If you have been following my recent posts, you are probably all too aware that I have an abundance of eggs from the scared-into-laying-by-threat-of-death-chickens who reside in a palatial chicken mansion at my house. Hence, I am trying to prepare those eggs in all of the one hundred ways allegedly symbolized by the creases in a chef’s toque. So far, I have about one-twentieth of a toque working here, but at least I’ve got goals.
I happened to have some semi-sweet chocolate in my pantry, and an enthusiasm for Kathleen Flinn‘s The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, which JR gave me as a Christmas gift. Never mind the predictable jealousy I have over Ms. Flinn’s adventures at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris – and if you have ever dreamed of living abroad and/or leaving your cubicle behind and finally attending culinary school, you, too, will likely be bordering on insanity, so jealous will you be of her experience – her book was an engaging, fun read that I quickly polished off the weekend following Christmas. And this weekend, I endeavored to polish off her chocolate souffle, a recipe for which is conveniently contained within the pages of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.
- http://kathleenflinn.com/] The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry:
- 1 or more tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks (you need 6 egg whites, so perhaps you'd like to separate the eggs into the mixing bowls you intend to use for the execution of this recipe)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 egg whites
- 1 1/2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau (optional)
- Confectioners' sugar
- Despite the multiple stages of preparation, this is truly an easy dish to assemble, so let's begin.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Coat a 6-cup straight-sided souffle mold or similar oven-proof baking dish with the softened butter. Toss the sugar around in the mold until it has adhered to all of the softened butter, being careful not to smudge the coating. Refrigerate the mold until ready to use.
- In a double boiler or a heat-proof mixing bowl set over a saucepan with 2 to 3 inches of simmering water, melt the chocolate.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until they are thick - and I do mean thick - my whisking arm still hurts - and pale yellow. Add the flour and mix well, knowing that your arm can only become more sore. Of course, you could always use a stand mixer for this and avoid the whole rubbery arm syndrome if you so desire.
- In another saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla extract and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and slowly, slowly, slowly add about half of the milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture 1/4 cup at a time. A ladle is a handy tool for this task. This is similar to ice cream making in that you are creating a custard and do not want the eggs to cook - and by cook, I mean scramble - on you, for that will not result in a smooth custard whatsoever. Return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so as to avoid burning the custard, until the custard has thickened to slightly more thick than pancake batter consistency. Add the melted chocolate and stir until well-blended with the milk mixture.
- Mix the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Using a stand mixer on medium-high speed, this took approximately 5 minutes at my house.
- The egg whites are the key to the souffle rising, as the air trapped within their peaks lifts the mixture as it cooks. First, mix one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then, gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a spatula, turning the contents of the bottom of the bowl over the top of the mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared souffle mold and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the souffle surface is firm to the touch, but the souffle still jiggles when gently moved from side to side.
- If using the orange liqueur, make a hole in the souffle center, and pour it on in. Dust with sifted confectioners' sugar and serve it forth. Immediately. The souffle will begin to deflate just minutes after being removed from the oven, and then will resemble a custard. And we are enjoying the leftovers custard-style, but if the point of souffle is drama, then you must serve it forth right away. As The Joy of Cooking says, once baked, a souffle waits for no one.
On a somewhat related note, it should be mentioned that regardless of how sharp my knives are, I still cry whenever I chop onions. My knife skills clearly stink as badly as the aromatics I attempt to chop.
Dinner tonight: Corned Beef and Cabbage, thank you very much. Estimated cost for two: $8.81. The corned beef was $10.28 for just over 2 pounds. You could get it for less at a store other than Whole Foods, but I purchased mine at Whole Foods, and there we are. There will be leftovers, as I am only serving two, and so JR will have corned beef sandwiches in his lunch for a few days, so let’s say we have half of that at dinner tonight, and that costs us $5.14. I will use one pound of red potatoes, which are 79-cents, a half of a cabbage that cost $1.04, so that’s 52-cents, an onion that is approximately 1/2 pound at 65-cents per pound, we’ll round that up to 33-cents, and 1 pound of carrots that cost approximately 80-cents at $3.99 for 5 pounds. I am making a couple of condiments for the boiled dinner, and so I estimate that the Guinness mustard costs around $2.61 for at least 8 servings, so let’s call that 65-cents for tonight’s dinner. The horseradish sour cream is around $1.50 for the same 8 servings, and we’ll call that 38-cents. There will be thyme and peppercorns in the boiling water, so let’s add a dime each for those, shall we? As mentioned, any meat leftovers will find their way into JR’s lunches this week, as will the mustard and sour cream sauce. Any additional leftover mustard will be used in egg salad, which will round out JR’s work week lunches. And, because we are frugal, you and me, we will save off the water that was used for boiling and freeze it for it is beef broth. Fantastic.