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Dinner Date

May 07, 2013 09:42AM ● Published by Style

Soufflé au Fromage

The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes by Rachel Khoo

(Chronicle Books, 2013, $35)

For the cheese sauce base

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 heaped tsp. Dijon mustard
  • A generous pinch each of cayenne pepper, nutmeg and salt
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3-1/2 oz. Gruyère or mature Comté cheese, or a mature hard cheese of your choice, grated
  • 2 tbsp. soft butter, for brushing
  • 4–6 tbsp. dried breadcrumbs*
  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • Couple of drops of lemon juice

TO MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE BASE: Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until light and thick, then whisk in the flour. Bring the milk to a boil in a pan and then pour in a slow stream onto the egg mixture, whisking vigorously all the time.

Pour the mixture into a clean pan and whisk continuously over a medium heat, making sure to scrape the side and the bottom of the pan otherwise the mixture will burn. Once the sauce starts to thicken and release a bubble or two, take the pan off the heat.
Stir in the grated cheese and taste for seasoning—the sauce should be slightly over-seasoned to allow for the egg whites being added later. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap, patting it down so that it sticks directly onto the sauce. Refrigerate until cool, approximately 45 minutes (you can prepare the sauce to this stage up to two days in advance).

When you are ready to make the soufflés, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush four ramekins with softened butter, working with upward strokes from the bottom to the top. Check that the entire inside of each dish has been covered with butter before adding a heaped tablespoon of bread¬crumbs. Roll and tilt each ramekin so that the breadcrumbs coat the inside evenly.

In a clean glass or metal bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks with the salt and lemon juice. Beat the cold cheese sauce until smooth and then mix in half the egg whites until fully incorporated. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Divide the mix between the ramekins and tap the base of each dish on the work surface to ensure that there are no air pockets. Level the surface of each soufflé by pulling a palette knife (or the back edge of a large knife) across the top of the dish, then clean any drips off the outside or they will burn. To help the soufflés rise, run your thumbnail around the top edge of each ramekin to make a groove.

Put the ramekins into the oven immediately and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until the soufflés have risen by two-thirds of their original size and wobble a little when moved. Serve straightaway. Serves 4 as a starter.

*For a flavored coating, mix a generous pinch of ground cumin, chile powder, dried oregano, or finely chopped thyme or rosemary with the breadcrumbs.

 

MAISON LOUIS JADOT PULIGNY-MONTRACHET 2010

With so much history behind French wines, it can be slightly confusing and daunting when wanting to try them. One to start with is Puligny-Montrachet 2010, which comes from one of the most trusted and revered houses of Burgundy, Maison Louis Jadot, who have been producing wine since 1859. While most white Burgundy wines range from $8 to $1,000 a bottle, this particular Montrachet retails for about $50 to $60 and is a great wine to try for a special occasion; it’ll give you a real feel for the caliber of wines produced in Burgundy.

The delicate yet powerful Puligny-Montrechet comes from one of two Burgundy villages in eastern France, which produce the finest wines known to man. The area’s soil contains clay and chalk, which drains well and warms easily—ensuring high-quality fruit. The winemaker’s goal is to retain the wine’s complexity and structure. This 2010 vintage offers distinctive aromas of concentrated exotic fruit, almond and white flower, which carry onto the palate and lead up to a persistent, lingering finish. It goes well with fish, shellfish and strong cheeses; it will pair perfectly with this month’s recipe, Souffle au Fromage, and may actually turn you into a white Burgundy fan.


Richard Righton, Owner, Bidwell Street Bistro in Folsom

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