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Herb & Cheese Soufflé

SOUFFLE

I can’t believe I have not posted on this blog in over a month. The time has gone by so quickly. There are so many items I have every intention to post about, so many recipes, but taking the half hour to sit down and do it is another matter. Apologies to my readers.

A quick update on my diet: Over the last month, I was doing fairly well at eating gluten free. I would stay away from all things gluten except maybe one item each day. This led to my hitting bottom again on the “feel good” scale. So this past weekend, I have started a 3-week cleanse and am 100% gluten free during this time. Once this is over, I have to be more conscious of what I’m putting in my mouth and how often I am doing so. The problem with being able to eat it occasionally, I need to make sure my occasionally is not equaling everyday as it was.

Last night, I was tired and not feeling like making anything too labor intensive or time consuming. After a quick search online, I found a recipe called Skillet Soufflé. What a great quick recipe that is extremely versatile! It has a chewy bottom layer, a light fluffy center and the top was crispy. The whole dinner took less than 20 minutes from beginning to end – and yes a real 20 minutes. Sometimes I find that the time on recipes doesn’t reflect how long it takes me to make them. I served it with a quick salad and it was perfect.

The recipe calls for goat cheese and I thought I had some but alas didn’t so I substituted Gruyère instead. I knew I did not have any fresh chives but that I had a much of other fresh herbs so purposefully substituted what I had on hand. I think this recipe could easily use a multitude of cheeses or herbs. I ended up using about 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme. The herb flavor was subtle, but I thought perfect.

Herb and Cheese Soufflé

Serves 4 (if you have big eaters, would say serves 3)

6 large eggs, separated

1 – 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 – 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup shredded cheese

Heat oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, chives, salt, and pepper.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat and tilt to coat the sides. Add the soufflé mixture and crumble the cheese over the top. Bake until the eggs are puffed and golden, about 10 minutes.

NOTES: Fresh herbs that would go well – chives, thyme, basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, marjoram. I think you could add a couple dashes of spices too that would compliment like curry, chili powder or fennel. Cheeses that would go well – Gruyère or any Swiss, goat, aged cheddar, asiago, fontina. I think something with a little bite to it would be better than a mild cheese.

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Where to Eat??

The last few weeks have been fairly gluten-free. I have felt pretty good and seem to mostly eat products with gluten over the weekend. I think it is partly that my weekends are less structured. It is easy to pack a lunch and plan dinner as part of my weekly routine. But weekends tend to be more laid back, groceries are slim by the end of the week and my husband and I usually eat out more on weekends.

That brings me to my question: Where do celiac eat when looking for a quick fast-casual meal? My husband and I prefer the deli style restaurants to a traditional chain fast food restaurant, but it is hard. We grab Asian food (I know soy sauce can contain gluten). I am a bit of a salad snob, so I don’t enjoy the iceberg lettuce salads you usually receive at these types of restaurants and from what I can tell are my only option.

Most sandwich shops are a no-no if I’m trying to be good. I did find gluten-free pizza at Guido’s in Okemos. It was fairly good, it is definitely made with rice flour and has the gummy consistency that I associate with it. I’m still adjusting to the taste difference in gluten-free bread products. But there has to be more alternatives? What am I missing? Does anyone have any suggestions?

First Class of 2008 Completed

Among the many things I offer as a personal chef, I also offer cooking classes and yesterday I completed my first class of 2008. It was a two-part basic vegetarian cooking course, the first week concentrating on lacto-ovo cooking and the second week concentrating on vegan cooking, including a raw dish.

Although, not a vegetarian – more of a flexitarian, after spending the last several weeks focusing on vegetarianism, I have a new found zeal to incorporate more of the healthy benefits of whole foods, whole grains and nutritional supplements to my diet. I can be really good about what I eat and cooking for myself, but lately have been so overwhelmed with life I have fallen into the habit of eating poorly. I know we all get there, but now I am feeling the physical effects of not eating well and ready for a change.

 But I am digressing, the class went really well. Classes are a lot of work and after teaching every two-hour class, I really appreciate teachers and professors who do it for six to eight hours a day – every day! I learn so much when I teach a class, whether it is when I am prepping for the class or from the students themselves. It is a very rewarding experience. The day of the class, while I am running around shopping for supplies and prepping the ingredients, I usually say to myself “why do I do this?”. Then after class is finished I remember why I do it. I really enjoy it and I get so much from it.

 One of the dishes we prepared last night was an East African Curry. This is a dish I created inspired by my beloved East African, using ingredients indeginous to the region and readily avaialble here.

I have 2 more classes coming up this spring: Cooking with Wine, this hands-on class is May 7 (7 – 9pm) and Introduction to Mexican Cooking, a demonstration style class on May 19 (7 – 8:30pm). Both of these classes are offered through Delta Township (http://www.deltami.gov/parks/).