Relax, It's Just a Souffle

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If I had to name the two dishes that most intimidate even enthusiastic home cooks, I would have to say risottos and souffles. Both are most-often experienced in restaurants, usually of the fancier ilk, and therefore wrapped in mystique and a perceived high level of culinary skill. But toss aside those misconceptions, as both recipes actually involve a simple series of steps, and some attention, but nothing fancy by way of technique or dexterity.

There are only a few critical points, according to La Varenne Pratique (a timeless masterwork you should consider owning if learning more about classic French cooking appeals): a souffle base of the right consistency, stiff egg whites, and the careful folding of the base and the beaten whites. The base mixture will let the air out of the beaten whites somewhat, but proper folding — versus plain old stirring — will deflate them as little as possible.

The following basic techniques and steps are relevant whether you are making a savory or a sweet souffle.

Check out the full how-to gallery, then try Katie’s easy Cheese Souffle recipe, sure to impress this Valentine’s Day or anytime you feel like showing off your newfound French cooking skills.

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