Preserved Lemons Recipe

Preserved lemons are used in Moroccan cuisine and can be purchased at a high price in some boutique markets. Why not make them yourself? They take a month to cure, but the recipe is easy and you'll have plenty of preserved lemon to add their unique lemony, salty, sweet, yet a bit sour, flavor to salads, appetizers and entrees--they're particularly good for grilling fish. Just chop fine and sprinkle on or in your fish or toss with your salad. Make sure you rinse them first, pat them dry, then use for a gourmet touch!
8 organic lemons, Meyer's lemons work best (maybe more or less depending on size of lemons)
1 qt. glass jar with sealing lid
Organic lemons have no preservatives, chemicals or wax on the skin. Scrub the lemons and pat dry. Spread 1/8 cup of salt in the bottom of a glass jar. Slice off the ends of 6 lemons, then slice into even slices about 1/4" thick. Sprinkle each slice with salt on both sides and pack into the jar, pushing them down. When the slices fill the jar, fill the air spaces with lemon juice until they are all covered, then sprinkle 1/8 cup salt on top. Let sit at room temperature (out of the sun) for half a day, then turn the jar upside down, let sit another half day, continue for a total of 2 days, then put the jar in the refrigerator, turning upside down every few days. The preserved lemons will be ready, when you want to use some, remove that portion and rinse well. Let drain for a minute, then add to your recipe. The lemons will keep in the refrigerator for up to a year.


Fluffly Souffles

Many think souffles are impossible to make, because of the jokes about falling souffles--which can come true if you open the oven before the egg sets! But, actually souffles are incredibly easy to make and usually wow your guests because they look lovely and have a light, creamy texture. Basically a souffle (means "blown up" or "puffed up" in French) is a custard (milk and egg) or creme patisserie (milk, egg and flour) base into which stiffly whipped egg whites are folded. The air bubbles in the whites expand during the cooking, making the souffle fluffy; the cooked egg in the base keeps the structure intact around the air bubbles. Souffles can be savory--like our Mexican flavored souffle in this week's recipe or sweet--as in a chocolate souffle (photo from Wikipedia).

The keys to make successful souffles are:
-have all the ingredients and utensils at hand and oven preheated to temperature
-egg whites should be cool, either by chilling the mixing bowl or the whites or both--don't let them sit at room temperature
-make sure you butter the souffle dish thoroughly (and dust with powdered sugar if the souffle is sweet)
-never open the oven door during the cooking process, only at the end of the baking time!
-don't have a chill draft in the house when the souffle is removed from the oven, the sudden drop in temperature can flatten it!
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
some powdered sugar
hot water to fill baking dish
Butter a souffle dish, dust with powdered sugar. Find a baking dish that the souffle dish will fit in with high enough sides that an inch of water can be poured in. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate the eggs and put the egg whites and mixing bowl in the refrigerator. Mix the egg yolks in a small bowl. Put the chocolate, milk and sugar in a saucepan and heat over low until melted, stirring. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and whisk in flour. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, whisking continuously until well mixed. Slowly whisk in the egg yolks and cook, whisking, over low heat until it thickens slightly. Remove the pot from the stove and let cool, whisking occasionally. Heat the water. In the meantime, take the egg whites out and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the vanilla and cinnamon into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the egg whites using the least amount of strokes necessary to mix the two together. Put the souffle dish into the baking dish, pour the mixture into the souffle dish, pour the hot water into the baking dish so there is an inch of water, then put into the oven. Bake 20 minutes before opening the oven. Souffle is done if a knife inserted comes out clean. Serves 6. Wine to pair with chocolate souffle: the 2005 Peju Cabernet Sauvignon


Wine Pairing Recipe for Syrah-- Mexican Style Souffle

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all pupose flour
1 cup milk
corn kernels from two ears of cooked corn (or 11 oz. can, drained)
2 green chiles (or 4 oz. can, drained)
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 tsp. ground sage
3/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese (total)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and butter a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish. If using fresh chiles, roast over gas flame, turning frequently until the skin is blistered all over. Cool and skin, removing seeds and veins. Chop chiles fine. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat and whisk in flour. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Remove from heat and stir in corn, chiles, spices, egg yolks and 1/2 cup cheese.

Beat egg whites in chilled mixer bowl until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold into the corn mixture with a rubber spatula using as few strokes as possible to keep the air in the egg whites. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Keep the oven door closed for the first 50 minutes so the souffle doesn't collapse. While still in the oven, sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese and leave in for a minute for the cheese to melt. Serves 6.

Souffle is delicious paired with the Rocca 2003 Yountville Syrah.