On Your Mark, Get Set: Embarking on Soufflé
by Sarah A. Maine
Coming into this week I had a plan – a plan to keep the squash relay going a little longer, while bringing in cauliflower (a huge specimen of which was camped out on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator staring me in the face every time I opened the door). It was a good solid plan full of possibility. But. This plan was derailed when I read the recipe for Brianna’s Butternut Fritters with Lentils and Spinach. I blame it mainly on the fritters. I zeroed in on their baked goody-ness and I couldn’t get it out of my head. The whole point of RecipeRelay is that when something about a recipe inspires you, you should let it take you wherever it leads. So when the fritters pointed, I followed.
This week, instead of relaying off a vegetable or meat ingredient, I’m launching my recipe from the flour, eggs and milk. I wanted to give cauliflower a home the way Brianna had accommodated butternut squash in her fritters, all I needed was to choose a baking matrix. While riding on the subway I had a flash of what I wanted to make: a savory cauliflower soufflé. When I got home I raided my cookbook shelf to confirm that such a thing was indeed possible. It was. I set about reading various soufflé recipes to guide me on my path. I’ve made soufflés in the past but it had been a while so I needed a refresher course.
What was immediately apparent from my reading was that soufflés, made from a combination of custard and egg whites, are basically dairy layered on dairy layered on dairy. I had a moment of hesitation since many people (some RecipeRelay readers included) for health or other reasons, don’t eat dairy. My personal choice is to eat organic, free range, grass fed dairy in moderation, while doing my best to decipher the shifting currents of nutritional information about omega-3s, cholesterol, and pasteurization among other things. I hope you will all bear with me this week while I indulge myself in a mini dairy adventure!
For this recipe I decided to use as much regional dairy as possible starting with Knoll Krest Farm eggs from the Hudson Valley (purchased at the Sunnyside Greenmarket). For the rest of my dairy needs I made a trip to the Murray’s Cheese outpost at the Grand Central Market where I picked up some Ronnybrook Farms milk and Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter. I inquired after American made parmesan style cheeses but according to the cheesemonger there really aren’t any good ones. I decided to make do (woe is me) with the delectable Podda Classico, a tangy hard cheese made from cow and sheep’s milk in Sardinia, Italy. I made a mental note to investigate the American hard cheese situation more thoroughly for the future.
My dairy haul in hand I jumped back on the train to head home. It was time to introduce everyone to the cauliflower! I also needed to do some more reading on soufflés to get the steps firmly in my head. Check back on Thursday for the full recipe and an accounting of the soufflé making experience!