Sunday, March 20, 2011

Garlic Mushroom Souffle

Maybe it's the elegance of the word "souffle," but I had thought these would be very difficult to make. I didn't trust the simplicity of the recipe. But you know what? They took about five minutes to prepare and ten minutes to cook--and tasted so good! (And, yes, after realizing how easy souffle is to prepare, I now want to try several different variations!)

Allow me to apologize for not having a picture. I made two souffles, one for me and one for Ty, and laid them out on the table for a picture. Ty was at school all afternoon, though, so I decided not to wait on him and dug into mine. Then I liked it so much that I ate his as well and decided I'd just make more later if his feelings seemed hurt that I didn't share my new recipe. :) But here is a photo from of a souffle which looks very similar to what I made. The recipe featured on this site is almost exactly the same as what I used--except it lacks the two tablespoons of ground marjoram that made my dish so yummy!

This recipe comes from the Bible of vegetarianism, The Cook's Library Vegetarian--which, if you don't have, you must get now! It is great for advanced chefs to use, but there are also recipes like this which are quite simple, for newer cooks. And it's dirt cheap. You will never get tired of this cookbook.

I had wanted to try this recipe for awhile, but lacked souffle dishes. I searched websites and bakeware aisles of various stores, never finding a great deal of souffle dishes. Then one day, wandering in the clearance section of T.J. Maxx, I found a set of two white souffle dishes for $1.50, and a set of four very cute, modern orange souffle dishes for $4! Be weary if you purchase online, particularly if your souffle dishes are also being referred to as "ramekins." Anything holding less than 10 oz. is not going to hold even a mildly substantial appetizer.

The recipe I used said it made four servings in 5/8 cup dishes. I did not have enough to fill two of my souffle dishes. (Neither of my dish sets' packages indicated how much they hold, but I'm guessing they are 10 oz. cups.) So if you are cooking for a lot of people, definitely multiply your ingredients. I thought 3/4 cup of chopped mushroom caps (I used fresh baby bella caps) seemed rather scarce, but it was definitely the right amount. The only alteration I did was increasing the amount of flour, because after I added the eggs, I knew the mixture was just too damp to bake well. (And that turned out to be a wise decision.) I also added a pinch of black pepper, but next time, I would probably embellish it with some parsley and oregano.

It's a very warm, hearty appetizer, and would be perfect paired with a warm soup or a fresh salad before a meal. And think of how impressed your dinner guests will be if you serve it some attractive dishes. Souffle's on!

Vegetable Rice Pie

Since I never give recipes star ratings, it would be pointless to say this is a five-star recipe; you have nothing with which to compare it. So let me just say this to illustrate how delicious vegetable rice pie is: I'm famished just remembering the name of the recipe!

I found the recipe on AllRecipes, home to many rare and scrumptious vegan ideas. One of the best, and most underused, cooking ideas is to create a pie with a rice crust, in lieu of a traditional pie crust. For veggie dishes, you should definitely try this out; I promise, the taste of your dish immediately will increase.

Although the recipe called for a pie pan, I fortunately chose to make it in a larger casserole dish. Once I had all the ingredients ready, I realized there was just too much food to fit into a pie pan. So for those of you who do want to serve it in a pie pan, go light on everything, especially the rice. More advice: do use fresh vegetables, as the recipe suggests! I know it is convenient and easy to use frozen vegetables in your cooking, but this recipe is definitely worth the freshness. I find that frozen vegetables often lack the taste and flavor of fresh produce, so therefore I usually must compensate with a heavy amount of seasoning. However, this time, I added just a dash of "herbs de provence" and let the onion and cheese carry the recipe into its savory self!

However, I did make one major alteration: I made a top shell for the dish using mozzarella cheese, which I would definitely do again. Mozzarella provides a yummy contrast to the Parmesan and is a good coating for broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Vegetable rice pie is definitely in my top five favorite recipes. Make it tonight for dinner; I guarantee you'll eat every bite!