Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Delicata Squash Souflée with Creamy Goat Cheese

I must confess that my last post before I left Canada about Jelly Moulds was only half of the story and not the only interesting thing we found during our little detour off the highway in search of garage sales.

Behind the home of the family holding the garage sale was an astounding menagerie that included a peacock, a cute little dog, pigs, a flock of geese and a hen house.  There may have been more critters roaming around but this was all that we saw during the short time we spent there.

When I spotted the hen house a spark lit in my brain:  really fresh eggs!  I pleaded for a dozen and the owner agreed to sell them to me for $2.50.  A pittance for such fresh eggs.

When I got home I cracked one open to see how it  looked.  The yolks were darker than most and the egg white sat high and proud, what my Japanese friend once described as, "like a young girl's breast", characteristic of the fresh eggs she knew from Japan.

With a gift of such fresh eggs, I needed to do them justice and the first thing that came to mind was a souflée.

Earlier that morning at the Lansdowne Farmer's market I had bought a pretty little Delicata squash from Colleen of Waratah Downs Farms.

I had a creamy Cornibique goat cheese that I had bought the previous week from the Jean Talon Market in Montreal.  I thought that it would go perfectly with the squash.

So like the menagerie at the garage sale, the squash, the eggs and the goat cheese all got mixed together from far and wide, to make this delicious souflée for my last summer Sunday dinner in Canada.

Delicata Squash Souflée with Creamy Goat Cheese

Delicata squash is quite sweet but you can substitute the same quantity of Butternut squash.  In France, Potimoron or Potiron squash will work equally well.

If you can't find Cornibique goat cheese, you can substitute any creamy goat cheese you can find such as Chabichou du Poitou or Rocamadour.

The most important thing to remember when you are serving souflée is to have everyone seated at the table, forks in hand when it comes out of the oven. 

Serves 4
Sweet Delicata Squash
Preheat oven to 400ºF (205ºC) then bake for 25 minutes at 375ºF (190ºC)

4 buttered ramekins, 3"(9cm) wide x 2"(5cm) deep,
Immersion blender or blender

1 small squash, about 1-1/2 cups (280g) of diced squash to make 1 cup of drained squash purée
1/4 cup (53ml/g) water
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter plus additional for greasing
3 tablespoons (24g) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (318ml) whole milk, scalded
1/2 cup (112g) goat cheese, rind removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
A few grinds of pepper
3 large egg yolks
4 large egg whites


1. Prepare the squash.
It's important to remove as much water from the cooked squash as you can otherwise your souflées will be too heavy. You can prepare the squash the day before you make your souflées.    

Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut the squash into cubes about the size of dice.  Place the squash, the water, and salt into a medium saucepan.  Cover and cook over moderate heat.  After 10 minutes, check the squash for doneness.  It should be quite tender and a fork should pierce it easily.  When the squash is cooked, turn off the heat and let it sit, covered until cool.  Using your blender or immersion blender purée the squash and pour it into a fine mesh sieve or a colander lined with cheesecloth and suspend it over a bowl or sink to drain the excess moisture.  You should leave it to drain in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.  You won't be needing the drained liquid for the recipe.  Measure 1 cup of purée.

2.  Prepare the béchemel  base mixture
Melt the butter over moderate heat and stir in the flour.  Stir and cook the butter and flour together for about 2 minutes but don't let it brown.  Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.  Whisk in the hot milk, return to the heat and cook on a low boil for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  It will be quite thick.  Whisk in the salt and nutmeg.  Whisk in the egg yolks one by one.  Add the goats cheese and stir until it's melted and fully incorporated.  Add the squash purée Set aside.

3.  Prepare the egg whites.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed to stiff, shiny peaks.

4.  Assembly
Scoop about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites onto the base mixture and gently mix the two together.  Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold them together until fully incorporated. 

Fill each of the ramekins to 3/4 full  and place them on a cookie sheet.  Place in the preheated oven and immediately turn the heat down to 375ºF (190ºC).  

5.  Bake the souflées for about 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

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