Easy Cheesy Souffle

Cheese soufflé is one of my very favorite comfort foods, warm, fluffy, creamy and cheesy.   But, I’ve always been a little intimidated by the prospect of making a soufflé.  It’s French I thought, and probably complicated, and I’m afraid it will turn out like scorched scrambled eggs.  So I was surprised to find out that the secret to French cooking is that it’s really pretty simple.  So I researched cheese soufflé and this is the easiest, fastest, yummiest version I could come up with.  I’ve never had it fail, but having said that DON’T OPEN THE OVEN!

Easy Cheesy Soufflé

Easy Cheesy Souffle 1

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (room temperature), separated
  • 2 ounces (half a stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (any kind)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind – for this recipe I used 1 cup grated cheddar, 3/4 cup grated pepper jack and about 1/4 cup brie)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

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Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.

Generously butter 4 ramekins and coat with bread crumbs.  Set aside.

Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside.  In a room temperature bowl beat the egg whites until a meringue forms with soft peaks.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, stir in flour and mix to form a roux.  Cook about 2 minutes.  Add half the milk and whisk until smooth.  Add the remainder of the milk and again whisk until smooth.

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Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring until thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and mustard, again, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the egg yolks and season with salt and pepper.
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If the egg and cheese mixture is still very warm, temper the meringue by adding a spoonful of the egg and cheese mixture.  Then fold half the meringue into the mixture.  Add the remaining meringue.
  1.                                                                                                    Spoon or pour the mixture into the ramekins.
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Place the ramekins on the preheated baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes.  (DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN) When the soufflés have risen and become golden brown, remove and serve immediately.
These creamy little clouds are just right served with a green salad for lunch or a light supper, or as a first course at dinner.   So, if you’ve never made soufflé, give it a try.  ♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chickpea Tofu – The Quick Version

In an effort to limit my soy intake without sacrificing protein content I’ve been looking for a reasonable alternative to tofu.  I was very excited to discover an almost perfect replacement that was easy and inexpensive to make, and I actually like it a lot more than tofu (thank you marystestkitchen.com).  It’s Burmese chickpea tofu (shan tofu) made from four simple ingredients: chickpea or garbanzo flour, a teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch or two of salt and water.  No specialized processes or tools, if you can boil water and wield a whisk you’re set.  Chickpea tofu is really versatile whether it’s fried, baked, made into little steaklets, added to salads, stir fry or almost any way you could use tofu, even desserts.  But let’s start with snacks.  Cubed and fried it’s even better than popcorn for binging on Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones because it’s crunchy, tasty and full of protein.  No guilt.  Spice it up any way you want, dunk it in your favorite exotic sauce or drown it’s crispy goodness in ranch dressing.  Try it.

Basic Chickpea Tofu

Ingredients:

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  • 2 cups chickpea flour (if all you can find is chickpea and fava bean, that’s okay).
  • 6 cups of water or vegetable broth (divided)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Line a baking pan or casserole dish with parchment paper, or a clean cotton kitchen towel.

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The turmeric will stain it so don’t use the nice ones you got for your birthday.

In a large pot bring 4 cups of water or vegetable stock to a FULL ROLLING BOIL.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, combine the chickpea flour, turmeric, salt and 2 cups of cold water.  Whisk it until it’s smooth.

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When the water or stock comes to a FULL ROLLING BOIL, carefully stir in the chickpea mixture.  If the water isn’t boiling it won’t be hot enough for the tofu to set properly.

Turn off the heat and stir constantly and vigorously for five minutes.  Don’t skimp on the time.

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The mixture should become glossy and get very thick within a couple of minutes.  If it doesn’t just put it back on the heat for a minute or two over a medium low heat and keep stirring.

Once the mixture has thickened, quickly pour it into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a spoon or spatula.

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Let it cool to room temperature, and then chill in the fridge for at least an hour or even overnight.

 

 

 

Once it is thoroughly chilled, turn it onto a plate and remove the parchment paper.  At this point you can slice it or cube it any way you want for storage.

Chickpea tofu freezes beautifully, just pop the cubes in a zip lock and tuck them in the freezer.

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You can make little cutlet patties, or cubes, or even slice it thin like noodles.  This really is one of the most versatile dishes I’ve ever seen.  Try it and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Fresh Bread and First Fruits

Well, summer did finally arrive and in the garden the squash vines have stopped shivering and the eggplants are growing almost as fast as the weeds.  It’s been a while since I posted mostly because we’ve been trying to focus on the garden.

August

This week we harvested some of the first vegetables: turnips, zucchini, some beans, and one fat little cucumber.  The collards and chard are ready for the first picking and there are a few blushing little tomatoes.  It’s the first gathering, lughnasa (or lammas if you prefer).

