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10 Minute Vegetarian Pasta
Have you ever attempted to make a soufflé and it just didn't live up to your expectations?
Here is what Brett had to say when I asked him for some tips to making my soufflé light and fluffy:
Brett also shared his soufflé recipe with me which I fiddled with a bit, incorporating some ideas that seemed to work from my other soufflé endeavors, which I share with you now. Note that soufflés really are a bit tricky to make; this is not a beginner recipe. But if you are confident with your egg white whipping and folding skills, you should have no problem with this one.
What I love about Brett's approach is that you can actually make these soufflés in advance, which is perfect for a brunch gathering or a party in which you want to have most of the cooking done ahead of time. We ate half of them right out of the oven, and we re-baked the other half for a later meal. Both sets were delicious.
1 Blanch asparagus for 2 minutes in boiling salted water (1 teaspoon of salt for every quart of water). Drain. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside to let cool.
2 Melt 1 Tbsp butter in saucepan on medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme. Cook gently until soft, do not let brown. About 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3 Purée asparagus and shallot mixture in a blender. Measure out 1 1/4 cup of purée.
4 Butter 6 8-ounce ramekins. Coat well with the bread crumbs, reserving any leftover bread crumbs.
5 Make a thick béchamel sauce. Over medium-low heat, melt 3 Tbsp butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add the cake flour and whisk to completely incorporate the flour into the butter, continue to stir for a couple of minutes. Do not let brown. Very slowly, add the milk to the mixture, little by little, whisking constantly. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the nutmeg, cumin, mustard, ginger, and some fresh ground black pepper. Lower the heat to low and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
6 After 15 minutes, remove the béchamel from the heat and stir in the cheese. Transfer the béchamel and the asparagus mixture to a large mixing bowl (if you have a mixing bowl with a pour lip on the side, use it, it will make it easier to pour out later). Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings. The souffle base should be well-seasoned. Stir in the egg yolks until well combined.
At this point you can make ahead the souffle mixture. Refrigerate to store for up to two days. Return to room temperature before proceeding.
7 Preheat oven to 400°F.
8 Prepare to make a water bath. Have ready a 9x12 baking dish with at least 2 inch sides. Put on a kettle of water to boil.
9 Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and using a mixer, beat the egg whites to firm but soft, almost stiff, peaks. (Make sure there are no traces of egg yolk or shell in your egg whites before starting.) Do not over-beat. Over-beating results in stiff peaks that are dry, somewhat reminiscent of styrofoam. Use a rubber spatula to first fold in one quarter of the beaten egg whites into the asparagus mixture, then the remaining three-quarters. Use a light touch to keep from deflating the egg whites.
10 Fill ramekins with the mixture up to a quarter-inch from the top. If you want, sprinkle leftover bread crumbs on top. Place the ramekins in the bain marie baking dish. Place baking dish on the middle rack in the oven. Pour boiling water into the baking dish around the ramekins until the water comes up halfway the sides of the ramekins.
11 Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F, reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for about 15 minutes more, until puffed up and golden brown. Don't open the oven door until the soufflé is just about done, or it may fall.
You can serve the soufflés immediately or you can serve them later. To proceed for serving them later, let the soufflés sit in the bain marie for 15 minutes. Then use run a sharp knife around the edges and invert the individual soufflés to a buttered baking sheet. Cool to room temperature, wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before re-baking. Heat oven to 400°F, bake the souffles on a buttered baking sheet, not in ramekins, for 7-8 minutes, and serve.
Makes 6 individual soufflés.
Smoked Salmon and Gruyere Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Many moons ago Dennis Kercher from The Hidden Kitchen shared with me his favorite grilled cheese sandwich - one with smoked salmon, Gruyere, and lemon confit made from preserved lemons. I finally got around to making this fabulous sandwich, but instead of using preserved lemons (most people don't have those sitting around), I boiled Meyer lemon slices down in salted water. Very tasty, and a great way to use up any smoked salmon left over from a weekend brunch.
1 In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add a half teaspoon of salt. When the salt has dissolved, add the slices of lemon to the pan, layering them down flat in the pan. Let water boil away until it is almost all gone and there is just a thin syrup left in the pan. Do not stir while cooking. Remove from heat.
2 Heat a large cast iron pan on medium high heat. While the pan is heating, arrange the sandwiches (next step).
3 Lay out 4 slices of bread. On top of them layer slices of smoked salmon, cheese, and chives. Use a fork to lift the lemon slices out of the pan and add one large lemon slice to each sandwich. Top with a second layer of bread.
4 Butter the top bread slices generously with butter. Once the pan is hot, place the sandwiches in the pan, butter side down. Lower the heat to medium. Let cook for a few minutes until the bottom of the sandwiches are well toasted.
5 Butter the top side of the sandwiches in the pan. Use a metal spatula to flip the sandwiches over. Press down on the sandwiches with the metal spatula. Let cook until the bottom of the sandwiches is nicely browned. If the cheese isn't melting, turn the heat to low, cover the pan and let cook for a few minutes more.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
Pecan Meringue Cookies
1 Preheat oven to 300°F.
2 Place pecans in zipper baggie and beat them with a wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Set aside.
5 Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pecan pieces. Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or Silpat.
6 Put the cookies sheet in the 300°F oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Leave them in the oven overnight. In the morning they should be ready - crisp on the outside, light and airy on the inside. If they are a little marshmallowy or chewy on the inside in the morning, just let them dry out for a few more hours.
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