Thankfully, this weekend was uneventful compared to last. Long story short, one of our chickens got chicken-napped by a predator of some sort. The girls were free ranging Sunday afternoon while we were working in the yard. Izzy, Chris, and I went in the house for a minute, and when we walked outside, one was missing. This was all too familiar if you recall the time Wynnie got snatched. The ending to this story is much happier, though. Little Paulette, the runt of the flock, somehow managed to live through the attack. We found her in a bramble of Arctic Rose bushes, squawking her little heart out and she was terrified to say the least. She’s missing all the feathers on her back, and she has a couple of wounds but nothing so severe a little Neosporin and quarantine can’t cure.
One of the major benefits of having chickens is, of course, the eggs. We usually have more eggs than we can eat, and I’m always looking for recipes that showcase the richness and healthfulness of a fresh egg.
Now, to switch gears: Pimento cheese. No one makes it better than my mom. I eat it on crackers, on apples and celery, and by the spoonful. Hers is not sweet like the kind you get in the tubs at southern grocery stores. There’s a touch of sweetness from the mayonnaise (it has to be Duke’s mayonnaise) but it’s sharp, savory, and peppery. I wanted to incorporate the flavors of pimento cheese and eggs in this week’s recipe, so I flipped through my old cookbooks for inspiration and found several soufflé recipes.
From the minimal research I’ve done with my old cookbooks, it seems there was a period between 1940 and 1960 (give or take a decade or two–it’s a wide range, I know), any casserole-type dish was considered a soufflé. Somewhere in the span of these decades, household cooks started to get more adventurous and recipes started to get weirder. For example, I found this ad from the 1950’s which included tuna, lemon jello, mayonnaise, olives, and the list goes on. Blurg.
I’m sure there’s a correlation between the rising demands of housewives and throwing together dishes, convenience being the key ingredient. Or, maybe, cooks were beginning to look at food creatively, just as we food bloggers are doing now. In either instance, I respect the impetus behind it, though I’d have a hard time swallowing a slice of a tuna-jello-mayonaise loaf.
Traditional soufflés are rich, eggy dishes, and to be honest, I was a little intimidated before I stepped in the kitchen. There was something about the fragility of the two major components, the roux and beaten egg whites, that convinced me I was going to screw it up. Sure, I’d only be out a few ingredients, but when you have a limited number of eggs (no offense Henrietta, Buffy, and Paulette), one mishap can “cost” a lot. Thankfully, Julia Child was there to, in a way, pat me on the back and tell me everything was going to be okay.
The first soufflé I made was directly from the pages of The Settlement Cookbook and it turned out well. However, I used Julia Child’s technique for my adapted recipe and it turned out even better. The main difference was the time during which you stir in the cheese to the egg mixture (so the mix is not weighted down) and adding parmesan to the ramekin before filling it with the egg mixture. I also added an aluminum foil collar to help the soufflé rise, and it worked beautifully.
What didn’t rise was the pimentos. They sank to straight to the bottom, as you can see here.
If you decide to try this recipe, definitely watch the YouTube video for both the entertainment and educational value.
- 4 Tbsp Butter (1 Tbsp for buttering the ramekins), room temperature (Because "Butta' is betta'", so says Julia Child)
- 2 Tbsp. Parmesan Reggiano, finely grated
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce (or dijon mustard)
- 1⅓ cups of milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 5 egg whites
- 1 4 oz. jar of diced pimentos, drained
- 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- Heaping ¼ tsp. Cream of Tartar for egg whites
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease 2-5 inch ramekins or 1-8 inch soufflé dish with butter.
- Sprinkle parmesan over butter and roll the dish until the sides and bottoms are covered.
- Freeze ramekins until ready to fill.
- Heat milk on stovetop over medium-low heat. It's necessary that it's hot for the next step.
- Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Once butter begins to bubble, add flour gradually, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Whisk in the hot milk, and whisk until ingredients are incorporated. Cook, whisking occasionally, for 2 minutes or so. Once mixture begins to boil, remove saucepan from heat.
- Beat egg yolks and slowly pour them into the sauce, whisking constantly. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until white begin to foam. Add cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium high. Whisk egg whites are firm and glossy (soft peaks).
- Take ramekins out of the freezer.
- Stir in ¼ of the egg whites in saucepan to lighten up the sauce a bit. Otherwise, it will be a little too heavy to work with.
- Once lightened up, pour contents of sauce pan into the mixing bowl with the remainder of the egg whites. Add cheddar cheese and pimentos as well. Gently fold contents of the bowl until ingredients are well incorporated.
- Pour evenly in dishes.
- Fold a piece of aluminum foil in half and wrap around the dish(es) to make a "wall". This will prevent the soufflé from bubbling over and will encourage it to rise. Secure the foil with a paperclip or pin, whatever you have handy.
- For smaller dishes, bake for 25 minutes. For larger dish, bake for 35, or until top is golden.
- Serve immediately.
Short video tutorial on beating egg whites: