French,  Savoury

Cheese soufflé and tyrannical toasters

We seem to have inadvertently acquired a toaster with attitude. Big Attitude. To the extent that everyone, including Hugo, is in awe. It’s a mini dictator sitting in the middle of the kitchen snarling at anybody that dares approach. Worst of all though is its incontinence: It spurts and ejects things at random over the floor and countertop, even into the sink. On a bad day, you could be forgiven for imagining that it’s aiming straight at you. And from one day to the next, you don’t know if you’re going to be eating charcoal or still-frozen bread. I make sure to unplug it at night and, if it’s been particularly temperamental, lock the kitchen door because you just can’t be too careful.
I had never made soufflé before and had always imagined it would be a bit hit-and-miss, especially miss. Believe me though, soufflé has nothing on the toaster. In fact, it’s quick and easy to make as long as you stick to three main criteria: make sure the egg whites are properly whisked, use really good quality hard cheese — I used a combination of Parmesan and Comté — and choose timely, obedient guests (I was less successful in this respect and there was much shrill yelling). Soufflés do not take well to waiting around and collapse into an unattractive heap if not consumed immediately, a bit like the cook really.
This is based on a Delia Smith recipe.
Ingredients (serves 4)
3 large eggs, separated
75g grated hard cheese (I used a mixture of Parmesan and Comté)
150ml milk
25g butter
25g spelt flour (ordinary flour would be fine)
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease and prepare an 850ml soufflé dish. Place the milk, butter and flour in a saucepan over a medium heat and whisk until blended and thickened. Continue to cook over a low heat, still stirring, for a further couple of minutes. Add the mustard and seasoning and then leave the sauce to cool a little before stirring in the grated cheese. Beat the egg yolks and  add them to the mixture. Next whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold gently into the cheese sauce mixture, taking care to keep the structure of the whisked whites intact. Transfer to the prepared soufflé dish and place in the centre of the oven. Cook for 30-35 minutes. The centre should be cooked (i.e. not liquid) without being dry.
To be served with a crisp green salad and a gracious smile. 🙂


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