November 15, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Julia Child’s Soufflé au Fromage


Or for us mere mortals—cheese soufflé.
This month, Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website. Upon hearing the word “soufflé,” my mind instantly became filled with visions of 1960’s housewives making complicated, elaborate recipes to impress their guests and in-laws, which led me to—who else—Julia Child, the queen of cuisine, whose “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was released in 1961.
The minute I flipped to the soufflé section of her cookbook, a back story made its way into my mind and stayed there throughout the cooking process. Years ago, I imagine that there was an idealistic young girl, freshly out of high school or college, named Nancy. She’s a newlywed, having recently tied the knot with her high school sweetheart, the cute, but unremarkable, Johnny. Johnny’s just started making his way in the world, probably working at some sort of advertising firm, like the ones in “Mad Men.” Presently, Nancy’s attempts at culinary genius have been less than inspired, since she never really learned how to cook. Combined with a nagging mother-in-law, who calls every day to inquire about Nancy’s dinner plans for her dear boy, our girl is beginning to lose hope that she can become that perfect housewife that she so longs to be. Plus she has begun to develop a very unattractive eye twitch from dealing with Johnny’s mother.
Then, one day, she happens upon a book called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Unlike the other trite little cookbooks that she received as wedding presents, in Julia Child’s guide Nancy finds clear, concise directions with how-to pictures and kitchen savvy tips. This was the book for her. As she faces an impending dinner party for her mother-in-law’s birthday, she knows just the recipe that would knock their socks off—soufflé. Soufflés are such a fantastical creation of impossible height and fluffyness, that Nancy is certain that her newly-acquired relatives will be deeply impressed.
With just her hefty cookbook and spunky determination, Nancy sets about making her soon-to-be signature dish.
She melts a bit of butter in a saucepan…

…and adds an equal amount of flour to make a roux…

…which she allows to gently cook over the flame.

To that, she adds some milk and gives it a good whisking, before also adding her seasonings.

For the final element of the base sauce, Nancy separates egg whites and yolks, setting the whites aside for later.

She stirs the yolks into the sauce and sets it aside.

Now comes the time for the stiffly-whipped egg whites to give her soufflé that gorgeous poof and light texture. To achieve this, Nancy whips up her previous egg whites, along with one more, with a bit of salt and cream of tartar until they’re good and solid.

To combine them with the sauce, she first plops a dollop in there and simply stirs it in.


To this lovely mixture, Nancy adds a blend of Gruyère and Swiss cheeses.

After stirring in the cheeses, it came time for some major egg white folding duty. First, Nancy adds all the rest of the whipped egg whites to the pot…

…and then she cuts her spoon right down the middle…

…bringing it down to the bottom of the pot, then sweeping it to the left, and bringing a scoop of the sauce over the top.

Cut down the middle.

Sweep and scoop.

Cut down the middle.

Sweep and scoop.

After a little bit of that—which was actually a rather calming respite from daunting soufflé-ness of it all—Nancy's filling looks something like this.

Finally, before she gingerly places it in the oven, Nancy butters a soufflé dish and coats it with Parmesan cheese…

…and then tops it with a sprinkling of both the Gruyère and Swiss cheeses.

After baking for about 25 minutes, Nancy’s soufflé is beautifully poofed and a joy to behold.

From there, it was only a matter of quickly carrying the soufflé to the table and embracing the applause of her adoring family. Suffice it to say, the fluffy treat is a hit. Even Johnny’s mother can only briefly scrunch her nose before being won over by the airy soufflé, with its hidden cheesy flavor permeating every bite.
The End.

Just to clarify, I am not Nancy. My mother is not Nancy. My grandmother is not Nancy. Nancy was not tragically lost in a zombie apocalypse shortly after the end of this story. There is really no meaning to this tale other than it’s what I always associate with soufflé and fancy recipes of all sorts.
I’m not going to be posting the recipe for this one just because you should own a copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Seriously. Go buy one now. It’s a beautiful cookbook and a piece of history.
Update: I felt mean for leaving you high and dry with no recipe, so here's a link to it on Epicurious.com. But still, I must insist that you get yourself a copy of the cookbook, too.
Ooooh, and before I forget, I must thank each and every one of you who weighed in on my boots vs. peep-toe shoe debacle for the Celtic Thunder concert! I did end up going with the boots and they were truly the better choice. They carried me through waiting in line outside Verizon Wireless Theater in the freezing cold, through sidewalks made wet by nearby fountains, and helped me to stand comfortably, albeit giddily, by the buses afterward.
Take a look! I got a picture with one of the guys, Ryan Kelly.
All in all, I can’t say enough good things about that concert. I’ve been to all three of their Houston shows over the past few years and they just get better and better. Unlike so many other artists, these guys actually sound better live than on a cd or dvd. Plus they always interact with the audience and make the show lots of fun, not to mention how great they treat their fans, with each one of them stopping by the buses to take pictures and sign autographs after the show.
They’re still on tour for another month, with a whole new Christmas addition to the show after Thanksgiving, so if you’re looking for a fun night out, I’d definitely recommend checking them out on YouTube or taking a peek at the tour dates on their website.

29 comments:

  1. looks absolutely fab! how i wish you would post the recipe =)

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  2. Okay, I felt a little bad about it, so I threw in a link in the post. :D

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  3. Oooh I love your photographs - brilliant.
    I might get the book from the library and have a wee look.

