Thursday, June 23, 2016

Be brave and make a soufflé!



Years ago when we opened Napoleon's Retreat, one of the first breakfast items I was determined to tackle is the classic soufflé. 

There are so many myths around baking this delicate-looking egg dish, such as tiptoeing around your kitchen to ensure that it does't fall, or *never* opening the oven door while a soufflé is baking. Not true! I've never had noise affect a soufflé. I've also opened the oven door to make sure the soufflé was achieving a nice, golden brown and it's turned out just fine. 

The biggest challenge to overcome is beating the egg whites and tempering the egg yolks with the melted cheese. Tempering the yolks requires adding the melted cheese slowly in small amounts. As for the egg whites, if you can make a meringue or an angel food cake, you can make a soufflé. 

This morning's soufflés turned out perfectly.  I did need to extend the cooking time by a few minutes to adjust for the high humidity we're experiencing in St. Louis!

Here's my favorite soufflé recipe. Try it! You will WOW your guests.

Cheddar & Chive Soufflé

4 Tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup white wine
4 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 cups aged cheddar, grated
5 eggs, separated
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus a few extra for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position the rack in the center of the oven. Spray 4 8-ounce ramekins with nonstick spray, then lightly coat each ramekin with 1 Tablespoon of the breadcrumbs. Set the ramekins on a cookie sheet.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour to make a roux (a smooth paste). Cook over medium high heat until it bubbles, thickens, and turns a light brown color.
  3. Remove the roux from heat. Whisk in the garlic salt. Slowly whisk in the white wine, ensuring there are no lumps. Whisk in the milk. Add the cheese, stirring to remove any lumps. 
  4. Use kitchen shears to snip the chives into 1/4-inch pieces while holding the chives over the bowl containing the cheese mixture. Stir to combine and set the mixture aside.
  5. Separate the eggs by placing the egg whites in a clean glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl. (I use a paper towel with a little white vinegar on it and wipe the inside of the bowl to remove any potential reside. I then rinse the bowl and dry it with a paper towel.) Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, but avoid over-whisking. If the eggs are over whisked, they will break apart into dry-looking clumps. If you'd like, you can "cheat" and add a pinch of cream of tartar before you start whisking the eggs to help stabilize the peaks.
  6. In a separate bowl, stir the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the melted cheese. Pour half of this egg mixture into the pan with the melted cheese and stir to combine. Then pour this mixture back into the bowl with the remaining egg yolks. 
  7. Using a rubber spatula, take about 2 Tablespoons of the egg whites and gently stir it into the yoke mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the egg whites.
  8. Divide the mixture into the ramekins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and golden. The outer edges should be firm to the touch, but the center should be soft and jiggle slightly when you gently shake the cookie sheet. Serve immediately!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Google wins again!


The temperatures in St. Louis have risen into the 90's, but I know somewhere cool you can visit!

I received a call yesterday from someone inquiring about our availability. I asked the caller if there was a particular room they'd like to reserve. He replied, "I haven't had a chance to visit your website. yet. I just googled 'cool hotels in St. Louis' and Napoleon's Retreat was the first result." I told the caller that he made my day!

Of course, I had to test these search results for myself. I cleared my browser history and searched for a "cool" hotel. Sure enough, there we are!

 I'm not sure how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works, and I have no idea what key words we might have on our website that gives Napoleon's Retreat such a cool online presence, but I take it as a compliment!

Come visit us at Napoleon's Retreat Bed & Breakfast -- the coolest place to stay in St. Louis!

Mention this blog post for 10% off your reservation ;-D