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Sweet and savory souffles

It is a common fallacy that a perfect souffle can be executed only by an experienced chef whose reputation for this specialty can soar or sink depending on the regal rising or fatal falling of his souffles.

You don't need a degreefrom a cooking school to produce a super souffle, not with today's four-step basic directions which you can easily commit to memory.

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(1) Separate the eggs. (2) Make a sauce. (3) Beat egg whites. (4) Fold them together.

The recipe for the basic souffle is just as easy, and it, too, is based on fours. Four eggs separated. One-fourth cup butter. One-fourth cup flour, and 4 one-fourth cups (one cup) of milk. To this recipe you can add as much as 11/2 cups of any ingredient you choose to give flavor and character to your souffle. This could be bits of fresh or leftover vegetables; shredded cheese; chopped cooked chicken; canned shrimp, tuna, salmon or crab. A souffle, like a quiche, is a perfect vehicle for other foods. Spectacular Spinach Souffle Butter Grated Parmesan cheese 2 cups milk 1/2 cup quick cooking tapioca 4 teaspoons instant minced onion 1 tablespoon instant chicken bouillon 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese 8 eggs, separated 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained

Butter bottom and sides of 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Dust with Parmesan cheese. Set aside. In medium saucepan, stir together milk, tapioca, onion, bouillon, and nutmeg. Let stand 10 minutes. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and is thickened. Stir in Swisscheese until melted. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar at high speed until stiff but not dry, just until whites no longer slip when bowl is tilted. Thoroughly blend egg yolks with spinach into reserved sauce. Gently, but thoroughly, fold yolk mixture into whites. Carefully pour into prepared dish.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees F. oven until puffy, delicately browned and souffle shakes slightly when oven rack is gently moved back and forth, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve at once. Serves 8. Cheddar Swiss Cheese Souffle 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 1 1/2 cups diced cheese, half Cheddar and half Swiss 4 eggs, separated 1/4 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups hot (not boiling) milk

Make waxed paper collcr around 1 1/2-quart souffle dish and secure with tape. Butter dish and paper and sprinkle with Parmesan. Preheat ovento 375 degrees F. Place cheese, egg yolks, flour, mustard, and salt in blender. On high speed, blend 15 seconds. Add to milk in 2-quart saucepan and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches custard consistency.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold whites gently into custard mixture. Pour into prepared dish and bake approximately 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6. Irresistible Hot Chocolate Souffle 1/2 cup sugar, divided 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa 1/4 cup flour 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 4 eggs, separated 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

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In medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and is smooth and thickened. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar at high s'eed until foamy. Add remaining sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and egg whites are glossy and stand in in soft peaks. Thoroughly blend egg yolks into reserved sauce. Gently, but thoroughly, fold yolk mixture into whites. Carefully pour into 11/2 to 2-quart souffle dish or casserole.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees F. oven about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve at once. Serves 4 to 6.