Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blow up, Souffle

Spinach and Cheese Souffle

Souffles in french mean to blow up. And the name is so accurate because when cooking them, our desired outcome is exactly for them to blow up and rise to almost double their size. What causes them to blow up is the whipped egg whites which are trapped air molecules inside egg protein. When you whip up egg whites always make sure there is no fat touching the whites or they will never whip up. Yolk residue contains fat and dirty kitchen utensils do too. Make sure your whites are clean from yolk and rinse all utensils with vinegar before placing your clean whites in them.

A souflee can be made with just about any base, sweet or savoury. I make them with just about any base and they are good for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner.

Chocolate Souffle
The basic recipe is the following:

milk 1/2 pint
flour 1 1/2 ounces
butter 1 1/2 ounces
flavoring of your choice
yolks  4
whites  5
sugar 2 1/2 ounces (if sweet souflee)

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees and coat your ramekins with melted butter and coated with sugar or grated cheese all the way up the sides.

1. You want to make a bechamel sauce first by melting the butter, cooking the flour in it by whisking a few seconds, then adding the milk gradually while whisking to prevent clumps. This base will thicken and that's what we want.
2. You can either add your flavoring the the bechamel right away or you can allow it to cool first and then mix. If you are using cheese you might want to add it warm so it melts.
3. Then whisk in your egg yolks and allow the mixture to cool completely. (note you can do this part many hours ahead and leave it in the frigde until ready to use.)
4. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and add the sugar if the desired outcome is a sweet souflee. If not, whip them alone. Note: a pinch of salt actually helps whites whip better. And whipping whites by hand may be more tiring but the result is better than using a mixer.
5. Fold in the egg whites with the bechamel base mixture very gently and until fully incorporated.
6. Place the mixture in your pre-coated ramekins and bake for about 15 minutes or until a spoon inserted into the centre shows that the souflee is not runny. (Always make extra so you have one or two tester souflees)

Other ideas for Flour based flavourings are: melted chocolate, cheese, spinach, 4 fluid ounces of fruit juice, 5oz fruit puree, caramel, nuts, peanut butter, etc...

Walnut Souffle made with a caramel walnut mixture (not a flour based souflee)
1. Make caramel by melting sugar in a pan till a deep caramel. 2.Add a little milk and cream to the mixture :be careful it may splatter so step back. 3. Re-cook till liquid again. 4. Then take out of heat and add walnuts and yolks. 5. Then allow to cool and finish souflee with  whipped egg whites.
Note: this souflee has no flour or butter in it, it will not rise as much as a flour based souflee. But it tastes just as delicious.

Good luck with your souffles. They sound more intimidating than they actually are. And yes you should serve them right after they come out of the oven because they will start to lose volume.

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