Midweek meals: Soufflé

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Soufflé. The thought of making it is enough to instil fear in some of the bravest of cooks. The soufflé has got a bad rep over the years due to its delicacy. Yes, there are plenty of things that can go wrong: it doesn’t rise, it rises but collapses, it’s over-cooked, the eggs are over-whisked – but with a bit of love a good soufflé really isn’t hard to make. Read on, my friends…  

As mentioned in an earlier post, the word soufflé comes from the verb souffler, meaning to blow. Un bon soufflé should be crispy on top, and light and fluffy in the middle – like a breath of air. 

Mum’s cheese and sweet corn soufflé was my favourite dinner growing up (yes I know, quite the gourmet child), and I’d request it every birthday. I’ve only recently found out that my sister never liked it, so these requests only brought her sadness and misery. Sorry Anna.  

The secret to easily whipping your egg whites is to place the eggs in a bowl of luke-warm water beforehand. Fridge-temperature eggs aren’t going to do you any favours. 

The recipe below is for a cheese and sweet-corn soufflé, but the corn is just an option. You could add capsicum, ham, mushrooms – really whatever you feel like. If you want to achieve a perfect flat-topped soufflé, simply run a knife over the mixture just before putting it in the oven to smooth it out et voila – just like in a Michelin-starred restaurant!

Soufflé au fromage et au maïs:

Serves: 4

Cooking time: Approx. 20 mins prep + 45 mins to cook

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4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tbsp butter

Approx 1 tbsp plain flour

1 cup cheese (tasty or gruyère would work best)

1 can corn kernels, drained (or fresh sweetcorn if you have it)

Salt + pepper, to taste

Method:

Place whole eggs in bowl of luke warm water and set aside. Grease a ramekin or round casserole dish. 

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 Make basic white sauce: melt butter over low heat and stir in flour until thick paste, then very slowly add milk, whisking to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir until sauce thickens. Set aside.

Add cheese and corn.

Separate eggs and lightly beat egg yolks in one bowl. Beat egg whites until peaks form, taking care not to over-beat.

This is how you want your whites to look

This is how you want your whites to look

Fold yolks into white sauce mixture, then carefully fold in the whites until just mixed. Over-folding can beat the air out of your perfect eggs.

Don't over-fold your mixture

Don’t over-fold your mixture

Pour mixture into ramekin. If desired, run a knife over the top to achieve the perfect flat-topped look.

Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until golden.

 

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Serve with baked potatoes, or potato gratin. 

 

Bon appétit et bonne chance!

 

Bisous, 

Sophie

 

Using leftovers: Soupe au pistou (Pesto Minestrone Soup)

In 2011 I decided to take the year off uni and spend four months gallivanting around Europe with one of my closest friends. We had barely any plans, aside from that we wanted to go to La Tomatina (the tomato throwing festival just outside of Valencia, Spain), meet up with a friend in Paris, and just spend a lot of time seeing the sites, partying, eating and meeting other travellers.

Meeting up in Bangkok to break up the 20-something hour flight, we sat on Khao San Road with dozens of other tourists, sipping what we were told was vodka but tasted suspiciously of terrible local spirits and pouring over our Lonely Planet guide. Our plan was this: We wanted to go to Spain, I wanted to go back to France and we both had a mild interest in Italy. From there, we had no idea.

The first pizza in Rome

Our first pizza in Rome!

In the end we saw Italy, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands (well, Amsterdam), France, Belgium, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. We saw The Colosseum, Pompeii, Brandenburg Gate, Dachau Concentration Camp, the town of Salzburg, the Danube river, Viennese coffee houses, the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, the canals of Amsterdam AND Bruges, The Alhambra in Granada, all of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, a dozen English markets, Loch Ness, Edinburgh Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, a proper student house party in Cardiff and the list goes on and on and on…

About half-way through the trip, exhausted from not staying in the same place for more than a few days, sleeping only in hostels and on trains, and a few too many late nights with other travellers, we both got the flu. It was inevitable really, apart from the exhaustion, our diet mainly consisted of free hostel breakfasts, our regular picnics of just baguette and cheese (which were an excuse to explore local parks), and two-minute noodles (to save funds, obviously). We were both very sick for about a week, but by the end of it came to one conclusion: we had to change our eating habits. We shopped at local markets, cooked for ourselves in the communal hostel kitchens, and found the easiest (and cheapest) recipes we could possibly make with the highest nutritional value.

Wandering through Nice’s old town

The recipe below is one of our saviour recipes. It’s really easy, doesn’t take long to cook and is bursting with veggies and nutrition. This Minestrone is my Mum’s really easy take on a traditional Italian one (although is also considered to be Provencal recipe, as seen in Rachel Khoo’s book The Little Paris Kitchen). You can have it with or without the pesto, but the pesto really adds a kick. Buy a jar from the supermarket, or make your own a la Rachel Khoo.

Soupe au pistou:

 

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Serves: 6-8

Cooking time: 15 minutes prep + about an hour to cook

2 cloves garlic

1.25 litre bottle of V8 (vegetable) juice

1 can borlotti (Roman) beans

1 cup pasta (conchiglie – the shell pasta – works best)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Pesto to garnish

Parmesan cheese to garnish

Leftover veggies (you can use almost anything but I generally use onion, celery, broccoli, beans, carrots, potatoes, parsnips etc.) – just make sure you have at least a few different types

Method:

Chop veggies, making sure they are roughly the same size. Fry garlic and onion (if using), then add other veggies and top with V8.

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Add stock and bring to boil.

 

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Add borlotti beans, cover the soup and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are cooked. Cook pasta separately and add just before serving.

Garnish with pesto and parmesan cheese and serve!

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If you want to make your own pesto:

Rachel Khoo‘s Provencal Pesto:

1 bunch basil

3 cloves garlic

3-4 tablespoons good olive oil

Method:

Pound to a smooth paste, or whizz up the pesto in a blender.

Note: Unlike Italian pesto, French pesto doesn’t contain pine nuts or Parmesan, but you can add them if you like.

A small town just outside of Grenoble, France

Backpacking through a small town just outside of Grenoble, France

 

Bon appétit!

Sophie