Friday, March 29, 2013


If there is anything that reality cooking shows have taught me is that the humble oft maligned soufflé is setting one’s self up for disaster and disappointment for what will be the inevitable deflated result. Ironically you have certain people screaming and shouting on their TV shows at some poor sap and their soggy mess, but in their cookbooks insist on how easy and foolproof their method is, mixed messages much? Any how, with a glut of eggs in the fridge and a need to use them up, I had to make something, and I am well and truly over frittata and baked eggs, I set my sights on the Everest of egg dishes, cheese soufflé, I guess rather disappointingly soufflé is not a hard dish to make and really not all that likely to fail, that is unless you really try.

Before starting making the base and whisking up the egg whites, preheat the oven to 190°C and grease a large ramekin(s) or soufflé dish with butter and coat with finely grated parmesan, then place it in the freezer.

5 Egg yolks
300 ml Milk*
30 g Butter
1 tbsp Flour
110 g Cheese (I had gouda, and used the leftover parmesan from coating the ramekin)

* For the milk, heat it up on the stove and let it infuse with a bay leaf, clove of garlic, peppercorns and half a peeled onion, this will give the milk a nice savoury flavour.

While the milk is infusing, in a large bowl whisk the egg yolks until they have about tripled in volume and have turned a pale yellow colour. After the good arm workout, place a pot over a medium heat and melt the butter, you want to get rid of as much moisture as possible but be careful not to brown it, so once the foaming has subsided stir in the flour, you don’t want any colour just cook out the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk (strained) and gently cook until thick and smooth, don’t worry if it starts off a bit lumpy they should eventually disappear. Now the tricky bit, kind of anyway, and an extra pair of hands helps, whilst vigorously whisking the egg yolks slowly pour the béchamel into the yolks, once fully incorporated stir in the cheese, taste and season accordingly. Cover with plastic wrap right on top of the base to prevent a skin forming.

5 Egg whites
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

In an immaculately clean bowl whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar to stiff peaks, the cream of tartar helps prevent over whisking and stabilise the foam.

Getting it all together
Take a spoonful of white and beat into the base mixture, this will help the rest incorporate, then in thirds carefully fold the rest of the whites in. Remove the dish from the freezer and place on a sheet pan, pour in the soufflé mix leaving a little headroom, place in the oven and cook for 25-35 minutes, however long it takes to cook leave it well alone for the first 20 minutes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Potatoes baked with cream

I haven’t abandoned the blog, it’s been awhile since my last decent sized post, but not a whole heap of cooking or experimenting has been going on recently, time and other commitments keeping me occupied, and to top it all off, I fractured a tiny bone in my wrist which has ended up with my arm in a brace and the simple tasks of slicing or even lifting the smallest weights is painful and impossible. It certainly makes me appreciate the ease I normally have with even the simplest of tasks, like being able to successfully use a knife and not be menace with it, not knowing which way it’s going to slip because I can’t apply the right pressure. Thank goodness for the Mandoline I say! At least with this great little kitchen gadget I can still whip up one of my favourite comfort dishes, layers of thin potato and onion smothered in thyme infused cream and baked to a golden cheesy goodness.

There’s not too much to this, butter to coat the dish, floury potatoes, garlic (if you wish), onions, cream and thyme, with it being so simple I find taking the little bit extra effort carefully layering everything quite rewarding in the end result, a compact slice of cheesy potatoes rather than a sloppy mess.

Get some cream in a pot with the thyme and garlic and bring it up to the boil, remove from the heat and let the herbs infuse. Slice the potatoes and onions on the thinnest setting of the mandoline. Not too hard. Now carefully place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of a greased dish, having each slice slightly overlapping, next a thin layer of onions, and then season with salt and pepper. Repeat this until the dish is full or you have run out, make sure to end on a potato layer. Pour over the cream, it should cover the potatoes when pushed down. Cook in a 180°C oven for 45-60 minutes, cranking up the heat near the end to get a nice golden crust. Rest on the bench for at least 10 minutes before serving.

The miso egg yolk finally made it’s way out of the cure, and is dehydrating slowly in the fridge, I have a few plans for this amber gem, so do expect a post on that in the coming weeks. Also we’re heading up to the big little city for a long weekend, avoiding the easter crush though, and am looking forward to eating far too much, and quite excited to finally get to a few places I've been champing at the bit to try.