Friday, June 1, 2012

Reinvention of a post about my favorite dessert

For almost a year I’ve been dreaming about my favorite dessert—a steamy raspberry soufflé oozing pools of molten bittersweet chocolate. I’ve only tasted it once, and have never made it myself, but today’s the day because perfect fresh raspberries are on display at Costco for an irresistible price—6 boxes for $8.99. These little heart-shaped beauties are some of the best berries I’ve ever tasted. Ted, my chocoholic husband and official taste tester, feels a little glum from five days in a row of no sun—our annual June Gloom. He will love it, so here I go!
Sherry Yard (left), the dessert chef at Spago Beverly Hills, prepared this dessert one evening last year for an event for forty members of Les Dames D'EscoffierFew women could appreciate it more than members of this worldwide philanthropic society who have spent their careers in the fields of food and hospitality.These women love food and are generous in sharing all their resources, experience and their recipes.
That evening Sherry wowed us by adding something new to her already published recipe--chunks of bittersweet chocolate that melted within the steaming soufflés as they rose in the oven, elevating this dessert to the top of my crave list.
Sherry begins by making a quick, not-too-sweet raspberry jam that she uses in two ways. She spoons it as a ruby-colored sauce into the bottom of each sugar coated soufflé dish with a few fresh berries, and then she folds beaten egg whites into it to make the bright pink soufflé itself. I’m finding I love this jam so much I will double the recipe next time (cooking it longer to the right thickness, of course) and spread the extra on our morning English muffins.
Such a beautiful dessert! Cooking is clearly the most elegant art, and the quickest to be appreciated.
I'd been wondering why took so long to try a recipe I’ve been dreaming about. Today, when just the right raspberries showed up at the right price, and just the right gloomy June weather has turned my kitchen into the coziest room in the house, I realize this is the right time.
Some things simply can't be rushed.


For 4 servings
This is my version of the soufflé from Sherry Yard’s inspiring book, Desserts by the YardYou will need 8-ounce soufflé dishes (ramekins) to make this. Because there are no yolks or flour in this souffle it is surprisingly light and low in calories. It is also gluten free!

An electric mixer with a whisk attachment is ideal for beating egg whites, but you can use a hand mixer.
Soufflés demand immediate consumption, so make sure your guests are waiting at the table for the soufflé and not the other way around.

1 pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar (divided), plus 1 tablespoon for dusting the soufflé dishes
1 tablespoon Chambord (French black raspberry liqueur)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soft butter, for the soufflé dishes
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar or ½ teaspoon lemon juice, to lend acidity and volume to the whites
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, in about 12 chunks
In a medium saucepan combine 1-3/4 cups of raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar, Chambord, lemon juice and balsamic. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until thickened. Set aside to cool to room temperature. This will yield about 1-1/3 cups of raspberry sauce.
Place 1/2 cup of the sauce in a large mixing bowl in which you will fold beaten egg whites. Reserve the rest.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and place the rack in the lowest position. Butter the insides of your 4 soufflé dishes and coat them evenly with the tablespoon of sugar and position them on a baking sheet for easy handling. Place 3 or 4 of the remaining raspberries in each dish and divide the remaining 1/4 cup or so of jam between the dishes—this will turn into the most delicious tangy sauce imaginable.
Make sure the bowl of your electric mixer and its whisk attachment is squeaky clean—any oil will prevent egg whites from whipping up properly. Beat the whites slowly with the cream of tartar or lemon juice until they are foamy. Then beat the whites at high speed, pouring in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a steady stream. Continue beating until the whites show very stiff peaks when you stop the machine and lift the beater.
Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold a third of the whites thoroughly into the 1/2 cup raspberry sauce. Fold in the remaining whites lightly. Spoon the mixture high, "like cotton candy," as Sherry says, in the prepared dishes.
Bake for 15 minutes or so until puffed and slightly browned, taking care to carefully open and close the oven door when you check on them. (Glass oven doors must have been invented for soufflés!)
Serve immediately, inviting your guests to dig all the way down to the sauce on the bottom to enjoy with each bite.
TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE: An added beauty of this surprisingly easy dessert is that you can serve it all year long if you freeze the easy raspberry sauce used as the base. Then all you need do is thaw the base and fold in beaten egg whites.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Loving Heart Redux

My wonderful readers:
You've noticed I'm behind in posting.  To be honest, things have been a bit wild around here with Ted retiring from his long career in the law and now reinventing himself through a new book.  I'd forgotten how challenging change can be.  
So while I am busy writing you a colorful post on Barcelona, I have decided not to delay another moment in reaching out to you.  Here is a timely re-post of some advice I need to take for myself.

How did your five-year-old love to play? Did you make up games? What were they? What did you truly love?

Recently, speaking on the subject of Life as a Work of Heart, I asked this question of my audience. Gradual smiles softened their faces as they remembered.

In mid-life, this very self-inquiry changed my life. I realized it wasn’t food preparation that had led me into my long career in cooking and entertaining; it was the result—the gathering of people around the table in celebration, in sharing ideas, in connection! And so I then reinvented what I was doing and my career turned into something infinitely more satisfying.

Will you take a moment to recapture what gave you joy? Where did your inborn love lead you?

(Above is a Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake for your five-year-old. You can keep them in the freezer--they thaw in only a few minutes for an afternoon treat for yourself or when a friend drops in.)

It is so important to pay attention to what our hearts tell us. These words from the poem Love After Love by Derek Wolcott (click on the title for the whole poem), remind us of the deep meaning of our lives.

. . .Love again the stranger who was your self. 

. . . Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 

for another, who knows you by heart. 

Here is a great Valentine gift for yourself. Marci Shimoff's new book, Love For No Reason is an astonishing teaching of the experience of pure love for its own sake. What I call Divine Love. Truly, every page is filling my heart with joy!
And, what better time of year, when hearts as a symbol of love are everywhere, to use something we take very much for granted, fresh strawberries, as a sign of celebration? This is so easy. I hope you will love it!


Small log of goat cheese
Roasted sunflower seeds (can use honey-roasted)
Strawberry slices
Honey to drizzle over all
Serve at room temperature with thinly sliced bread or crisp crackers