Feta Cheese Souffle with Walnuts, Dates and Mixed Greens in Honey Lemon Vinaigrette – Even Though It’s “Baking”

souffle and greens
I made a Feta Cheese Souffles with Walnuts, Dates, and Mixed Greens in a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette, even though souffles are considered “baking.”

I barely made it out of the kitchen with any dignity at all.

I didn’t even have enough ramekins because somewhere along the way, potlucks and such have dispersed them all over LA (filled with things wholly unrelated to souffles, like hummus). Those got a slippery, buttery rub-down and a dusting of ground walnuts. That’s a little idea I’ve shamelessly stolen from Gourmet magazine. In fact, I’m also about to admit that I snuck the tip of freezing the ramekins for a few minutes. I have no idea what that does, but I trust Alton.

Melting butter, adding flour, and making it all gurgly and bubbly – that’s easy. Now I had to just trust my instinct. Would warm buttermilk work? I don’t know enough about food chemistry to know if the acid in buttermilk or the little golden butter balls would have an adverse effect on the fussy little chemistry that is a souffle. We’d just have to wait and see.

Cheese is not unusual for a souffle, but I’ve only ever seen Cheddar, blue, and maybe even something as wild as gruyere. I added feta and just prayed that it would melt in. It did, sort of – a little grainy, but it’s feta. That alone makes up for the texture.

The hardest part for me in any recipe is eggs. Slimy soft, glistening golden egg yolks go for a dip and whip in the cheese, and the whites get furiously beaten into submission. Another sneaky little swipe on my part from Joy of Cooking – add one or two more egg whites than yolks and the souffles will rise higher. Another little trick is to build a buttered parchment paper wall up around the ramekin, but what am I? I don’t do parchment paper. Unless I’m composing the Gettysburg Address or something.

After I put the filled ramekins into the oven, it took every ounce of restraint in my body to resist the temptation of sneaking a potentially fatal peek. I just had to set the timer and wait. Holy smokes. Waiting sure is hard. But not if you’re kept busy slicing dates, toasting walnuts, and making a honey-lemon vinaigrette. Every once in a while, I would stop what I was doing, and look longingly at the oven door. Then I’d catch the evil green kitchen timer ticking down in disapproval. Dates. Walnuts. Honey-lemon. It was tough to stay focused.
Bill's Bees Honey
But after an eternity which was only really 19 minutes, I opened the door every so softly, ever so gently, and there they were, puffed and golden. I couldn’t believe it. I made them! I wanted to scream, but I didn’t. But I wanted to, really. Something told me to hold it in; to wait. It would get better. As we moved it all to the table, their tenuous trembling told me that if we didn’t work fast, we’d lose the moment forever.

I took a fork and first tickled the soft and tenuous walnut sprinkled top. The fork pierced deep into the souffle, which made first made the faintest of feta sighs. *sigh* And then we just let loose. The edges were somewhat crunchy and somewhat chewy with the ground walnuts. (Next time, maybe toasting the ground walnuts for the ramekin would be better). The souffle was soft and giving, and had the subtle bite of buttermilk and the sharpness of feta. Rich, yet light. Naughty, but heavenly.
walnuts, dates, and greens
Every so often I’d break up the rhythm with sweet dates, toasted walnuts, and feisty greens (no prissy little spring mix here) properly dressed up in honey lemon vinaigrette. Salty, sweet and sour, every tastebud stimulated. Delicious delicious bite after bite!

Okay, so it wasn’t quite that uh, orgasmic? But don’t we all embellish just a little?

Besides, this souffle was my first time.
Feta Cheese Souffle

Feta Cheese Soufflé with Walnut, Dates and Mixed Greens in Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

culled together from recipes found on the web, but mostly guided by the Joy of Cooking

Feta Cheese Soufflé Ingredients:

butter for greasing ramekins
¼ cup finely ground walnuts

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks, at room temperature, and broken
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
5 egg whites, at room temperature (what you do with that last egg yolk is up to you – maybe you can make mayonnaise!)

Feta Cheese Soufflé Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the entire inside of 4 8-ounce ramekins and dust with ground walnuts. Tap out excess ground walnuts and place ramekins upside down (so as not to collect weird bits) in freezer.

make the soufflé base:

In a small saucepan, heat milk, but do not let boil. Keep warm.

In medium saucepan on medium-low heat, melt butter until bubbling. Add flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Whisk in the warm milk, add salt, and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes while continuing to whisk. Whisk in egg yolks one at a time to make sure they’re fully incorporated. Stir in feta cheese as you remove saucepan from heat. Pour into a large bowl and set aside. This is the “soufflé base.”

assemble soufflés:

Take ramekins out of the freezer and place on baking sheet.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip egg whites to medium peaks.

Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the soufflé base, then repeat with remaining egg whites, folding gently until completely incorporated, but without overmixing (ok, paradox). Divide the soufflé mixture among the ramekins.

Bake until soufflés are risen and golden brown on top, about 18-20 minutes.

(Most recipes instruct you to leave the oven door closed the entire bake time because the souffles have performance anxiety or something, but if you do not have a “window” on your oven, then what the fuck are you supposed to do? Just guess? At about 18 minutes, take a gentle peek. That’s what I did.)

Walnuts, Dates and Mixed Greens in Honey Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients:

2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt+pepper to taste

toasted walnuts
dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise
mixed greens enough for four servings

Walnuts, Dates and Mixed Greens in Honey Lemon Vinaigrette Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the vinaigrette is “too strong,” add a few teaspoons of plain water.

