This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was souffle. Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as the November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge and provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.
I have to admit, I was quite nervous about this month’s challenge. Souffle has always been this mysterious thing to me. Something that grand French chefs whip up with no effort at all in their complicated kitchens – not something a mere mortal like myself does for Wednesday dinner. Souffles always seem so complex and difficult. I hear horror stories of souffles that didn’t rise, or souffles that fell the instant you removed them from the oven. Also, I have this fear of undercooked eggs – I will never eat one, I will never go near one. It’s a texture thing. And all the pictures I found online of souffles made them seem like they were creamy and/or undercooked inside. Like a runny egg. Oh boy….I put off my attempt at souffle for nearly the entire month. There was a bag of spinach and a container of feta in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.
Boy was I wrong. While the insides may at first glance resemble undercooked eggs, it’s more like mousse. It’s light, fluffy and moist in the most delicious way. The flavors are very subtle, almost too subtle. My family and I agreed that while these were very good, they needed a little bit of a bite to them. So the next time I make souffle (and yes, I will be making souffle again!), I’ll need to try adding a bit of white wine in the roux or I think a small amount of whole grain mustard mixed in could be really nice.
Spinach and Feta Souffles
Makes 5 individual servings
2 Tablespoons butter plus additional for the souffle dish
3½ Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup finely chopped or chiffonade de-stemmed spinach (this measure is the leaves after they’ve been washed, de-stemmed, and cut)
4 large eggs, separated (separate the yolks and whites into their own dishes)
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter the souffle dishes thoroughly. Place the dishes in the refrigerator until needed (according to some sites, this helps the soufflé climb).
Preheat the oven to moderate 350º F
Wash and chop the spinach and crumble the feta cheese if you haven’t already.
In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook 1 minute, then add the milk, a little at a time, and stir until just thickened, about 1 minute. Add the cheese and stir until it’s just melted. Remove from heat then add the spinach, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.
In a larger pan, bring water to a gentle simmer. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl set just over this water until pale and slightly foamy – about 6 minutes.
Mix the egg yolks into the spinach sauce.
Beat the egg whites and lemon juice until they form stiff peaks yet are still glossy.
Fold the egg whites into the sauce in 3 additions so that it’s evenly mixed, but you don’t lose too much volume.
Remove the soufflé dishes from the refrigerator and spoon the mix into it. Use a spatula to even the tops of the soufflés and wipe off any spills.
Bake for 25 minutes, then serve immediately.