Sunday, January 10, 2010

reason enough for celebration

When the pilot makes his final announcement before descending into JFK airport, I always brace myself.

No, I have no fear of flying. I don't get airsick. And bumpy landings don't affect me. Instead, I take a deep breath and ready myself for the worst when the pilot announces the weather conditions in New York.

If I'm lucky, the temperature is just a little below zero, and there hasn't been much snow. If I'm less fortunate, the temperature is something that means nothing in Celsius or Fahrenheit (beyond a certain point, it's all "too damn cold") and there's a foot of old snow on the ground. If I'm really, truly out of luck, there's been snow, a few warm days, and then a cold snap that's left ice slicks everywhere.

And that's before I even get to Boston.

This time, I was lucky. Cold, but not brutal weather in New York, and I was pleasantly surprised to see clear footpaths when I arrived in Boston. When I woke up the next morning, there was even a blue sky overhead. Best of all, I'm back in my own space, reunited with my kitchen.

Which is all reason enough for celebration - in other words, time to bake.

Winter is when I like to focus on lemon desserts, because the vivid yellow fruits brighten my mood. Lemon curd - a simple mixture of eggs, sugar, and lemon juice, thickened over heat and enriched with butter - is one of my favorite starting points.

Lemon curd can be used as a filling for a tart shell, but it also serves as an excellent (and gluten-free) base for a souffle. Light, fragrant, and satisfyingly lemony, it does a wonderful job of chasing away winter blues. And that may be a reason for a celebration of its own.

Lemon Curd Souffle

This will also work with lime.

(Recipe not for one.)

Prep first. Get out two big bowls, one metal, and one big balloon whisk or electric mixer. Wash everything in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Lightly butter and sugar a souffle dish.

Separate six eggs. Put four of the yolks in your metal bowl; put the whites in the other. (Leftover yolks can be used for pasta or mayonnaise.)

Fill a small saucepan with half an inch of water, and bring to a simmer. Add half a cup of sugar to the four yolks in your metal bowl, and set it atop the saucepan.

Stir until the sugar dissolves, then whisk in one-third of a cup of lemon juice. (If you're feeling impatient, this can also be done in a heavy-bottomed pan directly over very low heat.) Once it thickens, remove from heat and whisk in two tablespoons butter. Set aside.

Beat the six egg whites with a quarter-cup of sugar until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, glop half the egg whites into the lemon curd mixture, and fold in gently. Add the other half, and fold in gently until no streaks remain.

Spoon the mixture into the souffle dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until light and risen, but still wobbly in the middle. Carve out portions with a big spoon. Serve immediately.


Pam said...

Welcome back! That souffle looks delicious - I've never made one, but this might push me in the right direction.

adele said...

Pam - They're really not that difficult. Come on... join the dark side...

Lindsey@pickyeatings said...

Welcome back! The weather hasn't been THAT bad, although I'm still annoyed to see snow from over a week ago on the ground. And since it's winter I didn't leave my house this weekend except to take out the trash.

So I'm like you, and bake and cook my little heart out.

Pam said...

Dark side? But it looks so light and fluffy ;)

adele said...

Lindsey - During winter, I arrange my days so that I only leave the house after dark if it's absolutely unavoidable.

Pam - Isn't it tempting? ;)

Anonymous said...

I think you setting the cold threshold entirely too high. It takes until somewhere around -30C for it to be close to indistinguishable.

adele said...

Anonymous - I grew up in a subtropical climate. We didn't even get *frost* in the winter. If there's snow on the ground, we've probably hit the point where the numbers mean nothing to me.

~~louise~~ said...

I tread the water very gently when it comes to a souffle. Perhaps, one day...

So glad the weather wasn't too horrendous Adele. It sure has been a mystical winter.

Thanks for sharing this recipe. It reminds me how lucky we are to have citrus fruits in winter.

Julia (alias Yulinka Cooks) said...

That looks good. I've never made a souffle, but I'd like to give it a shot. Do they really collapse after baking?

adele said...

Yulinka - Try it! They deflate, but I've never had a souffle do a dramatic collapse.