Eggs and Air – a perfect marriage

Blue Cheese SouffleThere are few things more elegant and ephemeral than a Soufflé, and though many people find the idea of them intimidating, they are surprisingly easy to prepare. I think they make a perfect dinner for two. Serve this blue cheese version with some spiced figs and a bitter green salad and some toasted brioche, turn the lights down low, put Billie on the stereo, and savor the food and one and other.

Blue Cheese Soufflé
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more, for greasing
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, hot
4 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cup crumbled Stilton or something equally delicious
5 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 4 (8-ounce) ramekins or a 1 1/2 -quart souffle dish by greasing with softened butter and coating with Parmesan.

Make a thick bechamel sauce base by melting 3 tablespoons butter over low-medium heat in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Just as the foam subsides, add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste, do not allow to brown. Add the hot milk to the roux and continue to whisk until the mixture is smoothly thickened. Remove from heat. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Season with salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir in the cheese and incorporated evenly. Chill while preparing the egg whites.

In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar just until they hold soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of the beaten whites into the bechamel mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in the rest. Pour into the prepared ramekins or souffle dish and place on a cookie sheet. Bake on the middle rack for up to 25 minutes checking for doneness after 12 minutes. The souffle is done when it has puffed over the rim, the outside is golden and the center giggles slightly. Take care not to over bake. Serve with Dried Figs in Simple Syrup, brioche, and bitter greens.

Dried Figs in Simple Syrup
1/2 cup water
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
1 cup dried whole figs

Combine water, orange juice and zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the figs and cook until reconstituted, about 10 minutes.
Blue Cheese Souffle

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