CHEESE SOUFFLE: THE BASIC RECIPE

After being asked about my cheese souffle by a new Foodbuzz friend, I thought it was about time I re-post the recipe for this French classic.
Sorry, as I was caught a bit off my guard I had only and old pic of my cooking available. Let’s hope I will come another one soon!

When you mention the word “Souffle”, the first reaction you get is: “Too difficult!”. It is actually dead easy, and I can tell you that some restaurants make an enormous profit from them!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 people
Eggs: 4
Flour: 50g
Butter: 50g
Milk: 300cc
Shredded cheese: 100g
Salt
White Pepper
Nutmeg
Thyme
Laurel

RECIPE:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Butter well the inside of a (possibly round) deep oven dish (about 18cm x 8cm). This will help the souffle rise and prevent it fom sticking.

Separate egg yolks from egg whites.
In a large bowl add a little salt to whites and beat them until solid.

On a small fire, prepare a Bechamel sauce (white sauce):
Melt butter completely, pour in flour and mix well with spatula until smooth. Pour in milk and mix well (diffferent people have different techniques, but I found that the best technique is to mix half of the milk little by little first, then pour in the rest and use a whisker to make a smooth sauce). Add salt, pepper and spices. Keep stirring gently.

Once the sauce has thickened to the point of almost solid, take off the fire (or switch off the fire).
Mix in the egg yolks with a spatula until colour is even. Then proceed the same way with the cheese little by little until mixture comes smooth off the spatula.

Check that the whites have not gone back to liquid (That happened to me quite a few times, so make sure to check! In such a case, just beat them again. They will go back to a satisfactory state quite fast.). Mix in half first as delicately as possible with a spatula (not a whisker, or you will break the air bubbles in the whites and the souffle will not rise!). Then do the same with the second half. Pour in the mixture in the dish and put in the oven to bake for 45 minutes ( although that depends with every oven). To check whether the souffle is properly cooked, insert a thin wooden stick or knife deep into the souffle. It should come out smooth.

Before serving, make sure that everybody is at the table before serving. ” The guests wait for a Souffle, a Souffle does not wait for the guests!”

NOTES:

-1) This souffle can be cooked in individual dishes. In that case the cooking time shall be about 30~35 minutes.
-2) Instead of cheese you could use tinned tuna (2 x small cans), or fresh spinach (one bunch; boil it a couple of minutes in salted water first, then drain thouroughly, and mince it as thinly as possible), or crab (add a little brandy to it and mix beforehand), or thin short narrow strips of ham, or even ham & cheese. The variations are endless!

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