For years I’ve avoided attempting the infamous soufflé. When I started cooking, the idea of a soufflé was something to look forward to, something to aspire to, and something to run from. In movies, TV, culinary folk lore, soufflés are the test of a great chef. You constantly hear that they’re touchy. That if you over beat the egg whites, they result will be disastrous. And don’t even dare peak while it’s baking or slam the oven door! When my the high school culinary class that I teach asked if we could make soufflés, I admitted that I had never made one in my life.
Last year, the idea of baking a soufflé took on new meaning. Thanks to Steven Moffat, I had the irrational fear that if I started baking soufflés it meant that my mind was suppressing some unspeakable horror. That if I didn’t pay attention, it would be found that I, myself, had been turned into a Dalek. I did not want to become “Soufflé Girl.” Plus, where would I get all of the eggs?!? Thanks, Moffat.
Finally, on a hot, 96-degree day, I decided to move past my feat and conquer the soufflé! I based my recipe off of a recipe from Eating Well, and made a few minor tweaks. This was the result.
Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Asiago Soufflé
Fine, dry breadcrumbs
4 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 c. goat cheese
1/2 c. finely grated Asiago cheese
1/4 tsp. pepper
3/4 c . milk
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. flour
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Coat four 10-ounce ramekins or a 2 1/2-quart soufflé dish (or similar-size baking dish) with cooking spray. Sprinkle with enough breadcrumbs to generously coat the inside, tilting to evenly distribute; tap out excess. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
Press thawed spinach in a fine sieve until very dry, then finely chop. Combine the chopped spinach in a bowl with Asiago, goat cheese, and black pepper.
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Melt butter and oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook over medium-low heat, whisking, until the mixture is the consistency of thick batter, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Whisk in the spinach mixture.
Clean and dry a large mixing bowl and beaters, making sure there are no traces of oil. (Any fat in your egg whites may prevent your soufflé from rising properly.) Beat egg whites in the bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add salt; gradually increase speed to high and beat until shiny and stiff, but not dry. Do not over beat: stop when the egg whites hold their shape in the bowl and on the beater but don’t look overly dry or lumpy.
Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of the whites into the egg-yolk mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites just until evenly distributed. It’s OK if a few white streaks remain. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish(es).
Bake until puffed and firm to the touch, 20 to 24 minutes for 10-ounce soufflés, 38 to 42 minutes for a 2 1/2-quart soufflé. (Resist the temptation to take a peek until the last 5 minutes of baking—an open oven door will let in too much cool air and may interrupt the rising.) Once out of the oven, even a beautifully puffed soufflé will slowly deflate, so go directly to the table to show off its beauty, then serve it at once.