I realize I’ve left you for nearly a week without a new recipe. I don’t know what I was thinking. Actually, I do. I was thinking how nice it would be to get away and enjoy a little winter sporting, namely cross country skiing at beautiful Crystal Lake. So, instead of cooking and writing a post over the weekend like usual, I got some gear together and headed north with D.
Before any of you ski enthusiast out there start thinking about leaving comments regarding the technicalities of cross country skiing and my experiences, let me put a stop to it right here. I’m thatperson, the one puttzing around the trails, falling at least once every mile and laughing at myself. I am not a good skier, but I do love being out in the snow, filling my lungs with clean winter air and getting some much needed vitamin D from the sun’s rays. I spend as much time stopped, gazing out among the towering pine trees at some bit of wildlife, as I do gliding along on my skis.
So that’s what I did this weekend instead of blogging. Now, more importantly, let’s talk about what I did rigtht before I left for this mini-vacation. I made my very first soufflés ever. They were Parsnip Soufflés to boot. Fancy, eh?
I’m not sure why I’d never made a soufflé before last week – probably something to do with my general disinterest in heavily egg-y savory dishes – but I’m quite happy I finally gave soufflé-ing a shot. Yes, they deflated within moments of exiting the oven, but the color was gorgeous and, thanks to the parsnip, the flavor was complex and not at all eggy. On the flip side of that coin, these soufflés are heavy on the parsnip “zing” so if you’re not a huge parsnip proponent, it might not be the recipe for you.
About those parsnips: this was a bunch of small tender roots that’d been hanging out in my crisper drawer since early October (5 months!) and were still in tip-top shape. I got them from the farm since the ones planted in my garden last year failed to yield anything of merit (I waited to sow the seed until too late in the season). If you’re keen to eat locally all through the winter, parsnips are a great root vegetable to buy in bulk at your farmers market. Stored in a cool location with moderate humidity (i.e., a dry basement), they will last you all the way through to spring, assuming you don’t gobble them up before in tasty dishes such as this.
Shall I impart what little I’ve learned from this first stab at soufflés? I’d recommend using a flat bottomed ramekin instead of the little rounded bottomed Corelle bowls I used for the sake of photos. I’m pretty sure the ramekin shape will help “push” the soufflés up the sides and make them a little bit more stable. Also, fill those ramekins pretty darn full to get the best puff. I was fearful of overflow, but I really shouldn’t have been. And finally, don’t overbeat the egg whites and make them too stiff and dry. I did just that, thinking it would help keep the air in the soufflé. But all I really managed to do was make it very difficult to thoroughly combine the whites with the rest of the mixture, causing little pockets of dry egg white to show up in the finished dish. Live and learn, right?
Alright, now that I’ve exposed my tender new soufflé soul, please tell me who among you has baked a soufflé and what your successes and failures have been. Got any tricks? I’m contemplating a rutabaga version of this recipe and would love to get any pointers before I undertake that endeavor.
Adapted from Eat Feed Autumn Winter
2 T. dry bread crumbs
1 C. chopped parsnip
2 T. butter
1/2 C. milk
2 T. (scant) flour
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 C. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 t. dried marjoram or minced rosemary
pinch of salt
Butter two ramekins or ovenproof mugs. Dust each with bread crumbs and set aside.
Scrub the parsnips and cut into 1 inch pieces. Cook in boiling salted water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Place the cooled parsnip in a food processor and add the butter, milk, and flour. Puree until smooth. Add the egg yolks, cheese, herb and salt. Process until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff. Carefully fold the whites into the parsnip mixture in small batches. Divide the mixture between the prepared ramekins, filling almost to the top. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until puffed and golden, being careful to never slam the oven door! Serve immediately.