Hello spring! Individual Asparagus Souffles
Now it’s official. Spring. I got my first batch of asparagus in my veggie box this week. Only took me about 3 hours to decide what to do with it.
One of my favorite discoveries this year was this: souffles are easy. Super easy. I spent many years intimidated by their quirky ways. It probably doesn’t help that the first time I attempted souffle it was for a surprise birthday party with 19 guests. If you think serving a souffle to a friend before it falls is scary, try doing it to 19 people. It was an intense night involving an oven that didn’t quite close (or get very hot) and a trip to Walgreens to clean out their supply of toaster ovens. There were a few different recipes on the menu, and only one kicked ass. And it’s the one I still use today. Martha Stewart – that lady knows what’s what. That night I learned that if you have a good base recipe, souffles can absorb any flavor you want. Tonight I wanted my asparagus, and I wanted a quick dinner, so asparagus souffle it was.
First I blanched the asparagus for about 90 seconds to soften it up a tad. Then I sliced it into thin rounds (since it needs to get held up by some egg whites in a bit, the pieces need to be a manageable size).
I prepared some ramekins by coating them with butter and bread crumbs. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but the bread crumbs act like little steps to help the souffle hoist itself up as it gets hot.
Then I prepared my souffle base by making a quick roux and mixing it with egg yolks, spices, cheese & the asparagus rounds. Traditionally souffle’s involve Gruyere, but I usually just throw in whatever cheese I have in the fridge. Tonight was a mix of Dubliner, Parmesan & Goat cheese. Get crazy, it’ll taste good as long as it’s tasty cheese.
I whipped up the egg whites into an almost stiff meringue and folded that into the base.
17 minutes in a hot oven and we had perfect little souffles of cheesy asparagus heaven!
RECIPE (adapted from Martha Stewart):
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons dry breadcrumbs
12 ounces of any cheese you like, a good mix is always a good idea.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 large egg yolks
12 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place rack in center. Generously butter bottom and sides of 6 small ramekins with 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Sprinkle bread crumbs in dish, swirling to thoroughly coat the bottom and sides.
- Grate cheeses into a small bowl and combine. Set aside.
- Melt the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and mustard, and cook, whisking constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk, and cook until thick and smooth, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper & nutmeg. Pour souffle base into a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks a few at a time until smooth. Stir in cheese until well incorporated.
- Use a whisk (or whatever machine you have) to whip 12 whites until you ALMOST have stiff peaks form.
- Quickly mix about 25% of the meringue into the souffle base. Then gently fold in the rest into the souffle base just until incorporated. Pour into souffle dish, and bake for 17 minutes. Serve fast before it sinks.