This week, we went to the Thursday farmers' market at Kendall Square. My husband Josh works near there, so we met up with him, did our shopping, and then had lunch together while listening to the summer concert series, which also happens every Thursday. The kids loved the music and were thrilled to see their dad in the middle of the day, so we'll probably make this our summer routine. The market was nice and had some interesting things other than vegetables, including bread, cheese, chocolate, and veggie/bread pockets we bought for lunch. There was even an ice cream stand from Christina's, but we managed to avoid that, since we knew we'd then face a whole summer of demands for ice cream.
The selection was much better this week, and we got some more chard, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, and peas (which we ate raw for lunch). The zucchini plants in our community garden plot are thriving, so I realized we will need a lot of good zucchini recipes this summer. Thankfully, I have The Classic Zucchini Cookbook which should give me a lot of good ideas. This week, I decided to try the Zucchini Soufflé. I've never made a soufflé before, and there was a warning on the side about how people consider soufflés challenging and likely to fail, but since part of the goal of this project is taking some culinary risks, I decided to give it a try. My brother and his girlfriend were planning to come to dinner, and the recipe is only supposed to serve 4, so I multiplied it by 1.5.
4 medium sized zucchini, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Gruyére cheese
4 egg yolks, beaten
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
8 egg whites
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 2-quart cooking dish or four ramekins.
2. Slice the zucchini into very thin rounds, toss with salt in a colander, and let it sit for 30 minutes.
3. Melt the butter, mix in the flour, add the milk, and then wait for the sauce to thicken and boil.
4. Mix everything but the egg whites in a large bowl.
5. Beat the eggs whites until they are stiff and fold into the large bowl.
6. Put the mixture in the floured cooking dish, and then put the cooking dish inside a larger pan (like a casserole dish). Put the whole thing in the oven, and then fill up the casserole dish with water until it reaches halfway up the smaller dish.
7. The soufflé is done when the top is golden brown and raised, and when a toothpick inserted comes out dry (and not wet). Cooking time is 15-45 minutes, depending on size of dish.
I had never heard of Gruyére cheese before, but I found it easily at Trader Joe's. The prep involved for the soufflé was pretty intense. Several of the smaller steps were time consuming, such as slicing the zucchini, separating all the eggs, prepping the pans, and grating the hard cheese. I did as much prep as I could in the early afternoon, and then started cooking the rest around 5:00. Thankfully, we have an electric mixer, since even with that it took a really long time to beat the eggs sufficiently. I had everything in the oven by 5:30, which I thought would work out perfectly for dinner at 6:15. I thought it might even be done earlier since I split it into two separate dishes.
I checked on it frequently, but by 6:15 it was still looking no where near done. At 6:30, the top was just starting to brown. We took one out of the oven to see if it was ready, and decided to let the other cook for 5-10 more minutes. It looked dry inside, so we took some out to cool for the kids, and then remembered to take a picture.
We served it with a loaf of bread and the roasted broccoli as a side dish. We all love roasted broccoli, and it's very easy to make. Just drizzle olive oil over the florets and put it in the oven at 400 degrees until they look ready (about 20 minutes, usually, depending on the size of the florets). The broccoli was really expensive at the market, so the $3 bunch I bought only made a small bowlful, but I did try to take a nice picture of it.
The meal was not a huge hit with the kids. They both ate a lot of candy and cake at a late afternoon birthday party, so despite starting dinner on the late side, they did not seem very hungry. The toddler ate a lot of broccoli and tried the soufflé, but didn't like the texture of the zucchini and spit it out. The 3-year-old mostly ate bread. Below is a picture of the what the kids' plates looked like.
The adults all thought the meal was good, but not overwhelmingly impressive. It seemed to have come out right, without any soufflé disasters, but it was pretty bland. The eggs were perfectly fluffy, but even with the strong cheese added in, the meal just lacked flavor overall. My brother's girlfriend seemed to like it the most, but she said she loved zucchini, and was meeting our family for the first time, so of course she was going to say that.
I'm pretty sure I won't be making this again. For the effort that was involved, I don't think the final result was really worth it. It has opened me up to the idea of soufflés, though, and there are many other great recipes in that cookbook I hope to try this summer.