Friday, March 22, 2013

Crab and GruyereCheese Souffle - Nutty Awesomeness

Crab and Gruyere Cheese Souffle
I don't think D fully understands the purpose of a 'Pantry'.  If something sits in our cupboards for more than a month, he gets antsy.  'We should really have some sandwiches soon, that tuna's really piling up.'  So to humour him, I found a use for one of the tins of lump Crab Meat I had in the pantry that I had bought when it was on sale.  I mean come on! Half price for real Lump Crab Meat!  It was that or Salmon.  I had just finished reading the Silver Linings Playbook and though I doubt very much I'll get around to making the 'Crabby Snacks' that mom kept making in the book, I had a distinct craving for Cheese and Crab.

I need to be very EMPHATIC HERE.  Do not use imitation Crab.  Blech.  It will not work.  Leave that stuff to stir fries and California Rolls, please. It will not taste right.

For the parents reading, this took me 1 hour end to end (20-30 minutes prep and 30 minutes baking) while feeding a kid half of the prep time.  Admittedly, I prepped the Souffle dish while lil T was eating his dinner.

Crab an Gruyere Cheese Souffle

For Souffle dish, 10 inch
1 T Butter, melted, for Souffle dish
2 T Parmesan, grated, real or nothing

1 large Shallot, minced
45 g Butter
1 tin 120 g Crab Meat, real
1 c Milk

45 g All Purpose Flour
1/2 t Paprika
1 t Dry Mustard (you can cut this in half if you're timid)
1/4 t Red Pepper flakes
1/2 t Salt
1 t fresh Thyme, if you have it in the window like we do.  (1/4-1/2 t dry Thyme)

and the Rest..
4 Eggs, separated
2 small Prep Bowls
1 c grated Gruyere Cheese (you can substitute with Swiss or Edam but it's not quite as nutty)

Measure out all the Dry and place in a small prep bowl and set aside.

 Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the bottom third

Mince the Shallot and set aside.  Should have 1/4 c of finely minced Shallot.  You can use 2 T if your shallot was smaller.

Melt the first T of Butter in the Microwave for 15-20 s.  Using a silicon food brush, cover the inside of your Souffle Dish.  On the sides, I like to stroke in an upward motion so the Souffle can 'climb'.  Yes, I'm a nerd but serious.  The Butter will immediately start to congeal because your dish will be slightly cool unless this is the middle of summer.  Sprinkle in the Parmesan and over the sink or a bowl, shake the dish around to coat the inside with the cheese.  Leave the excess in the bottom.  Place in the fridge.
Now, if you're like me and hate waste in all forms, effort or substance, you tare weighed the bowl you melted the Butter in.  Why? Because, you probably did not use all the melted Butter.  So I add more Butter to the same bowl knowing what the bowl weighed empty until I have the 45 g of Butter I need for the Souffle.  Add all the Butter to a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the Shallots and sautee for 5 minutes until softened.

While the Shallots are bubbling away, separate the Eggs with very clean hands.  Avoid any Butter or Oil anywhere around the Whites.  Break the Egg over a clean prep bowl.  Cradle the Yolk in the shell, rocking it back and forth until you have all the white.  Dump the Yolk in the second prep bowl or small bowl of any kind.  Check the White for shells or bits of Yolk.  If it's clean, add to the mixer and continue.  If you accidentally break some Yolk into the White, do not use.  You can throw it in with your collection of Yolks and get a new clean bowl to use for the Whites.    Set aside.

Back to the saucepan, add the Flour mixture while mixing vigorously with a whisk.   If it bunches in the whisk, just tap it against the side of the pot and continue.  Let the flour cook for 5 minutes moving it so it doesn't scorch.

You can turn the mixer on the Whites on 8/10 speed.  Now with Whisk in your good hand and Milk in the other, start adding the Milk in quarters while mixing constantly.  Let the mixture thicken up before adding any more Milk. This should take only 3-5 minutes in total.  It should feel too thick, like brownie batter or frosting, you can add upto 1/4 c more Milk but no more than that you should try to keep it to 2 T. Turn the heat down to medium/low.  Look at the Whites. 

By your third addition check the Whites.  You want them too look like Whipped Cream.  If you go too far, you may have to start over.  What does too far look like? It looks like chopped up Styrofoam.  Now, I have used 'too far' Whites in a Souffle and it turned out alright.  I used them once in a Chocolate Mousse and it did not work.  If they're ready, turn off and let stand.

Now take the Yolks to the saucepan.  Some people like to turn the heat right off but I like to know that they're cooked through.  Most eggs are pasturised these days so upto you.  They will go in the oven.  With the whisk in your good hand again,  Add 1 Yolk at a time while whisking until it disappears.  Continue with all the Yolks.  Whisk another minute then turn off the heat.

Add the Cheese in handfuls until it 'disappears' too.  When it's all in, continue to whisk for a minute until smooth.  Of course there will be some lumps from the Shallots so you know what I mean.

