Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spinach and Three-Cheese Soufflé

I keep saying this because it's true: soufflés are a lot easier to make than they seem, and they're always a big hit. Even if your soufflé doesn't rise sky-high, if you put sufficient flavor in the base, it will still taste good. But you can protect against low rising by adding an extra egg white, giving the beaten whites just a little more volume. For this soufflé, I lightly steamed some baby spinach--and I could have used a lot more, but I only had about a cup or two raw--and then squeezed it dry and chopped it fine. For the cheeses, I grated Parmesan, Gouda, and a goat Brie--but you can use what you like.

Alongside this, we had steamed asparagus with toasted hazelnuts

And a mixed berry salad

 Spinach and Three-Cheese Souffle

10 eggs, separated (you'll need 10 whites and 8 yolks)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tbs unsalted butter
6 Tbs flour
2 c hot milk
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 bag baby spinach (steamed, squeezed dry, and chopped fine, or you can use frozen)
2 c grated cheese (use whatever combination you like)

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a large souffle dish well, and then coat with grated cheese (like you would with flour for a cake.)

1. Start by making the white sauce: melt the butter, then add in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add the hot milk and whisk til it's smooth and thickened.  Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

2. Off the heat, add the egg yolks, one or two at a time, and whisking them in quickly so they don't scramble. Then add the chopped spinach and cheese and mix well.  Pour this mixture into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

3. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar, starting slowly and working your way up to high speed.  Beat til the egg whites are stiff but not dry.

4. Whisk about one quarter of the egg whites into the sauce mixture.  Then, carefully fold the rest of the whites into that mixture, til it's well blended (a few little bits of white are ok, better to keep the volume.)

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared souffle dish.  Carefully put this into the oven, and turn the heat down to  375 degrees.  Bake for 25-30 min.--and don't open the oven til it's about done, browned on top and not too jiggly.  If it seems not quite ready, cook for a few minutes more, but it will continue cooking even out of the oven, too.  Serve immediately.

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