Every week there’s more to choose from. I couldn’t decide between baby beets from Jay Hill Farm or the very first asparagus of the season from Miller Farms (picked at 5am Saturday morning!) … so I bought both. What could be a better foil for simple vegetable dishes than a classic soufleé prepared with local cheese from Haystack Mountain? Queso de Mano is Haystack’s first raw goat’s milk cheese, very reminicient of manchego, and it substitutes perfectly for the gruyère in a classic cheese soufleé.
Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the lower, woodier part. Bend firmly, and the stalk will naturally break at just the right place. Rustics leave the skin on, but I prefer to peel the lower part of the remaining stalk with a vegetable peeler. Slather the asparagus with olive oil, add kosher salt, then grill or broil until done. Asparagus cooks very quickly: use tongs and turn often until nicely colored, and don’t leave unattended.
Baby beets also deserve a light touch. Reserve the greens, discard the stems, and peel the beet proper and slice thin, about 1/8″. Sauté in olive oil for a few minutes, then add greens and cook a few minutes more. Add kosher salt to taste.
A dash of soy would add that certain umami je ne sais quoi, but the delicate flavor of the tender young beets might not show through.
Soufleé is enjoying a second 15 minutes of fame: millions watched as Top Chef contestants completely butchered this simple, classic dish. These chefs are certainly competent, but their lack of familiarity shows just how far this preparation has fallen out of fashion. Revive the soufleé!
- 3 Tb butter
- 3 Tb flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 large eggs + one white
- 1 cup queso de mano (or gruyère), grated
- 2 Tb parmesan cheese, grated fine (or flour)
- pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate the eggs, reserving both whites and yolks. Combine whites, adding one extra. Butter inside of a charlotte pan, and coat evenly with grated parmesan cheese or flour (more classic). The coatings are optional, but either will help to achieve a nice side-crust and discourage sticking.
Melt butter and mix well with flour to a smooth paste but do not color. Whisk in milk, and simmer until thickened. Whisk in cheese. Off heat, whisk in egg yolks one by one. Add pepper to taste.
Whip four egg whites in mixer to stiff peaks. Quickly but gently fold in egg whites, mixing well. Pour result into prepared charlotte pan. Reduce oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes. The top should rise and brown attractively – do not overcook.