The elegant, puffed and golden soufflé is considered the prima donna of the culinary world. The classic egg at its magnificent best: golden yolks enriching a delicious savory or sweet base sauce, and stiffly beaten whites, fueled by oven heat, gently expanding and growing the base to create a towering, light and airy mixture that melts seductively on your tongue.
The time to enjoy your soufflé is right after it debuts from the oven, as this leading lady, whether sweetened with chocolate or enriched with cheese, has just a limited time (like about 10 minutes) to stay puffed.
Fortunately for home cooks, learning the art of a soufflé is not difficult. If you can separate eggs, beat the egg whites, and master the technique of folding the whites into the base, you can make a soufflé.
The base of the soufflé is a white sauce; a roux of melted butter and flour cooked with milk until thick. Because soufflés are enjoyed as either entrees or dessert, the components added to the sauce, besides the egg yolks, are either savory or sweet.
Sweet soufflé flavors include chocolate, lemon and Gran Marnier. Ordered in advance at fancy restaurants and served with great aplomb, these soufflés are works of edible art.
Savory soufflés are great glamorizers for leftover and cooked foods. Think spinach or broccoli with feta cheese; poached salmon and dill; cheddar, bacon and scallion; sautéed lobster with goat cheese and fresh herbs; just imagining the creative combinations makes me hungry. Back in my former restaurant days, I featured a different “savory” soufflé every day.
The recipe for Squash Soufflé uses the classic preparation. Read the recipe, assemble your ingredients and tools, and be ready to have fun. As tempting as it may be, don’t open the oven to check on your puffing miracle as it bakes. Set the timer, prepare the table, and enjoy.
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 cup grated Gruyere or other cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1- cup milk
- 4 eggs separated
- 2 cups cooked and mashed squash puree
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Grate the Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses. Butter a 1-½ quart soufflé dish and dust it with ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese.
- In a large, heavy saucepot, melt the butter. Stir in the chopped onion and cook until soft. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the flour to make a roux, and stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the milk, whisking, and simmer the mixture, continuing to whisk and cook until smooth and thick. Remove the pan from heat.
- Whisk in the Gruyere cheese. Whisk in the egg yolks. Whisk in the squash puree.
- Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Whisk about ¼ of the egg whites into the squash mixture to lighten it.
- Fold the remaining egg whites into the squash mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the center of a preheated 375-degree oven for about 45 to 50 minutes. The top will be golden and puffed. Remove the soufflé from the oven and serve immediately.
- Makes four servings as an entrée, six servings as a side.