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.


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 :(

Anonymous 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.