Monday, September 10, 2007

Souffle Tuesday: How Not to Write a Recipe



Seduced by a gorgeous photo in "Gourmet's Menu Cookbook" and my immoderate affection for leeks, I decided to make the book's hazelnut and leek souffle. I quickly discovered that the actual recipe was ridiculously vague about the main ingredient: "Chop finely 10 trimmed leeks (let's not even go into the grammatically incorrect "finely" for "fine")and 1 onion" --uh, this is not a soup or a stew, this is baking and baking requires at least a nod in the direction of precise measurements.
What size leeks? Pencil-thin? Fat as billy-clubs? And what size onion? Maddening.

To deal with this I turned to the basic Julis Child souffle formula I posted last Tuesday, fiddled a bit with other parts of the recipe and settled on this:

Leek and Hazelnut Souffle
inspired by a recipe from "Gourmet's Menu Cookbook."

Butter a 6-cup souffle dish and coat bottom and sides with grated Parmesan cheese. Place dish in refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 400-degrees.
Chop fine enough leeks to measure 2/3 cup and simmer them in 1 cup milk for about 5 minutes, drain the leeks, reserving the milk. Make a thick white sauce with 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons flour and the reserved milk.
Remove from the heat and stir in 4 beaten egg yolks. Fold in the leeks, 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts and 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 1 tablspoon minced parsley and salt and pepper to taste. (Remember that the seasoning's intensity will be diminished by the egg whites)
Beat 5 egg whites until they start to foam; add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the base mixture and then fold in the rest. Gently spoon into the prepared dish and place in pre-heated oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 375-degrees. Bake until golden brown and no longer wiggly.

Not the prettiest souffle --the interior is rather drearily beige--but delicious. I made a sort of a sauce for it by melting some unsalted butter and stirring in a generous amount of minced chives. Chive blossoms would have been even prettier, but our garden has fallen behind on its chive flower production.

4 comments:

Mim said...

wait, so what happened to the onion from the original recipe? in any event, this sounds delish. Casey, I obviously need to live much closer to you so I can conveniently stop by all the time when i suspect you might be cooking.

Casey said...

Mim, I ditched the onion; why dilute the leek flavor with plain old onion. Stop by any time; just be sure you bring Theo along.

ParisBreakfasts said...

I gotta say it looks mighty delish and a bit rustique to my eyes.
Those perfect souffles are so off-putting...
But the recipe does sound vague. You do wonder about these big names that coast along on just their rep :(

halcyondays said...

I am trusting you, even though leeks and hazlenuts don't come to mind on top of a wedding cake!
But I love BOTH equally, no, I love leeks MORE.