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  4. The souffle looks great, but golly gee your friend Ryan is a cutie. You are obviously made for each other. Loved the Houston concert and am looking forward to the release of their Christmas dvd.

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  5. Mm, looking good! That last photo with the fluffiness peeking out from under the crust made me swoon a little. I bet that smelled fantastic.

    I read My Life in France this summer and fell in love with Julia. She was so spirited and fun, and -of course- Mastering the Art of French Cooking went straight on my (extensive) cookery book wishlist.

    Glad you had good times at the concert. :D

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  6. Love the step by step photos! Beautiful!

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  7. That sure looks mouthwatering! The picture of souffle sitting in the oven looks so tempting!

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  8. Great work!!! And I love how the pictures illustrate every step :)

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  9. I love your back story! So cute and very fitting for this recipe. It really gives the dish character!

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  10. That souffle looks truly amazing. I've never attempted one thinking it sounded like a disaster waiting to happen, but your step by step looks easy enough. I can only imagine that this tasted wonderful!

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  11. Looks heavenly!I love all the pictures, but the last one makes me drool! and it's nice that you're pleased with your choice of shoes.Sounds like you had great time at the concert.

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  12. Great post, and that souffle looks amazing! I really wanted to make a cheese one, so now I know which recipe to use for total mother-in-law success. Except I haven't got a mother-in-law...
    :)

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  13. That souffle looks delicious! I am very happy for Nancy's success and Ryan is rather handsome.

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  14. Your souffle turned out amazing! Visually it was impressive! :( Makes me sad I opted for the chocolate...I am putting a cheese one on my list! :)

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  15. What a dish! Great post, Koci!

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  16. Stunning photos as usual. I don't normally like souffles but it looks so good I'm going to have to make an exception.

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  17. Love it...I've never made a souffle, but perhaps I should give it a whirl. I saw Elvis Costello at the Verizon Wireless Theater a few years back...it's a nice venue!!

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  18. wow..your pictures are so beautiful! thank you for sharing this.

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  19. We're glad everything poofed as expected. Well done!

    And double well done on the story telling!

    Stay JOLLY!
    D&S

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  20. AWESOME_ This looks like a MAJOR success to me :-) Your food always looks simply awesome, so delicious, and the photos super, KUDOS!!

    Y'know, I saw this book in NY the other week and was so SO tempted to pick it up ( even if i couldn't fit it in my luggage and would have gone into my overdraft!!) I didnt know who Julia was until I saw by the movie, Julia and Julia ( or named something like that...!) I Really enjoyed it (!!!) Have you seen it? What do you think as a food blogger :-)

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  21. Your souffle looks terrific, great job!

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  22. @Please Do Not Feed the Animals: Thanks! That book is definitely a good read. Lots of really useful info.

    @Lady Cooks the Blues: You were there? Coolios!! It's always nice to meet another Thunderhead. hehehe

    @Suzler: That souffle was so cheesy...and yet you couldn't actually see any cheese! This totally blew my mind. haha

    I just finished reading "My Life in France"! Such a fantastic book!

    @Jenn: Thank you!

    @Angie's Recipes: I was just so happy that it didn't collapse! hehehe

    @Kimberly Peterson: Thanks! :D

    @Rachel: Thank you! For some reason, souffle = 1960's housewife for me.

    @Karen: I know what you mean! I always thought that souffles must be incredibly difficult, but they're actually pretty easy!

    @Zerrin: Thank you! The souffle didn't make it much after that picture before I got the munchies. hehehe

    @Mary: Cheese souffles are the bestest! They'll put a smile on anybody's face--doesn't have to be a mother-in-law! :D

    @Becky: Thanks! Ryan is rawther handsome. ;D

    @Faith: Thank you! I was so torn between chocolate and cheese!

    @Kay Heritage: Thanks!

    @Hester: I know what you mean. I used to think that souffles were kinda icky, but they're actually pretty yummy!

    @Wendy: Verizon is awesome! There's really not a bad seat in there.

    @blackbookkitchendiaries: Thank you! :D

    @David and Stacey: Yes, the poofyness was a success! Thanks! :)

    @Ruairi: Thank you!

    Oooh, it'd be so tough to pass this book up! I've already got my eye on part two. lol Julie & Julia was awesome! I loved how they showed all the kitchen disasters along with the yummy successes. As someone who can make a souffle, and yet sets the toaster on fire with waffles, I really appreciate that. :D

    @5 Star Foodie: Thanks! :)

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  23. Your souffle looks INCREDIBLE and soooo delicious! I love how you did the step by step photos, very helpful. :)
    I'm a baker but I decided to challenge myself and joined the Daring Cooks. I'm so excited yet so terrified! haha! :)

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  24. Wow, this really caught my eye. It looks too gorgeous to eat. I give you a lot of credit - I'm intimidated by souffle. But I love how you broke down the recipe - very helpful. Bookmarking!

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  25. Looks really fantastic!

    I wish I were sitting down to this souffle right now!

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  26. This looks so heavenly!! :)

    PS Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  27. Love it! I've been wanting to try making a souffle for a long time, but I just picked up ramekins from my mom. I can't wait to try it and thanks for posting step by step pictures! It really helps!

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  28. Koci- that looks beyond yummy! You are a baking diva!

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