Early pangs of hunger set in long before dinner, so amid requests for ice cream and a fifth slice of dried mango, we settle on Parmesan.
A few nibbles delay my son’s appetite, but distraction is more effective. And so, I task him with grating the Parmesan for [drum roll….] a Souffle.
I explain: a souffle is somewhere between a popover and a quiche. His look tells me he isn’t sold on the idea, so I present the cheese that will be going into the dish. He raises his eyebrows and asks, “How do we start?”
It’s a collaborative project. While he grates the cheese, I separate the eggs, measure out ingredients and cook the roux.
We’ve been eating cheesy dishes after a conversation last week with my youngest son.
“I love cheese.”
“What could be better?”
“Nothing… except fire trucks.”
Manchego, Parmesan, Tomme de Crayeuse… I have something to prove, some necessary understanding to pass on to my progeny. So, here I am trying to one-up fire trucks. Possibly an impossible task in the life a three year old boy.
Mingus is my accomplice. “Is this really going to be good?”
“What if it tastes like dirt?”
“It won’t. Good ingredients went in, right?”
Kerplunk! Kerplop! Kerploosh! Mingus drops chunks of cheddar into our pot and reassures himself, “Good ingredients went in, so it’s supposed to be good.”
We ever so gently fold together a milky roux and a bowl full of egg whites. Mingus helps me scoop this frothy confection into a baking dish. He’s still skeptical.
Embracing the elegance inherent in a souffle, I call “Polite Night”. We light a candle at the table and amid the requisite napkins, silverware, please-and-thank-yous, dinner achieves a rare level of success.
Turning to Beluga I query, “What do you think of the Parmesan Souffle? Pretty good, huh?”
Mouth full. Mmmmghghmm. He locks eyes and explains, “Not like fire trucks.”
- A Pat of Butter for greasing your baking dish
- Approximately 2 Tbs grated Parmesan
- 3 Tbs Flour
- ½ tsp Dried Garlic Powder
- A Dash of Salt
- 1⅓ Cups Milk
- 4 Large Egg Yolks
- Approximately 6 ounces Cheddar Cheese (I prefer a sharp and flavorful Cheddar)
- 5 Egg Whites
- 1 Tbs Water
- This recipe begins with a favorite kid activity – smudge a pat of butter around your baking dish to fully grease the inside. I remind my children not to eat all the butter out of hand. Then they sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the buttered dish and it all shake around. The bits of cheese jump about for a few shakes, then settle, stuck to the butter.
- Against your instinct, place the baking dish in the freezer.
- Set your oven to 350 degrees.
- You can bring out the Cheddar cheese and set a child up to break it into smaller bits. A table knife will do.
- Now comes the adult part: in a pot, heat the butter for several minutes, cooking out all the water. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, garlic powder, and salt. Add these ingredients to the melted butter and cook for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Pour in the milk and turn the heat to high, stirring constantly. When the mixture boils, take it off the burner.
- Now it’s time to separate the eggs. If my kids want part of it, I use three bowls: a bowl for the egg white we’re cracking, a bowl for the accumulated successful egg whites, and a bowl for the yolks. There’s nothing more frustrating than separating 3 eggs, only to have yolk run into a bowl full of whites.
- In a fresh medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy. Continuing to stir the yolks, add a cup of the milky combination. Tempering the yolks will keep them from solidifying and then you can safely add the mixture to the pot.
- My son likes to be the one, then, to add his Cheddar chunks to the pot.
- Then, take your bowl of egg whites, add the water, and whip it into stiff peaks with an electric hand mixer.
- Add ¼ of the egg whites at a time to your milky mixture, folding the two gently together.
- Pour it all into your cold baking dish and bake for 35 minutes:)