Asparagus Soufflé

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Ethereal and elegant, a soufflé is a dish that says "You're special." The recipe may be prepared ahead up to the point of whipping the egg whites. Spinach or broccoli can substitute for the asparagus and while fresh is best, using frozen vegetables works -- just be sure to drain them very well after thawing. Separate the eggs while they are cold; but whip the egg whites after they have come to room temperature (for maximum volume).



Butter the insides of an 8-cup soufflé or deep, round baking dish with 1 tablespoon softened butter, then sprinkle the buttered surfaces with Parmesan. Set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low flame; stir in flour and cook heat several minutes, stirring often. Whisk in milk until mixture is thickened. Season it to taste with season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Let mixture cool 10-15 minutes. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Stir in asparagus, grated Swiss and dill. Set aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees before proceeding with this step. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Using a spatula, stir a quarter of the egg whites into the asparagus mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites (leaving a few streaks of white in the mixture is fine). Gently spread mixture in prepared soufflé dish. Place in center of oven, reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake until soufflé is high, golden and barely set--or even slightly loose--in its center, 35-40 minutes. Serve immediately.

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