Classic Cheese Souffle, Wilted Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers and Red Onion, Whole Wheat French Bread

Classic Cheese Souffle, Wilted Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers and Red Onion, Whole Wheat French Bread

by Jennifer

I had always thought of souffles as being pretty formidable, but it turns out they’re not that difficult to make, and they’re absolutely delicious.  A good way to splurge on eggs and cheese, and if they eggs are Omega 3-fortified, all the better for you.  You can definitely buy some good French bread, but if you have the urge, try making your own.  Baking bread is absolutely not difficult;  the process requires your attention for a few minutes at a time, with lots of down-time in between, and your house ends up smelling wonderful, and you can experience both satisfaction and amazement at watching flour and water turn into something so substantial and tasty.  This dinner serves 4, with leftover French bread to freeze, or make French toast, or sandwiches…..

Classic Cheese Souffle – adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 4.

  • 2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3 TBS unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup, packed, coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 oz.)

With the oven rack in the lower third of the oven, preheat to 400.

Coat a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish with cooking spray and sprinkle the bottom and sides evenly with the Parmesan cheese (this gives the souffle something to “cling” to as it rises).

Heat the milk in a medium-sized pot over medium heat until it’s steaming.  While you’re waiting, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes.

Add the warm milk, whisking until smooth, and cook, whisking, until very thick, about 2 -3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the paprika, salt and nutmeg, whisking well.

Add the egg yolks and whisk well to combine.  Set aside to cool slightly (you can do this up to 2 hours ahead of time;  leave, covered, at room temperature).

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Fold 1/4 of the whites into the yolk mixture.

Continue to fold in the remaining whites, 1/4 at a time, while also slowly adding the Gruyere cheese.

Gently scoop the batter into the souffle dish.  Place the souffle in the oven and immediately turn heat down to 375.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the souffle is puffed, golden-brown, and the center moves only slightly when gently shaken.  Serve immediately.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers and Red Onion – adapted from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville

Serves 4.

  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 2 handfuls frisee or chicory
  • 3 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

Broil the red/yellow pepper, turning occasionally, until all sides are blackened. Immediately transfer pepper to a ziplock bag and seal, allowing the steam to loosen the skin.

When cool enough to handle, peel skin off pepper and cut pepper into strips.

While the pepper is cooling, toss the red onion with 1 TBS olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and broil, stirring occasionally, until tender and charred in spots.

Set aside.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a serving bowl toss together the spinach, frisee, peppers, onions and vinegar mixture.  Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until very hot, but not smoking.

Pour the hot oil over the greens and toss well, allowing the greens to wilt.  Serve immediately.

Whole Wheat French Bread – from Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein

I feel incredibly fortunate to own a standing mixer, but I remember well back to the days when I had to knead dough by hand.  Not too bad, especially if I had someone to talk to or good music to listen to, but I’m loving not having to knead anymore!  Whether or not you own a standing mixer, this bread is not difficult to make and is wonderful to eat.  The ingredients are for a standing mixer, and make 3 loaves (freeze 1 or 2 for later), but in parentheses are the ingredient amounts for kneading by hand, which will make 2 loaves.  The method is the same either way.

Sponge

  • 3 cups warm water (2 cups)
  • 2 heaping TBS yeast (1 1/2 TBS)
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (3 cups)

Dough

  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups whole wheat flour (2 – 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 TBS salt (1 TBS)

Cornmeal for dusting baking sheet

To make the sponge:  In a large bowl, standing mixer bowl or otherwise, combine water and yeast and allow a few minutes for the mixture to become foamy.  Add the bread flour and stir until mixture is smooth.

Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free space (I turn my oven on for a minute or two, then turn it off and place the bowl in there) until doubled, about 45 – 60 minutes.

To make the dough:  Punch down the sponge either by stirring it or with the mixer blade on first speed.  Add the whole wheat flour, starting with 3 1/2 (2) cups, and the salt, and mix until the dough to is too stiff to mix, or until the dough starts climbing up the mixer blade.  For the latter, scrape off and change to the dough hook, and knead for 10 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary (better not to add more flour if it’s not too sticky);  alternatively, knead by hand for 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking too much to your hands.

Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough:  gently press down until the dough deflates, and gently knead once or twice inside the bowl.  Re-cover and allow to rise again, another 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 (2) portions.  Using your hands or a rolling pin, press each portion into a long flat rectangular.  Starting with the long side away from you, roll the dough towards you, like a jelly-roll, pressing down as you roll, so you have a long, tight, baguette shape.

Transfer to a cornmeal-dusted (or parchment paper covered) baking sheet;  repeat with remaining dough.  Cover and allow to rise one more time, about 30 – 45 minutes.While the dough is in its last rise, preheat the oven to 475, with a metal brownie pan (or something similar) on the lowest rack.

Brush the loaves with water, and slash the loaves at regular intervals at about a 20 degree angle.  Drop 6 – 8 ice cubes into the metal pan (this tries to simulate the steam injection of professional bakers’ ovens), then place the loaves in the oven and bake for 25 – 35 minutes, until they are golden brown and the crust feels hard when you gently squeeze it.

Cool for as long as you can keep yourself from tearing into them!

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