31 January 2011

Gruyère Soufflé & Crab Salad

What astonishes me so far about French cooking is the diversity of dishes you can make with just a few simple, regular old ingredients. Start with just eggs, milk, butter and sugar or flour -- and you've got crêpes, flan, velouté, îles flottant, or tonight's dish: a soufflé! In class we used Cantal cheese, but tonight I used Gruyère. The recipe also calls for white pepper, but I used black.

Here is the recipe, Michellified from class.

Gruyère Soufflé

3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter
150 mL milk
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites (whipped to form soft peaks)
1/3 cup Gruyère, grated
salt, pepper & nutmeg to taste

Make a roux with flour and butter. (The paste consistency should be like runny peanut butter.)

Incorporate half of milk into roux. Let it cook a little and become smooth; add the rest, in steps if necessary (to prevent curdling and ensure smoothness).

Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Stir in the cheese to melt, then cover (with plastic wrap touching the top of the sauce) and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter the ramekins. And while waiting for the béchamel to cool, make a salad or something, because you'll need a vinaigrettey, vegetabley side to offset the mellow cheesiness of the soufflé.

Aaaand also while waiting for it to cool, you can whip the egg whites.

Ok, now it's cool(ish): Stir in egg yolk.

Stir in about a quarter to a third of the egg whites. Then gently fold in the rest of them -- don't overmix! You don't want to lose the air bubbles, that will make the soufflé rise. (It's ok if there are some white streaks in the mixture.)

Fill ramekins two thirds full and level tops.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until soufflés brown on top. (For the record, it was more like 17 minutes in my oven.)

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