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Everyday Gourmet

Simple, savory soufflés

Oct. 7, 2010

By Kim Dannies

On a crisp autumn evening there is nothing finer than pulling a golden, savory soufflé fresh from the oven. Pair it with the last of local greens for a simple salad, perhaps pour a glass of fruity syrah, and we’re talking about a memorable meal. Sound too good to be true? Soufflés are much easier than you may think, as most of the work is do-ahead prep. On any given night all that remains between you and nirvana is whipping egg whites and popping ramekins into the oven for 30 minutes. These soufflés are seriously scrumptious.

Ham & Cheddar Soufflés

Do ahead: Separate the yolk and white of 6 eggs into 2 small prep bowls, careful not to allow any yolk into the egg whites. Reserve whites, chill. Chop 4 ounces of Capicola ham. Shred 4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese. Thaw or wring dry 1 cup fresh or frozen chopped spinach. Coat 6 8-ounce ramekins with butter and dust with Parmesan cheese, shaking out excess. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot, cook 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour to make a smooth paste, then slowly add 1 1/2 cups of milk while whisking. Bring the sauce to a simmer; stir until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat, stir in the cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg and cayenne each, a pinch of kosher salt and fresh pepper. Stir in the 6 egg yolks. Stir over medium-low heat until steaming, 3 minutes.

Transfer cheese mixture into a prep bowl. Stir in ham and spinach. Cover bowl, chill 30 minutes and up to 48 hours.

Baking Soufflés: For 30 minutes pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and allow chilled cheese mixture to stand at room temperature.

In a large glass bowl beat egg whites into stiff peaks. Working in 4 batches, gently FOLD the cheese mixture into the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Keep batter fluffy and light! Gently portion batter into ramekins and bake soufflés until golden and puffed, 30 minutes. Serves 6.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three 20-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.