Sookie’s Cheese Souffle

They say two things are certain in life: death and taxes. Eerily both have been on my mind this week as we finally saw our tax return hit our bank account, all of which we used to pay off a student loan and invested in a smart thermostat to help lower our energy bill, because unlike Michel we are just simple folk from “Texasss” and the weather here is so crazy that I literally wore a sweater and shorts within the past week. I definitely was not feeling any Gilmore vibes being so responsible, but then I scored an adorable J Crew shirt with a giant Lorelai-inspired sequin bow for $7 and felt much better.

Back to the reason you came here…. thankfully I haven’t had any personal encounters with death this week, but the Gilmores certainly did in this week’s episode 1.05 – Cinnamon’s Wake. First poor Richard’s grandmother’s sister’s girl Claudia, and then Cinnamon, Babette and Maury’s fat beloved cat. (Side note: thankful that oysters are not on the eventual Sookie menu.) Speaking of Sookie’s menu, there is a lot to cover in this episode. First, the Chilton bake sale where she makes “French fantasies, American treats and Italian taste sensations” and as much as I would love to replicate that entire dessert table, it just wasn’t specific enough to make the cut. The second item that I do regret adding to my list, was Sookie’s addition of “a little bit of lemon and cayenne” to the Hee Haw man’s open face turkey sandwich. First of all, I made my recipe list off of a transcript of the episode so my initial thought was, open face turkey sandwich with a little bit of lemon and cayenne sounds nice…then I watched the episode for a visual.

Like…seriously? What is that? But much like Sookie I don’t do anything half way. I did make my own version, but it tasted just as good as it looked and called it a loss. There’s a reason I’m going through Sookie’s recipes, and not Luke’s. I’m sorry if that was the recipe you were most looking forward to this week, but I highly recommend trying Sookie’s cheese souffle recipe instead.

Souffles have always had a big, bad reputation, and I am not calling myself an expert by any means, but if you have experience with whipping egg whites, you have the tools to make this! This recipe was so much fun, and it is 100% a winner.

I used a hickory-smoked gruyere cheese with a little fresh parmesan, and topped my plate with some chopped bacon bits which just sent it all over the top. A few troubleshooting notes from my first time souffle experience:

  1. Go slow… I think this is a new theme for Sookie’s recipes, as counter-intuitive as it may seem for any Gilmore girl-themed product. Make sure all your ingredients are prepared beforehand so you can add and continue, because the process from bechamel to batter happens pretty quickly, so be as gentle as you can with each step. Don’t rush it.
  2. If you intend to document your souffle, have any props or backgrounds prepared before the souffle comes out of the oven. Again, this seems obvious to me after the fact – but as much as I want to cook like Sookie, I have the monkey-monkey-underpants brain of Lorelai. Here’s the important part: THE SOUFFLE WILL FALL AFTER FIVE MINUTES. Therefore, you must document it immediately. Thankfully I took the advice of my husband and took a few pictures while it was still risen in the oven. After consulting Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking I found that it wasn’t my fault – but I wish I had known that before I had started… lesson learned. I still took my pretty pictures with my sad sunken souffle anyway.
  3. You get to choose your own adventure with the texture of your souffle. You can go with the minimal cooking time of 25 – 30 minutes and have a runny center. Use this as a bechamel sauce to spoon onto the outer fluffy bits of souffle, or cook for a few minutes longer to firm up the center. I wanted to get a better rise out of my souffle, so I went with this option, and trust me, you won’t be disappointed either way.

Final Review: Don’t let the reputation of souffles scare you. Just treat them gently, don’t open the oven door during the first 20 minutes (also – who is doing this? You need to stop. Every time you open the oven door it loses a ton of heat and it totally screws with whatever you’re cooking. Yes, even your tater-tot-topped pizza) and enjoy immediately!

Rating: Souffles are my new favorite food.

**Fort Worth readers!** If you need to experience a souffle before committing to making one yourself, you need to go to Rise n°3 at the Shops at Clearfork, If you mention @fwfoodie you get 25% off your entire check through May 24. Rise also has locations in Dallas and Houston, but this discount is only applicable for the Fort Worth restaurant. Follow @fwfoodie for more great tips on amazing food and events in the Fort Worth area!

Sookie’s Cheese Souffle

Ingredients

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

1 c whole milk

3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp all purpose flour

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Pinch of nutmeg

4 large egg yolks

5 large egg whites

1 cup (packed) hickory-smoked Gruyère cheese, grated

Directions

Preheat to 400°. Butter 6-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish (my medium Corningware round casserole dish did just fine, too). Coat the dish with grated parmesan cheese. Heat the cup of milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming. Do not boil.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and is smooth and bubbly. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand 1 minute. Whisk in the warm milk all at once until smooth. Return to heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly until very thick. If using a non-stick pan, the mixture my pull away from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and whisk in the seasonings. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, mix until the yolk is fully incorporating before adding the next. Scrape soufflé base into a clean bowl to cool until lukewarm or room temperature.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg the whites in a stainless steel bowl until stiff but not dry. Do not overmix, or the egg whites will fall. The whites should stand on their own on the tip of the beater. Mix half the egg whites into the batter and fold gently until incorporated. Fold in the remaining whites in while sprinkling in Gruyère cheese. Be gentle, but do not overfold. Transfer batter to prepared dish.

Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375°. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top, 25 – 30 minutes. If you want a runny center, take out of the oven and serve immediately. To firm up, cook for an addition 3 – 5 minutes. Enjoy immediately!

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