Recently we went on holiday to Greece and did practically nothing for three days. Even though I’m generally a lazy person, I tend to struggle with doing nothing. Not accomplishing things makes me feel guilty and anxious, so initially, the thought of being halfway up a huge hill in the middle of nowhere seemed stiflingly boring. Usually when we travel, I’m rushing to pack in as much sightseeing as possible, but in Kefalos, we saw the whole town in a couple of hours.
But when I finally accepted that there was nothing to do but read, nap, and eat, I let go of the guilt and embraced the boredom wholeheartedly. Laying in the shade by the pool with my kindle all day and only leaving the hotel in search of hummus and halloumi was pretty spectacular. My only regret is that we didn’t discover the gelato place sooner. I definitely would have gone every day to try all the different flavors.
Since we’ve returned home, our house has been in utter chaos because of some renovations we’re having done, and I’ve just been reverting back to that do nothing mode. Given that things have gone back to utter chaos at work as well, I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than reading in bed.
I’ve finally put down my book long enough to tell you about a delightful recipe we enjoyed recently, White Cheddar Polenta Souffle. I know, you think souffle is fiddly and complicated, and while there is a tiny bit of technique involved, it’s really much harder to screw up than you’d think.
This souffle has tons of flavor from the sharp white cheddar and a great texture boost from the cornmeal. Don’t be a doof like me and forget to butter your dish right to the top so that you can get the ultimate rise in your souffle. This is best served right away, but as there are only two of us, we ate the leftovers for lunch the next day and still enjoyed it.
Sometimes trying new things means doing next to nothing, other times it’s cooking a souffle to impress no one other than yourself. This White Cheddar Polenta Souffle is definitely worth it.
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup cornmeal (stone-ground if possible)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Make sure you've removed any racks from the top of your oven and that you've placed a rack in the bottom third of your oven, then preheat it to 375F.
- Butter the bottom and all the way up the sides of a 1.5 quart souffle dish, and make sure you get right into the corners.
- Add the grated parmesan to the souffle dish, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Tap and shake the parmesan all the way around the pan to coat it completely in the cheese. Remove the plastic wrap, pour out any remaining cheese into a dish and set aside for later. Place the souffle dish in the fridge until you're ready to fill it with souffle.
- Place the butter, 2 cups of water, cornmeal, garlic, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir together and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat.
- Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and beat until light in color and slightly thickened.
- Ever so slowly, add bits of the polenta mixture to the egg yolks, whisking continually until you've worked in about a third of the polenta. This allows you to raise the temperature of the egg yolks slowly so your eggs don't scramble. After you've worked in about a third, you should be okay to add in the rest of the polenta and whisk it together until smooth. Add the cheddar, cayenne, and the rest of the parmesan. Stir it all together and set aside while you get on with your egg whites.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat your egg yolks and 1 tablespoon warm water with an electric mixer (using the whisk attachment if that's an option) until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and continue to whisk to medium peaks.
- This is the perfect time to remove your souffle pan from the fridge.
- Add a quarter of your egg whites to your polenta mixture and fold gently until combined. Keep adding egg whites about a quarter at a time until everything is incorporated being as gentle as possible. The bubbles in the eggs is where you're going to get all the lift, so be careful with them.