Saturday, November 12, 2011

Favorite Restaurant Inspiration: Lemon Goat Cheese Souffles

This is evidence that I am no longer in class: I have time to cook and post to the blog!  Last night I themed dinner around French cooking, and dug out this recipe that I created over the summer.  I considered waiting to post it, but decided it was too good to keep to myself.

A couple years ago we stumbled upon The Village Cork.  This quaint, French-inspired wine bistro has it all: atmosphere, genuine staff, and superb food. Chef Samir Mohammad is central to the restaurant, figuratively and literally.  His entire kitchen is located behind the wrap-around bar that divides the two small dining rooms, making the bar seats best in the house.  Watching him work is captivating, and I always learn something new while I am enjoying his locally grown and unique dishes.  
Recently, the chef presented a lemony Chevre souffle as part of a vegetarian trio.  It was so good, I was determined to replicate it to the best of my ability.  While my version is not quite as good as the chef's, it is still delightful, and fairly easy.  Getting a full rise is tricky, and mine could still use a little more height.  While these are not that healthy, they are not that unhealthy either and provide a lovely treat as a starter, or make more for a main dish.  

Some souffle tips and tricks:
  1. Allow eggs to come to room temperature
  2. After buttering the dishes, return to refrigerator while you cook 
  3. Do not open the oven during the first 3/4 of the baking time
  4. Do not over-whip your egg whites, they will not be able to rise in the oven
  5. Pre-measure all of your ingredients, you will not have time to do this while you are cooking
  6. Have everyone seated, as the souffles will immediately begin to fall when they come out of the oven
Lemon Goat Cheese Souffles
Makes 6 1 cup Ramekins 
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (about) dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 5 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), very coarsely crumbled
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub inside of six 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or ramekins with 1 tablespoons butter. Coat with breadcrumbs; tap out excess. Set aside, preferably in the refrigerator.
  2. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat.
  3. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk.
  4. Increase heat to medium. Simmer mixture until very thick, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Add half of goat cheese and whisk until melted and smooth.
  5. Mix in zest, salt and pepper. For a more intense lemon flavor, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  6. Whisk egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot soufflé base. Cool 5 minutes.
  7. Place egg whites in bowl of stand mixer and beat until foamy.  Add cream of tarter and continue to beat until stiff but not dry. Mix 1/4 of whites into soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites. Fold in remaining goat cheese.
  8. Divide mixture among prepared soufflé dishes. Place in 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of dishes.
  9. Bake soufflés until puffed and golden brown on top and softly set in center, about 20 minutes. Serve soufflés immediately in their dishes. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bread That Almost Makes Itself: No Knead Bread

Happy Friday everyone! The holiday season is rapidly approaching.  Christmas lights are strung, ornaments are out for sale, snow is falling here in Denver, and Thanksgiving is a mere two weeks away.  Today happens to be another holiday: Veteran's Day.  I have a lovely late start today, and I am thankful for the causal scheduling error.  While downloading food pictures from the past couple weeks, I am struggling to decide which recipe to post.
I recently discovered the wonderful invention of Jim Lahey two years ago: no knead bread.  However, there seem to be endless modified versions floating around cyber space.  The original recipe calls for 14-20 hours of rise time.  My patience is much too short for that.  I found a recipe derived by Mark Bittman, columnist for the New York Times that called for only 4 1/2 hours of rise time.  I have changed it a bit to use part whole grain flour, and that addition required an additional rise time.  The bread is a dense, hearty, country-style loaf that pairs perfectly with soups, stews and pastas.  It is a bit small for sandwich bread, but I have used it alright. 

Speedy No Knead Bread
  • 1 packet (1/4 ounce) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Olive oil as needed
  1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water and stir until blended, dough should be "shaggy."
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or bread towel and let rise at warm room temperature (70 degrees or more) for about 5 hours.
  3. Lightly oil a work surface and gently roll dough out of bowl onto it, fold the dough over one or two times, cover with plastic wrap or towel again and allow to rise for an additional 45 minutes.
  4. At least 30 minutes before baking, put a dutch oven or one of these alternatives in the oven and let it heat to 450 degrees.
  5. Slide your hand under the dough and transfer to dutch oven.  Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for about 15 more minutes or until crust is browned.
  6. Transfer to cooling rack and cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and enjoy!