Ready for a stunning statistic? You are more likely to win the lottery than to have been conceived as a human being. That's the kind of realization that can stir up awe and wonder every day.
Last week we experienced the solar eclipse. Though I didn't get to witness it directly due to overcast skies, the livestream from Oregon during totality with the magical corona was enough to make my son and me gasp out loud.
Days later, listening to NPR while driving, I heard the sounds of awe as they broadcast recordings of the vocal reactions to the eclipse throughout the US. Moments later I was literally in tears from the sounds of childlike wonder, "oohs," "wows," and many "oh my gods." It touched my heart and made me realize that awe connects us to our own humanity. And that experiencing awe in a group is an intensely unifying experience.
Research shows that awe "carries unique health benefits, sharpens your thinking, and makes you more generous," according to Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. Read more about awe here and take a quiz to learn how open you are to awe.
Today, I am sharing an awe-inspiring recipe – cheese soufflé – which I've tweaked to be gluten-free. The magic rise of the cloud-like egg whites has delighted me since I stayed with a french family as a teen; though they whip them up all the time there, even the french recognize the awesomeness of the soufflé.
And, btw, did you know that an egg has nearly every vitamin, mineral and amino acid that the body needs? Wow.
Free of gluten, this soufflé will rise a bit less dramatically than those made with wheat flour. Nevertheless, it is a delicious and awe-inspiring treat for breakfast or as a side dish. It pairs well with a salad dressed with a mustard vinaigrette.
3 T ghee or butter plus a bit extra for greasing
1/4 c gluten-free flour (I use a combination of equal parts quinoa, brown rice and tapioca flours)
1/2 t xanthan gum
2 c milk, almond milk or any nut milk
4 large eggs, separated
4 1/2 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, removing top oven rack. In a saucepan, melt ghee. Over a medium flame, use a whisk and slowly add the flour into the ghee, stirring constantly. Cook the flour for a few seconds in the ghee to remove the raw flour flavor. Slowly add the milk to the mix, whisking to combine well and to avoid lumps. You are making a béchamel sauce. Cook the sauce for a few minutes, whisking occasionally, until sauce thickens. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper to the sauce. Stir and turn off the heat.
Crack and separate the eggs into two mixing bowls putting the egg whites into a larger bowl and the yolks into a small bowl. Add the yolks all at once to the béchamel sauce and whisk into sauce immediately. Add the grated cheese to the mixture and stir well.
Using an electric beater or mixer, whip the egg whites as if making meringues, whipping until they become fairly stiff and can make small peaks with the beater. Spoon about a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the sauce mixture and mix well. Using a spatula, carefully pour in the rest of the beaten egg whites into the mixture and fold until well combined. Note: Folding involves gently pulling the sauce up from the bottom of the bowl and over the whites so as not to deflate the whites; repeat this motion as you turn the bowl, folding one scoop at a time until you've folded the sauce and egg whites together well.
Grease the sides of a soufflé dish with extra ghee. Gently pour mixture into soufflé dish and bake in center of oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!