From Chef Patrice Olivon: This cheese soufflé is a classic. Not only do I teach my culinary students how to make this at L'Academie de Cuisine, but I often make it for my family at home. It seems difficult to get a soufflé to rise, but it is actually quite simple with the addition of a bit of acidity Ã± in this instance I use a simple drop of fresh lemon juice.
1. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees.
2. Melt enough butter in a saucepan to coat 4 individual soufflé dishes.
3. Brush the inside and edges of the soufflé dishes with the melted butter. Transfer the dishes to a sheet pan and put in the refrigerator to chill.
4. Finely grate enough Parmesan cheese to lightly coat the bottoms and sides of 4 soufflé dishes.
5. Sprinkle the bottoms and sides of the chilled soufflé dishes with the grated cheese. Turn the dishes over and tap to remove excess cheese. Return the dishes to the refrigerator to chill further.
6. Make a roux for the soufflé base: Melt 1 1/2 ounces of butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to combine.
7. Finish the soufflé base: Add cold milk to the saucepan and whisk to combine. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking continually to avoid lumps. The mixture will turn into a thick paste. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool for about a minute. Add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking quickly to temper the eggs and fully combine the ingredients. Taste and season with some grated nutmeg. This is the soufflé base.
8. Add the egg whites to a clean mixing bowl. Whip the egg whites on a standing mixer with a pinch of salt and a drop of lemon juice until creamy. Be careful not to over mix: watch for soft peaks to form when the beater is lifted out of the bowl.
9. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the whipped egg whites to the soufflé base. Whisk to combine.
10. Add the soufflé base to the mixing bowl. Quickly and gently, fold to combine the base with the remaining egg whites.
11. Slowly add about 2 ounces of grated cheese (parmesan and gruyere) to the mixture.
12. Add some finely chopped chives and gently fold again.
13. Fill the soufflé dishes, just to the top, and bake in a 415 degrees F oven for 17-20 minutes. You can put a sheet pan underneath the soufflés in case you have drips.
14. Remove the soufflés when done and serve immediately. Be careful not to overfill the soufflé dishes, drip the mixture on the sides of the dishes, touch the edges, or cook them too close together. Any of these factors may result in soufflés that do not rise, or that do not rise as they should. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR UNTIL THE SOUFFLES ARE DONE OR THEY WILL COLLAPSE!
Patrice Olivon is a chef and cooking teacher who serves as the program director of culinary arts at L'Academie de Cuisine. He has worked at the Negresco Hotel, Le Palais des Friandises and La Maison Blanche, served as the executive chef of the Embassy of France and cooked at the White House. Olivon has appeared on television shows such as "Dinner is Served," "Food Fight" and "Iron Chef America."