Soufflés and Gilfeather Turnips, oh my!

A gentle reminder that this should be one of your “things”

I must admit.  I was skeptical. But then the adorable Julia Child entered the scene, and I got calm. Listen to me – repeat after me – “I can make a killer soufflé on the first try”.  I was made a believer at our Slow Food Vermont Just Cook It: Soufflés Potluck where 7 people (who had NEVER made a soufflé before!!!) all nailed it on their first tries.  There is such a complete thrill to opening the oven, pulling out your collared ramekin to find a gorgeous eggy texture you’ve NEVER experienced before, to swoons, ooohs, ahhhs, and complete satisfaction of creating a gorgeous, cheap, delicious, high class meal.  Own it, love it, make a soufflé tonight! You should even eat your creation while watching the master in her own kitchen – makes for a memorable evening, and I promise – you will add the soufflé to your repertoire from now on!  Fearlessly!

Julia Child’s Cheese Soufflé

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup milk, whole
  • 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, packed coarsely (about 4 ounces)
  1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter 6-cup (1-1/2 quart) souffle dish.
  3. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides.
  4. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.
  5. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes; do not allow mixture to brown).
  7. Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute.
  8. Pour in warm milk, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg.
  10. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition.
  11. Scrape souffle base into large bowl.
  12. Cool to lukewarm. DO AHEAD; can be made 2 hours ahead.
  13. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
  14. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry.
  15. Fold ¼ of whites into lukewarm or room temperature souffle base to lighten.
  16. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in Gruyere cheese.
  17. If you are adding any vegetables or sweet items to your soufflé, now is the time – gently fold in.
  18. Transfer batter to prepared dish.
  19. Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  20. Bake until souffle is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes).
  21. Serve immediately.

Some thoughts:

  • You can put anything in a soufflé!  We have put micros, asparagus, and even tuna and tomatoes in them – don’t forget about sweet soufflés, too!
  • Put your batter in a too-small ramekin for a more impressive rising, but make sure your collar is sufficient to contain the rising soufflé!
  • If you are not sure if the soufflé is done, use a skewer to test, just like a cake.  If not done, put back in oven and wait.  Don’t worry, it won’t fall with one or even 2 skewer tests.  Remember, it should have a little jiggle to it still, but the skewer should come out clean.
  • Eat it hot out of the oven, remember that kings wait for soufflés, soufflés wait for no one!
  • Have fun, and enjoy this fabulous dish!

Originally published June 10, 2011
Addendum below:

Gilfeather Turnips

An additional fun idea I stumbled upon just this past month – the gilfeather turnip soufflé! Gilfeather turnips are renown here in Vermont, where they are also the state vegetable. They hail from the small hamlet of Wardsboro, VT and vary in size from softball to rutabaga and beyond. They are favorites in the root vegetable department because they are simply delicious – they are creamy and not sharp at all – they are quite like a turnip-y potato texture (pleasantly dry) and would make a fabulous mash with tons of flavor! For our beautiful attempt, we boiled and mashed about 2 cups worth of gilfeather turnips and added them in the appropriate step (#17) above. Please do try with gilfeathers if you’re lucky enough to find some, or any forgotten root vegetable in your fridge – it will surprise you with it’s absolutely delicious and savory flavor!

Folding in egg whites

The completed souffle!

This fabulous turnip is celebrated not just in the town of Wardsboro with its own festival, but also nationally as it has been catalogued in the Slow Food Ark of Taste for rare foods of cultural significance! Please read up on this humble root, and enjoy making soufflés part of your repertoire!

Info on the Gilfeather Turnip

Slow Food Ark of Taste Entry

Feature in Vermont Life Magazine (with more recipes!)

Podcast about the Gilfeather Turnip

Seeds for this turnip if you’d like to grow some of your own!

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