Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cooking the Books with K: Mary Poppins in the Kitchen Lemon Souffle

What is there to say about Mary Poppins? It is one of the most beloved movies of all time. Like many families, we own a copy and I credit it with helping me survive having food poisoning and single-parenting a two year-old one Thanksgiving weekend. The movie was one of K's favorites for many years and the sing-along version at the Castro Theater is not to be missed, though not currently on their schedule.
K says:
"It is a very awesome movie. "
"I love the songs."
"I really like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
"When I was little I watched that and Bedknobs and Broomsticks a lot." 
"I think the penguins are really funny."

I don't remember if I read the books as a child or not. It seems like I must have, but I have no memories of them at all. One day at the library, K discovered the books. 
She says:
"I've never read the original one because it is always checked out."
"They are really exciting and one has Michael getting transported to a planet of cats."
"I think there are four if you don't include the cookbook." 
(Note: there are actually eight.)
"There is also one where they ride candy canes. Like the candy sticks you brought me."
"There is one where she tells them a story about the king of the castle and 
the dirty rascal."

So, clearly, an obvious choice for Cooking the Books, especially after we discovered: Mary Poppins in the Kitchen: A Cookery Book with a Story. The joy of this book is that it is both a story and a cookbook as Mary and the Banks children take over the kitchen for a week. Mary Poppins teaches the children the basics of cooking, from A to Z, with thirty recipes to re-create the week's menus.

As we always do, we took turns marking the recipes we wanted to make. After much discussion about Gingerbread Stars and the fact that Christmas cookies will be on the agenda soon, we decided on Lemon Soufflé. Much like the lemon meringue pie we made recently, the recipe is a nice mix of child-friendly steps, combined with some that probably require adult help. We opted for individual soufflés in ramekins, rather than the large single soufflé in the original recipe, because K wanted her own. The language of the original recipe is charming, but I've altered it here to make it easier for K to follow along.
1/2 stick butter, plus extra for greasing the ramekins
4 T all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 large lemon, juiced and zested
4 T granulated sugar, plus extra for the ramekins
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt

Heat the oven to 400. 

Butter the inside of the ramekins and sprinkle with sugar. Turn upside down to remove excess sugar.

In a saucepan, melt the butter until it foams. Turn down the heat and stir in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly to make a roux, a fine cooking vocabulary word for K. Take the pan off the stove and pour in the milk. Stir vigorously and return to the stove over gentle heat. Continue stirring until it thickens. Add the lemon zest (K loves zesting lemons with the microplane). Stir in the sugar and take off the heat. Allow this mixture to cool.

Separate three eggs. Stir in the yolks and lemon juice to your slightly cooled milk-butter-flour-sugar mixture to make your soufflé base. Separate one more egg and add the white to the others in the bowl. Beat until they foam. Add a pinch of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. Continue beating until they form stiff peaks. 

Stir a heaping spoonful of egg whites into the soufflé base. Spoon this mixture into the egg whites and fold very gently until combined. Spoon into prepared ramekins.
Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.


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