Oh, I heart Fran Gage and her foolproof souffle recipe. After the chermoula disaster, I needed something to restore my kitchen faith, and a lovely little dinner of cheddar-cheese souffle, green beans with lemon, and tiny roasted potatoes with rosemary did just that. For once, I didn't undercook the souffle, so I didn't have to scoop apologetically around a still-wet middle. It was puffy and brown and just savory enough from the cheddar and some minced scallions, very nice with the blanched beans turned around in a hot pan with butter and lemon zest and a spritz of juice. Alongside went some marble-sized potatoes lightly parboiled and then roasted with olive oil, fleur de sel and a crumble of rosemary. Afterwards, a salad of red-leaf lettuce with jelly-tender roasted beets, toasted walnuts, and slivered crunchy raw fennel, dressed with a thick drizzle of pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.
And for dessert, the Drenched Ginger and Lemon Cake, warmed up and served with tea and chips of June Taylor's candied Meyer Lemons, leftover from making Shifra and Stephen's wedding cake in January. The cake was buttery-moist ("wodgy" as Bakerina called it) in the center and crunchy-brown around the edges. Despite the four knobs of preserved ginger in the batter and the ginger syrup used in the drenching, it tasted mostly like lemon cake, which is still a pretty excellent thing. You could up the ginger ante with some grated fresh ginger or a spoonful of dried, but it's quite lovely as it is.
And Bakerina told me all about the joys of Eureka Springs, and how to manage gloopy bread doughs, and much more. Tea was sipped, prosecco was drunk, and now, even sending her home to Queens with enough cake for her husband to have both a late-night snack and breakfast the next morning, I've still got a coffee-sized chunk left for my own morning repast.
Foolproof Cheese Souffle
2 TB butter
2 1/2 TB flour
1 cup milk
4 extra-large eggs, separated
4 oz cheese --soft goat cheese or grated hard cheese, like cheddar or Gruyere
1 TB or so of minced chives or scallions
salt and pepper
Butter an 8-inch souffle dish (aka a straight-sided, deep ceramic baking dish). Preheat oven to 375F. In a smallish, heavy pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk like crazy, letting it cook until it looks smooth and thick and smells slightly biscuity but doesn't color, about 2 minutes. Dump in the milk and whisk madly as it bubbles up and thickens, 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the grated cheese and chives. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Now, either wash and dry your whisk very well and then whisk (or use an electric hand-held or standup mixer) until your egg whites form soft, droopy peaks when the beater is lifted. Fold a scoop of whites into the cheese mixture, then fold the rest in quickly and lightly. It doesn't have to be uniform; you should be able to mix it in just a few strokes. The egg whites are what will give you the fluff, so don't deflate them by over-mixing. Pour into dish and pop into the oven.
NO PEEKING! Let it cook for at least 30 minutes. Then check; it should be well-golden-browned and beautifully puffy. Shake it a bit; center should be a bit jiggly without being soupy. Serve immediately, as it begin to collapse shortly after being removed from the oven.
This souffle won't form a huge brown mushroom-head, but it does puff up nicely and has a lovely spongy-fluffy texture.