Saturday, November 14, 2009

Conquering Souffle

AB's show tonight has inspired me. It was souffle. Cheese souffle to be exact. This takes me back to one of my very first huge kitchen disasters, I remember it like it was yesterday...

I have never conquered a souffle. Infact, I have only attempted it once. It was such a bad defeat that I swore I'd never try it again. I was 19, maybe 20. I had only been out on my own for a couple of years. I was a new mom, newly married (to the wrong man, I might add), and learning how run my own home. I loved cooking. I always have.. I had been cooking dinner for me and my parents since I was about 13, almost nightly by the time I was 16. I taught myself, with guidance from my mom and my dad and Julia Child on TV. And while my mom is a great cook.. she definitly never made souffles, or meringues or any sort of "foam" product. I was never really taught how to properly whip egg whites and then fold them into something. At that time, I thought "fold in" ment use the "fold" speed on my hand mixer. *gasp*!!!! I had never been taught otherwise. But for the most part I did okay in most all of my cooking adventures.

As a new mom and wife, and realizing it was now MY kitchen and I could buy and make what I wanted... I became adventurous. I became ambitious. I even created my own recipe for Mango Salsa. I was a rockstar, on top of the world.. thought I knew it all. LOL So one day I decide "I will make souffle!" I get out what at that time was my trusty food bible, the only cookbook worth using(OMG how misled I was!! LOL).. The good old fashioned red and white checked "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook". It was just like my mom's and to me, it was Gospel. Even though it said to put walnuts in chicken enchiladas and I never quite figured that one out (that really should have been my first clue to run LOL). So got out eggs and cheese and my trusty hand mixer.. and God only knows what I used for a souffle dish. LOL

And I beat those poor egg whites to hell, before I started the cheese sauce. (do you know what happens to egg white foam if you don't use it within a couple minutes of creating it? LOL yeah.. try it sometime. It's pretty) And then.. Then I did the unthinkable.. I put that hand mixer on "fold" and combined that grainy, totally messed up because it was the first cheese sauce I ever made, souffle "base" with those egg whites.. and let her rip! Can't you just picture it in your head.. all those bubbles I created getting blown all to hell... Then I poured this runny mass into my dish(which I buttered with margarine from a tub and sprinkled with CANNED parmesan cheese because at that point in my life, I had no idea there was any other kind LOL), stuck it in the oven, slammed the oven door shut, banging it nice and hard and set a timer.

And since I had a little while to kill.. I played with Justin. he was a baby at the time.. right around the age when they run around in those walker on wheels things. We played his favorite game. I chased him all through the kitchen laughing and careening back and forth on the tile. You know, ramming his walker into the oven and cabinets over and over again(you can see it falling before it ever had a chance, huh? LOL)... And I opened the oven repeatedly to check on things. You know, to see how it was coming along, if it was rising, if it was browning, letting all the heat out of the oven. LOL When I pulled out my sad deflated soupy mess of a "souffle", I was defeated. I didn't understand what went wrong. I did everything exactly as that cookbook said. Didn't I? I whipped, I folded (that's what that speed on the hand mixer means, right?? LOL).. why did this all go wrong?

Then the stupid ex husband comes in, sees my disappointing mess and makes fun of me. So, I tossed it down the sink and admitted defeat. I just didn't have the chops to create souffle. And I have never given it a go since.

Until now.

Well, not right now. But soon. Even though I have since learned many many important things about creating foams, folding (which means by hand with spatula not a hand mixer thats going to murder your bubbles LOL).. it has never really dawned on me that I understand all the things I did wrong the first try. Tonight I was watching AB make his cheese souffle and realized "I have all the skills for this.. this is not too hard for me.. why have I not reattempted this?!". It was simply inexperience that led to such a huge failure the first time. I understand the science behind a souffle and all the requirements to pull one off. I didn't back then. Much older and wiser now...Thank God for the Food Network. It's time to right a serious wrong in my culinary reputation. It's time to conquer The Souffle.

Chocolate souffle, I think. But that could just be the PMS talking.

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