Monday, April 13, 2009

Chocolate Souffles, a Website, and an E-mail from Ma

Two quick things before we get around to today’s recipe, which, incidentally are delicious 188-calorie chocolate soufflés. (Seriously.)

1) Do you like beer? Good. How about wine? Excellent. Have you ever wanted to know about their respective histories? Sweet. I have something for you. It’s called Grapes and Grains, and it’s an excellent blog maintained by my friend Dave. Topics run the gamut from the vineyards of Roman emperors to the bottled vs. canned beer debate, with tons fun history and sociology thrown in for background. Dave knows of what he speaks, and it’s a solid read for the serious oenophile and/or um, beerophile. Check it out.

2) Last Friday, I wrote of Ma’s cooking, and took a poke (in fun) at my grandma, who passed in 1987. Ma responds:

You have to remember Kris: 1) the kitchen Grandma had in Queens had no counter space; 2) she was sharing the stove top, oven, and refrigerator with her mother for nine of those years (when Aunt B., Uncle B. and I were kids); 3) your grandfather preferred potatoes or noodles w/gravy at almost every meal; 4) she had little in the way of $$ to shop with, so the cuts of meat were less than primo; 5) she hated the smell of fish, and to her, fish always smelled; 6) that kitchen was hotter than hell throughout the summer, so you never wanted to eat in there after anyone cooked.

For the record, my mother had her moments. I realize that making a roasting pan of elbow macaroni with ground beef, mozzarella, and canned sauce and calling it lasagna was not her best effort; but, she made the best cheesecake, lemon pudding poundcake, and sauerbraten (complete w/gingersnap gravy and dumplings) of anyone I know. She also made what she called a neapolitan meatpie that your father loved. … She had a renaissance when she worked in the rectory, because the cooks (including Aunt J.) use to show her how to make things. So in some respects, meals did change and improve some.

Sometimes, for an easy joke, I forget context and circumstances. My grandma was no gourmet, but she tried. And when you’re attempting to just make do, intentions are all that counts. No doubt, there’ll be grandma jokes here in the future (because that’s how we roll), but they’ll come from a better place, I think.

Now, about those soufflés …

They’re from the April 2009 issue of Food and Wine, and were originally created by Take Home Chef/cute Australian Curtis Stone. Rachel tried ‘em first, in their rightful ramekins, and really liked ‘em. I tried ‘em shortly afterward (in coffee mugs because I don’t own ramekins) and ALSO really liked ‘em. They’re light and eminently chocolatey, and present beautifully.

There were two quick changes from the original recipe:

1) Butter-flavored ooking spray was subbed in for actual butter, as it was easier to handle and cut calories.

2) Since coffee mugs generally have a taller, longer shape, I upped the baking time by around five minutes (to about 22 minutes) for the soufflés to become fully cooked. If you’re using ramekins, the baking time remains the same as in the original recipe. (16 minutes). Everything is reflected below.

And that’s it, folks. Tune in tomorrow for the Megalinks, and don’t forget to buzz back Wednesday for the results of the Eat Your Veggies Experiment. Will Linda puke? Will Dustin hate us forever? Or will they come to terms with produce? All will be revealed...

Chocolate Soufflés
Makes 6 servings
Adapted from Curtis Stone via April 2009’s Food and Wine.

Cooking spray
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1-1/2 tablespoons for coating the ramekins/mugs
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup cold water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Get out six ramekins or coffee mugs. Spray with cooking spray. Add enough granulated sugar to coat the sides of each vessel (enough so it sticks to the spray). Pour out any excess. Place them all on a baking sheet.

2) Fill a pot about halfway with water. Bring it up to a simmer. Set a large metal bowl over it. Add chocolate. Stir until melted. Remove bowl from heat. Whisk in water and cocoa. It should be lumpless when finished.

3) To a medium bowl, add egg whites. Beat with a mixer until you get soft peaks. Beat in 1/3 cup granulated sugar, a little at a time, on high speed. Keep beating until you get firm peaks. (It should only take a minute or so.) "Fold 1/4th of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest until no streaks of white remain."

4) Evenly distribute batter among the ramekins/coffee cups. Clean up any little splotches or spills around the rims of the cups.

5) Bake 16 minutes (20 to 24 if you're using mugs) on a rack set in the middle of the oven. Souffles should be puffy and set when finished. Remove from oven and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve. (They will be super-hot, but if you wait too long, they’ll fall. Try to find a happy medium.)

F&W Note: "The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and kept at room temperature for 1 hour before baking."

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
188 calories, 8.4 g fat, $0.46

Cooking spray: 15 calories, 1.2 g fat, $0.10
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1-1/2 tablespoons: 328 calories, 0 g fat, $0.08
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped: 600 calories, 45 g fat, $0.98
½ cup cold water: negligible calories and fat, FREE
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder: 66 calories, 3.9 g fat, $0.45
6 large egg whites, at room temperature: 103 calories, 0.4 g fat, $1.15
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (about ½ Tbsp): 15 calories, 0 g fat, $0.02
TOTAL: 1127 calories, 50.5 g fat, $2.78
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 188 calories, 8.4 g fat, $0.46


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