Hey, guess what? It was my birthday last week! So I figured what better excuse to make a really celebratory meal with an equally celebratory sparkling wine. So being the person I am (one who likes to cook, have a celebration, and enjoy the nice things in life) I proceeded to create the menu for my birthday celebration.
So a couple of weeks ago I was reading the November issue of Wine Spectator Magazine (so I am a little behind..is it my fault they sent me three issues at once when my subscription started? It’s taking me a while to catch up…but I digress) and I found an article entitled ‘Rising to the Occasion’ and it was all about the myth of how hard it is to make a souffle and in that article was, yes, a recipe for Cheese Souffle. At that point I knew what I had to do…I had to prove that I wasn’t afraid of a Cheese Souffle and thus my birthday menu was born.
The ingredients were simple: milk, eggs, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, Emmental cheese (one of my favorites) and cream of tartar. How hard could it be, right? Though I will admit I was a little intimidated by the myth of the souffle. I mean, what if mine didn’t rise or what if it did rise and then I screamed with joy and it deflated? Oh the horror! But I decided that this was a rite of passage for anyone who considers themselves a cook of any kind so therefore I would have cheese souffle for my birthday and it would be wonderful!
So I gathered up the ingredients I needed all of which are staples in my house anyway and proceeded to research what to make with the souffle and, most importantly, what to drink with the souffle.
My research seemed to all point to the fact that for a nice dinner you should serve the cheese souffle with a green salad, crusty bread, and a nice Champagne or Sparkling Wine. Wow! This was going to be a relatively easy dinner to conjure up.
So I went down to my local Total Wine and More and asked the nice man there what he would suggest for my celebratory dinner. He suggested a Louis Bouillot Grand Reserve Extra Dry Sparkling Wine from the region of St. Georges, France. I bought my bottle of bubbly and skipped on home.
On the day of the celebration, which was actually three days after the actual birthday because my Honey took me out on my birthday, I gathered up the recipe and various ingredients and with a few butterflies in my stomach I chanted ‘I am not afraid of souffles’ and started my journey.
I followed each step exactly as the recipe stated and resisted my natural urge to add a little more cheese. It’s my rule when making something for the first time to stick strictly to the recipe and so I did not break any rules. 🙂
The souffle base came out perfectly and smelled of that beautiful Emmental cheese and Dijon mustard. I resisted the urge to taste it at that stage though. 🙂
I then put the base aside and turned my attention to the part that was causing me the most stress…whipping the egg whites. I’ve never been really good at this. I’ve tried in the past to make meringue with disastrous results. Knowing that this one thing is the key to making the souffle rise put a little pressure on but alas it was all for nothing. I continued courageously forward and proudly produced what I assumed was the perfect pre-cooked souffle (how would I know otherwise, right?).
So I put the raw souffle into the pre-heated oven and as I patiently waited for my souffle to rise and be ready I prepared the salad and made sure the sparkling wine was chilled enough. I put it in the freezer about an hour before to make sure.
At first I didn’t see any rising occurring and as if preparing myself for the disaster I reminded myself that whether it rose or not it would still be tasty with ingredients like that so there was nothing to be concerned about.
Then the time came to remove it from the oven. It was a success! I quickly but carefully set the masterpiece on the table while Matt popped the cork on the sparkling wine and we sat down to judge the outcome.
Now neither I nor Matt have actually ever had a souffle in our lives but it looked lovely and it tasted lovely as well.
We were both well pleased with the whole meal and toasted to the occasion as well as the fact that we should make these lovely celebrations happen more regularly.
But wait, there’s more! You can’t have a celebratory dinner without an equally celebratory dessert, can you? The fact is that up until the night before I still couldn’t decide on a great dessert. I wanted it to be special but just as simple to make as the dinner itself and then it came to me. One of my favorite deserts would be perfect! Peach Melba! So I gathered the simple ingredients and threw together a dessert that made both Matt and I make yummy noises!
Yes, it was wonderful and as you can see by the picture we were still imbibing in the wonderful sparkling wine that I haven’t even told you about yet. 🙂
Okay, now I’ll tell you about the sparkling wine. It was wonderful. The nice man at the Total Wine and More store certainly did not do us wrong. I am usually not a big champagne/sparkling wine girl. I usually rank it up there with white wines (but even that’s changing) but this sparkling wine from the French appellation of St. Georges was wonderful.
It had a clear but slightly golden color and its bouquet was strongly filled with honey, vanilla, and floral scents. The taste was creamy, bubbly, and strongly vanilla. It was followed by a soft lingering vanilla finish. It was really nice, smooth, creamy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would buy this sparkling wine again in an instant. I strongly suggest it to anyone.
My rating for this sparkling wine is 94. It’s a great sparkling wine at an affordable price of $15.99.
For those of you that would like to try your hand at a souffle but don’t know where to start here’s a great video of how to make a cheese souffle from www.5min.com It’s not the same exact recipe that I used but it’s very similar and it gives you the basic steps that you need to follow to make it come out perfect.
Also, for those of you who want to try the Peach Melba recipe I used here is the exact Nigella Lawson recipe for Peach Melba that I used. I used frozen raspberries and peaches though as they are not in season right now and I cut the recipe in half because her recipe was for 8 servings. There were only two of us so I thought it a bit too decadent to make the whole recipe for us alone. 🙂
Well that’s it for this episode of Wine and Food Musings. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope to hear from you soon. I’ll end here with a few more pictures of the celebratory dinner. Enjoy!