Friday, January 26, 2007

Hay Hay It's Donna Day #9: Spinach & Cheddar Soufflé


I did it! My little heart flutters even as I write this. Bear with me and my naïve excitement for a moment. Foodie fears are not stared down into submission everyday. But yesterday was just such a day for me. After much tension and worry, laying awake at night with Donna Hay’s Modern Classics Book 1 on my chest, and praying to all manners of food gods, I finally marched into my kitchen to do it. I hid my phone away, gunned my KitchenAid, and took destiny by the reins. For the first time in my life, I made a soufflé.

Such a big deal over one dish you say? For this girl, a very big deal. Making a soufflé has always been one of my food fears. Anything that deals with handling egg whites is a challenge for me, especially when they play the pivotal role. The dishes (and desserts) I make are rich and substantial. I rarely venture into the “light and airy” part of food land. As much as I’d like to be able to associate myself with “delicate” (and I really, really do!), I, more often than not, gravitate towards “hearty”.

So what was the catalyst that propelled me towards the un-chartered waters of soufflé-making? It’s all thanks to Tami of Running with Tweezers, the host of this month’s Hay Hay It’s Donna Day! She chose soufflés as the theme, challenging us (well, me at least) to push cooking boundaries and get out of the kitchen comfort zone. (She didn’t leave us to wander about clueless though…she left us some tips)

From the moment Tami announced the theme, until I had safely taken a picture of the soufflés, I was a bundle of nerves. I stuck to the original recipe Tami posted like glue…I was not taking any chances. I had my own copy of Modern Classics Book 1 too, so I read and reread the recipe ad nauseum.

I set aside the whole morning to make it, alone, with no interruptions. I quietly went about doing the prep work (I actually really love this part -- so conducive to reflection): grating the aged cheddar, blanching the spinach, measuring out everything. Then I got on with the custard base. No problems there…egg yolk and I get on famously. In fact, this part went on like a dream…and the resulting creamy base was so yummy! There was many spoon-licking moments while musing, “Is this room temperature yet? Hmmm…better have another taste..."

Finally it was time to whip those egg whites into shape. I rolled up my sleeves and stood by the humming mixer. Was it stiff peaks or soft? I can’t tell! Ack! I was faltering. Get yourself together Jo! I turned off the mixer. Stiff or soft you whites are getting folded in…right now! I gained control of the situation once more and gently folded the whites into the cream base, then spooned them into the ramekins I had previously buttered and coated with bread crumbs. Then off they went into the oven…and all I could do was wait with crossed fingers.

I was so nervous at this point that I turned off every single fan in the apartment and closed all the windows. And I live in Manila. And my kitchen is already “naturally” hot to begin with. Sweat trickled down my face as I stared into the gloom of the oven through its glass door. Was it going to happen?

Well, you be the judge. I think they still have a bit of awkward pre-pubescence about them. Not quite all the grace and elegance of the more Audrey-Hepburn-esque soufflés I have seen. But as they came out of the oven, their little tops puffy and proud, my heart melted and I loved them anyway. Even the little guy who, uh, had a minor “accident” as I must have over-stuffed him. So for now, I will settle for…cute :)


Of course, no pudding can be proved without the tasting, and by strange coincidence my best friend K drops in earlier then planned, just it time to sample my achievement! I am happy to report (whew!) that it got a good review from K. I couldn’t have asked for more from my first soufflé…living up to its name, it was light and fluffy (yes!), and delicious to boot! I need to have cheese in soufflé form more often I think. (here’s a great idea for a cheese soufflé from Peabody)

Thank you Tami for being such a great HHDD host and for choosing a fantastic theme! Truth be told, if it weren’t for you, who knows if I would have ever made this. So thank you!!!

(a little side story: I burnt my finger pulling these babies from the oven. I showed the blister later to C hoping for some sympathy, and he quotes Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential about having cook’s hands and that I should be proud. When did he turn into a Bourdain-quoter? And yes, I was a bit proud.)

32 comments:

Pille said...

Hey - congrats on successful souffles! I should tell my K to make savoury souffles instead of chocolate ones next time:)

christine said...

Omigosh, you should be proud! They look perfect to me. I wish I had "dropped by" to have a taste. Hmm well I might have if you answered your phone! hehe Just kidding, though I would have preferred to have my almond cajun chicken with some company. :D But seriously, you have outdone yourself and IM proud of you too!

christine said...

Haha I just remembered that part in the book when he Bourdain burned his hands and was seeking sympathy from the big guy and he's all like "Whachu want white boy? A bandaid?" before showing him his own blistered and scarred hands.

Zarah Maria said...

They look gorgeous! I'd love a bite, here, there's my fork, could you scoop me one?;-)

Brilynn said...

I love that last pic with the souffle spilling over! I had issues with mine...

JMom said...

Bravo, miss Jo! That's my big fear too, souffle's. I have never made one although I have been eyeing several recipes now for years. You give me hope, mija :) I just love your hub's come back. hehe!

Socky said...

Congratulations! In fact I had an instant report from K that indeed your souffle was great.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Pille! Thanks much! :) Your K is very talented!

Hi Nens! Thanks! My phone was very far away from me...I missed so many calls! But I would have loved for you to have a taste :) I remember that part! Although C didn't actually call me a white boy :)

Hi Zarah Maria! Thank you!!! Ok...am scooping some out now...there you go! :)

Hi Brilynn! Yeah, that one got a bit too excited, heehee :)

Hi Jmom! And I probably would never have made it if not for this event! You should have felt how hot it was with no fans! Oh boy...if I can do it anyone can! :) Hehe, C was too funny, I didn't expect the comeback :)

Hi Socky! Thanks! I'm so glad she liked it...well, I'm so glad someone liked it...I was all alone, and quite spent, with no one to verify its edibility! :)

Anonymous said...