Drain the Crab completely and fold gently into the Yolk/Cheese mixture.  You don't want to completely breakdown the meat.With a LARGE flexible spatula Move the warm mixture to a large mixing bowl.  If you have time, you can let it stand for 10 minutes to cool in the pot.  If you did do that, you could wait to do the Whites until now.  Adding the Cheese and moving to the large bowl cools it down a little and I didn't have time to let it cool more.

Take the Soufflee dish from the fridge and sit in a stable counter.

Take a big scoop of the Whites and mix it vigoursly into the Cheese mixture. About a third.  Don't worry about being delicate here.  You're 'lightening' the mixture.  Then add the remaining Whites in two adds.  Gently folding in by cutting down the middle in a chop, scooping up the bottom up the sides, turn the bowl 1/4 and repeat.  Don't over do this.  Just barely incorporate.  Repeat.  You can still see some little bits of white.  That's fine.

Pour into the souffle dish.  Do not be tempted to jiggle or tap flat.  Just leave it.   Place quickly into the oven. Turn the oven down to 400F.

Now, do not touch that door for at least the first 10 minutes.  When the structure is a bit more stable you can check it if you absolutely can't help yourself.  It's the temperature change from opening the door that is the cause of comical souffle sinkings not noises or bangs.  My oven runs hot so sometimes around 20 minutes in, I have to gently lay a piece of foil on top because it is browning faster than it sets.

Serve with a salad.  MMMMMMm

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

15 Minute Meal - Fo Real - Roasted Salmon with Asparagus and Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus and Rosemary Potatoes
There are days, there are days, I'd be perfectly happy having a bowl of brown rice and Brussels sprouts.  Believe you me, while D was travelling for work this past summer, that would have happened alot if it weren't for the stifling Toronto summer heat.  D wouldn't have that.  He could be exhausted and come through the door at 8pm and still insist on eating something substantial.  I usually let him indulge himself to make it then.  I can usually scrounge up that energy for lil T but not myself.  Toddlerhood during winter is certainly draining. 

For those days, strategic shopping and stocking can make sure that the laziest and most tired of us all can make a nice meal in 15 minutes. 

D texted he was leaving work.  It was 7h15pm.  I sighed.  T had slept late through his nap and his Grannie nannie had left him sleeping on the couch.  My rather diminutive mother watches him on Mondays and Tuesdays when I work from home. She finds it difficult to lift him into his crib so more often than I like, she lets him fall asleep on the sofa.  I have to sit there in the dim light reading my Kindle because waking a lil T before he wants too is simply not worth it.  So here he was eating dinner a full hour late, groggy and not terribly interested in his Meatballs and Spaghetti.  *sigh* I guess I should think about dinner.  I knew we had some Salmon defrosting in the fridge.  We like to buy whole Salmon on sale and portion them out into 120 g portions and freeze what we don't eat in the first couple days. 

D had placed a couple in a bag to defrost with an marinade of Soy, Mirin, Sesame Oil, Garlic and Fresh Ginger.  I find that marinades soak in well during defrost.  You could easily use your favourite Asian sauce as a marinade if you don't have fresh Garlic or Ginger..... but you should ALWAYS have fresh Garlic and Ginger in the house.  I remember one of my favourite cook shows from my teenhood, the bearded gent said he would check the cupboards for a bag of Onions of a lady he was courting.  A lady should always have a bag of Onions, he believed.  I think you should always have Garlic and Ginger.  I watched lil T pushing his Spaghetti around his plate painting a Tomatoey picture with his fork when I reluctantly decided I should make dinner.  It was 7h30.  D would be home in about 10 minutes. 

I took the Salmon filets out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature while, I dealt with the veg.    I turned the Oven to 450F.  I washed 4 medium sized White Potatoes.  Looked at them and decided they were pretty big so put one back.  I cut them into inch sized cubes and spread them out on a dinner plate and microwaved them for 3 minutes.  I then washed and trimmed all a bunch of Asparagus.  You can either, grab them by the bottom and break them where they naturally want too, where the bottom is too fibrous to eat.  Or, as Alton brown does, cut off the bottom third of them all.  I snap them and then nibble the bottom if I think they broke off too far up the stalk.

I took out a large baking tray and lined it with Parchment paper.  D had left some burnt Flour on it from his last Pizza night.  I dusted it off but didn't have the energy or motivation to wash the gigantic thing tonight.

I spread the Asparagus out on half the baking tray.   I placed the parcooked Potatoes on the other.  I trimmed some Rosemary and Thyme from our window winter garden and tossed them onto the Taters.  I drizzled light Olive Oil over the lot and mixed it in with my hands.  I sprinkle with some coarse Salt over.

Place the Salmon Filets side by side right on top of the bed of Asparagus.

Bake for 12-14 minutes in the bottom third level.  D likes 12, I like 14.  

D got home and changed.