Ham and Cheese Souffle

Man, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall when I was photographing this little number. Or maybe I don’t. Because you see, my little food photo shoots usually go something like this: I put the dish in front of the camera and take its picture. Then I look at it on the computer screen (I have a nifty little device that connects my camera right to the laptop, not to get too technically boring but these are the things that float my boat.) Then I go back to the dish. I move it to the right. Take the picture. Check the picture. Move the light. Take the picture. Check the picture. Switch the camera angle. Take the picture. Check the picture. And so on…and usually 15 minutes later I am happy.

However, this is a souffle, people. An adorable little single serving souffle. And while souffles have gotten what I think is a bad rap over the years for being hard to make (they aren’t! they are SO easy!), the other part of their reputation is totally accurate. That gorgeous airy brown puffiness that comes out of the oven doesn’t last long. In fact, it lasts about 90 seconds…and then…it starts…to….deflate.

90 seconds.

On your mark…get set…PHOTOGRAPH!!! It was like an episode of the Keystone Kops, speeded up really really fast, only I was the only Kop. And I almost, almost got it — as you will see from the picture above, it was just starting to cave in the middle just a bit as I frantically ran around trying to get my shot, leaping over the dog who always likes to lie right in between the tripod and the computer. Which added a nice extra element of calmness to the whole thing.

Anyway. If you are a sane person and decide simply to make and eat these charming little souffles and not introduce other complications, they are easy and delicious and a great way to use up any leftover ham you might have. I found the recipe in one of my new favorite magazines, Saveur, and this will definitely be making a repeat appearance on my table. I put a little chopped green salad on the side, and it was the perfect light weekend lunch. Ham and cheese souffles….you only need to be scared if you are planning to take their picture.

HAM AND CHEESE SOUFFLE, adapted from Saveur 

Ham and Cheese Souffle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 4 ounces grated cheddar
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces chopped ham
  • 1½ tablespoon chopped chives
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the flour to make a paste, then whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar, mustard, nutmeg, egg yolks, salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat for 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in ham and chives and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat over to 375 and grease six 8 ounce ramekins with remaining butter. Coat the bottom and the sides of the ramekins with the Parmesan, shaking out any excess.
  5. In a large bowl, whip the eggs whites to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the chilled cheese mixture to make a fluffy batter.
  6. Divide the batter between the ramekins and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 30 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately. And when I say immediately, I mean immediately.


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