What's quick, cheap and easy?

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souffle_roux.jpgsouffle_milk.jpgsouffle_yolks.jpgsouffle_whites.jpgmixing_souffle.jpgsouffle_oven.jpgsouffle.jpg Don't laugh when I say SOUFFLE.

Straight from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the project was 20 minutes from start to oven -- including reading the recipe -- and less than an hour to the table. Four eggs ($1 for good ones) and $2 worth of the best Parmesan in town makes plenty for two.

Here, see how easy it is:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter a 4-cup souffle dish, grate Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbs. finely and 1/2 cup (coarsely is quicker) and dust the dish with the fine version, reserve about 1 Tbs for the top of the souffle. The cheese is going to be the flavor of this souffle and you'll add it later.

If there is something else you want to add -- like fresh herbs -- get them ready now. I cut some fresh parsley from the garden, dried oregano and Piment d'Espelette, a red pepper from Savory.

In a small pan start to bring 2/3 cup milk to a boil.

Melt 3 Tbs butter in a good pan. Stir in 3 Tbs. of flour. Don't let this brown, but let it cook while you separate 3 eggs.

Break the eggs, so the whites goi into a bowl where you can beat them to stiffness. The yellows place in a wide mouth cup or glass. 

Add another white to the 3 you've got.

Take the butter/flour (roux) off heat. Add boiling milk all at once and whisk together.

Then whisk in one egg yolk at a time.

Beat the whites until they are stiff, and add a small bit of the yellow mixture to them.

Slowly fold the white and yellow together with the cheese and other additions including a pinch of salt.

Use a spatula to transfer every bit to the souffle dish which should be no more than 3/4 full. Smooth top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Place in the middle of the oven.

Put the heat down to 375 degrees F. and bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not open oven for 20 minutes.

That's how easy it is. Honestly, I've not made a souffle in at least a year, so I was reading word for word, and still it was into the oven in less than 20 minutes.

While we wait for it to cook, let me quote Julia Child, "A souffle will always perform as it should if placed in a 400-degree oven and the temperature is immediately reduced to 375 degrees."

When the souffle looks puffed and golden brown, it's close. You should give it another 5 minutes or so in the hot oven and then serve at once.

Do NOT ignore that last instruction. Serve at once.

You've had 25 to 35 minutes to get done whatever you had to do. When this thing is done, don't waste the impact it will have. Serve at once.

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