Hooray! GO YOU. They look delicious, I want to take a big bite!


Ari (Baking and Books)

in-JeN-iosiTy said...

I've never tried savory souffles!! They look delish Joey! Are there restos serving these babies? I wish we were neigbors so I could just pop in your kitchen to beg for some ---hhahaha ;P I love chocolate souffles...I bet I'll love these!

I have yet to have courage to make my own souffles---first things first---GET RAMEKINS---I only own one! hahaha

Ivonne said...

That is one beautiful souffle, Joey!

katrina said...

Wow, that's truly a feat, congratulations! I love souffles too, although I must confess I prefer rich, hearty foods over the light, delicate ones. Subtlety has never been one of my strong points. ;-)

In-jen-iosity, if you live in Manila, there are a few places that serve souffle. Le Souffle, of course, but there's also a much more affordable option: Teazann on Valero St., Salcedo Vill. They have both savory and sweet flavors.

ces said...

i'm so proud of you joey...braving the souffle challenge! soon, joey, it's going to be brave ces' turn...

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ari! Haha, thanks! :)

Hi Jen! You should definitely try some savory souffles...they are really good and there is a lot of variety out there now...you can start with Katrina's suggestions :) You can get ramekins in tons of places here...everywhere from Gourdo's to SM (SM is where I got these ones) :)

Hi Ivonne! Thanks a lot :)

Thank you Katrina! :) I do love souffles, especially chocolate...but like you, I also tend to veer toward the heartier stuff ;) And thanks too for the tip on Teazann...sounds like something I'd like to check out :)

Hi Ces! Thank you :) You must let me know when you try it out! :) After it's done, it doesn't seem as insurmountable :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I felt the same way with my first souffle but you said it so much better than I ever could. Great write up and excellent photo. The cute one is so individually handsome.

veron said...

Hurray Joey, your souffles look awesome. Don't worry you're not alone in worrying about beating the egg whites!I was that way too...guessing when it looks like soft or stiff peaks.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Hi, Joey,

Your souffles are wonderful! I love the spinach and cheese combination. They taste great together.

I had a laugh with your post, isn't it good to face our cooking fears??

I have to say I felt very powerful after I finished my first souffle. :D

Tks for the visit to my blog, for the lovely comment and for the info about blog events.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tanna! Thank you! It's quite an exciting moment indeed :) I would have done a little jig if I didn't have to rush a take a picture...hehehe :)

Hi Veron! Thanks! :) I guess I'm just going to have to practice with the whites huh? :)

Hi Patricia! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, definitely great to face your cooking fears :) I did feel a a little bit of that "i'm-the-king-of-the-world!" feeling when I took them out of the oven and actually tasted them :) You're very welcome for the blog event info!

Kristen said...

I have yet to make a souffle, but I've become very tempted after seeing all the great posts and photos lately! Looks fantastic.

in-JeN-iosiTy said...

hey joey!

thanks for the tips! is the teazann you're reffering to same as the teazann in metrowalk? i'd definitely give it a go!

i've only tried the sweet soufles at le souffle---i'll check out their savory ones on my next visit! =)

Lani said...

Wow, congratulations Joey. It looks delicious. I wish I was there to have a taste test. But I'm sure, it's a success.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Kristen! Yes, I have been looking at all the other entries and they are very inspiring :)

Hi Jen! I'm not so sure which Teazann but I suppose they should have it in all their branches (katrina, if you pop back in could you let us know? :)) I'm more of a sweet souffle person myself, but after this one I'm going to be trying more savory souffles too :)

Hi Lani! Thanks! :) Wish I could send one over but they would be fallen souffles in under a minute!

Deniz said...

Souffles look quite delicious!! I better try to do this recipe as soon as possible.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Deniz! Thank you :) And thanks for dropping by!

angelika said...

Oh what gorgeous write up, Joey. You have made a novel out of it. And I am sure there were lots of fun and laughter when the two of you tasted the new born souffles, and I hope you had a pretty good wine to accompany them !

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Angelika for your kind words :) "new born souffles" -- I like that! Yes, we were both kinda marvelling at their presence in my kitchen...as if I hadn't been slaving over them and they had just dropped from the sky (or the souffle stork!). No good wine unfortunately, but maybe next time! :)

Barbara said...

Oh Joey they are gorgeous. It's going to be hard to know who I should vote for this round as there are so many lovely soufleés out there. Thanks for participating.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Barbara! Thank you!!! :) This was my first, so I was really nervous, but I just had to join! If it wasn't for HHDD and Tami's brilliant theme I would never have attempted this! :)

in-JeN-iosiTy said...

I'll try to look for ramekins next time I'm in Gourdo's or SM =)

Thanks for the tip Katrina---yes I live in Manila. As I read this comment section again, I realize you gave the Teazzann suggestion! hahaha I must me getting cross-eyed or something! hahaha Sorry ;P

ChichaJo said...

Hope you find your ramikins Jen...good luck and have fun! :)

Laurel said...

I'll be sooo happy when I get souflees right. I had to title that blog entry as SOUFLEE THINGS :(

ChichaJo said...

Hi Laurel! I'm sure they were yummy :) I think if you use these little ramekins they will turn out fine :)