Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Ham and Hoch Ybrig Souffle Adventure

And the winner was-- Ham for Easter.

Thanks to all for voting in the poll -- for our much anticipated Reunion of the Food Snoots, we actually made a super juicy delicious ham from Niman Ranch with a plum chutney, fingerling potatoes and asparagus on the side.

Spring has sprung and aren't we all a little happier for it?

The experimental dish of the day was the Hoch Ybrig Cheese Souffle in phyllo cups. I wasn't sure how the phyllo cups would work out, and I also wasn't positive about using the Hoch Ybrig, a wonderful nutty Swiss cheese --affined by Rolf Beeler-- which we picked up at the Berkeley Cheese Board. Overall though, a veritable success. The phyllo was a little overcooked, but that was probably due to my distracted running about the kitchen. The souffles however, rose admirably and made a lovely little presentation at the table.

Recipes after the jump. Try the souffle -- it's remarkably easy for such a scary sounding dish!

Mustard-Honey Glazed Ham with Plum Chutney
(this one is adapted out of an old Cuisine Magazine.)

1 6-8 pound ham (Look for a butt half ham, semi-boneless and fully cooked in natural juices--not water added!)

36 oz ginger ale
1 orange, halved and juiced
1 lemon halved and juiced
1 lime, halved and juiced
1 whole cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon of whole cloves

For the glaze:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 325F and in a roasting pan large enough to hold the ham, combine the ginger ale, cinnamon, cloves and the orange lemon and lime halves along with juices. Put the roasting rack in the pan and then place the ham on the rack, cut side down.

Tent it loosely with foil and roast 12-15 minutes for each pound of ham.

In a bowl, combine the glaze ingredients and and when the ham's temperature reaches about 70F, (probably about 45 minutes to an hour into the process) glaze liberally with the mixture and continue to roast uncovered for the rest of the time.

When the ham's temperature reaches 110F, pull it out and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then carve and serve with plum chutney.

Plum Chutney

2 cups orange juice
10 oz. dried plums (prunes), diced
10 oz. dried mangoes, diced
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup of sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt.

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Allow it to continue cooking over a medium heat until the mixture thickens and looks like jam.

Chill it overnight so that the flavors blend, and then serve at room temperature.

"Quick, quick, find me a pot!"

We're in a strange kitchen -- I have no idea where anything is, and I'm trying to make souffles. This recipe is an amalgam of ideas and concepts, which is how I wound up filling a dozen lovely little souffle cups with fluffy batter, and STILL needing a place for the half gallon or so of batter that was left over. Fortunately there was a lovely Le Creuset pot lurking above the stove. A quick butter and pour, and voile -- seconds for everyone...

We liked this one with a zingy little green salad and simple vinaigrette.

Hoch Ybrig Souffle in Phyllo Cups ...with leftovers...

For the Phyllo cups:
8 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed to room temperature if frozen
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cover your stack of phyllo with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and a dampened kitchen towel. Put 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface and brush with some butter, then top with 3 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter.

Cut buttered stack into 6 (4 1/2-inch) squares with a sharp knife, trimming sides as needed. Using a muffin or cupcake pan that makes at least a dozen muffins, line each of 6 muffin cups with a square. Make 6 more phyllo cups (4 are extra, in case of breakage) in same manner with remaining pastry sheets and butter.

Bake cups in middle of oven until golden, about 8 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack.

For the Souffle:

1 cup milk
1/2 small onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
2 whole cloves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
dash nutmeg
5 egg yolks

5 eggs whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup grated Hoch Ybrig or good quality Gruyere cheese

Is your oven still st 375F? Leave it there.

Separate the eggs first -- get the stress over with. You want whites with not a speck of egg yolk in them. Use three bowls-- one for white, one for yolks, and one to separate the egg you're working on at the moment (that way if a bit of yolk slips through into your white, you won't lose the entire bowl of whites and have to start again.)

To make the bechamel for the souffle base, in a small saucepan, combine milk, onions, bay leaf, whole peppercorns and cloves and bring to a simmer. Let it stand off heat for 15 minutes for it to absorb the flavors and then strain the solids out.

In a larger sauce pan, make a roux by melting the butter and then whisking in the flour. Cook it , whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to take on a golden brown color. Gradually whisk in the flavored milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Add in salt, pepper and nutmeg. Take the sauce off heat and whisk in the egg yolks until the sauce is smooth again.

In a super-super clean large bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until you get stiff glossy peaks when you lift the whisk from the bowl. Be careful not to overbeat -- to the point where the whites look grainy and dry.

Add a scoop of egg white to the sauce in the pan, folding it in to lighten the base. Then gently fold in the rest of the white and cheese, adding about a third of each one at a time. Don't over mix-- you don't want the souffle bubbles to get mixed away.

At this point you might also butter (generously) an extra souffle dish or casserole for the leftover souffle batter.

Scoop a dollop of souffle into each phyllo cup, filling about 3/4 of the way up. Any leftovers? Turn those into the extra dish.

Right about now, start herding your guests to the table. By the time you get them settled, everyone's poured themselves a glass of wine and figured out which salad plate is theirs, the souffles will be ready.

Bake your souffles at 375F -- about ten minutes for the phyllo cups and perhaps another ten to fifteen minutes for the big souffle.

Serve IMMEDIATELY, or *pouffe!* they're gone.

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