Saturday, October 27, 2012

Soufflé Tips and a Savory, Herb Gruyere Soufflé Recipe



Soufflé is a French word meaning to blow, to breathe, or puffed up.  

The word soufflé sounds so sophisticated that it used to intimidate me as I pictured my soufflé deflating like a helium balloon the minute I took it out of the oven.  Well, my fear is gone.  After attempting the chocolate soufflé with Casey in August and taking a recent soufflé class at KitchenWindow, soufflés will become a bigger part of my life. 

Herb Gruyere Soufflé

Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • Melted unsalted butter
  • 5 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 oz. flour
  • 3 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 2 oz. grated gruyere cheese
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives


Directions

  1. Brush melted butter over the insides of 8 soufflé molds 3 ¼ in diameter that hold 5 oz. each.  
  2. Blend the flour and butter to a smooth paste.
  3. Heat the milk in a saucepan to the scalding point.
  4. Whisk in the flour mixture and cook to a thick paste (roux), stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from the heat.  Mix in the egg yolks one at a time, continuing to stir constantly (slow and gentle) so they do not cook (temper).   
  6. Add the remaining parmesan cheese, gruyere cheese, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, and chives.
  7. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (be careful not to whip them dry).   Gently fold the egg whites into the batter one-third at a time.
  8. Fill the prepared soufflés molds three-quarters full.
  9. Bake immediately at 400°F for approximately 15 minutes or until puffed, with a nice golden color.  Serve immediately.

Verdict
I really liked this savory soufflé.  I thought it would be a great thing for brunch or a light lunch served with a side salad.  

Here are some Soufflé Tips & Techniques so that you don’t have to be intimidated either!  

  • Read the recipe, and then read it again to make sure you are clear on the instructions and have all of the ingredients.  (Do this with all recipes!)  Once you start to make a soufflé, it doesn’t like to be interrupted while you find a missing ingredient.
  • Collect all of the equipment you need.  (Again, do this with all recipes.)
  • Measure and weigh all of the ingredients before you start cooking.  Yes, they said weigh.   I must admit that I don’t have a scale in my kitchen but I keep hearing that for baking especially that ingredients should be weighed.  Personally, I get along fine with my measuring cups and have yet to put a scale on my wish list.   
  • Make sure all the equipment you are using is clean and grease free.  Greasy spoons, bowls, or whisks stop egg whites from rising sufficiently which can make the soufflé collapse.   
  • Ensure all you ingredients, especially the eggs, are at room temperature.
  • Prepare and grease soufflé dishes before you start making the soufflé mixture.
  • To prevent sticking, brush the dishes with room-temperature butter using upward strokes.  This helps the soufflé rise.
  • Use breadcrumbs or panko (caster sugar for sweet soufflés) to coat the base and side.   This helps the soufflé grip the side and rise evenly. 
  • Fill the ramekins 3/4 full.
  • Run your thumb around the rim of each soufflé, slightly inside the mixture.  This helps it rise evenly and gives it a “top hat” appearance.  
  • Preheat the oven, so once the soufflé is ready it can do directly into the oven.
  • It is not an old wives tale that opening the door while a soufflé is cooking can cause it to sink.   Be aware that a sudden rise or fall in temperature during cooking will have that affect.   Try not to do it; use the oven light to peek if you must.   
  • With soufflés you want a little wiggle.   Kind of like Jell-O, movement is good.  
  • Whether sweet or savory, soufflés should always be made in round forms with straight sides to help them rise.
  • Although a savory soufflé will never rise as high as a properly prepared dessert soufflé, it must still be served hot straight from the oven.   This is an important point because soufflés are not good cold.  
For the chocolate soufflé recipe I posted in August, go here: http://www.penelopethefoodie.com/2012/08/cooking-with-casey-august.html


If you have a good soufflé recipe, please share it with me.  And if you have any soufflé stories or tips, please share those too!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Cheese Course

How gorgeous is this photo?


