It’s been wavering between very warm and seasonally warm here in Maryland and this month looks to go down as our warmest March yet. And for me, when the temperature is up, I want to eat lighter and this souffle is the perfect meal, no matter the time of day. It melts in the mouth and tastes like herbed air. Lovely.
From Laura Calder’s French Cooking At Home show with some minor alterations from me. Easy to do. And you will want to make it again and again.
1 cup whole milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 small onion, peeled
Pinch paprika or 1/8 teaspoon (I only use Hungarian Sweet Paprika)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for dusting the dish – bottom and sides
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs, separated plus 1 egg white (3 egg yolks and 4 whites)
3 ounces of grated Gruyere cheese
1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I use a combo of fresh parsley and thyme, anything else overwhelms the flavor)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the milk with the bay leaf, onion, and pinch of paprika in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and onion.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 8 (1/2-cup/125 ml) ramekins or 1 (4-cup/1 liter) souffle dish, and dust with the grated Parmesan cheese. I prefer using the 4-cup souffle dish, but other round overproof dishes work too.
In a clean saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, and cook, stirring, until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the yolks. Stir through the cheese and herbs. Season well with salt and pepper. If you don’t really season here the dish will be too bland. It won’t be too salty.
Beat the whites to stiff peaks with a pinch of salt. Stir a spoonful into the yolk mixture, then pour the yolk mixture onto the remaining whites and gently fold together. Pour into the souffle dish* and bake until risen and set, but still slightly creamy in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the souffle dishes. You can usually tell when the top is golden brown and the edges have pulled away from the sides.
Serve immediately before it slumps.
*After you have poured the mixture into the souffle dish, run your thumb (nail against side of dish) around the edges inside creating a channel between the mixture and the dish. This will help your souffle rise evenly and is a old chef’s trick! It will make your souffle look so much better.