Toss greens with vinaigrette. Divide among 4 plates, and top with toasted walnuts and dates.

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  • Helen (AugustusGloop)

    Egg whites whipped into submission, feisty greens, skinny-dipping eggs… geez what kind of leather-clad food porn is this? =)

    Don’t worry. Your souffles rose commendably for the occasion. Hot baby hot. You know how to work it!

    Looks great and hilarious write-up as always.

  • the Kitchen Queens

    Purrrrrrr, I just luuuuuuuuve feta! Brave experiment gone good…that cripsy salad looks so right next to the souffle. Love, KQ Tai

  • caryn

    Excellent work, Sarah! It all looks very scrumptious. I want to try that souffle…will you post a recipe?

  • Melissa

    these look magnificent, sarah. and i’m very impressed with your restraint. i don’t have it – nothing gets baked in my oven without multiple peeks…

  • Robyn

    Wiw! The Feta souffle caught my attention immediately! With the greens and dates it i d the perfect summertime lunch!

  • Sam

    Not to mention she was “tied up all weekend” !!!

  • sarah

    LOL!!! sam, YOU started it! LOL!

    let’s keep it G. OK, at least PG-13 – LOL!

  • mireille

    what i love about you: you’re an exceptional cook with none of the precious artifice (i.e. use of the phrase “easy peasy”)AND you have a great sense of humor about yourself and about the food! thank you …

  • Owen

    Another real winner. We had some great savory dishes this time around with ingredients that tilted toward sweet and this one is particularly inventive. Hope you don’t mind that I carried on the risque theme in the write-up…

  • sarah

    clearly, i have no problems with risque business ;)

    i mean, i just accused some spicy squid of looking like *ahem* and wrote about a *blush* pizza-gasm at a local pizza joint. lol!

    and thank you all for such compliments. :)

  • Eve

    oh my god! that looks sooooo good!

  • Julie

    You naughty girl! Even on the fly (so to speak) you’ve made something that’s awakened a hunger that will only be satisfied when I’ve tried this dish. I second the request — will you share the souffle recipe? And the salad too, although I can probably figure it out…

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for letting me try one…ok, I had three! :) JP.

  • Jocelyn:McAuliflower

    Beautiful entry! Great job

  • T

    congratulations sarah! this looks super yummy- i want a bite right now! ill content myself with the picture :-)

  • Rachael

    Kudos Sarah! A beautiful dish, a feisty entry and a winner indeed. I do hope you’ll post the recipe soon!

    -Rachael

  • Melissa

    congratulations – all hail the paper chef! *clap clap clap*

  • the Kitchen Queens

    Somehow we knew salty cheese would be a winner this time ;)
    Congrats!

  • Sam

    Sarah: Your star is rising!
    (but is it rising like your souffle or more like your ex-lover when he is town?)

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful souffles, Sarah. Now since I can’t just invite myself over to your house, where in LA can we get a good souffle? – MelCH

  • sarah

    again, thank you all for your sweet words! i really can’t express in words how much this means to me. i just have this stupid silly grin whenever i think about it. and if i weren’t at the office, i’d be shrieking like a gleeful monkey – lol!

    i will post up an official thank you to everyone shortly, and if i can find all the notes i scribbled whilst making, i will post a “recipe” too. :)

    sam: i would say “rising” like the souffle – but hopefully not falling as fast as those souffles deflate when they leave the oven (or my “friend” when he had to go back to SF – lol!)

    and i am very new to souffles, not just making, but eating as well. i am not sure where in l.a. there are good ones…maybe someone will have some ideas and leave a comment?

  • Sam

    maybe you should come up here to visit your ‘friend’ and get him to take you to Jacqueline’s.
    The only thing they serve are souffles.

  • Lex Culinaria

    I wandered here all innocent like. Looking to leave a comment on a delicious-sounding souffle, but the comments are so steamy! I will never be able to look at a souffle the same way again!

    Great recipe.

  • Owen

    I love Jacqueline’s – make sure you go to the bathroom because then you get to go by the kitchen with the open door and five thousand metal bowls and several hundred whisks and piles and piles an piles of eggs – and one red-cheeked grandmotherly chef.

    I had a valentine’s evening dessert there many years ago with my wife and we held hands over a raspberry souffle and ignored the (true to rumor/form) really really rude french waiters

  • Lady X

    That souffle looks pretty amazing – I don’t believe it was your “first time”! :) Congrats on the win!

  • Robyn

    Hail the Chef! The Paper Chef! Great job Sarah, excellent choice by Julie!

  • Anonymous

    Without a base, an article cannot be written. This is why we have chosen search as the base for this beautiful article of ours.

  • Anonymous

    You’re not a French chefs, but these dishes are perfect!

  • http://www.foodandwinechickie.com Veronique

    I was just wondering what to make for a holiday luncheon and he’s the solution! What great timing…and post.

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  • http://www.thedeliciouslife.com Sarah J. Gim

    Veronique: Thanks :D And I think if you want to make this even easier, you can make one big souffle in a single souffle dish (giant ramkein!). I have never done it though. Giant souffles seem scary.

  • http://danieleats.com Daniel S.

    Very nice write-up and great photos! This would be excellent for a Sunday brunch at home.

  • http://creationz2009.blogspot.com Trendsetters

    beautiful souffle. dying to try out…

  • http://www.orgasmicchef.com Maureen

    I just found this photo on pinterest and had to check out the site.  I love your writing.  I tend to like all foods orgasmic.  :)

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