Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple-Lime soufflé

My sanitation and safety class tends to finish early. Most people leave, but they're missing out. The instructor brings DVDs featuring French chefs and has been playing them after class. For some reason, I'm the only one fanatic enough to watch, but why not? I'm still getting out earlier than the class' scheduled end time, and I'm getting lots of ideas. The whole idea of this program is to become an almost-chef, so why does it matter if I learn cooking techniques in a non-cooking class?

The last video featured Michel Guérard, whose recipes were then given to a housewife, a grandmother, a macho type and two children to replicate. Granted, this was a French housewife, grandmother, French macho type and two French children. So maybe their palates were a bit more educated than you'd find here. Or not. The housewife seemed like someone whose habitual cooking tool is a microwave. The grandmother, on the other hand, seemed like an excellent cook although she couldn't quite get a handle on what M. Guérard was doing with his foie gras recipe. The macho guy grilled some chicken - airline breasts, a strange choice for a macho guy, but as long as he's messing with fire and smoke not altogether inappropriate. The housewife did some kind of fish, if I remember right. It wasn't a raging success. The kids got something interesting: apple-lime soufflé.

The soufflé had an ingredient that I doubt I could find here: Lait Gloria. This is apparently evaporated milk that comes in cans in France. M. Guérard discovered that it can be whipped and added to soufflés, where it adds another level of flavor and richness. His process was to cook down some apples, pass them through a tamis (strainer), mix the result with some lime juice, lime zest, egg yolk and fold it into a mix of whipped Lait Gloria and the more standard egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. Then pour the result into some ramekins, bake it off and enjoy.

After making crepe batter, I had a lot of extra egg whites. There was a lime sitting on the table, and some apples. Voila! Everything I needed to try that soufflé less the Lait Gloria that I'd have to do without.

Apple-lime soufflé
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 egg yolks (use the other yolks for Hollandaise, aioli, whatever)
  • 2-3 apples, cut into cubes and cooked down
  • 1 lime,  juice and zest
  • sugar
  • Calvados (apple brandy)
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Grease four smallish ramekins, set aside.
  3. Cook down the apples with some sugar and Calvados. I added the Calvados because something had to step in for the missing Lait Gloria.
  4. When the apples have cooked down, uncover the pot and let them cool.
  5. Squeeze the lime and plane its zest into a bowl with a bit of sugar.
  6. When the apples have cooled, add them into the lime juice, then add the egg yolks and whisk all this stuff together vigorously.
  7. Beat the egg whites and a bit of sugar to stiff peaks.
  8. Fold the apple-yolk mixture into the egg whites, and immediately transfer the fluffy stuff into the ramekins, then zip everything into the oven. If you're smooth, you can put the ramekins on a cooking pan. If you're not, they'll slide off and break on the floor. The cooking pan makes it easier to zip everything in and out of the oven, but if it's just going to end as a heap on the floor, it's not a crime to quickly put the ramekins in the oven individually.
  9. The soufflés should be done in 12-14 minutes. Check through the door - if you open it, they'll fall faster than the stock market after Bernanke's latest bad news. When done, they'll look dry, they'll hopefully have risen, and they'll be starting to brown on top. 
As soon as you remove them from the oven, soufflés fall. That's just the nature of the beasts. If you stop for photos, they'll pretty much have fallen all the way before you attack.

The result of mixing the lime and apple is that the soufflé has a crisp, green apple taste. The limes aren't even apparent - they just seem to intensify the apple flavor. I didn't add a lot of sugar, so without the richness of the Lait Gloria the soufflé felt a bit thin. Like a low calorie version. Still, it was a more refreshing version of the dish than usual. This is probably something that will need some more experimentation before it's ready for prime time, but with a bit of work could be made into a great light dessert for an autumn meal.

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