April 20, 2009 Comments
I’ve never made a souffle before. What I knew about souffles was what everyone knows about souffles – that you have to tiptoe around the kitchen and make as little noise as possible, lest you cause the delicate, puffy concoction in the oven to collapse. I think it’s this one notion that keeps more people from trying their hand at making one.
Well, it was the end of August, and the supermarket had this immense island of corn, going for something ridiculously cheap. I had wanted to incorporate summer corn into the menu for the engagement party, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to approach it.
I picked up eight ears of corn and pored through my library. I found this recipe for corn souffle back in issue #13 of Saveur (and found online here). I tried to scale the proportions of the ingredients to make a souffle that would fit into a larger dish, but, as it turns out, when it comes to whipping egg whites, you can’t just multiply ingredients to come up with a bigger portion. I had enough souffle batter to fill one large dish and two smaller ones.
After popping everything in the oven, I was curious about this whole souffle thing, so I turned on the oven light to see how they were coming along. The tops of each souffle were rising steadily, and quite impressively, and the melted gruyere was forming a nice, brown crust. And, to dispel the myth, we made no attempt to maintain a quiet environment in the kitchen during this time – people were coming in and out, dishes were being washed, and other recipes were being prepared. Yes, they will deflate once you poke a serving spoon into them, so if you’re going for presentation, you may want to hold off and serve at the table.
In the end, the souffles were amazing. The larger of the souffle dishes turned out a little underdone, but the smaller ones were perfect. As a whole, the dish was a perfect way to highlight the freshness of local summer corn, and definitely something I am eager to repeat next summer. Until then, I’m looking for more souffle recipes – they’re cheap and easy (like all egg dishes) and can be varied to suit what’s available.
September 11, 2008 Comments
I took the day off from work today.
After mowing the lawn, watering the garden, and refilling the bird feeder, I decided to treat myself to one of the most basic, yet misunderstood, of food preparations – the scrambled egg.
If your exposure to scrambled eggs has only been in restaurants, or at brunch buffet lines, then you probably do not understand my enthusiasm for the dish. After all, it’s only eggs and butter, something to be whipped up quickly and in mass quantities for a crowd, right?
But that’s the problem – our society has taught us to interpret scrambled eggs as a dish that’s to be made as quickly as possible. Here’s the real truth – haste is the enemy of scrambled eggs. High heat makes for tough, dried out eggs, and result in the short-order scrambled eggs that you find in diners, and the egg jerky that you find in buffets that’s been sitting over a sterno flame for an hour.
Preparing perfect scrambled eggs requires the exact opposite of the process to make an omelette. When sauteing an omelette, you want to work quickly, tilting and swirling your pan to coat the bottom with egg, over the highest possible heat so that the egg sets and you can roll it around whatever filling you’ve chosen.
For scrambled eggs, you want to cook them as gently as possible, over the lowest heat possible, to yield the most delicate structure that you can. Perfect scrambled eggs should take a long time to make, and should just barely hold together. It’s a spot-on dish for a day off from work.
This is my recipe for Perfect Scrambled Eggs. You can jazz it up a number of ways, which I am sure will show up here soon, but today we’re starting with the basic master recipe. As with all recipes with fewer than five ingredients, the better the quality of your ingredients, the better the final product. Find the best eggs and butter you can get your hands on.
Perfect Scrambled Eggs
3 eggs, preferably organic or at least free range
Freshly ground pepper
Take a nonstick pan and set it over medium heat. Place about 2 Tbs of butter into the pan, and keep an eye on it while you whip your eggs up. You want to let that melt, and tilt the pan so that it gets an even coat of butter. Once your butter is melted, turn the heat to the lowest possible setting. [note - all of my recipes presume gas cooking; if you are working off of electric burners, have one set to low and transfer the pan over to that one]
Crack the eggs into a small bowl, and use a whisk or fork to stir them up until you have a uniform beaten egg mix. Pour the eggs into the pan.
Take a nonstick spatula or spoon, and give the eggs a good stir. Wait a bit. Stir some more. What you’re doing here is incorporating the bits of egg that have cooked into the bits of egg that haven’t yet cooked. As the eggs heat up, they’ll start to slowly firm up – the key is to reach this point in as much time as possible. Avoid the temptation to turn up the heat – the eggs will cook faster, but they will be nowhere near as delicate, and you will have missed the fun train.
When the eggs are done to your liking, tip them into a serving bowl and top with a fresh grinding of pepper and some salt. Welcome to the world of real scrambled eggs.
May 23, 2008 Comments