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Savory Asparagus and Swiss Cheese Soufflé

You can easily stumble upon Aubrey Jenkins' blog Drum Beets, start reading, and then look up and realize you've been engrossed for hours. Her recipes are innovative and well thought out, featuring everything from Savory Oats With a Poached Egg for breakfast to easy lunch fare like Tuna Bean Salad and cool dessert ideas like Banana Hazelnut Fudgesicles. This recipe, in particular, is right up our alley because it takes a much feared food—the soufflé—and makes it simple and approachable, using many ingredients you likely have on hand. Plus, it’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is a versatile crowd stunner.

Recipe Notes: Make sure to use room temperature eggs and use clean bowls/tools—don’t allow any fat or oil to mix in with your eggs or they won’t get fluffy! Aubrey also recommends a hand-mixer here, although a stand mixer will work as well.

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Ingredients

Parmesan cheese, shredded, to prep dishes

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch cayenne pepper

1/4 pound Swiss cheese, shredded

4 eggs at room temperature, separated

6 spears raw asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into thin 1/4 inch rounds

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and position a rack in lower third of oven.

2. Prepare either a large 6 cup soufflé dish or 4 individual dishes. Butter each heavily and sprinkle a tablespoon or two of grated parmesan cheese in dish. Tilt and toss the cheese around to coat the sides and bottom (this will give your soufflé some texture to grab onto as it climbs the walls of your dish).

3. Melt butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. Whisk constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes and remove from heat. Add milk and whisk to dissolve lumps once again then return to the heat and cook and whisk for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat, add spices and salt, then whisk in one egg yolk at a time. Move this custard mixture to a large bowl, add the shredded cheese and let cool for about 10 minutes.

5. Start beating your egg whites with a hand-mixer until stiff but not dry. To test for the perfect consistency, you should be able to use your whisk to stir the meringue—pull it straight up and out, turn the whisk over—and if your meringue makes a firm little peak ... perfect! If it flops over, keep beating. Check frequently! The line between under- and over-beaten is very fine.

6. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the custard base along with the asparagus rounds. Gently fold just a few times until combined then fold in the remaining egg whites. Work slowly and avoid over-folding. It’s OK if there are chunks of whites left over: Just poke at those to dissipate them.

7. Transfer batter to prepared dishes right to the brim. Place dishes on a cookie sheet and slide in the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Try not to open the door for the first 20 minutes! You will know it's done when the center is firm and not too jiggly. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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