Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Souffles are often confused as simply being for dessert, such as the standard chocolate souffle. However, souffles make great non-sweet dinners that are surprisingly easy to make. They are particularly well-suited to fall and winter vegetables and fruits, such as parsnip, potato, squash, apple, pumpkin and spinach. As crazy as it may sound, this is a good recipe to make during the busy work week, as neither really takes that long.
I have recently made two dinner souffles, both with good results. The first is a Martha Stewart recipe for a spinach-Gruyere souffle, which got me started on the souffle kick. The second used my own recipe - for a sweet potato, parsnip, apple souffle. While easy to make, souffles are also reasonably healthy, in that they do not contain a lot of sugar (for a vegetable souffle) and only use the whites of eggs. They key to getting the souffle to rise properly is beating the egg whites to the right consistency so that they form stiff peaks, before folding into and baking the souffle.
Sasha's Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Apple Souffle
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium parsnips
1 large apple
1/8 tsp salt
3 T sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1 egg yolk plus 5 egg whites
2 T flour
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel potatoes and parsnips and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Peel the apple and cut into pieces and add apple. Wait another 20 minutes before removing vegetables and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Keep the oven on at 400 as having the right temperature at the right time is key with this recipe. Puree all vegetables in a food processor or blender. Add a small amount of water if needed. Mix in allspice, salt and 1 T of the sugar. Mix in the egg yolk and the flour. Set aside in a bowl.
Next put the egg whites in the bowl of a food processor (I used my artisan mixer) and beat at a very high speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks. As you beat, gradually add the remaining 2 T of sugar. Don't overbeat but you will have stiff peaks when the egg whites are fluffy and kind of foamy and form a peak when you test with a fork. Then gently fold the egg whites (Gently! don't beat) until mixed in. Then add to a souffle dish (spray with Pam first) and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Spinach Gruyere Souffle - from the December 2009 Issue of Everyday Food
2 T butter
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 bag of fresh spinach
2 T flour
3/4 cup plus 2 T whole milk
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (I am sure this would also taste great with cheddar)
2 large eggs, separated plus 2 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 275 F. Melt butter in a pan on medium heat and add flour to form a paste and cook for a few minutes. Add milk and cook 3-5 minutes. Take off heat and mix in the shredded cheese of your choice. Transfer to a bowl. Cook spinach in a few T of water until wilted on med-high for about 5 minutes. Blend in a food processor with the egg yolks. Add the cheese-flour mixture. Then beat the 4 egg whites as above (to make stiff peaks) and fold into the souffle. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes.
Serve the souffles right away, so they will not fall. Also, it is important not to open the oven during the cooking process if you want them to rise properly. If you get too curious, like me, then you can turn on your oven light while the souffle cooks.