Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Goat Cheese and Basil Soufflé


Time to Eat
Last night I was having a dirty ginger flower and trying to decide what I'd come away with after my recent experience making a soufflé. As a documentary on Ingmar Bergman played on the Hulu I wrestled with the idea of soufflé. Over and over I kept coming back to the same conclusion.

Soufflé is a pain in the ass. It's too much like baking to just be called cooking, with its egg separation and egg white whipping. The results, however, are divine, and worth all of the effort. Plus, a good understanding of soufflé basics opens the door to some fun experiments. With that in mind I set out to make an untraditional, but not unheard of, soufflé with goat cheese and fresh basil from the garden. I also set out to make it in one dish instead of giving myself little precious individual soufflés to manage.

Like many things that are a pain in the ass, we start by separating some eggs.


Separation Setup


Since I'd needed to separate seven eggs for the right number of servings I had decided to nest a smaller bowl for yolks inside a larger bowl for the whites hoping to reduce the ass pain. Cracking the eggs on the larger bowl, I used the shell to sift the whites from the yolks. The system worked well.


Separation Complete
With the eggs separated I decided to add some extra flavor to the goat cheese by infusing some of the butter for the recipe with basil. The butter had needed to be melted anyway, so why not let it leech some flavor from the basil? Well, because it added an extra pain-in-the-ass step. It was worth it.


Basil Butter

Goat Cheese and Basil Soufflé (Serves Three-Four):

Ingredients:

7 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
8 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 Cup whole milk
10.5 Ounces of goat cheese coarsely chopped
1 Handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon of fresh nutmeg
1/2 Tablespoon coarse salt
1 Tablespoon fresh ground pepper
7 Large eggs separated

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, F. Use one of those tablespoons of butter to grease a four cup baking dish. Dust that dish with 1 tablespoon of the flour and tap out the excess.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. When melted add snips of basil and whisk until the basil is thoroughly wilted. Strain the butter and then return to the saucepan. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the butter and whisk it. Whisk it good for a bout a minute. Then add the milk, cheese, nutmeg, pepper and salt. Whisk it until it all thickens and then remove from the heat and whisk in the yolks.

What of the egg whites? Well, this is where it feels even more like baking. Take your immersion blender, or a good arm and a whisk, and whip those babies into stiff peaks. Don't go too long or you'll blow the bubbles. When you hit the mark, fold the whites into the cheese and butter mixture and pour it into the baking dish. Put it into the oven for around 15 minutes until puffy and golden. Serve it up fast. I roasted some Brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt in the same 375 oven and popped them alongside the soufflé. It was a win.

I know that I griped a lot about this process, but now that I've done it a couple of times and have worked out some of the annoying details it's still a bit of fussing but I can live with it. Now that I have the basics down I'm going to be tweaking this recipe and having fun with the ingredients. I'm betting that rosemary might be tasty.

Tomorrow: I mess with Crabby Cakes!


Ta-Da!