Daring Cooks Challenge: Spinach and Cheese Souffle

My little creations

so proud - standing straight and tall

oh no.....falling

...ugh, man down

"Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided many of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website."

I've never made a souffle before so this was a new and exciting challenge for me. I'd only heard and seen how tempermental souffles were from clips in the movies. I'm sure you've seen those scenes where someone screams and a souffle collapses in the oven - yup, that was my envision before this challenge.

I'm glad I did a bit of research on souffles before I experimented with my own. During the last few minutes of baking I eagerly stalked watched them through the oven window as they slowly rose above the ramekins. Had I not known they would deflate the second you took them out of the oven - I think I would've gone into depression watching them wilt and collapse into a pile of mush. (Yes, mush is a foodie friendly word) The end result was an egg-y like custard-ish bite as light as a cloud. It was so light and fluffy it literally dissolved in your mouth.

The souffles would make a great dish to entertain with and one your guests will truly enjoy. They'll ooh and ahh once pulled from the oven and provide entertainment as everyone watches them fall to their destined fate. Your guests will feel special having their own personal dish, you'll look like a fancy shmancy cook, and be a kitchen rockstar. It's a win-win situation for all. Bon appetit!

Spinach and Cheese Souffle
4 servings
Adapted from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen

Note: This dish can be made ahead through step 7. Egg whites must be whipped just before the souffles are baked

1 Tbsp butter plus additional for the soufflé dish
1 3/4 Tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup finely grated cheese (I used Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese and Val d' Aosta Fontina)
1/2 cup finely chopped spinach (this measure is the leaves after they’ve been washed, de-stemmed, and chopped)
2 room temperature large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp prepared mustard (Dijon)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar*
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you can’t find cream of tartar, a dash (~ 1/4 tsp) of lemon juice can be substituted

1. Butter the soufflé dish(es) thoroughly -for the sides of the ramekin I buttered them using upward and downward motions so this would help the souffle climb - do not butter top of ramekin, then grate a small amount of cheese in each dish and tap so that the sides are completely and evenly coated with the cheese. Place the dish(es) in the refrigerator until needed (according to some sites, this helps the soufflé climb).
2. Preheat the oven to moderate 350º F
3. Wash and chop the spinach if you haven’t already.
4. Finely grate the cheeses
5. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook 1 minute, then add the milk, a little at a time, and stir until just thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the cheese and mustard and stir until it’s just melted. Remove from heat then add the watercress and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the mixture cool a bit getting it to lukewarm temperature is best.
6. In a larger pan, bring water to a gentle simmer. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl set just over this water until pale and slightly foamy – about 6 minutes. (I ended up cooking the egg yolks in my first attempt so I just whisked the egg yoks in a separate bowl instead of over water)
7. Mix the egg yolks into the spinach sauce.
8. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks yet are still glossy.
9. Fold the egg whites into the sauce in 3 additions so that it’s evenly mixed, but you don’t lose too much volume.
10. Remove the soufflé dish from the refrigerator and spoon the mix into it. Use a spatula to even the tops of the soufflés and wipe off any spills around edges and wipe around the edges of the ramekins making a little edge between the souffle and the dish as this apparently makes them rise much neater
11. Bake 25 minutes for small dishes or 40 minutes if using a large soufflé dish, tops should be golden and firm to the touch in the center. Serve immediately.


Jennifurla said...

Oh yum, I love individual servings. Nice ingredients.

NuM NuM said...

Hi Jennifurla - I'm with you on the individual servings. Especially when it comes to desserts :D