This is an old family recipe, only because I am old and have a family.
As I have pointed out, souffles and their cooking teach us life lessons. One is that anything too puffed up gets deflated. Another is if you give someone a good foundation and leave them alone, they will rise.
This recipe is also potentially gluten free, as a potato does what flour can do. Also, because I live in South Texas, I encourage the use of Cholula Hot Sauce, especially the one with chipotles.
This is a Frankenstein amalgam of recipes from Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, You Tube Chef Jean-Pierre (I love that man), Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking, and 40 years of random experimenting, including horrifying failures that my wife ate anyway because she loves me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings.
I do not claim this to be a completely classic souffle, but it does several things that work—it puffs up like a proper souffle, it is much easier than most of the finest classic recipes, and it tastes ridiculously good. You will notice that in addition to the usual measurements, I also utilize such peculiar measurements as the following:
1. A teense: This is slightly larger than a pinch
2. A gob: This is piece of something roughly the size of my thumb, and probably yours.
3. A Baglurk: This is used to measure liquids. In the case of Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce, it is what comes out of the bottle with one shake. There was a time in my life when a baglurk of Pearl River Oyster Sauce was deemed to improve everything. Just sayin' A baglurk of most things is a most wonderful experimental addition.
You will also find that my choice of ingredients is somewhat dictated by what is in the refrigerator. I don't remember exactly, but once I made an excellent souffle that included the one dab of horseradish left in my fridge. Such as, this recipe today includes a heaping gob of camembert, simply because I happened to have some and four gobs of butter (three in the souffle and one to grease the souffle dish.
There are two glasses of dry white wine (preferably French or New Zealand one that has the slight “pucker” effect. Some Californian wines do and some British Columbia and Washington State wines do as well. I have made it with very cheap Pinot Grigio and it wasn’t so bad. One cup of wine is used to enliven the frozen lobster and shrimp and one goes into the chef. But only one glass of wine for the chef—a souffle requires attention and precision.
In addition to the ingredients below, ask your doctor about statins, as this is a really a cholesterol fiesta.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius.
First the seafood.
1. A frozen lobster trio (two claws and a tail)
2. A handful of frozen shrimp
3. A glass of dry white wine (mentioned above)
4. Tow finely chopped cloves of garlic
5. Optional: A teense of “Better than Bouillon Lobster Base) and a teense of Old Bay Seasoning. If you have lived in the DC/Maryland area as I haves.. EVERYTHING except possibly breakfast cereal is improved by Old Bay Seasoning.
Bring the white wine, and other items to a boil and using a steamer device, steam the shrimp
and lobster until they are done. Save the stuff that you steamed them in and let everything cool. Then remove the lobster meat from the claw and tail and finely chop it into little bite-sized morsels. Do the same with the shrimp. Set all of these treasures aside to cool/
Now, Souiffle part one:
1. Two gobs of butter and a teense of olive oil
2. 1 finely chopped shallot
3. Optional—one finely chopped clove of garlic
4. Four eggs (you can use up to six eggs for this recipe), separated into yolks and whites. For this step, use the yolk and set the whites aside for the next step. The egg yolks are necessary to thicken the mixture
5. 1 cup/250 grams of shredded sharp cheddar or gouda (You can use slightly more if you wish)
6. 1/2cup/125 grams of shredded Italian cheeses that you have on hand
7. 1 gob of Camembert that I found in the fridge.
8. 1 can lump crabmeat drained (maybe even two). If you live in a good fresh-crab place like the Chesapeake, 1 cup/250 grams of fresh lump crab meat works very nicely.
9. About a cup to two cups of Half and Half (you could use heavy cream if you are on statin drugs)
10. Optional—one baglurk of cognac.
11. One teense of Colman’s Dried Mustard
12. One bagluirk of Worcestershire Sauce
13. One teense of tarragon
13. Instant mashed potatoes to thicken, as needed.
In a saucepan on moderate heat, first give the shallots and garlic, if you are using the garlic, a nice little sauteeing. Then add the liquid from steaming to the dish and reduce it by about half.
Now reduce the heat slightly (you don’t want things to burn, and add the above items (except the white bread). Constantly stirring and paying attention until all of these items are thoroughly blended – please add them in slowly! When they are slowly blended, set them aside to cool slightly. You may want to cool them to a temperature where you are comfortable touching the mixture.
Souffle- Part Two
With the egg whites in a bowl, whisk them vigorously. Then fold in the mixture above slowly and stir until they are all together. I use my hand mixer to accomplish this—unorthodox from the culinary perspective, but it does the job. It probably adds a little more air to the souffle.
Souffle—the final act
Be aware that there are several respectable schools of thought on how to prepare the souffle dish. Some people grease the entire dish with butter before assembly, while others say that leaving the sides ungreased helps the souffle to rise higher, I do not know. Some people (like me) like to dust the bottom of the dish with grated parmesan or Romano, while others use breadcrumbs. I feel that those who use breadcrumbs are wrong, but.. hey… I just work here.
Put some crumbled pieces of white bread, each about a gob in size, into the souffle dish. OR Gluten Free, as I just did, put some mashed potatoes in there. They magically disappear during the cooking of the souffle! Chef Jean-Pierre taught me this and I am forever grateful. It creates a foundation structure for the souffle. Then put the cooked lobster and shrimp meat on top of the bread (or mix into the mashed potatoes if going the gluten-free route) and then pour the assembled souffle mixture into the souffle dish and put it in the oven for 35 minutes or until is is brown, fluffed up and pretty. Don’t touch it, don’t open the oven door, just let it rise. Don't yell at it or make sudden movements. Respect your souffle and it will respect you.
Don’t be sad, though, if it deflates a little after five minutes. Our anticipations in life are often deflated, but, like the souffle, we still find life (and the souffle) delicious.
I will keep posting poems and other things, but only occasionally recipes. Coming Soon: Beef Wellington for the Culinarily Incompetent and my Long Island "It tastes good on everything" sauce.