Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rosie Makes A Souffle.

A souffle is one of my favorite things to eat.
Mr. Hawthorne says eating a souffle
 is like biting into a cloud.
A souffle is celebratory
and champagne and souffle make for a perfect pairing.
The billowy lightness of the souffle with the bubbly
 is, indeed, a pleasurable sensation.
I have a happy palate.

3 TB unsalted butter
extra butter to grease the souffle dish
enough grated Asiago cheese, to cover buttered dish
3 TB flour
1 cup scalded milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
cayenne pepper
nutmeg, freshly grated
4 egg yolks, room temperature
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
about 3 ounces bleu cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 1/2 inches in diameter, 3 1/4 inches deep), and sprinkle inside evenly with Asiago.

First, make a roux:
Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.  Add in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  You want to cook the flour, but not brown it.  Remove from heat and whisk in the milk.  I used 1/2 cup skim milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream because that's what I have on hand.  Add in salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg.  Return to low heat, whisking constantly for about a minute, until smooth and thick.

Remove from heat and whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. 
Stir in the bleu cheese and the Gruyere and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in bowl of electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on low speed for 1 minute.  Increase to medium speed for 1 minute, then beat at high until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Whisk 1/4 of the whites into the cheese sauce to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the whites.  Pour into prepared souffle dish.  Draw a circle on top to help the souffle rise evenly.  Place in middle of oven and turn temperature down to 375 degrees.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until souffle rises and is puffy and brown.  Serve immediately.

Let the eggs come to room temperature.
Makes for better volume.

Gruyere cheese.
Grate 1/4 cup.

I grated enough Asiago cheese to evenly coat the souffle dish.
This gives the eggs something to pull up on as they rise.

My wedge of bleu cheese weighed 2.7 ounces.

The recipe called for milk,
which I assume means whole milk.
I never have whole milk on hand,
but I always have skim milk and heavy cream.
I used half skim and half cream,
which I scalded.

Melt butter over low heat.

Add in flour and cook for a minute or two,
stirring constantly.
You want to cook the raw out of the flour.

Don't brown the roux.

Remove from heat and gradually add in the milk, whisking.

Add in salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg.

 Return mixture to heat and cook, stirring constantly,
for about a minute.

This is the consistency you want -
a rubbery blob that holds together.

Add in the eggs, one at a time,
whisking after each addition.

Add in grated Gruyere.

Add in crumbled bleu cheese.

Now, I'm ready to start on the egg whites.
Add in 1/8 tsp cream of tartar to the room temperature egg whites.

When you're beating egg whites,
always have them at room temperature.
This allows for higher volume.
If you're having trouble beating egg whites
to stiff peaks,
it can be from one of several causes.
If there's the tiniest bit of yolk in with the whites,
you won't be able to form stiff peaks.
Contamination from moisture, oil,
or detergent on your utensils will also affect egg beatery.
You should never use a plastic bowl
to beat egg whites,
since fat molecules are attracted to some plastics,
and there may be a film inside the bowl.
Use a metal or glass bowl.

As for the cream of tartar,
this is used not so much to affect the stiffness
to which egg whites can be beat,
but rather to keep beaten egg whites from collapsing
and having the resultant liquid
pool in the bottom of the bowl.

One minute at low speed.

One minute at medium speed.

High speed until it gets glossy.

You want stiff peaks.

Yolk and cheese mixture on left;
whupped whites on right.

Stir in about 1/4 of the whites to lighten the egg mixture.

Pour in the rest of the whites and ...

... gently fold until well combined.

Pour into souffle dish.

Draw a circle with your spatula.

I baked this about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven,
Never open the oven to check on a souffle.
It will deflate.

Oh, this is perfect.

This is beyond perfect.

Serve immediately or ...

... it deflates.

Cheers, all.

Champagne and souffle.

It truly doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rosie's September Garden.

 Welcome to Rosie's fall garden.
Everything is late this year in my garden.
The Hawthornes were traveling
and didn't get home until the end of May,
so I didn't start planting until the first week of June.

 My celosia is just starting to bloom.

 A quick check on Wiki tells me 
celosia is a small genus of edible and ornamental plants
in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae.
The generic name comes from the Greek word kelos,
meaning "burned," a reference to the flame-like flower heads.
Well-known in East Africa's highlands
these plants are called by their Swahili name mfungo.

I think I'll start calling this mfungo.

Mfungo has numerous medicinal uses.
It can be used in the treatment for intestinal worms
(particularly tapeworm) - Good to know! -
blood diseases, eye problems, and mouth sores.
The seeds are used to treat chest complaints
and the flowers treat diarrhea.
The leaves are used as dressing for boils and sores
and the boiled vegetables are used as a diuretic.
All good to know if I'm ever plagued
 by any of these maladies.

Mfungo is also used as a food - 
a nutritious leafy green vegetable.
In Nigeria, it is known as soko yokoto,
meaning "make husbands fat and happy."
It is also widely eaten in the Congo,
Indonesia, and India.
The leaves, young stems, and flowers
can be made into soups and stews
or served as a nutty-flavored side dish.

 I love my moonflowers.
Ipomoea alba
Moonflowers open in the evening
and attract night-flying moths which aid in pollination.
The flowers start opening around 5
and you can watch them open up in a matter of minutes.

 My hollyhocks like it here.

 This is my amaranthus,
or love lies bleeding.
I love the old fashioned names for some of these flowers.
Actually, in the Middle Ages,
amaranthus was used to stem bleeding.

 The plant is valued around the world
as a leaf vegetable, a cereal, and as an ornamental.
The red color is due to a high content of betacyanins,
as in the related species known as "Hopi red dye" amaranth.
Amaranthus cultivation reached its height 
during the Aztec Empire.
The Aztecs used the flowers in several of their ceremonies,
mixing it with honey to make images of their gods.
They also used amaranthus, called huautli
to prepare ritual drinks and foods.
Amaranthus was also one of the staple foodstuffs
of the Incas, and is known as kiwicha in the Andes today.

 The tall plants in the background
are castor bean plants, Ricinus communis.
A native of tropical Africa,
the plant is cultivated for the oil found in its leaves.
The seeds from the castor bean plant
are poisonous to people and animals,
the main toxic protein being ricin.

My black corner, with elephant ear and liriope 
patiently waiting to be planted.

I recently pruned that pine.
I have plans for it.

I have a project in the works for that little pine.

 I use grass clippings for my pathways.
I like using different textures.

 One of my neighbors brings me his clippings after each mowing.

 If anyone would like to identify this for me,
I would be most happy.

I think the tag said it was semi-tropical
but I planted it outside last year anyway.
We had a mild winter and it's back and seems very happy.
It even made it through ThatBitchIrene.

Edited to add:
As always, Mar came through for me.
It's holanda or justicia
Thanks, Mar.