Sunday, April 4, 2010

20. Learn to make chocolate souffle

My friend Zan (Alexander) is a great guy. Earlier this week he called to invite me to Easter dinner at his and his partner Brett's house. As we were chatting on the phone he asked if there were anything "listworthy" I might want to learn how to make for the Easter dinner. After about two minutes of brainstorming, we came up with the perfect thing -- chocolate souffle. For me, chocolate souffle conjures up visions of Julia Child and sophisticated cooking and fifties kitsch all at the same time. Clearly, a necessary thing to know how to prepare for all these reasons -- not to mention the simple fact that it's a super-rich form of chocolate dessert.

In case you're now convinced you that you, too, must make chocolate souffle, here's the low-down. It's actually not nearly so hard as I expected. This is the slightly-simplified play-by-play.
1. Prepare the souffle dishes -- either small or big -- by greasing with butter and sprinkling with sugar.
2. Chop chocolate into smaller blocks, melt in a double boiler (or a large bowl over a pot of boiling water as we did here), and mix with cream and butter.
3. After chopping the chocolate but before melting and mixing the chocolate, whip egg whites, a teeny bit of cream of tartar, and some sugar until stiff peaks form (that means that if you make a little peak with the egg whites it won't flop over).
4. Quickly whisk in egg yolks to the melted chocolate mixture after it is taken off the heat.
5. The fun part -- fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture (and if you're me, don't follow your inclination to mix it to death -- that will deflate the egg whites), and pour the whole thing into the souffles. Then it's into the oven for 15 or so minutes, till the puffiness happens, and you're ready to eat something wonderful.

Of course, if you really want to have the best souffle experience ever, it helps to do two things. First, you should dress the part, which I've done here in my fifties-style dress from the wardrobe of Mad Men (and Julia Child pearls, of course). More importantly, you have to be part of a super-delicious Easter dinner with a bunch of friends. In addition to Brett, Zan and I, the dinner (held on the back porch in the lovely sunshine) included SMC friends and colleagues Crystal, Tim, and Greta, and Ken, who is an education professor at UVM. We made two batches of souffle, with Zan doing the first one as a demo, and then turning his attention to rotisserie grilling of the lamb that was the main course, while I did the second round. My friend Crystal supplemented the souffles with a wonderfully elegant fruit tart and a tasty lemon meringue pie, so we all happily dug into a three-course dessert following our lamb-asparagus-red potato meal.

P.S. I know it's a total non-sequiter but I just had to include a photo of my niece Tigist in her Easter dress. She was having a New Thing of her own -- her first Easter in the United States, and from the reports, she and her adoring aunt have yet another thing in common -- wicked bad sweet tooths and an inability to stop eating chocolate once we get going.

52 Ways to Say I love You

In Swedish with many thanks to friend and former student Tyler Adkins.

hello hej,
good by hejdå,
I love you Jag älsker dig,
Can I have two beers, please? Kan jag få två öl, tack?

Coming Attractions

Uganda! It never rains but it pours. Just when I thought my summer travel agenda was about as packed as it could get, out of the blue I got an invitation to another country I've never been to. I came home from last night's fabulous food fest and checked my email, and guess what was there? An invitation to be a keynote speaker at a 5 day international workshop on religion, AIDS and social activism in Africa! It's going to be hosted at Makerere University in Kampala with scholars from Africa, North America, and Europe. So, from July 4-10 I'll be doing two more New Things -- going to Uganda (for all my comings and goings to Tanzania, I've never been beyond the airport at Entebbe in Uganda) and being a keynote speaker at an international meeting. I'm pretty excited, I must say. It's a little complicated because the dates overlap with the time I was going to be in Jordan and Lebanon, but if there's one thing I've learned in the last three months it's that if you have an opportunity to do something new, you should grab it, and then you can figure out how to make it work.

Ice skating. Still going to the rink at least twice a week, and when I can swing it, three times. I am grateful to report that Connor S. went with me on Friday, and seems no worse for wear, so if there are others who feel like coming along, just let me know (you can rent skates right at the rink).

Washington, DC. So, this coming week, from Thursday to Sunday, April 8-11, I'll be in Washington, DC with a dozen or so of Saint Michael's members of the Social Justice League, visiting Congressional Offices on Capital Hill. Since we'll only be busy part of the day on Saturday, I am looking for suggestions of a place I haven't been to, so I can do an official new thing while I'm there. Ideas?

Vermonster Eating. Wednesday, April 21 at 6:30, the Saint Michael's Dominican Republic service trip group will be meeting up at Ben and Jerrie's to down a massive mound of ice cream. It's not too late for the India and/or Guyana service groups to decide to join us...


  1. Thanks for everything yesterday, Trish.


  2. Great, now I'm craving chocolate! I hope I'm going to be having homemade chocolate souffle at some point during my visit!! They look so yummy! Btw, both you and Tigist look gorgeous in your Easter dresses!

  3. Guess what, I may be in Uganda about the same time you are going to be there. If it happens, it will be so much fun. If I decide to go then, we can take a few days and visit Rwenzori region. You will love it.

    I have to do my regional visit around that time, but I also have a conference in Oxford during the summer. Let's coordinate sooner. I saw you on North street yesterday:-)

  4. Zan, you're the one who should be thanked. What a perfect way to spend an Easter.
    Jams, while you're staying with me (so soon now!) we'll have to have a chocolate souffle party (or maybe a chocolate party where everyone brings it in a different form and mine will be souffle).
    And Thato, we definitely need to pull out calendars and compare. I think my Uganda trip will be tricky because of the intersection with the Jordan one, and the fact that I'm coordinating with Siham, Jamila and one of my students who just got a Provost grant, Conor, on that one. But it's a great reason to get together soon, and make some plans! I assume I was running when you saw me on North Street. Sometimes I zone out -- where were you?

  5. Walter Reed Medical Museum? If you haven't been there, that is a good stop in DC. My folks went to the spy museum on one of their recent trips and really enjoyed it.
    Wow, Uganda...very impressive, especially being invited as the keynote speaker! Once again, you rock!
    Love both the pictures of the souffles and of Tig, who is extremely cute.