Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spinach Cheddar Souffle

So I know I'm only in the early 30s, but I've already started a bucket list. Most of the items on the list are a Crazy? Like bungie jumping and touring Budapest and riding an elephant, but hey, a girl can dream, right?
Anyway, some of my bucket list items include a sub-list of things I want to try cooking or baking, such as homemade gnocchi and successfully make a souffle. What? A souffle? Check that off my list!
Souffles really do have a bad reputation. Everyone is afraid to try one because of the myth that they are difficult to make. However, I promise promise that you can do it! I've made this souffle twice with total success and there are only a few simple rules to follow. But the trick is, you have to follow the rules. I suggest reading the recipe once through just to make sure you are familiar with it.
This recipe, though, isn't filling. Especially if you live in a house of boys that expect meat at every meal. So when I made this souffle I served a large fruit salad and rolls on the side. This would also be great as a breakfast (if you're an early riser which I'm not) or for brunch.
I got this recipe from Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa, and if you don't know who that is, we need to talk. She's the queen of the kitchen, at least in my opinion, alongside Queen Giada :)
Your ingredients - now you can dust of your jar of cream of tartar that we all have and no idea what to do with it. Even though the recipe calls for only 1/8 tsp, I wouldn't advise skipping it altogether. Trust me, you need it. Something about helping stiffen the egg whites or something, I'm not sure. But I know you need it.
Making your roux. I love roux, don't ask me why. Something so satisfying about putting butter and flour together and making this great little bubbly paste. I beat my husband in Scrabble once (literally once, he's usually a genius at the game) using the word "roux" because he didn't believe it was a word. He's obviously not much of a cook.
After the roux has cooked for 2 minutes, add the spices - nutmeg, pepper, and salt. I omitted the cayenne pepper because, honestly, we just moved and I couldn't find it. And I can't find my whisk, either, so I'm using the little one that came with my daughter's play kitchen set.
You want to defrost your spinach and get all the excess moisture out if it. Some people wrap it in an old kitchen towel and squeeze, but I love my kitchen towels too much to stain them green, so I put mine in a mesh colander and use a wooden spoon to push the water out.
Whisk in the scalded milk slowly to the roux. You know your milk is scalded when you see uniform shaped bubbles around the edges of the pot. Add the egg yolks, cheeses, and spinach to the roux/milk mixture.
Here's a helpful tip - if you need your eggs at room temperature but didn't set them out ahead of time, just put the eggs in a bowl of hot (not boiling) water for about 5 minutes.
Now you want to start beating your egg whites to firm, glossy peaks. Add the cream of tartar and whisk away. You can use egg beaters or the whisk attachment of your Kitchenaid. I suppose you could just use a whisk but you'd need arms of steel.
The first picture is of soft peaks. When you hold the whisk up, the peak falls slightly. Keep mixing, but only just barely. You're almost there. The second picture is of firm peaks. Now you're done.
After folding in the egg whites, pour into a prepared 6- to 8-cup souffle dish. I love that this dish is buttered and then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, the edges of the souffle are my favorite part because they're all buttery and cheesy!
Do you see the circle that has been made in the batter? Ina suggests this is to help it rise, don't ask me for an explanation, just do it. You won't be sorry :)
The finished piece. It's golden brown and delicious, right? And the inside is cheesy and airy and amazing. Even my little ones ate it up!
See the inside? Divine!

Spinach Cheddar Souffle
courtesy Ina Garten
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup scalded milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated aged Cheddar cheese, lightly packed
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 6- to 8-cup souffle dish and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, nutmeg, cayenne, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for one minute, until smooth and thick.
  • Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Cheddar, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, and spinach and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, and finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.
  • Whisk one-quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to help lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30-35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown. Make sure all family members and/or guests are surrounding the oven to see the finished souffle. Accept any and all compliments. Serve immediately.


  1. I love this. I think it looks sooo yummy! And I'm all about breakfast for dinner! Thanks for the tutorial on soft and stiff peaks. I'm always turning mine into merinque practically!