This was an amazing challenge. Souffle is one of those dishes that everyone is intimidated by, but, in reality, isn't as hard as it seems. I had made souffle once before (I don't even remember what kind...!) and was really excited to do it again. Especially with the tips and guidance of some amazing fellow Daring Cooks! I only had one regret with this challenge. I only made one souffle during the course of the month. I had planned on making a sweet souffle at some point, but it never happened. Sad... But, luckily, I am not limited by the month of the challenge! So hopefully sometime soon you will check back here and see a delicious sweet souffle!!
Now to the one I did make....
One of the challenge recipes provided was for a Watercress Souffle. Sounded good, and was a nice, vegetarian recipe to use. But I have never used watercress. Nor do I care to. Not that I have anything against it, I just am not jumping up and down to try it. Not when I could easily substitute one of my favorite leafy veggies - spinach. So I adapted the recipe a little to make my own spinach and cheese souffle.
Souffle is basically composed of two basic parts - the beaten egg whites and the base. The egg whites give the souffle its trademark lift and fragility, while the base provides the flavor and the "structure." The base recipe Dave and Linda gave us was really like making a white sauce - make a roux, add the liquid, add the flavoring/cheese. Their method, though, added the liquid in small batches rather than all at once. It worked so well! I have to try to remember that the next time I want to make home-made mac and cheese! Once the sauce is made, it is time to add the egg yolks. Dave and Linda recommended tempering the yolks before adding them by, essentially, cooking them over a double boiler. This was a method I had never heard of before, but it worked well. It brought the yolks safely up in temperature for health reasons and for ease of adding to the base. Yet another great trick learned courtesy of the Daring Kitchen!!
The egg white part of the souffle is the one which most people get nervous about. Whipping egg whites can be intimidating. Whip them too much and they separate into dry and wet elements. Too little and they don't have enough air to do much of anything. I must say, though, I love my KitchenAid mixer...! It made whipping the egg whites easy - just a matter of watching them! Nice and firm peaks, not too stiff, but plenty of hold.Egg whites whipped, base ready, only a few more steps. Prepare the baking dish - butter the dish well, then coat the dish with something - in this case grated cheese - to help the souffle climb, and also to provide a bit of texture. Then the base and the whites have to be combined carefully - mixed enough to combine, but not so much that the egg whites deflate. Finally the mixture is poured into the prepared dish, then the whole thing goes into the oven. One of the hardest parts of souffle making is keeping the oven door closed during the baking process. Letting heat out of the oven makes it so that the souffle won't rise as much. Thankfully I have a window in my oven door, and I was able to watch the progress safely!!
Yeah, it rose a little crooked, and no, it didn't get as high and fluffy as I would have liked. But oh well. The important part (as with so many things...!) was what was on the inside. I had a nice crispy crust, and then the inside:
It held its form, but was still a little gooey... Yum! This was an delicious dinner! We all agreed - even Little Girl!
As I said at the start, this was an amazing challenge! It brought out such creativity among the Daring Cooks, you have to check out their work! Dave and Linda, thank you so much! I am so glad to have this in my arsenal now, and I really am looking forward to making this dessert souffle soon!