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Culinary School the Gluten-Free Way: Gluten-Free Parmesan Cheese Souffles

Posted Dec 14 2009 11:33am
Well, I've been pretty lucky during the past three months of culinary school. Everyone has been incredibly supportive of my gluten-free diet and my group has always been willing to test out a gluten-free alternative to every recipe. I'm so grateful for all of my fabulous chef instructors who have embraced the gluten-free diet and even more grateful for Emma, Chrissy and Jen, the fabulous gal pals I've made who have come in to class early and make every effort to help me make all of the recipes gluten-free.

However, this week I finally had my first experience in culinary school where a fellow student did not want to try a recipe gluten-free because he felt it would compromise the integrity of the dish. The dish was a Parmesan Cheese Souffle with a milk and flour base. Now, having done my homework and planned ahead, I knew that the purpose of the flour was to act as a roux, so there's no reason why I couldn't substitute cornstarch and have a souffle that tasted exactly the same. 

Obviously I didn't want to seem like a mean student, so even though I was somewhat hurt by the other student's comment, I suggested that we make 2 separate batches of the souffles to compare them and see if one really tasted different. So with Emma by my side, we set off to make double the recipe for the day!  

You'll be pleased to know that once all three groups presented their souffles (about 18 in total), the teacher actually picked out my gluten-free souffle as the most beautiful and structured! It was cooked perfectly and stood up in a perfect souffle shape. And, she even commented that the texture of my souffle was more creamy and light than the others. We attribute this to the extremely fine consistency of the cornstarch. So, there ya go! Gluten-free souffles can be better than their gluten-containing counterparts!

Here's my adapted recipe for the souffles. It may seem like a lot of work, but I promise it really isn't and the taste is absolutely worth the effort!

Gluten-Free Parmesan Cheese Souffles (yield 6 souffles)

Butter, softened as needed
5-6 aluminum cups
3/4 oz cornstarch
5 fl oz milk
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Nutmeg, grated to taste
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 fl oz canola oil
1 tablespoons shallots, chopped
4 oz mushrooms chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoons parsley, minced
8 fl oz heavy cream
2 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped
  1. Butter the aluminum cups and chill.
  2. Prepare the bouillie by placing the flour in a saucepan and gradually whisking in the cold milk to create a smooth paste.  Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
  4. Remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two.
  5. Whisk in the egg yolks and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  6. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, but not dry.
  7. Fold the egg whites into the base, alternating with the grated cheese.  Be careful not to over-mix.
  8. Fill the prepared molds to the inside lip with the appareil and place the molds into a bain marie.
  9. Bake in a 400 degree oven for approx 15 minutes or until the souffles have risen about an inch above the top of the molds.  Remove the souffles from the oven but do not un-mold.
  10. Heat the canola oil in a saute pan and add the shallots, cooking them so they soften but do not brown.
  11. Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with the salt and pepper.  Cook until the moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated and add the chopped parsley.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  12. Add the heavy cream and the chopped tarragon and simmer for several minutes to infuse the cream, tarragon, shallots, and mushrooms.
  13. Grease a gratin dish with the softened butter and un-mold the souffles upside down into the dish.
  14. Pour the tarragon sauce over and around the souffles and return them to the oven for 10-12 minutes.  The souffles should swell and absorb most of the sauce.
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