Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by so much hot air all around? Take solace in cooking and let some hot air work to your advantage.
The most popular recipe I’ve ever shared, and the one that my friends continue to request, is this one for my mother’s cheese soufflé. (Note to the uninitiated: if you are looking for a formal, cooking school-type recipe and set of directions, then you’ll be disappointed by mine.) This classic French dish was my mother’s go-to recipe. It’s filling, protein-rich, relatively inexpensive (even when using really good cheese), and it’s surprisingly easy to make.
In my house, now, cheese soufflé is also a dinner staple. Everyone in my family loves it, and the leftovers are good cold the next day. Paired with a good, green salad, it makes for a well-rounded meal. And I swear to you, not only does a soufflé deliver more bang for the buck, it is also easier to prepare than its hot-air twin, the Dutch baby.
Given how much I love and rely on this dish, I’d been wondering to myself lately why I didn’t, like my mother, branch out and more often make other kinds of soufflés: chocolate or lemon or spinach or broccoli. So, I jumped in, using the David Tanis spinach pie recipe as a basis, only preparing it more traditionally by separating the eggs, beating egg whites and folding them in, and baking in a soufflé dish. For a chocolate version, I make a nice bittersweet ganache, beat in yolks (4-5), fold in beaten whites, and bake in a sugar-dusted dish. One day soon I’m going to make Mark Bittman’s lemon soufflé, but I haven’t ventured into it yet.
I’ve also been considering the vegan option for making a soufflé with aquafaba (garbanzo bean water), using the knowledge bank at America’s Test Kitchen as my resource. I’ll confess that I haven’t actually tried that approach yet, but in my experience you can take ATK to the bank. If they say it works, it works. If you’ve already made this leap, then this chocolate soufflé recipe might be right up your alley.
How is soufflé possible in a weeknight kitchen, you might wonder? In the simplest, weeknight-miracle version of cheese soufflé (advice courtesy of my sister), the time is all hands-off baking time – you don’t even have to separate the eggs or make a roux. Just dump it all in a mixer, plop it in the oven, and then have a glass of wine or go for a walk around the block or sit with your kiddo or significant other and have a nice visit while dinner prepares itself in your oven.
I love to cook: If you want official, formal instructions instead of my home-grown notes, and you have access to NYT Cooking, I suggest Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe. If you’re not an NYT Cooking subscriber, head to Epicurious. Serve with the Via Carota everyday green salad (the more labor-intensive version of the same salad, courtesy of Samin Nosrat, is another NYT link here).
Weeknight reality: One-bowl cheese soufflé; green salad of your choosing (add some fruit or blueberries, perhaps?)
Need a miracle: Same as above; you can do this.