Contrary to their reputation, souffles are easy to make as well as elegant to serve. Granted, there are pitfalls to avoid, but this is true with many dishes. A good recipe, steady heat, and a well-prepared souffle dish are the only requisites. The dish should be well-buttered and floured and of appropriate size.
The souffle dish is designed to encourage the souffle to rise. The bowl has straight sides and usually is made of porcelain. These dishes come in a variety of sizes from tiny to giant. Generally a quart (4 cups) or quart and a half (6 cups) dish will serve most purposes. When more than six servings are needed, it is safer to make two smaller souffles rather than one giant one that may rise poorly or develop a lopsided structure.
The height of a souffle dish may be extended by encircling it with a strip of wax paper or aluminum foil. A long double thickness of the paper extending two inches above the rim and tied around this dish with a string will give your souffle the chance to puff up or ''blow up'' beautifully without fear of its overflowing the limits of the container. (The French verb souffler , in fact, means ''to blow.'')
One cookbook author has suggested that a souffle is a sauce that has taken a deep breath and held it. This gossamer consistency is the result of making a sauce using egg yolks and combining it with beaten egg whites.
The latter cause the souffle to expand while it is baking until it becomes a mound of golden fluff that must be eaten immediately, lest the souffle collapse into a still tasty but far less impressive soggy mass.
The key to the souffle lies in serving it at just the right time. Main dish souffles come to the table right from the oven and are served immediately to appreciative diners. Dessert souffles can provide a dramatic climax to any feast , humble or majestic.
Because of a high proportion of egg whites in all souffle receipes, a great deal of seasoning may be required to prevent the flavor from remaining too bland.
Hot souffles can incorporate fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, chocolate, and other types of flavoring. The main ingredients are added to the egg yolk sauce and then combined with egg whites and baked for an appropriate period of time.
Cold souffles call for the inclusion of gelatin. In reality they are more a mousse than a souffle. Simple Cheese Souffle 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted 1/4 cup flour 1 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon salt Pepper 2 cups shredded cheese 4 eggs, separated
Make thick white sauce by combining melted butter and flour until smooth. Then add milk gradually over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese until melted. Set aside.
Beat yolks and stir into cheese sauce. Beat whites into peaks. Fold into sauce. Pour into a 2-quart souffle dish. Bake in a preheated 300-degree F. oven 1 hour and 15 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
To vary this dish, create your own recipes. Add chopped, cooked vegetables. Use poultry or seafood instead of cheese. Add fruit and eliminate cheese. Use sugar to create a dessert souffle.