Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Julia Child's Chocolate Souffle

Ryan and I get the itch to make an epic meal every now and then. Christmas Eve seemed the perfect excuse for just such a cooking feat. We started with appetizers- stuffed mushrooms, then moved on to a delish entree, pasta with mushroom and white wine and butter sauce- and of course, for the finale, decided to attempt the piece de resistance, chocolate souffle!

Now I love to bake, so souffle seemed a challenge, but nothing beyond the pale. I will caution, however, that the dishes are not few, and the time and effort is intense. But the end product? Does it RISE to the occasion? Well... see for yourself!

Chocolate Souffle: A recipe from the one and only Julia Child herself!


To coat the souffle dish:
butter, softened but NOT melted

For the chocolate flavoring:
7 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/3 cup strong coffee or espresso

For the base:
1.3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp butter softened, not melted
1 tbsp vanilla

For the whites:
6 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar


1. Prepare the souffle dish by generously coating it with soft butter and sprinkling in sugar. Tip the souffle dish to coat the entire inner surface with the sugar, and tap out any excess.

2. Place the rack in your oven to the lowest third and preheat to 425 degrees.

3. In a small saucepan, melt 7 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate with 1/3 cup of coffee.

4. In a separate, larger saucepan, heat up 1 cup milk and whisk in the flour, blending well. Slowly add in the rest of the milk and 1/3 cup of sugar. Bring to a slow boil and whisk for 2 min. Remove from heat.

5. Beat in 3 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp vanilla, a pinch of salt, 4 egg yolks, and the melted chocolate mixture.

6. Whip the 6 egg whites to stiff peaks. Add in 1/2 cup sugar once they are foamy.

Now, let's talk seriously about this "whip to stiff but not dry peaks' business. It is a terrifying instruction in any recipe, wrought with problems and causing of much angst, but no worries, it can be done!! Here's how:

In a large bowl, the best is of copper, (if you have that kind of fancy stuff lying around), but I use ceramic or pyrex- have the 6 egg whites reserved and ready to whip.

A. Start with room temperature eggs.

B. Use a long-handled whisk and any bowl, so long as it is not aluminum or plastic. The eggs react best with copper, but poorly if there is any grease in the bowl or on the mixing elements, so clean everything well.

C. MAke sure the bowl is significantly larger than the eggs you start with, as they will gain volume as you whip them.

D. It would take approximately 900 strokes- or a little over 6 minutes- to whip 6 egg whites by hand. Trust me, the first 100 feel fine. It's the next 800 that will suck. Also, in the beginning, you can be slow and relaxed- until it's foamy, but to finish the job, you are going to have to get some seriously fast whipping on, and for a sustained period of time. *Insert pervy joke here* Remember, once you start, you cannot stop.

E. Here's what we did: We started off by hand, and then once they were foamy (see photo), I switched to my magic wand cuisinart stick using a whisk attachment*. This was THE way to go. This is also the time to start slowly adding in the sugar, as it will help the peaks to form.

*This is by far my favorite and most used kitchen gadget- if you do not own one, you can use a regular hand held beater with whisk attachment too.

F. You will know you have reached the correct level of 'stiff peaks' when they stand up, and do not wilt back down. Stop as soon as this effect is observed- it is a myth that you should whip them until they are SO stiff that the bowl can be inverted- this is too much in the case of the souffle!! If for some reason they just wont stiffen up (sigh, can't get away from the innuendo),then a pinch of salt or splash of lemon might do the trick.

7. Combine the base with the whipped eggs by ladling the base sauce into the whipped egg bowl, and combing and folding rapidly until thoroughly blended together.

8. Pour mixture immediately into mold, and put in oven. Turn the heat down to Bake @400 for about 40 minutes, or until the puff rises (hopefully). DO NOT OPEN the oven door during the first 20 minutes. Walk lightly as you pass by. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer inserted at 45 degrees, it should come out clean. Dust with powdered sugar and serve- the 'puff' will only last about 3 minutes or so once it is out of the oven, so snap a photo and quick serve it! (with homemade whip cream, of course!!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

I love this appetizer! Ryan and I made this as our first course for our Christmas Eve Dinner. It goes great with champagne!

24 White stuffer mushrooms
1 large bag Spinach
1 medium-size block Gruyere cheese, cut into small, thin pieces
1 Shallot
3 cloves garlic
Bread crumbs
Olive oil
1 tblsp Butter
Salt and pepper
White wine

1. Clean the mushrooms, removing the stem, and carefully preserving the shape of the cap. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over low heat. Add in shallots and garlic, and cook until translucent and aromatic. Add in a splash of chicken or vegetable stock and white wine, and allow to cook off.

3. Add in the spinach and stir to wilt. Add in salt, pepper, and lemon.

4. Add in cheese and herbs and melt together.

5. Place mushroom caps on baking sheets. Spoon the spinach and cheese mixture into the caps and sprinkle some bread crumbs on top.

6. Bake 10 minutes, allowing the cheese and bread crumbs to brown on top!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tofu Masala

I didn't make the sauce for this recipe, but I really hope to learn how soon. But after a long day, it's niiiiiice to make a meal with only 3 ingredients and a 25 minute cook time, and in just one dish.

The important lesson I learned from this recipe is how delish baked tofu can be! I had no idea it could be this easy!

1 jar butter masala or tikka masala sauce
veggies: carrots, asparagus, etc

Step 1: Drain tofu and cut into thin square blocks. Pat dry. Set in a baking dish. Sprinkle veggies on side.

Step 2: Get a jar of this yummy butter masala sauce, or similar, from your local grocer, and pour it all over the tofu. Splash a little water or a add a small amount of oil or butter. Mix it up and coat the top well.

Step 3: Bake for about 25 minutes.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dumpling Soup

The Mr. Dever made this happen, and wow! Delicious. I craved it for days. Winter Classic!

For Soup:

3 cups Chicken or Veggie Stock
3 Cups Water
Carrots, sliced
Celery, sliced
Red Skin potatoes (cut into small pieces)
1-2 shallots
poultry seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

For dumplings:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
parsley and other fresh herbs, as desired

1. Combine stock and water in large pot. Add potatoes and bring to rolling boil.

2. In separate small saute pan, sweat the shallot in butter, cooking until transparent and aromatic over low heat. Add in the celery and carrot, salt and pepper and poultry seasoning and cook until soft.

3. Once potatoes are tender, add in vegetable mix to stock and cook 12-20 minutes on a simmer.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. In a measuring cup, crack the egg and add enough water to equal 1 cup. whisk.

6. Gradually combine the egg and water mixture into the flour, mixing the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky. Fold in the chives. Add additional flour or water as needed to adjust the consistency.

7. When the soup is ready, make sure it stays at a simmer, and spread the dumpling batter out on a cutting board. Hold the board over the water, and using a pizza dough scraper or knife, cut in strips of the dough. Use a slotted spoon to float them toward the top of the soup. Cover the pot and cook, about 8-10 minutes. Test for doneness by bringing to side of the pot and using a fork to see if the dumpling is firm.

Deglaze the veggie pan with a little water and mix into the soup right before serving.