Once upon a time, several years ago, Chris and I made a cheese souffle for dinner. And it was glorious. We swooned as we ate, especially me, the “not a really big fan of eggs usually” gal. The cheesy, gooey, airiness. The refinement. The elegance. The ease. It felt like we should be at some lovely river-side cafe in Paris instead of in our apartment in front of the tv. We swore we’d have to make it again and again…but we never did.
Fast forward a few years and home girl here needs a souffle like woah. Don’t know why. Maybe its the “get more protein” kick I’m on, maybe its just the elegant simplicity of the whole thing, but I’ve had a souffle-brain for weeks.
And tonight, my fluffy egg wishes and souffle dreams came true. Fortified by the knowledge that the only things left in our fridge were eggs and some 3 day old bok choy, and traumatized by previous 6pm trips to the grocery store, we looked up our old recipe and, you know what? It’s a lot easier than we remembered.
That’s right. Souffle is easy. I mean, its not grilled cheese-easy or toast-easy, but it’s close. And frankly, this recipe is fool-proof.
The cheese and the eggs are just a pile of fluffy, heavenly protein. The paprika and nutmeg add a depth you really shouldn’t skip. It’s an easy recipe to cut in half (we did) and wouldn’t you know, its vegetarian and supposedly “low cal.”
And while its almost a given that this recipe pairs well with some sauteed greens, bok choy doused in Chinese oyster sauce also makes a surprisingly good pairing: sweet and savory.
We found this recipe a few years back in a Molly Wizenberg column in Bon Appetit. It’s perfect as it is but feel free to experiment. Lacking grueyere in China, we made do with some swiss-like cheese and it was still lovely.
Just make sure not to open the oven door until the tops are golden brown, stir-fry some greens while you are waiting, and you too can have a dinner that will begin and end with a oh-so-cultured sigh of pure culinary contentment.
Classic Cheese Souffle
Serves 4-6 main course portions (with a side dish)
2 Tablespoons finely grated parmesan
1 Cup whole milk
2.5 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1 Cup Gruyere cheese, grated
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400F.Butter 6-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.
Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in Gruyère cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish.
Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately.