Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Asparagus Souffle

Fellow Knoxville food blogger Kevin has been working on a project after my own heart, because it extolls the virtues of one of my most favorite vegetables. Every Monday you can find a round up of the most sublime asparagus recipes at Kevin's Asparagus Aspirations, and after days and days of wracking my brain for the perfect entry, I came up with this puffy wonder.

This souffle was a very proud achievement because I worked off of no pre-existing recipe, a daunting task when dealing with finicky egg whites. Armed with my vague knowledge of ingredient proportions and some extremely fresh spring asparagus, I set to work.

The results were better than I had dreamed. I managed to maintain the bright green color (that was my first concern, that I would end up with muddy greenish-brown puffs), and each bite truly tasted of asparagus first. The additional ingredients simply served as the supporting cast for this impressive dish. And, should you worry that you are wasting half of your asparagus stalks, I refer you to this recipe for a cold asparagus soup that makes excellent use of the woody stalks.

While I made two larger souffles, I think this would make a lovely first course for four people, served in demitasse cups or small ramekins. Feel free to try different cheeses--I think chevre or Gruyere would be quite nice as well. And of course, if you prefer perfect, flat-topped souffles, knock yourself out and smooth the surface evenly. I like the pillowy, free form mounds, myself.

Asparagus Souffle
serves 2-4

3 large eggs, separated
1 lb. asparagus
2-3 Tbsp vegetable or chicken stock
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
.25 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the asparagus stalks in half, for this recipe you only need the most tender green ends. Boil the asparagus in lightly salted water until just tender--about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool. Chop the blanched spears roughly and toss into a blender or food processor. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and some of the stock and pulse until smooth. You may need a dash or two more of stock, you want a very smooth green puree. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the egg yolks, flour, mustard, Parmesan, and asparagus puree until well combined--about 3 minutes. With the bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, whisk until paler in color and quite thick, roughly 5 minutes. Replace on mixer stand, and cream for an additional 3 minutes, until light and beginning to cool. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside. At this point you can wait up to 2 hours before completing the souffles.

In a clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold a stiff peaks. Be careful to not over beat the whites. Whisk one third of the egg whites into the asparagus mixture until well combined, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites. Scoop the souffle mixture into ramekins or tea cups, leaving about.5 inch at the top, and making sure to not deflate the fluffy mixture.

Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake until puffy and golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Garnish with an asparagus spear (if desired) and serve immediately.


Kevin said...

Delightful! I was wondering if someone was going to do a souffle.

Lis said...

Marianne your souffles are gorgeous! I'm in total awe.. very nice job! =)

Ellie said...

You've combined asparagus and a souffle - two things that I'm both terrified of (not flavour, but I lack the ability to cook both!)

And yet, with such a beautiful picture, it so makes me want to try!

Marianne said...

Ellie, you can cook asparagus! Seriously, there are so many deliciously simple preparations out there. As for the souffle, I have always been very lucky with egg-based dishes and sauces, I don't know why. I'm like the Egg Whisperer.

Kevin and Lis--thanks!

Kalyn said...

Well done. I'm scared to try a souffle because my oven is temperamental. This does sound wonderful though.

Marianne said...

Ah, yes, I do think a stable oven is necessary. Mine is nothing fancy, but it's pretty new and very reliable.

Ivonne said...

Gorgeous! Well done!

Anonymous said...

I am salivating. I want to try this!

Juliette Godart said...

Just a question (but a key question): did you put into the oven the cups I see in your pictures? Or did you cooke the souflle in a ramequin and after that you transferred it in the cup?

Congratulations and grazie!

Marianne said...


Those tea cups are oven safe (it is printed on the bottom), so I baked the souffles right in them!

Alison said...

Hello Lady....birthday girl!!! I am spying on you and feel silly about it, but had to say the souffles look/sound simply perfect and I shall be trying them asap. Hope the new mugs from IKEA are oven safe!xx

Passionate Eater said...

Poo! I could have sworn I left a comment before! I just wanted to say thanks for the alternative recipe for the asparagus stems. My mom never lets them go to waste either.

Thanks again MacGyver of the food realm!

Marianne said...

Sweet Ali--we need to catch up on birthday adventures. I miss you.

PE, you make my day every time you call me McGuyver, I swear. Perhaps my next site design should incorporate this distinction?

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

That looks great!

Elise said...

This sounds absolutely delicious. One of these days I'll get around to attempting a souffle. In the meantime, I can refer back here for inspiration. Thanks!

edna lewis said...

How would you adjust cooking time if using one large souffle dish, rather than the ramekins?

Marianne said...

I'm not sure--I would probably look up a basic souffle recipe and base times on that.