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

In honor of that tradition I’m baking a special ancient grain bread using spelt and quinoa.  I’ve been experimenting with spelt because it’s higher in protein than modern wheat and lower in gluten, for those of you who have a problem with gluten sensitivity.  It’s also very tasty with a warm nuttiness but not too dense.  I used my basic recipe as follows:

Easiest Bread in the World

In a large bowl start your yeast.

  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • ½ cup applesauce (you could use strained prunes in a pinch or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (or just throw in the whole package – I hate leftovers)

Mix and let stand for 10 minutes.  Then add:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2  cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Stir together.  In the same bowl you mixed it in, knead well (8-10 minutes), add all purpose flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a greased loaf pan, cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap and let rise to double in size.  Brush with milk or half and half, sprinkle quinoa over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

 

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

No messy floured boards, no extra rising time, and I’ve never had it turn out less than perfect.  I know you’re going to hold me to that.

While the bread is baking, it’s time for first fruits.  The little zucchini is just perfectly creamy so I’m making a mixed salad with vinaigrette.

Zucchini, Apple and Green Pepper Salad

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

Chop about 4 small zucchini, add 1 chopped apples, a small green pepper, chopped, and a handful of diced red onion.  The secret with red onion is to drop the diced pieces into a bowl of ice water and let it soak for about 10 minutes before you add it to the salad.  The vinaigrette is very simple:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped basil (dried works too).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine in a glass jar and shake well.  Pour over the salad, toss and refrigerate.

But, there more bounty to enjoy.  The turnips were great and came early even with the rain.  I planted a variety called White Lady and they are beautiful.

Creamed Turnips with Dill

Peel and cube the turnips and in a saucepan in just enough water to cover.  Simmer until the turnips are just fork tender (don’t overcook).   Drain.  Add enough vegetable stock to cover and add teaspoon chopped fresh dill and a tablespoon of butter.  Stir a tablespoon of flour into a cup of cold milk until smooth.  Add to the stock and turnips and simmer until well blended and creamy.   Yum.

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

 

 

Bean Day

This is my first post in quite some time due to some medical issues, but I’m back and full of beans, so to speak.

One of the most nutritious and least exBlack and White Beanspensive ingredients, and something I always keep in my pantry, is dried beans.  Canned beans are convenient, but ounce for ounce, dried beans are less expensive and you don’t have to worry about what the can is lined with, or how much salt is in the beans.  So I make beans the old fashioned way, sort, soak and simmer.  It’s not as complicated as you probably think.  About once a month, usually on a weekend, I have Bean Day.   Red and White BeansThe night before I sort through the beans I have on hand:  red kidney, white beans, black beans, pintos or even black eye peas.  I measure out a couple of cups of each, sort and rinse and put into bowls.  Cover the beans with water (about 2 inches over the beans) and soak overnight.

The following morning I set up the slow cookers (I have two) and if needed, the cast iron Dutch oven and/or the stock pot.  I rinse and drain the beans and put them into the pots, separated by type, and throwSoak the Beans in a bay leaf.  NO SALT TIL THE END.           

The hard part is over.  Now you just turn on the cookers and the burners, let them come to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and go do something else like work on that novel you’re writing (you could do laundry, but what fun would that be).

Check on the beans periodically to make sure they haven’t boiled dry.  Burnt beans cannot be saved, so pay attention.  It takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours to cook the beans to “just tender” depending on the pot (slow cookers take a lot longer than cast iron).  When the beans have reached the tender stage, add some salt, turn off the pot and let the beans rest for about 15 minutes.  I like to drain off the cooking liquid which I save for soup stock, that way the beans can be used for salads or other side dishes as well as soup.  Portion the cooled beans into labeled quart size freezer bags (for larger families you can use a larger bag).  Lay the bags flat on a baking sheet and put in the freezer for a couple of hours.  At that point you can more easily stack the frozen bags and save freezer space.  For a minimal amount of work you have beans ready to add to any dish, you’ve saved some money and you don’t have to worry about extra unwanted ingredients.

By now you’re starving so here is one of my favorite bean dishes:

Two Bean and Kale Soup

Two Bean and Kale Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (which you can also make and freeze in flat bags)
  • 7 cups stemmed, chopped kale (about 1 bunch from the super market or a frozen bag from last summer’s garden)
  • 2 cups white beans (great northern or cannellini)
  • 2 cups red kidney or black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or savory

Preparation

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté until tender. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and garlic and cook for about a minute. Stir in 3 cups of the vegetable broth and kale. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer until kale is crisp-tender.

2. Place half of the white beans and remaining 1 cup vegetable broth in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Add pureed beans, the remaining white beans, kidney or black beans, and pepper to soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5-10 minutes. Add the remaining teaspoon salt, or to taste, vinegar, and herbs.