Student extraordinaire and food pal, Hilary came over today. She brought a bunch of vegetables from her Petaluma garden, a half dozen eggs from her chickens and a huge bag of asparagus from a friend's asparagus. She's working on a very interesting book project about creativity, teaching and learning. We talked and she interviewed me for about four hours. Boy did I get hungry! After all that talk I needed to get creative and make us some lunch.... An asparagus and Campo de Montalban souffle baked on a platter. I love the technique... Butter an oven-proof platter, dust it with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and bake the souffle directly on the platter in the top third of the oven. Bakes in one-third the time. Hot out of the oven, was it ever delicious!!!
SOUFFLE BAKED ON A PLATTER
6 large asparagus spears, ends removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated, room temperature
3/4 cup coarsely grated Campo de Montalban cheese (or Fontina or Gruyere)
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into very thin slices. Warm 1/2 tablespoon butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the asparagus and cook stirring occasionally until just tender, 3 minutes. Season with salt.
Butter a 13-inch by 8-inch over proof platter with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Dust with the grated Parimgiano Reggiano, tilting the platter to cover evenly.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Add the milk, all at once, and with a whisk, stir until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and with a rubber spatula, place in a bowl. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Place the egg whites in a large copper bowl or the bowl to your electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks. Do not over beat. Fold the whites and the Campo de Montalban cheese into the base as quickly as possible without deflating the whites. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared platter and bake in the top third of the oven until well puffed, golden and the souffle doesn't jiggle in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven. No time for photographs, EAT IMMEDIATELY!
Serves 2 creative types!