Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hey Hey Souffle aka "Soufflicious"'s a bit of a coincidence that the last post I wrote was about an egg and now, my first post in over six months, I am writing about eggs once again. Inspiration much? Actually it really is just a coincidence and a boost in confidence from a couple of terrific friends. My life is now drastically different than it was at the time I last wrote; I graduated with my master's degree in nutrition, moved back to the land of rainbows and gumdrops in CO, had the most beautiful farm-to-table wedding, went on a mountain biking honeymoon road trip, and have been working full time as an unpaid dietetic intern in a school district for the last three months. I have simply had to just live life and have been unable afford myself the time to write. Really I should be doing about five other things right now, but I've had it with moments of inspiration and glints of creativity washing over me and then quickly flitting away untouched.

In exchange for use of our wedding pictures, my friends at Fox Fire Farms gave me a couple dozen gorgeous pastured eggs. Some people get excited to shop for new clothes or go out on the town. I get excited about fresh eggs, knowing exactly where they came from and who tended to them. Since our bartering transaction I have been day dreaming about the many possibilities in which I could showcase these beauties. Some will be hard boiled, some scrambled, and some cooked perfectly over medium in a smidge of butter. I wanted to get fancy though, really prove my capabilities in the kitchen. Souffle. It had to be a souffle, a savory one and I would make it for dinner.

Working in school food services, I feel like some days a bit of my soul is sucked away. Dramatic, yes, but with each "Rib-BQ" served, my spirit breaks a little more. I find refuge at home in my cozy kitchen where I create whatever my heart desires and my values in good wholesome food are restored. Today was one of those days, and after a chilly evening run, I warmed up in front of the oven to prepare my souffle.

If you've never had farm fresh eggs, well, really there is no comparison to store bought mass produced eggs. The yolks are like nothing you've ever seen or tasted before, bright balls of orange and a silky texture more alluring than sinking into a freshly fluffed feather bed. The rich flavor is remarkable. Not only that, these eggs are nutritionally superior to store bought eggs, containing significantly more of vitamins A, D, E, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. And guess where all of this goodness lies? That luscious yolk!

 To compliment the souffle I decided on something simple: roasted (homegrown) delicata squash and sauteed chard. The simplicity of these items allowed me to focus on  the souffle to make sure it fluffed to light, airy perfection. I couldn't help but stand at the oven, continuously peeking in at the risen gold crust. Proudly, I pulled it out of its safe home in the oven, admired it, and promptly dug in, making sure to serve it up before losing any volume. Smooth pillows of egg were contrasted by soft bits of cauliflower, aromatic parsley, and creamy jack cheese. I slowly savored each bite and enjoyed the sweet, salty, buttery-ness of the squash. Full belly of delicious nutritious food = content. "Rib-BQ's" ain't got nothin' on me!

Creamy Cauliflower Souffle 
This incredibly fluffy egg dish will impress any guest for brunch or can be whipped up for a simple, cozy dinner. Using local pastured eggs will yield a beautiful golden souffle and truly enhance appreciation for the simple yet wonderful egg.

Prep Time: 20-25 minutes   Bake Time: 30-35 minutes    Yield: 4 servings

1 1/4 cups finely chopped cauliflower florets
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
6 large pastured eggs, separated
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2 qt souffle dish. 

Place cauliflower, parsley in a large bowl and set aside. Melt butter in medium pot. Slowly sprinkle  flour in, whisking continuously. While whisking pour milk in a little at a time until well incorporated. Heat until sauce has thickened and has a smooth consistency. Remove from heat.

Whisk yolks and slowly add to sauce making sure not to scramble. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Pour over cauliflower and parsley. Vigorously whisk egg whites until foamy, stiff peaks form. Spoon whites into yolk mixture and gently fold in one spoonful at a time until well incorporated and fluffy. Carefully spoon into souffle dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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