Ok, I know, I know. I haven't been here for a while. My husband and I are going through the special kind of hell known as buying a house. It's our first (and hopefully last) home we are trying to buy. Everyone we talk to says that they have never heard of anyone having such a hard time trying to buy a house, but you know how that goes.
I would also like to announce that last week our new nephew came into this world. He is beautiful, sweet, and everything you would ever want in a baby. So between the hoop jumping for the house, the new nephew, and life in general, I've been a little busy.
In all honesty I haven't cooked much in the last few months. I have been running all over the place getting estimates, checking on repairs (someone broke into the house and stole all the copper because they suck), and working overtime. So by the time me or Matt get home, neither one of us want to even walk into the kitchen.
We have been trying new things, and recently found out that we love sushi. Matt is a total daredevil when it comes to trying new sushi. He's eating eel and octopus, and I'm all like "hey this tuna is awesome". This is the one thing that Matt is really getting into more than me.
Anyway... I made this soufflé last night and it was phenomenal! I was shocked at how well it turned out, mostly because we all know how fussy soufflés can be. I wanted to make something that was filling and light, and this hit the spot. I served it with a light salad of arugula, carrots, and shallots I made a vinaigrette out of red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. It was peppery and delicious, and I loved the contrast between the crispness of the salad, and the buttery softness of the soufflé.
Here is what you will need to make this delectable soufflé:
6 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
1 & 1/2 cup milk at room temperature (I used skim and it turned out fine. You can use whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup butter (that's half a stick)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chicken cubed or shredded (I used rotisserie chicken because I had a coupon but you can use any kind of chicken you want)
1 & 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese*
3/4 cup breadcrumbs*
Salt and pepper to taste
Turn your oven to 400F degrees. Butter a soufflé dish and set aside. It is really important that you use a soufflé dish because they are made for baking soufflés in. If you must use another dish your soufflé will not cook properly.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Wait until the butter stops bubbling, this lets you know that the water has cooked out and when you add the flour it won't clump. Add the flour and whisk. Keep whisking until the mixture turns a light golden brown and smells nutty. Add the milk slowly while still whisking. The mixture will thicken, and once it can coat the back of a spoon it's done. Grate in about 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (Look at you! You just made a béchamel sauce! Do you know how awesome that makes you? Now you can do so many things with this sauce, make cheese sauces, sausage gravy, and a million other things. Hello versatility!) Mix well and set aside. Beat egg yolks till light yellow and sit aside. Add chicken, cheese, and breadcrumbs to sauce (butter and flour mixture) and stir well.
Now the mixture is cool enough to add the egg yolks. If you didn't wait to add the yolks you would have scrambled the eggs, which is not good. You can either wait until it cools, or you can temper the mixture. To temper you would add a small amount the sauce to the yolks and whisk. You would keep doing this until the temperature of the yolks had increased enough to add the entire bowl to the sauce. Slowly raising the temperature of the egg yolks helps to ensure that they won't scramble when you add them to the sauce.
It is now time for the whites! Don't be afraid it is super easy, and once you learn how to whip egg whites, you can make meringues too! Place the room temperature egg whites in a glass or metal bowl (don't use plastic bowls or utensils when you're going to be whipping egg whites) and add a pinch of salt. You can hand whisk the egg whites, but that will take 10 years so I suggest using a hand mixer. Start slowly until the eggs become frothy, and then increase the speed. You want to be able to pull the beaters out of the egg whites and have stiff peaks at the end of each beater. A stiff peak means when the whites stand on their own and don't slide off the beaters. It will look like the top of a dairy queen cone.
Please, please do not over whip your egg whites or they will be nasty. After they start to gain volume start to check them about every 30 seconds by turning the mixer off, and lifting the beaters out to check.
Next we are going to take 1/4 of the egg whites and mix it into the sauce. Now you can use that big plastic spatula that I told you to put down earlier. Stir the egg whites into the sauce. We are sacrificing some of the whites to make the sauce lighter so that it can take the rest of the whites. This will be the last time that you stir! Understand?
Add 1/3 of the remaining whites into the sauce. You are going to FOLD the whites into the sauce by sweeping the spatula down and then up, while slightly turning the bowl. When you have turned the bowl twice, it is time to add another 1/2 of the whites. If you stir instead of fold, all the beautiful bubbles that you whipped into your eggs will be smashed, your soufflé won't rise, and your life will be ruined. So be very gentle. Add the rest of the whites, and fold them in carefully. It is ok if there are still streaks or specks of white left in the bowl. Leave them alone. They will bake out. It will be ok!
Carefully pour the mixture into the butter soufflé dish. Do not shake, bang, or jiggle the dish. You don't want to pop anymore glorious bubbles. Place the dish in the middle of the oven and check after 30 minutes. Insert a butter knife into the center. The bottom may still be a little gooey, that's fine. The residual heat will finish cooking. If the top or middle is still gooey, put it back in the oven for 5 minutes and not a minute more.
Now you may enjoy a hearty yet light lunch, dinner, or brunch. You have basically mastered French cuisine now, and you can cook anything. Check back for new recipes and pictures.
* I have been majorly into couponing lately. The breadcrumbs and cheese I got for free with coupons. I used the new Kraft combinations (these can be found next to the cream cheese) which was rosemary and Italian herb flavored. It was awesome because I just ripped the package open and dumped it in. I didn't have to measure at all, and it turned out fantastic. I do always have parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in my pantry, but free is free right?
**Do not use that crappy ground nutmeg. First of all it tastes like, well crap and second it doesn't have any of its true nutmeggy essence when it's pre-ground. Buy a small bottle of the whole nutmegs and you will be rewarded. It smells heavenly when you grate it yourself, and it is a great confidence booster when you feel like you really have a handle on things in the kitchen. It lasts sooo much longer when it's whole, and it's a powerful hallucinogen (if you eat 3 whole nutmegs), so if your family gets out of line... Never mind.