Thursday, May 22, 2008

No need to fear that scary soufflé recipe...

Last Monday, we talked about those wicked brownie wedges that we made for the neighbors - I also mentioned that we made another treat to accompany them on the plates. While those wedges were dark, delicious and fudgy, I thought a choice would be nice - so we sent along these bright, sunny and tart Creamy Lemon Squares.

For a solid, but tender base to these squares, a basic shortbread dough is spread over the bottom and slightly up the sides of a baking pan. To make sure the dough cooks evenly and doesn't try to puff up, be sure to prick the dough all over with a fork. While the crust is in the oven, you have just enough time to prepare the racy filling.

Rich orange-tinted egg yolks, dangerous sweetened condensed milk (no, you're not the only one who eats it with just a spoon!), freshly squeezed lemon juice and a touch of the lemon's zest are the ingredients for the filling. I keep meaning to buy a reamer or even a juicer to make extracting the juice easier, but never get around to it. For the last couple of years, I've just been heating the lemons (or limes/oranges) in the microwave for about 15 seconds, slicing them in half and then using a sturdy pair of metal tongs to twirl around their insides, releasing their juices.

As soon as the above crust has lightly browned, the bright filling is poured over the hot crust and placed back in the oven just long enough until the filling has set. Before you divvy them out, you'll want to let them cool completely and stash them in the refrigerator to chill them down even more for very clean cuts. Aptly named, the buttery crust was a pleasant contrast to the creamy filling with just enough pucker power left to make us smile after each bite.

Sometimes just the mention of a soufflé can steer one away from giving a recipe a try. I know I've skipped a few that sounded good because it just seemed like a big hassle that would probably end in disaster, knowing my luck. However, if they truly are as easy as these Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soufflés I made tonight, I think I'll have to try and not be so skiddish about trying them!

Flavored with Dijon and fresh rosemary, a hot thickened milk mixture is whisked together with creamy goat cheese and a few egg yolks to begin the process. Once that mixture was smooth and combined, the leftover egg whites, plus a couple extra, are beaten until they reach the soft peak stage. For the best results, be sure to give the whites enough time out of the refrigerator to take the chill off. Since these soufflés are savory and not sweet, cream of tartar is used, insead of using sugar, to help stabilize the whites as they whip into stiff peaks. Half of the fluffy whites are then gently folded into the thickened cheesy mixture - once almost combined, crisp-tender finely chopped broccoli and the rest of the whites are added. While you still want to be gentle, don't be too afraid of this process - just fold them together long enough until no visible whites remain. This airy mixture is then split between four individual ramekins and just to be safe, you'll also want to set those filled ramekins on a baking sheet. This is just added insurance to prevent a mess in case your whites get extremely excited and puff up and over a bit too much!

These may be a little tricky to tell when they are done - each should be well risen, golden and firm to the touch. If you are nervous about the eggs cooking enough, you could check their temperature with an instant-read thermometer - it should read about 160 degrees. For the most dramatic presentation, be sure to serve these puffy individual soufflés within a couple minutes of coming out of the oven as they will soon fall. You could also make this family style too - just portion out the batter into a 2 to 2 1/2 quart dish and bake it about 10 minutes longer. Very light, the tang from the goat cheese was delicious and subtle enough to allow the flavors from the fresh rosemary and pungent mustard come through. So after all this I've learned my lesson - don't fear the soufflé, the results are well worth it and they are not nearly as scary to prepare as one thinks!


  1. Hi Joe,

    I just printed out the souffle recipe and passed it around here in the office. Everyone wanted to see it! I've never made a souffle so this will be a first....

    Those lemon bars!! How far away can you live and be considered a neighbor??!!


  2. Yum, we enjoy souffles (definitely not scared, I find it to be really easy to make!) a lot and this sounds delicious!!
    I really like the idea of goat cheese paired with broccoli, it can only be good. I will definitely try this one!
    Let me ask you a question Joe, do you think soy milk could be used in place of the cow's milk asked in the recipe?
    I have always used cow's milk but my son has developed such a strong lactose intolerance that I am having a hard time with this new thing.
    He does fine with the goat cheese so that makes this souffle even more appealing to me now!
    I know you use soy milk in a lot of your recipes, that's why I am asking, but if I get to try it I will let you know how it goes!

  3. Quinn - With gas prices these days, I think it would have to be pretty close! Sorry!

    Ana - I don't think I would hesitate to try them with soy milk!

  4. Since I left for Florida you made lot's of good recipes. So of them will have to be on my 'to try' list. Great picture.

  5. Thank you Joe!
    I thought it would work too. I will let you know when I make it!

  6. Helene - We've been busy!

    Ana - Thanks - I look forward to hearing about it!

  7. I'm loving that high ratio of filling to crust on the lemon bars - and I gotta say that the goat cheese souffle looks great! Regular souffle sometimes seems a little ... insipid to me - but goat cheese? Awesome :)

  8. LB - Yeah, the goat cheese tang was pretty tasty here!