Lady Claire Macdonald says don’t be scared of a souffle – just keep the door shut!
Souffle – the word is filled with mystery and reeks of being culinarily unattainable by most of us.
But this is going to dispel all the myths and, hopefully – that is my intention anyway – inspire you with the easiest, most nutritious and delicious range of lunches and suppers.
I used to make souffles all the time. But as is the way with recipes, somehow they slipped to the back of my thoughts until a couple of weeks ago.
We were pressed for time – unusual these days but we were. I thought of a cheese souffle for lunch and have never looked back!
So, since making the cheese souffle a couple of weeks ago, I’ve made two more savoury souffles. You, like I have done, can ring the changes with anything which appeals to you.
These are very satisfying to eat, by which I mean filling, and during this winter I determine that souffles and soups will form the backbone of our domestic diet. These recipes serve two but multiply for more, as in double the quantities for four, treble for six.
Warm bread and a mixed leaf salad with walnuts, if accompanying a cheese souffle, and nothing else is required to be eaten with theses delicate creations. It couldn’t be easier. But remember, there is only one absolute about making a souffle…
They must be eaten as soon as they are taken from the oven as within a few minutes they sink inexorably, and there is no sorrier a sight in gastronomic terms than a sunken souffle.
Actually, there is another point to bear in mind – never open the oven door to see how the souffle is cooking.
However strong the temptation to do so, resist at all cost as opening the door will make your rising souffle sink.
- 200g mushrooms (I use chestnut)
- 1 onion, skinned, halved and chopped neatly
- 1 fat clove of garlic, skinned and chopped
- 1-2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 300ml milk
- Salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg
- 3 large eggs
- A little Parmesan cheese
- First, thoroughly butter an ovenproof dish, and dust it out with grated Parmesan.
- Cut the mushroom stalks level with the caps, then chop everything neatly.
- Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment and spread the chopped mushrooms, onion and garlic on it.
- Season with salt and pepper and add the oil. With your hands mix all together thoroughly and spread evenly.
- Roast in a hot oven – 200C/Fan 180C/400F/Gas Mark 6, for 25 minutes, mixing the contents halfway through the cooking time.
- Tip the tray contents into a deep bowl and pulverise with a hand-held blender, to a coarse puree.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for a minute before gradually stirring in the milk.
- Stir continuously until the sauce boils. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Take the pan off the heat, leave for five minutes then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Thoroughly blend the mushroom mixture into the sauce.
- In a clean bowl whisk up the egg whites with a pinch of salt till very stiff, then fold them thoroughly into the mushroom sauce.
- Pour this into the prepared dish and bake in a hot oven – 200C/Fan 180C/400F/Gas Mark 6, for 18-20 minutes.
Spinach, garlic and anchovy souffle
- 220g young spinach leaves
- 2 anchovies, from a tin of anchovies in oil
- 1 fat clove of garlic, skinned and chopped
- 50g grated cheese
- 4 large eggs
- Thoroughly butter an ovenproof dish, dust it out with grated Parmesan.
- Steam the spinach until just wilted then press out as much liquid as you can.
- While still hot, put the spinach into a food processor and add the anchovies, garlic, cheese and, one by one, the egg yolks.
- Add a good grating of black pepper and just a pinch of salt.
- Put the egg whites into a clean bowl with a pinch of salt as this gives increased volume.
- When stiff, fold some of the whisked whites into the spinach mixture in the processor bowl.
- Then, tip this into the bowl containing the rest of the whisked whites and fold all together thoroughly.
- Tip this into your buttered dish and bake in a hot oven, 200C/Fan 180C/400F/Gas Mark 6, for 18-20 minutes.
- This spinach souffle is very good served with a fresh tomato sauce accompanying it.
- I buy the rather long cherry tomatoes. I use 200g, wash and halve them then roast in the oven with chopped garlic for 30-35 minutes in a moderate heat 180C/ Fan 160C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
- Then I pulverise them in a bowl with a hand-held blender.
- Season with salt and pepper to your taste. It is the simplest of tomato sauce, full of nutrition and tastes so good with the spinach souffle.
- Actually, it is also very good eaten with buttered Marmite toast as a supper just as it is.