As you may have guessed from the frequent posts about chickens, we have an abundance of eggs in our house. The girls have started a little “chicken business” selling the extra eggs and whenever my youngest sees our next door neighbor outside, she tromps right over to make a sale. I haven’t seen my neighbor ducking into the house yet, so it seems like a beneficial and reciprocal relationship, so far anyway.
There are a couple of tricks to souffle that once you understand them, the rest is easy. The first is that you want to remove as much liquid as possible from the vegetable, in this case broccoli. If not, it tends to juice out during baking and makes for a watery souffle. Still tasty, just not as pretty. The second concerns beating the egg whites to soft peaks. The soft peak stage of beating is when you can lift your whisk sideways and the egg whites stick to the whisk, but flop over. And lastly, no peaking once the souffle has gone into the oven. Your anxious peaking and checking causes the oven temperature to fluctuate and drop which effects the height of your efforts. And finally, lastly, if you have a guest who likes to go wash their hands for dinner just as you say “dinner is served,” then say that a few minutes early so that everyone is seated as the souffle comes out of the oven instead of having everyone sitting at the table watching the souffle drop as you wait for your final guest to meander to the table.
Broccoli and Cheddar Souffle
You can use both the stems and the tops of the broccoli. Be sure to remove with a peeler the lower part of the stems which can be woody. Discard the last inch of the stem.
You can save the liquid from the broccoli for another use such as a broccoli or vegetable soup.
1 pound broccoli, diced
2 tablespoons butter, plus a little for greasing
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
4 eggs, separated
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
Bring 1 inch of salted water to a boil in a medium pot and add the spinach. Steam for 3 minutes and drain. Press out any excess liquid. In the same sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking until a smooth paste is formed. Whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth and bring to a boil so that it thickens. Remove from heat and add the spinach, egg yolks, cheese, salt and pepper. Cool.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 4-6 cup souffle pan and dust with bread crumbs. Shake out the excess.
Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl or with a mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold one-third of the whites into the broccoli mixture. Then fold in the remaining two thirds. Transfer to the souffle pan and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes.
Maybe we’ll have this again for dinner tonight.