This month I am just couldn’t resist a recipe for a summer desert. But first the history! When I was 21, I baked my first soufflé. You see, my parents in law were European and they served meals with artistry and finesse and expected the same from their young daughter in law. When they visited from Austria, I was at full attention, doing my utmost best to impress them. Sometimes that worked, as it did with the “chicken in aspic” which, much to my surprise, turned out to look just like the pictures and tasted good. Other times it was a complete disaster and the disaster was a soufflé. I had decided to bake a cheese soufflé and had the recipe, the soufflé dish and the determination. I remembered once during my growing up years, we had a chocolate soufflé for dessert and it was heaven. But I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I made that fateful decision.
The day of the dinner for my parents in law, I had everything assembled and was ready for the task. I started the preparation and then I came to whipping the egg whites. I whipped and I whipped and I whipped again, but the glossy peaks never formed. Not having any idea what was wrong, I put the batch aside and began with a fresh bunch of eggs. That didn’t work either and I started fretting about the cause because dinner was right around the corner. Believe it or not, I gave up after a dozen eggs had been vigorously whirled without forming stiff peaks. I was forced to ditch the beautiful result in my mind and accept reality. OK, so what can we have for dinner for your lovely parents without them knowing my distraught state? I can’t even remember what we ended up having for dinner because my mind was nestled in that failure.
Fast forward to the game of life where things still don’t always go as planned. Much later I realized the problem had been the egg whites. They don’t like to be whipped when they are cold. Many recipes fail to provide the advice to set the eggs out so they can go to room temperature. What a difference that makes! Take the eggs out hours ahead if you can. One hour will not be long enough. Then you will get that beautiful result in which the glossy peaks form. Souffles are a spectacular dish to be cherished and eaten quickly.
A couple more tips. Your soufflé dish will not be tall enough so put a collar of foil around the sides so that it can rise up as high as it can. While cooking, place it in another pan with water to have a water bath; it needs the moisture. Another thing is that you can make a soufflé out of just about anything, from cheese, to chocolate to fruits. It can be a main course with a salad or a dessert.
Since it is summer and peach season, my recipe calls for fresh peaches. The better quality peach, the better the results.
I wish all of you a wonderful summer: drinking slushies under a summer sun, strolling on a boardwalk along the coast, lying in a field of clover and watching the moon just for the fun of it; waterskiing on the lake; relaxing in a hammock reading another great book; barbecues with family and friends; and my favorite, seeing my vegetables blossom into an edible, luscious crop!
Georgia Peach Souffle
http://www.marthastewart.com/354141/georgia-peach-souffle by Chef Virgina Willis. I used this recipe as a base, but substituted some of the ingredients.
3 tablespoons unsalted Earth Balance buttery spread, olive oil
3 large fresh peaches
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ organic coconut palm sugar (replaces sugar in 1:1 ratio)
Confectioner’s sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter six 8 ounce ramekins or a one quart soufflé dish. Set aside in a small pan filled with water.
In a food processor, add the peeled and chopped peaches, the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt and puree until very smooth.
In a heavy duty mixer, use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on medium speed for several minutes until foamy. Add one tablespoon of sugar and beat on high speed until the whites hold soft peaks, one to two minutes. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on high speed until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted.
Add about a quarter of the beaten egg whites to the peach puree and gently fold it in until well mixed. . Pour this mixture over the remaining egg whites and fold them together as gently as possible.
Spoon the mixture into the dish(es) and surround the dish(es) with a piece of foil that extends the height of the dish. Set it in a dish of water and put in the oven.
The directions said 8 to 10 minutes but that was not nearly enough cooking time. I kept cooking in five minute increments until the top was golden brown and the top of the soufflé was above the top of the dish. I cooked mine about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with the confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately.