10 September 2008

Beetroot and Goat Cheese Souffle

I have been thinking about souffle a lot lately. I couldn't really tell you why, as I have only had it once or twice in my life, but the idea got stuck in my head. The lack of a souffle dish held me back for a few weeks, as I though, and I'm sure some purist out there would agree, that a souffle can only be made in a special vessel of an exact height and circumference and with a very small lip on the top to help the souffle rise. For weeks I dispared of buying a yet another piece of kitchen equipment and one that had such a specific purpose that I probably couldn't use it for anything else. Then I finally said 'to heck with it' and decided that I would make mini souffles in my ramekins instead.

At first I thought I might be dooming myself to failure because of all those old kitchen myths I had heard about souffles (like the kind that say you can't even walk through the kitchen while its baking or it will fall) but I had become so fixated on the idea I will willing to risk utter defeat. When I started looking up recipes, I was shocked to come across some that were specifically for individual size souffles baked in 6oz ramekins- just what I have.

I selected two recipes that seemed the most promising, one from Alton Brown because I trust his proportions and directions and another from the food network website that was specifically for mini souffles, and decided to combine the two. I must have been feeling more than usually adventurous that night because in addition to combining two recipes, I decided that instead of making a plain cheese souffle, I would make a roasted beet and goat cheese souffle.

After getting out all the ingredients I got to work. First I peeled and chopped three little beets and roasted them for a few minutes. Then I separated the eggs, added the whites to the bowl of my mixer and putting the yellows into a medium bowl. Next I set out to making the flavor base of the souffle by making a roux, then adding hot milk (that had a bay leaf steeping with it), garlic powder and the goat cheese. I wisked this mixture into the egg yolks and then added the beets, which promptly turned the whole thing a lovely shade of pink. After the eggs whites were beaten to a stiff peak, I carefully folded them into the beet cheese mixture and then realized I hadn't prepped the ramekins. As I folded, I shouted for Zach and then barked a set of instructions something like 'butter' 'grate cheese' 'like you would flour' that made no sense at all. I calmed down enough coherently as him to butter the ramekins and then sprinkle Parmesan cheese around the sides.

I poured the souffle mix into the 4 ramekins but still had about half the mixture left over. At this point I was frantic, afraid that all the souffles would fall since I couldn't seem to get my act together on anything. I put the ramekins in the oven and searched for another pan. I didn't have anything else remotely resembling a souffle dish, so I used a loaf pan. After everything was in the oven, I could finally calm down.

Half and hour later, the souffles were so puffy and golden. The picture you see really doesn't do them justice as the rose to about 3 inches about the edge of the ramekin but began falling as soon as I took them out of the oven. I hurriedly snapped a few pictures and we sat down to eat. I had never had a savory souffle before and I was not disappointed with my first attempt. It had both a rich and airy taste, a bit like a mousse and the beets had turned the bottom a vibrant maroon color. My only complaint was that I couldn't really taste the goat cheese- the Parmesan crust, while deliciously crispy, really overpowered the goat cheese. The beets did stand up well and added a hint of sweetness but I also would have made the pieces a little bit bigger.

I'll give you the recipe here as I made it, but I hope you will figure out a way to either up the goat cheese flavor, or take out the Parmesan. If you do know how-- please let me know. Now that I know souffles aren't impossible and really hard to make, I'm definitely going to try again.

Beetroot and Goat Cheese Souffle
Makes 8, 4oz. ramekins

2-3 small beets (about 3oz or 100g)
1.5 C milk (I used 1%)
1 bay leaf
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
4 oz. (120g) soft goat cheese
2 egg yolks, room temperature
4 egg whites, room temperature
butter for greasing the ramekins
a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese for the ramekins

- Preheat oven to 375F.

- Butter the ramekins and sprinkle the insides with Parmesan cheese, just enough to coat. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet.

- Peel the beats and chop them into small cubes (about 1/4 in. [.5cm] cubes) and set aside.

- Add the bay leaf to the milk. Heat the milk (I did it in the measuring cup to save a dish) in the microwave or on the stove until hot but not boiling.

- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and allow the water to cook out. The butter is ready when it stops making a sputtering noise.

- In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt and garlic powder. In a larger bowl, beat the two yolks for a minute or so (by hand). Add the flour mixture to the butter and stir constantly for 2 minutes to cook the flour. You have now made a roux. Fish the bay leaf out of the milk and add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue to stir until the mixture comes to a full boil. Once it boils, remove it from the heat and stir in the goat cheese until melted. Then, slowly add the cheese base to the eggs yolks, wisking constantly so you don't scramble the eggs. This is not as scary as it sounds-- just go slowly. One trick is to have someone else do the pouring so you can concentrate on the wisking. Once all the milk mix in incorporated, stir in the beets.

- Put the eggs whites in the bowl of your stand mixer (if you are lucky enough to have one) or a metal or glass bowl if you don't. Beat on high until the reach stiff peaks. Mix in 1/4 of the mixture to the cheese base to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites. Some streakiness in the batter is ok- you don't want to overmix and take all the air out.

- Spoon the souffle mixture into the ramekins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffy and golden. Serve immediately.*

Since the recipe made much more that I though it would we had a few portions of leftover souffle. It did deflate, but was still really tasty for lunch the next day with a salad.

1 comment:

kat said...

Oh your timing is perfect, I have two beets I've been wondering what to make with & I've also never made souffle!