The spectacle of a puffed, golden soufflé conveyed with care and pride from oven to table to be admired with “Oohs!” and “Aahs!”, as if the cook had produced, by some mysterious act of alchemy, a flight of snow-white doves, or Old King Coles’ pie baked with ‘five and twenty singing blackbirds’, is a triumph every good cook should experience.
Before you skip this post, certain that such a culinary feat is beyond your ability, let me assure you, it is not. If you can beat an egg white or make meringue, you can make a soufflé! Furthermore, I’d like to disabuse you of the notion that a soufflé is enigmatic, fragile and temperamental, the Marilyn Monroe of French cuisine. Oh contraire, it may appear so light and fluffy that the mere banging of a door or rattling of the pan will break the spell under which this miracle occurs, but that is, in a word, baloney.
Confidence, and proper technique is all that you need for this virtually no-fail undertaking, which is a short-cut to the usual method of first having to cook a time-consuming béchamel base into which is folded the stiff egg whites and sundry other fillings. Instead, one takes a detour past the béchamel, using instead a base of sour cream and flour. Brilliant! A method which, if you opt for a cheese soufflé, requires only one cooking method: baking.
This elegant dish demands no more skill or time beyond those possessed by the average home cook and can be served as a main course for lunch, side dish for dinner or reheated for breakfast, as my husband often eats it. Whichever way you make or serve it, you are sure to gain accolades, satisfaction and a new appreciation of the humble egg.
· 1 cup shredded cheese, such as Cheddar, Swiss, Emmenthal or Havarti or
· 2 cups cheese and 2 tbsp. chopped chives if making only a cheese soufflé
· 1 cup (1 250 ml. tub) of sour cream, regular or low fat
· ¼ cup and 1tbsp. flour
· 4 large eggs, separated
· 1 tsp. salt
· ½ tsp. each of: cayenne, dry mustard
· 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
· ½ cup of breadcrumbs or grated Parmesan cheese
Optional Fillings: (choose one of the following)
1 ¼ cups of cooked, minced:
· spinach ( squeezed dry)
· heat oven to 350
· butter and coat with crumbs or parmesan, a 1.6 litre soufflé dish
· in a large bowl, whisk sour cream and flour together until mixture is the consistency of stiff icing (add a little more flour as needed)
· add egg yolks one at a time, whisking after each addition, stir in seasonings, 1 cup cheese and desired filling
· in a large, preferably metal bowl, beat egg-whites until stiff peaks form
· with a spatula, gently fold egg-whites into sour cream mixture
· pour batter into the prepared soufflé dish and bake on the centre oven rack for approx. 1 ¼ hrs., until the soufflé is risen 2-3 inches above the rim, is golden and slightly firm in the centre. Serve immediately, (the dish will fall slightly).