I just snapped it from my November Food & Wind magazine. It makes me want to run out and have a picnic!  And try some new cheese.  That gooey one next to the figs is calling my name.    What is your favorite cheese?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seasoned Pretzels




I was recently invited to an Octoberfest party and I wasn’t sure what to bring.  My German appetizer list is short; pretty much the only thing on it is Reuben dip.  Then I remembered these seasoned pretzels that my cousin made a couple of years ago and thought it would be the perfect accompaniment with beer.  I was right.

Ranch Seasoned Pretzels
  • 3/4 cup canola oil (I actually used half canola oil and half olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon pepper
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional – I like spice and put cayenne in everything)
  • 2 packets of dry ranch dressing mix
  • 3 bags of hard sourdough pretzels – broken into small pieces – I used my method of stepping and standing on the bag and then had to break some of them down further by hand.  


  1. Combine oil, lemon pepper, cayenne, and dry ranch mix.  
  2. Pour over pretzels and throw in oven at 350 for 10 minutes turning them at the 5 minute mark.
Broken up Pretzels
Pretzels Mixed with the Oil and Seasoning
Pretzels fresh out the oven, with the seasoning "baked" on
These pretzels are easy and tasty.  They are salty, so make sure you have an ice-cold beer nearby.    

This is the perfect fall party snack.  

The gift that keeps on giving......
This recipe makes a lot.  After seeing that bag sitting there, I decided to ground up some of the pretzels and use it as a breading for fish.  It was excellent; with lots of great flavor.  I think it'd be great with crab cakes too.  You can grind the pretzels up to use as breadcrumbs easily.  You can also use the pretzels as croutons.  The options are endless! 


Cheers!

PS – I also brought a mix of candy corn and peanuts to the party.   I thought everyone had heard of this combo but apparently not.   Just mix 2-3 bags of candy corn with a jar of roasted peanuts.   The sweet and salty mix is perfection.   Seriously.   Another perfect October snack – looks like you have the makings for a party.   Don’t forget to invite me.    

Friday, October 5, 2012

Vino in the Valley




Last weekend was the weekend I’d been waiting for; the perfect fall weekend.   I’d been wanting to go to Vino in the Valley since I read about it roughly two years ago.   It is about 1.5 hours away in Wisconsin, so I figured fall would be a good time to go as the drive would be pretty with the fall colors (and hopefully that would make it go faster).  It hit 80 degrees on Sat. and off we went.  
Pretty Fall Drive!
Hey, don't distract the driver....
Vino in the Valley is pretty much what it sounds like.   A wine vineyard in a valley.    Now, I know what you might be thinking….. wine from the Midwest?   Truefully, I thought the same thing.   And I did my research.   While they do serve a couple wines from their vineyard, they also have a full wine and beer menu with the usual suspects.   

We arrived at 5:15 and got in line.  Once we got to the hostess stand, she informed us that there was a three hour wait for a table for dinner.    The only other option was to try to get a spot at the indoor bar (with only 10 seats).   Those are the only two places they serve food.   You can drink wine pretty much anywhere and they had an outdoor bar, but food was strictly in the restaurant.    We got lucky and waited out a couple that was leaving and scored a spot at the bar.   It was fun.   We ordered a couple glasses of wine and plenty of food.  



Meat & Cheese Appetizer Plate, at 6 p.m. we got the last one and then they ran out.  (Yes, those are Wisconsin Cheese Curds on the plate.)

Quite the feast.   FYI - We did take a lot of this home.....
Very FUN date night!
Vino in the Valley certainly met my expectations.  The food was very good and I liked the vibe and energy of the place.  Everyone was relaxed and having a good time.  I would not have been happy if we did not get a spot at the bar because there was no way I was going to wait three hours.   They only take reservations for tables of 10 or more, and that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to wait.   They have a whole disclaimer on their site about the wait.    

We followed a limo in and there were a couple of party buses in the parking lot.

I think it would be fun to get a group together to make the trek in style (or in an old bus) and not have to worry about the long drive home after a couple glasses of wine.     


Cheers!