Aunt Emma's Never Fail Pie Crust

3 c sifted flour
1 1/4 c Shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vinegar

Cut shortening into flour and salt.
Combine egg, water, and vinegar in a separate bowl.
Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once. Blend with spoon until flour is all moistened.
It can be re-rolled without toughening. Will keep in refrigerator for two weeks or divide into balls enough for one pie and wrap in Saran wrap and freeze indefinitely.

Makes 2 crusts

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Always a Classic

They say any French cook should have mastery over the Cheese Souffle, no? Well, I'm in it now with attempting my very first. Uh oh, the "rise" and the dreaded, subsequent fall. Will she do it, you ask.  As Dorie Greenspan shares,"Really, the cheese souffle should be ashamed of itself, scaring off cooks for no good reason!".  Kind of reminds me of Dorothy admonishing the Cowardly Lion for roaring at eveyone in the forest. He only needed courage. 

With a list of simple ingredients: dry bread crumbs for lining the souffle dish, milk, butter, flour, salt and freshly ground white pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, 6 eggs (separated), and Gruyere cheese (grated), we are ready to go.

Butter the inside of the dish, dust with bread crumbs. Bring the milk to a boil, then set aside. Tres simple! Make a roux with butter and flour, slowly blend in the hot milk. (And now you have a "bechamel", in case you're wondering.) Cook until it thickens. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pull from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer, allow to cool for 10 minutes.  One by one, whisk the egg yolks into the bechamel, then stir in the grated cheese. In case you didn't, you should have dropped the whisk prior to stirring in the cheese. Otherwise, note to the wise, a big melty, cheesy, gloppy mess occurs inside the whisk wires.  So, STIR people, stir with a big spoon!  Moving on...

Whip the egg whites in your mixer with the wire whisk attachment (don't fear the whisk, just respect it's limitations). Whip them until they hold firm, shiny peaks.  Stir one quarter of these whites into the bechamel, then use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the remaining whites.

By the way, did I mention, you use practically every pot, pan, strainer, bowl and spoon making this "simple" dish. I have to say I was a little off track with Dorie's directions to use a "medium" saucepan to make the bechamel, and again with her advice to use a "medium" bowl in which to pour the strained bechamel. Neither was sufficient and I found out a little too late... Arrrrggghhh. "If I only had a brain..." But I digress.

Gently pour souffle batter into prepared dish, set the dish on a baking sheet and slide the sheet into the oven, prewarmed to 400 F.  Perhaps you should not be waiting for June to try this dish. At lease not if you're south of Canada.

Remove the souffle when it is well-risen, golden brown, and still a little jiggly in the center, 40-50 minutes. Dorie says "don't even think about opening the oven door before the 25 minute mark".  You may slide a piece of tin foil over the top of the souffle if it is browning too rapidly at that point. 

Serve immediately.  Period.  Her advice: "Bring the souffle to the table, bow to the applause, then use a large spoon to scoop out portions". The souffle's drama is fleeting, so seat your guests first.

King of the Forest Moment! And it was delicious!