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:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Honey- & Goat Cheese-Filled Fig Muffins

Alright, first of all: how can you not attempt a recipe that sounds like this? The title itself demands respect and no matter how your own batch may turn out, simply mentioning this recipe in casual conversation earns kudo points. Of course, the fact that I love all three of the main ingredients certainly helped. 😉

Honey- & Goat Cheese-Filled Fig Muffins (from Eating Well, February 2010)

Ingredients:

3/4     C     crumbled soft goat cheese (or cream cheese)

2         T     honey

1         t     freshly grated lemon zest

1 1/4   t      vanilla extract, divided

2         C     white whole-wheat flour

1 1/2    t     baking powder

1/2       t     baking soda

1/4       t     salt

2                 large eggs

1                 large egg white

3/4      C    packed dark or light brown sugar

1          C    low-fat or non-fat buttermilk

1/3       C     EVOO

1 1/4    C     chopped dried figs

3          T     turbinado or granulated sugar

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 12 (1/2 cup) muffin cups with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.
  2. Thoroughly combine goat cheese/cream cheese, honey, lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Lightly beat eggs and egg white in a medium bowl; add brown sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the buttermilk and oil until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. Fold in the figs.
  4. Spoon half the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Add 1 generous teaspoon of the reserved cheese filling to the center of each muffin and cover with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the muffins with sugar.
  5. Bake the muffins until the edges start to brown and the tops spring back when gently pressed – 13 to 15 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool.

makes 1 dozen muffins


Beezer’s Notes:

While you do have to be a serious goat-cheese-lover and fig-fan to enjoy these muffins, I am and I certainly did! Mine turned out rather small and dense compared to the magazine’s photo, but I’m positive my use of regular whole-wheat flour rather than the white whole-wheat suggested was the cause. I don’t believe the taste suffered any from my deviation.

Also, the magazine states “the filling should not be visible” when topping off the batter. I, again deliberately, left bits of the cheese peeking through and really liked the outcome. I think it adds more character to the muffin to see bits of creamy white exposed along with dark dots of fig.

Overall enjoyment: ♥  ♥  ♥


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