Between the turn out at Michael Pollan’s lecture at the Tivoli this past Thursday (the lecture was vital, pertinent, & funny…get The Omnivore’s Dilemma if you don’t already have it) and at the Chattanooga Sunday Market’s first day of the season (it’s biggest day ever), what I believe about Chattanooga is being further confirmed, really what I believe about people everywhere. And what I believe is that we are doing what absolutely must be done: revolutionizing the way we approach food, cooking, and eating.
I don’t think that the odd bite of junk food is going to kill you or bring about the fall of civilization, nor do I think it’s ill advised to purchase a beautiful cheese from the Pacific Northwest or jamon Iberico from Spain or any other artisan product from wherever else. We, at this point in history, do live in a global community, and I avidly support artisans and sustainable practices around the world. But the fact remains that this starts at home, and that when it comes to meat, dairy, and produce local is going to be, nine times out of ten or more, superior. This isn’t about being neurotic, and it isn’t about moral superiority. It’s about flavor, health, balance, relationships, and living artfully. It’s about savoring.
If you made it through all of that (or scrolled quickly to the bottom), your reward is a recipe for homemade ricotta (the easiest of homemade cheeses), a recipe for garlic scape & sorrel pesto, and a recipe for pesto & chevre soufflé.. I’d never had garlic scapes before these. It’s a pity their season is so terribly brief. If you see them, buy them. If I’d known how much I would fall in love with these tender, spicy garlic stalks, I would have bought more of them. I chose to make pesto with them because of its versatility. I mixed it with the ricotta and topped homemade pizzas with it, and I stirred the rest along with some Humble Heart farms chevre into a soufflé base. We both agreed it was one of the best soufflés I’ve made to date. And I’ve been making a lot lately. If I’d had the chance to cook more of them I would have tried them grilled and roasted. Oh, and I did eat one raw, like a carrot. It was delicious.
- 4 cups whole milk I use raw
- 1/2 tsp sel gris or other course sea salt
- 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Heat the milk in a non-reactive sauce pan to 190 degrees F. I use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and stir a couple of times gently. Let sit five minutes.
- Line a colander with butter muslin or a couple of layers of cheese cloth and set over a bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let strain until desired consistency is reached.
Garlic Scape & Sorrel Pesto
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
2 cups chopped sorrel
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor pulse first five ingredients, scraping down the sides as necessary. Slowly add in the olive oil until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be frozen. I like to freeze my pesto in an ice cube tray, pop them out once frozen, and keep the individual portions in a freezer bag. This is a great way to make short lived spring produce last!
Pesto & Chevre Soufflé
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
5 eggs, room temperature – it is best to use older eggs in a soufflé, not super fresh eggs
4 yolks, 5 whites
1 cup whole milk
3 T butter, plus 1 tsp for buttering the soufflé mold
2 T finely grated parmesan, for dusting
3 T flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
healthy pinch of cayenne
pinch of cream of tartar
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup garlic scape & sorrel pesto (or pesto of your choosing)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide your eggs, setting aside one of the yolks for another use. Butter your soufflé mold and sprinkle with the parmesan, tilting to coat both the bottom and sides. Coat well, as this butter-cheese coating is what will keep your soufflé from sticking.
Melt 3 T butter over medium heat in a non-reactive sauce pan. Warm the milk until just steaming. Once the butter has melted, while the milk is heating up, add the 3 T of flour to the butter and stir to combine. Let it bubble over medium heat 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning. Slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Continue to cook on medium one minute more, whisking constantly. The béchamel should be quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne. Whisk the egg yolks, one at a time, into the center of your sauce. Set aside.
Whip your egg whites with the pinch of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the base to lighten it. Stir in the pesto and cheese. Pile the rest of the egg whites onto your base and fold in gently, cutting your spatula through the center of the whites then pulling it towards you and folding the batter over, rotating your pot as you do so. This won’t take long. Don’t worry if there are still white, fluffy pieces of egg whites. Under folding is far better than over folding.
Pour the batter into your mold and place on the middle rack. Immediately turn the heat down to 375 degrees. Bake 25-35 minutes, until still jiggly when tapped but set and a knife or cake tester in the center comes out clean. My oven takes 35 minutes. I prefer a soufflé that is still slightly runny in the very center, so I often only bake it 30 minutes.
Humble Heart Farms “French” chevre from the Sunday Chattanooga Market (my new favorite, it’s amazingly creamy)