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The Food Processor

Easy but Elegant Souffle Begins With Tangy Roquefort Cheese

December 31, 1987|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Roquefort is a cheese with blue veins and a 200-year-old pedigree. Taking its name from a village in southeastern France, this cheese, made of ewe's milk, has a sharp, peppery flavor and crumbly texture.

At Hubert's restaurant in New York City, Roquefort cheese is the base of individual souffles unmolded over an apple-cream sauce. Although they're turned out of their dishes, these souffles remain light and fluffy and their sharpness makes a delicious contrast to the sauce.

The souffles are easy to make because the cheese is simply processed into the souffle base and the mixture remains in the processor while egg whites are whipped to firm peaks with a whisk or electric mixer. The beaten egg whites are pulsed in and the mixture is ready to bake.

Egg whites can be pulsed successfully into heavier mixtures, such as a souffle base, with relatively little loss of volume. Care should be taken not to let the machine run continuously and to stop several times to sweep the side of the container with a spatula. However, a brief series of half-second pulses, or on/off turns, will fully incorporate the egg whites.

Although the souffles are used as a first course, they may be served on warmed dinner plates. The recipe provides cup of sauce per portion--enough to lightly coat the entire surface of a 10-inch plate.

Plating eight souffles does require some organization. When the souffles are baked, remove them in their water bath and carefully set them aside (they will remain warm and puffed if not left too long).

The hot sauce can be ladled (a -cup measure is very efficient) onto warmed dinner plates, and providing the souffle dishes have been heavily buttered (a vital step), the light dusting of cornmeal will release the souffles perfectly from their molds.

At Hubert's, a separate recipe of pickled red cabbage is used to garnish the sauce. Here, I have substituted shredded radicchio (red chicory) because the magenta color of radicchio gives the same effect. Chives add extra color and flavor, and the radicchio and chive garnishes helps enliven the pale souffles and sauce.

ROQUEFORT CHEESE SOUFFLES WITH APPLE CREAM

5 tablespoons softened butter

Cornmeal

1 1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

8 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled

4 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons Cognac

1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

Hot pepper sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Grated nutmeg

1 small head radicchio

Apple Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons snipped chives

Use 2 tablespoons butter to heavily coat 8 (1/2-cup) souffle dishes or custard cups. Dust with cornmeal and set aside.

Heat milk to simmering in small saucepan or microwave. Meanwhile melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour and cornstarch and whisk over low heat 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in milk until sauce is smooth. Set aside.

Insert metal blade in dry processor. Pulse Roquefort cheese until chopped. Add egg yolks and hot cream sauce and pulse until thoroughly mixed. Pulse in Cognac, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.

In clean dry mixing bowl, whip egg whites almost to firm peaks. Add egg whites to processor and use 1/2-second pulses to gently mix whites into souffle base. Do not overprocess.

Divide mixture evenly among souffle dishes. Transfer dishes to small roasting pan and add enough hot tap water to pan to come halfway up outside of dishes. Bake at 350 degrees about 40 minutes, until tops of souffles are puffed and brown.

Slice half radicchio crosswise into thin julienne strips and set aside. Ladle 1/4 cup hot Apple Cream Sauce onto each salad plate. Invert souffle over sauce in center of plate. Garnish with sprinkling of radicchio in two places on sauce (like North/South points of compass) then place generous pinch chives into spaces between radicchio (like East/West points of compass). Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Apple Cream Sauce

2 cups applesauce

1 1/4 cups whipping cream

1 tablespoon Cognac

Salt

Ground white pepper

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Hot pepper sauce

Combine applesauce with cream in large saucepan. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened to saucelike consistency and reduced to 2 cups. Stir in Cognac and season to taste with salt, white pepper, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. (May cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. Reheat to simmering at serving time.)

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