As some of you know, I am currently attending culinary school. And of course, by attending culinary school I mean that I have the Food Network on most of the day.
I can’t complain. I have learned valuable cooking techniques from some of the nation’s favorite chefs and have tested delicious recipes in the comfort of my own home.
A coupe of weeks ago, during the “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics” course dedicated to High Wire Eggs Dishes, Ina (we’re on a first name basis now) taught us how to make a Spinach and Cheddar Soufflé. She promised her technique would yield the perfect soufflé every time, and I’m happy to say that her promises were not in vain.
Perhaps one of the most intimidating foods to make, soufflé takes precision and patience when it comes to both preparing and baking the dish. I have to admit that I was so scared of not getting it right, I stood in front of the oven, looking through the window for about 30 minutes until my soufflé finally puffed and it was golden brown.
I didn’t have a big soufflé dish, so instead I used 3 medium-sized ramekins from Target. This worked out perfectly and made even, one-person soufflés. I think I prefer to do this rather than bake the whole thing in a big mold.
Another tip for this recipe is to place the grated parmesan cheese in the food processor and pulse until you are left with small bits similar to breadcrumbs. This makes it easier to coat the ramekins. And, always use fresh parmesan instead of that powdery stuff that comes in a bottle!
Spinach and Cheddar Soufflé
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup scalded milk
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 extra-large egg yolks, at room-temperature
- 1/2 cup grated aged Cheddar cheese, lightly packed
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
- 5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Butter the inside of a 6 to 8-cup souffle dish (6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches in diameter by 3 1/2 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, the nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.
Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Cheddar, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and the spinach and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.
Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don’t peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.