Asparagus-Goat Cheese Soufflés

What a month. In my nearly three years with the Eye Bank I have never had so many cases in such a short period of time. It seems like I haven’t eaten outside of my car in ages. A shower is a luxury. Sleep? Ha! Please. I ran out of minutes on my cell phone coordinating companies, half the veggies in my fridge had to be tossed, and I fell asleep trying to spend some quality time with the Canadian.

On the bright side, I can pay all bills (when they finally get in the mail), chip a bit further off my school loans, and know that I’m doing good work helping to restore sight to those in need. My all-nighters in Rutland have also given me the most spectacular dawns I’ve ever witnessed. I’m sorry Burlington: you may be the queen of sunsets with the lake and all, but Rutland trumps all for dreamy, ethereal sunrises.

And this photo, taken by my point ‘n shoot, doesn’t do that mountain justice. I actually stopped in my tracks right outside the entrance to the hospital to look up at the sight. I also snapped a few photos of the fantastic fog blanketing the roads as I drove back north. I’ll take this moment to say I do NOT encourage anyone to take photographs while driving, but if you haven’t noticed by now I most definitely am a little nuts…especially at 6:30 a.m. after working through the night and lacking decent coffee.

Even with all the craziness I managed to make this interesting recipe for Asparagus-Goat Cheese Soufflés I found in the most recent edition April edition (it was the most recent when I made them! I can’t believe it’s hours away from being May…MAY! Unbelievable) of Eating Well. I have a confession: I was a subscriber to this fantastic magazine for a full year before I realized they were a local publication. That’s right, this highly-successful food and cooking ‘zine is from my home state of Vermont! Anyway, having never even eaten a soufflé I was a bit timid about making one, but the recipe was so straightforward and approachable I figured I’d give it a shot. The source recipe is exactly as you see below except that it recommended truffle oil which I most certainly do not have. I’d be curious to hear how yours turn out if you end up using the fancy stuff.

Asparagus-Goat Cheese Soufflés (from Eating Well, April ’11)

Ingredients:

1   bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed

1½   C   nonfat milk

2   T   butter

3   T   flour

½   t   coarse salt, divided

¼   t   freshly ground pepper

pinch of ground nutmeg

4   large egg yolks, at room temperature

8   large egg whites, at room temperature

1   C   crumbled or diced aged goat cheese

Procedure:

  1. Steam asparagus or boil in 1″ of water in a skillet until partially cooked – about 3 minutes or until tender-crisp and bright green. Drain and refresh under cold water. Blot dry and cut into ½” pieces.
  2. Position rack on lowest level of oven and preheat to 375°F. Coat six 10-oz ramekins with nonstick spray and place on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Heat milk in a small saucepan over Medium heat until hot. As milk warms, melt butter in a medium saucepan over Medium-low heat. Whisk flour into butter and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and slowly whisk in the hot milk. Return the heat to Medium-low and continue whisking until the mixture thickens – 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Whisk in ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat and whisk in 4 egg yolks, one at a time. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in asparagus and cheese.
  5. Place 8 egg whites in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer, slowly increasing the speed, until they begin to foam. Add the remaining salt and continue to beat until the whites hold stiff peaks. Do not overbeat.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir one-third of the whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it. Then, gently fold in the remaining egg whites just until blended. Divide the soufflé batter among the prepared ramekins, filling them almost to the top. *Note: here I had enough batter left over to pour into two additional ramekins, but I’m not sure if that was my error. The source recipe says you may have extras, so you might want to plan on this.
  7. Bake the soufflés on the bottom rack until puffy and golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook – the centers will look soft.

Beezer’s Notes:

Well, ignoring the fact that I have nothing to base my opinion on, I found these little dishes really fresh and fun to eat. The asparagus was fantastic after a long winter of root veggies (as much as I love them) and the goat cheese was  a subtle, but tangy addition; really complementing the creamy texture of the soufflé. Having a reputation of being rather fussy things to bake successfully I was worried about my little dishes, but they puffed up beautifully. Comparing this recipe to something I’m familiar with, I’d have to say soufflés are like lighter, fluffier quiches. Does that seem accurate? I know there are sweet and savory versions and so my quiche analogy only goes so far. The success here, though, makes me want to seek out another recipe. I’ll be keeping my eyes open and maybe try a dessert soufflé next time.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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