilled that you liked the souffle. It's one of our favorites and I usually serve it with a salad, too. And, yes, I design my cooking around busy family life and mostly do it when my daughter naps (next year I'll do a lot when she's is at school), so I like to keep it straightforward and delicious. Parents can still cook and eat great food even when they have kids!

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

we totally agree on this. i can't wait to try more of your family-friendly recipes!

My_catering_(2)

over 4 years ago Aliwaks

Oh look at all your lovely eggs! Gorgeous, wondering if souffles can be made with out the flour or with something like potato starch? Need to come up with some fun Passover ideas.

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

HM. Can the bakers weigh in? I am thinking it won't rise?

Ls

over 4 years ago gluttonforlife

I'll be giving it a shot with some time of rice or bean flour--does that work for you? I'll let you know how it turns out.

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over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I made spinach souffle with just egg whites, and I used yogurt instead of milk. I think this might work with potato starch--the acidity helps with the rising, as does the stiffly-beaten egg whites.

Ry_400

over 4 years ago melissav

How many people would this serve for dinner with a salad?

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

If I served this to my teenage sons with a salad, they'd eat it and then ask "So what's for dinner, Mother?" Actually, if I gave them each an entire souffle made with this recipe, and about a half a loaf of bread each, they'd probably be okay, provided that I also served a substantial dessert . . . . Great recipe, though. I haven't made a souffle in years. I plan to try this once the boys go back to school. ;o)

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

we are a family of four -- one big eater and two little ones and polished the whole thing off with a salad.

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over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I was just thinking about spinach souffle for dinner tonight....

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

Tell us how it goes!

Ls

over 4 years ago gluttonforlife

Oooh! I've had soufflés on the brain for some reason, so this is right on time. Mine's a gluten-free kitchen so I'm going to have to experiment with an alternate flour...

_mg_0362

over 4 years ago Jestei

Maybe you and Aliwaks can get together on this topic!