Herbed Skillet Souffle

3 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
8 eggs, separated
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped mixture of soft-leaved herbs, such as basil, chervil, parsley, sorrel, chives, dill, marjoram or tarragon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir the breadcrumbs into the milk and let them soak until they become pasty, for 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.

When ready to cook, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until they form very soft (not stiff) peaks (when you scoop up some on a rubber spatula, they should hold their shape in mounds, but peak at top of spatula should flop over instead of standing straight up; any stiffer and they won't incorporate as easily). Scoop whites into yolk mixture and quickly fold them in.

Heat a 12-inch, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the butter when pan is hot enough for it to sizzle but not brown and swirl until it melts. Pour batter into pan and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Immediately put skillet in middle rack of oven and bake until souffle is puffed and deeply browned, for about 15 to 17 minutes. Serve immediately, spooned from skillet, or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

— Recipe from "The Herbal Kitchen," by Jerry Traunfeld (William Morrow, $34.95).


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