I woke up this New Year morning and announced to my love that I wanted to make a souffle for breakfast.
“Have you ever made one?” he asked.
“No, but the New Year is a good time to learn,” I replied.
While making a souffle appeared challenging, it sounded like a decadent and delicious way to start the year 2020. And with sides of tomatoes, olives, and marinated artichoke hearts, plus sparkling prosecco, it was.
We wondered, what makes a souffle rise and become airy? It turns out that egg whites, which are full of protein, whisked until they peak softly is key to a fluffy souffle. Further reading on NPR revealed that even a touch of “goldfish” or egg yolk, which contains fat, is ruinous to a souffle.
Apparently, when you whisk egg whites it mixes air into them. The protein creates a “skin” that traps the bubbles of air, which creates a fluffy effect. The fat from egg yolks prevents the skin from forming and the air leaks away.
Browsing through my Yummly app, many recipes called for ingredients we did not have, like cottage cheese, or others that had too much sweet stuff. We wanted something healthy, but delicious.
The recipe for Omelet Souffle published in Food and Wine Magazine was the answer to our desire for something easy to make, not requiring a ton of ingredients, and tasty to eat. It only took 10 minutes to make.
Following is our rendition of the three-egg dish. We used a shallow, porcelain ovenproof dish to bake the souffle instead of an ovenproof skillet, which worked out well. However, it was necessary to bake it for a few minutes after broiling it as called for in the original directions.
The second time I made it, I first baked it for 3 minutes at 375 degrees and then broiled it for 3 minutes (in an electric oven). I also added finely chopped jalapeno into the egg mixture and sprinkled it on top.
In the oven, it puffed up beautifully, but I worried it was not cooked thoroughly so I let it sit in the oven for a minute or two longer. It soon deflated after removing it and setting it on the table. I’m not sure why, but perhaps I cooked it too long or maybe the jalapenos affected it. You might want to experiment with cooking time and ingredients.
We also substituted the cheese called for in the original recipe as we did not have Gruyere. And we added finely chopped spinach to get our greens in. Our fear was that the spinach would make the souffle fall, so I gently folded some of the spinach into the egg mixture and sprinkled the rest on top.
- 3 Large Eggs carefully separated from the yolks. Make sure to not even leave a trace of yolk in the whites.
- Dash of sea salt
- 1.5 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice. We used a mix of shredded Mexican cheese and grated BellaVitano Tennessee Whiskey cheese from Sartori.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put the rack in the middle.
- Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form, or as in Chef Jeffrey Buben in the NPR article said, until you “just lose the shine from the egg whites.” He also whips his egg whites by hand, which I did as well.
- Whisk the egg yolks with one quarter the whipped egg whites and the salt. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the remaining egg whites. Add about three-quarters of the chopped spinach, gently folding it in. You want to make sure you don’t lose those air bubbles you worked hard to whip up.
- Melt the butter in an ovenproof glass/porcelain dish about 6 inches by 4 inches, and 1 inch tall using a microwave. Make sure the butter coats the entire bottom and sides. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the dish, evenly distributing it. Sprinkle the cheese and remaining spinach on top, covering the entire souffle.
- Bake souffle for 3 minutes and then broil it for a remaining 3 minutes until it browns on top and it is very fluffy. Serve immediately.