Sunday, February 03, 2008

Goat Cheese and Walnut Souffles with Watercress and Frisee Salad (Page 65)

  • Date: Saturday, January 26, 2008 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Paul K, Beth, Lauren K, Cornelia, Chuck, and Lynn
  • Recipe Rating: B+

I chose this recipe as the first course for our dinner gathering last weekend because I hadn't made souffles in a while. (Ok, secretly I chose it because when I moved Matty made fun of me incessantly about how many ramekins I have, so my goal was to throw a dinner party requiring more ramekins than I own -- just to prove him wrong! This dish requiring 8 ramekins was instrumental to my plan!) Anyway, this recipe was pretty good. The light salad was a wonderful complement to the cheese souffle, both in taste and texture. The dish came out visually very appealing, with a refined taste. My only complaint is that the flavors weren't as bold as they could have been. The salad greens had bite to them, but the dressing was very bland. The walnut oil was vaguely detectable, but the acid counterbalance didn't come through clearly at all. The souffle similarly could have used more flavor. It had a nice goat cheese taste to it, but it wasn't nearly as bold as it could have been. The recipe seemed like it was attempting to make a statement, but was too cautious in doing so. I liked this dish, but it would have been better had the ideas been taken a bit further. As it was, it was very visually appealing, and refined in appearance, but lacked the depth and boldness of flavor you would expect from the kind of first course that this strived to be.

Here is the recipe.

Yesterday I did something that I never do. For the first time in nearly a decade, I entered a cooking competition. As part of the Chocolate Fest in Bloomington, there was a contest where people could enter pretty much anything chocolate. I had heard about this soon after moving here, and had planned to make a cake for the contest. I schemed up various crazy cake ideas, but ultimately decided just to do something simple and easy. So I made the cake my friends probably associate with me the most: my chocolate peanut butter cake. I was happy with how it turned out, and it took second place in the competition, which was much better than I had expected for such a simple creation. I realized something though: I don't like cooking competitively. Even though I love baking, and I was perfectly happy with what I made, I didn't have fun making it. Normally when I bake/create/build a cake, I take a lot of joy in making it just right. My cakes are usually in honor of some occasion: a birthday, or thesis defense, or graduation, etc... I am happy as a pig in mud to spend a few hours making a beautiful cake for someone I love. It makes me happier still to watch people eat and enjoy what I have made. Maybe I just don't have the competitive spirit necessary, but it's hard for me to find that same level of motivation when the incentive is winning awards and prizes. In retrospect I would much rather have brought that cake to afternoon tea in the department than have entered it in a contest. I guess that's just me... I've never really had that competitive spirit burning inside me!


Magdalen said...

Hey, Teena -- Can you share that recipe for chocolate peanut butter cake? I promise I'm 1,000 miles away from Bloomington, so I can agree to a non-compete with regard to competitions!

Paul said...

I thought the soufle was very good. I also appreciate the fact that the watercress was not bitter. You could try a slightly aged goat cheese next time like

Teena said...

Magdalen: I am happy to share. I will post it later today!

Paul: Aged goat cheese is a great idea. That would be sure to give it the kick I was looking for.