Attending The New Year Culinary Experience at the prestigious culinary school, The International Culinary Center, is always a thrill, as for two days, participants have the opportunity to take two classes per day with top toques.
This year, I decided to take the challenge if you will, and revisit making soufflés, those lighter than air, stunning, gloriously puffy creations, that one loves to order at restaurants, and loathes to make at home, deeming them too temperamental, too scary to even think of attempting to make for a dinner party.
Chef Laurie Jon Moran and Debra Argen - NY Culinary Experience 2013 - photo by Luxury Experience
Chef Laurie Jon Moran and Debra C. Argen
Many years ago, I did made savory soufflés, however I "took them off the menu" when I failed to receive consistent results from the recipes that I used. As much as I loved the "wow factor" when I took a perfectly risen soufflé out of the oven to serve to guests, it was maddening when the same recipe would deflate just steps away from the oven the next time I made it. Having no clue as to why the failure, with a sad backwards glance, I solemnly vowed that I would use my soufflé molds for other purposes in the future.
Chef Laurie Jon Moran
However, when I saw the course listing, Soufflés, Not as Scary as You Think, taught by Chef Laurie Jon Moran of the three star Michelin, Le Bernardin restaurant in New York on the schedule, I decided to challenge myself and registered for the class held on May 5, 2013.
Chef Laurie Jon Moran and Students
Over the course of 2 hours and 15 minutes, British Chef Laurie Jon Moran would teach the class how to make savory as well as sweet soufflés designed to achieve the "wow" effect. As an introduction, he assured us students that making soufflés were not as scary as they might seem. Actually, they are perfect to serve for a dinner party, as they can be prepared and left to rest for up to 90 minutes prior to baking. Prepared ahead of your guests' arrival, then baked for 8 minutes and served immediately thereafter, soufflés can be wonderful as a savory starter or as the grand finale to your dinner party.
Buttering the Molds
What we learned is that there are three keys to a successful soufflé; the first key is the preparation of the soufflé molds or ramekins, which are evenly brushed with room temperature butter. For savory soufflés, that is all that is required; for dessert soufflés, you add a light dusting of sugar after buttering the molds, and shake out any excess sugar.
Sugaring the Molds
The second key is stabilizing the egg whites; when making dessert soufflés, sugar acts as a stabilizer, when making savory soufflés, you can stabilize the egg whites by adding egg white powder to them. Stabilizing the egg whites, allows you to create a firm meringue that will hold the soufflé together and let it rise.
The third key is to create a smooth base of milk and cornstarch, from which you will build on by adding spices and cooking until thickened, and then adding your meringue.
Whisking the Meringue
Divided into teams of two, aprons donned, the recipe for Roquefort Cheese Soufflé on the workstation in front of us, along with our mise en place, Chef Laurie Jon Moran guided us as we prepared our soufflé molds using the method he had demonstrated. Then, as one team member created the base for the soufflé on the stove, the other member whipped the egg whites to form a meringue.
Beating the Egg Whites
We added Roquefort cheese to the base, stirred occasionally to keep a skim from forming, beat in one-fourth of the meringue into the base, and then folded the lightened base into the remaining meringue.
We carefully spooned the mixture into plastic piping bags, cut the tip off the end of the bag, piped the mixture into the prepared soufflé molds filling them 4/5 full, and then baking them for 350° Fahrenheit (176° Celsius) for 8 minutes.
Piping the Mixture
Holding our collective breaths, we waited anxiously as Chef Laurie Jon Moran removed the baked soufflés from the oven, wondering if our soufflés had risen to the occasion. Tray after tray coming out of the oven, the soufflés were gorgeous, light, and puffy. The aroma was heavenly, and dipping in our tasting spoons for a first mouthful, delicate texture and full-bodied flavor on the palate followed, exactly as a soufflé should be.
Chef Laurie Jon Moran and ICC Instructor Kathy Sadler
Confident in our newly acquired savory soufflé skill, we progressed to making two dessert soufflés, a Grand Marnier Soufflé, that was light, delicate, and made with a milk base and flavored with orange zest and Grand Marnier, and a Passion Fruit Soufflé that had intense, rich flavor and used passion fruit puree for its base instead of milk.
Debra with Finished Soufflé
As with the savory Roquefort Cheese soufflé, our Grand Marnier and Passion Fruit Soufflés looked picture perfect as they came out of the oven. How did they taste? Amazing. Thanks to Chef Laurie Jon Moran's expert instruction, and the wonderful assistance from The International Culinary Center Pastry Chef Instructor Kathy Saddler and her student volunteers, I learned that making soufflés are not as scary as I thought. I am happy to report that I will once again use my soufflé molds for the purpose for which I bought them, to make soufflés.
ICC Instructor and Students
Read the Chefs' Recipes section for Chef Laurie Jon Moran's recipes for Roquefort Cheese Soufflé, Grand Marnier, Passion Fruit Soufflé, and Chocolate Soufflé.
Chef Laurie Jon Moran and Gillian Duffy of New York magazine
Read about other classes in the Gastronomy section and interviews and recipes from the other classes in the Chefs' Recipes section.
Follow Luxury Experience on Facebook to listen to interviews with the chefs and see more photos from the event. www.Facebook.com/LuxuryExperience
For information on attending the New York Culinary Experience 2014, please visit the New York magazine website: www.NYmag.com/nyce.
For information on taking classes throughout the year with the excellent chef instructors at The International Culinary Center at their New York, California, or Italian Campuses, please visit the website: www.InternationalCulinaryCenter.com
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