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Unless you do not like mushrooms, there is no down side to these little souffles.  Generally, souffles are finicky–these are not.  This makes them an excellent first course, requiring no split-second timing or serving.  They are reliable, but not at all boring, small and delicious.  A glass of Kir Royale with them (or Champagne for those who don’t like the flavour of the blackcurrant liqueur, Creme de Cassis) is a nice idea on a special occasion.

Individual Mushroom Souffles (for 8 people…this recipe increases easily and you are only limited by the number of your ramekins)

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces of button mushrooms, coarsely chopped, and a couple of extra ounces, sliced, for arranging on the tops of the souffles
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter, and some for greasing the baking sheet and browning the extra sliced mushrooms
  • 4 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1 and 2/3 cups of milk
  • 3 ounces of grated Gruyere, Emmentaler or a combination of them, and some extra to sprinkle on the tops of the souffles
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 8 teaspoons of creme fraiche or heavy cream
  • the green parts of a couple of green onions, for the garnish of Green Onion Curls, if you use them

Equipment:

  • a frying pan
  • a large baking sheet
  • Parchment paper (also known as baking paper)
  • 8 half-cup size ramekins

The First Baking: it may be done up to two days ahead:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut 8 circles from the parchment paper to fit the bottoms of the ramekins.  Butter the ramekins well and line them with the circles of paper:

2.  Heat a little butter in the frying pan and fry the sliced mushrooms that will go on top of the souffles until they are golden.  Cool, cover and refrigerate them to use for the second baking of the souffles.  In the same pan, heat the 4 Tablespoons of butter and cook the chopped mushrooms for several minutes until they brown a little.  Add the flour and cook it for a minute, stirring.  Add the milk and continue to stir until a sauce forms and thickens.  Add the 3 ounces of grated cheese, reserving some extra for the second baking.  Add some grinds of salt, pepper and nutmeg and cool the mixture:

3.  Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and don’t slide up the side of a tilted bowl:

4.  Beat the egg yolks a little, stir them into the mushroom mixture, and fold in the egg whites:

5.  Divide the mushroom mixture among the 8 ramekins and place them in a roasting pan.  Fill the pan with cold water to reach half way up the sides of the ramekins:

6.  Bake the souffles for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until they are puffed and browned.  Remove them from the roasting pan and let them cool:

7.  The souffles will sink.  When they are cooled, cover and refrigerate them until you are ready to bake them a second time and serve them.  (The souffles may be made up to this point a couple of days ahead.):

The Second Baking:  arrange them on the baking sheet a little ahead of time and bake right before serving:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Cut out 8 4-inch squares of parchment paper.  Streak the baking sheet with butter to hold down the paper squares and place the squares on the sheet:

2.  Unmold the souffles, peel off the paper rounds, and place the souffles right-side up on the paper squares.  Over each souffle pour a teaspoon of heavy cream or creme fraiche, sprinkle on some grated cheese and arrange mushroom slices on top:

3.  Bake the souffles for about 15 minutes, or until they rise slightly and the cheese bubbles.  Serve them on the parchment squares.  They look nice garnished with Green Onion Curls and fresh black pepper ground over each plate:

How to Make Green Onion Curls:

1.  Cut the green parts of a couple of green onions lengthwise into thin strips.  Put them in a bowl of ice water for a minute, then spread them on a dishtowel and pat them dry.  They will begin to curl in the water and continue to curl up as they dry.

How to Make a Kir Royale:

1.  To a glass of Champagne, add 1 teaspoon of Creme de Cassis.  A regular Kir is also very good:  substitute white wine for the Champagne.  Reversing the order and pouring the wine in the glass after the liqueur will not change the taste, but the drink will not have the pretty two-toned hue.

A Note:  Individual Mushroom Souffles is the First Course of the Dinner Menu: Dinner at Summer’s End, and is adapted from a recipe on the BBC’s Good Food Magazine site.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011

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