Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Herb Soufflé--Fluffy and Aromatic

June is probably the best month to pick up herbs. They are already strong but still green and fresh. Last year, I planted many herbs in my herb garden but this year they have truly picked up and grown. I cannot get enough of them, so I put them in almost all dishes I prepare. Inspired by the herb season, I decided to make a herb soufflé.

Despite some bad fame they acquired for being capricious, soufflés are not particularly difficult to make, especially if you are familiar with making a béchamel sauce. But it is difficult to maintain its fluffiness. It looks high and raised still in the oven. Unfortunately, almost immediately after we take it out, it starts to "sit down". I made several soufflés but, in spite of certain experience I gained with it over the years, I have never managed to get it to the table perfectly inflated. But even though it falls down a bit it still tastes good.

I made this herb soufflé using my old cheese soufflé recipe, and just added some chopped herbs. And although any extra ingredients make soufflé fall even easier they did not change its consistency. Any herbs can be added to a herb soufflé, even just chives, but if you have oregano, thyme, and marjoram available, they really bring a lot of flavor to the soufflé

Herb Soufflé
(Makes 6 portions)

3/4 cup milk,
2 tbsp flour,
2 tbsp unsalted butter,
4 medium eggs,
2 tbsp Dijon mustard,
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese, plus extra 1 tbsp for the topping,
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese,
1/2 cup fresh, finely chopped herbs of your choice (chive, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Grease with butter six small ramekins or one medium and dust them with grated Parmesan cheese.
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour and the mustard. Cook for a minute. Remove from the heat and add gradually milk whisking until smooth. Bring it to the boil and cook briefly until the sauce thickens.
3. Cool a little bit for 5 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350F.
5. Separate eggs. Add egg yolks to the sauce one at a time, then stir in with chopped herbs and Gruyère cheese.

6. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
7. Whisk the egg whites until soft peak. Fold one spoon into the sauce, then add the sauce to the whites. Mix gently.

8. Pour the mixture into 3/4 of the ramekins height. Sprinkle with a tbsp of cheese. Run a knife around the ramekins to obtain that hut look after baking, and put them in the hot oven.

9. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve immediately accompanied by salads.