Les Nomades offers luxury of French soufflés
July 13, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- They have become an endangered species among local dessert menus. Soufflés have always represented French luxury - and classic technique - but they're hard to find. Not at the legendary Les Nomades in Streeterville, where a young pastry chef cut her teeth on the dessert.
"So that was one of the first things I learned to make. And I made them over, and over, and over, and over. Every night we had 50, 60 soufflés. And I kind of figured it out after awhile," said Mary Beth Liccioni, the owner of Les Nomades.
Liccioni now owns the restaurant; her pastry chef has had to master the art of beating egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer.
"If you make egg whites for another use in the kitchen, you put them in the cooler and you keep them for about a week. Because if you use them when they're too fresh they're not strong enough for the soufflé," said Liccioni.
There are several flavor options, like Gran Marnier or my favorite - hazelnut - which has to be added along with a few egg yolks.
"Grand Marnier is a favorite. We can do lemon, hazelnut, any flavor. Chocolate is trickier because the fact that chocolate is a heavier element. It kind of weighs it down, but sometimes they do come out very well," she said.
Once the mixture is folded together, small, steel vessels have to be buttered and sugared, so the soufflé can be released and rise. The batter is poured into the small service piece and is then tapped to remove any air bubbles.
The chef runs his fingers around the edge of the soufflé to give it the proper shape, then it's placed into an oven set to 411 degrees for just 11 minutes.
As soon as it's done, it's dusted with powdered sugar and whisked out to the dining room, where a silky crème anglaise echoing the soufflé's flavor is poured into the middle.
"It's supposed to like be like eating a cloud. It is. That's what souff.. it means 'cloud.' You put air into something," she said.
Now a soufflé is a classic way to end a French meal. And you could just come to Les Nomades and sit in the lounge and have a glass of champagne and a soufflé and just enjoy one of the culinary world's greatest creations.
Reservations are not required to sit in the lounge, but it is best to call ahead.
The soufflé will set you back $18.
222 E. Ontario St.
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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