Tag Archives: parmesan

Cheese soufflé and tyrannical toasters

souffle2

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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Aubergine lasagne (gf) and potentially badly-behaved tennis mothers

auberginelasagne

Léo, my son, played in a tennis tournament yesterday. For me, this resulted in an acute attack of what I can only describe as Internal Tourettes. In my head, I morphed into a sort of raging maniac. Believe me, it wasn’t pretty; move over Tiger Mother – you’ve got competition! My shameless unsportsmanlike mind cheered at double faults, hissed and snarled at anyone deigning to applaud the enemy opponent and yelled things that I’m certainly not going to commit to type. And yet, there I sat with a  beatific smile that said ‘it’s the taking part, not the winning that counts’. Yeah rightrolleyes. This was definitely one of those occasions that called for unbridled hypocrisy, something I’ve apparently mastered to a T.

This lasagne is suitable comfort for scrupulously gallant players who might or might not have been defeated by up-themselves whippersnappers 😉

Ingredients (serves six)

2 medium-sized aubergines

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

500g minced beef

400g tinned tomatoes

4 tablespoons tomato purée

1 teaspoon tabasco

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

50ml red wine

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of rosemary

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

200g Mozarella, finely sliced

100g Parmesan, shaved

Peel the aubergines and then cut into roughly 3mm slices. Leave them to ‘sweat’ out their moisture for about an hour by sprinkling with sea salt. Meanwhile, you can begin to cook the meat. Gently fry the onion, garlic and carrot in olive oil in a large frying pan for about five minutes. Add the minced beef and continue to brown for about 5 minutes. Add the tinned and puréed tomatoes, herbs and seasoning and  stir well, making sure to break up the mince. Add the wine and gently simmer until the liquid has reduced and the sauce is concentrated and fairly homogenous (roughly 45 minutes).

Rinse the salt from the aubergines, which should by now have shed most of their excess water and pat them dry. Take a good-sized roasting dish and layer the meat, aubergines and cheese (in that order) several times, finishing with a generous layer of Parmesan cheese. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for about an hour, or until the cheese is bubbling and turning golden brown.

Green beans with pesto and flashbacks to the ’70s

Apologies to those not familiar with the hysterical British comedy series ‘Fawlty Towers’, but everytime I make something with basil I think of Sybil Fawlty’s dulcit tones shouting; ‘BASIL! BASIL!’ and his comeback, which was more often than not something along the lines : ‘Coming my little piranha fish’.

Basil is high in vitamins and minerals in general and vitamins A and K and iron in particular. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Ingredients

Two handfuls of fresh basil

1 handful of pinenuts

1 handful of cashew nuts

8 cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of freshly-grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor to form a paste. Serve with either green beans or pasta.