Kicking off a holiday meal with a unique soufflé

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

The mellow flavor of roasted garlic pervades this simple, but elegant soufflé. Balance the rich soufflé with a crisp, green salad including peppery leaves.

Serves 6 to 8

4 large heads of garlic

6 fresh thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups milk

2 fresh bay leaves

onion slices, half-inch thickness

4 cloves

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cayenne pepper

6 eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white

11 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1 1/4 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Salt and ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the garlic and thyme sprigs on a piece of foil. Sprinkle with oil and close the foil around the garlic, then bake for about one hour, until garlic is soft. Leave to cool.

Squeeze garlic out of its skin. Discard thyme and garlic skins, then puree the garlic flesh with the oil.

Meanwhile place the milk, bay leaves, onion slices and cloves in a medium pan. Bring to boil, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in another pan. Stir in the flour and cook gently for 2 minutes, stirring. Reheat and strain the milk, then slowly stir it into the flour and butter.

Cook the sauce very gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and a pinch of cayenne. Cool slightly. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the egg yolks into the sauce one at a time. Then beat in goat cheese, all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, garlic puree, and the chopped thyme. Use the remaining butter to grease a large soufflé dish (4 cups) or eight ramekins (about 1Ú2 cup).

Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl until firm, but not dry. Stir 6 tablespoons of the egg whites into the sauce, then gently but thoroughly, fold in remainder using a rubber spatula.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish or dishes. Run a knife around the edge of each dish, pushing the mixture away from the rim. Sprinkle with the reserved parmesan.

Place dish or dishes on a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes for a large soufflé or 20 minutes for small soufflés.

The mixture should be risen and firm to a light touch in the center. It should not wobble excessively when given a light push. Serve immediately.

COOK'S TIP: Whisked egg whites give soufflé its characteristic airy texture, but the lightness can be destroyed if the whites are folded in too roughly. Fold whites in using a rubber spatula and a cutting and scooping action. Turn the bowl a little after each stroke.

• Molly Gingell owns Molly's Gourmet Catering, takeout and cooking school at 220 W. John St. in Carson City.


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