May 18, 2008

wintry night food

Friday was a sunny and mild 20 degrees in Melbourne, but yesterday winter arrived with a vengeance. The temperature only got to 10C and it rained most of the day. It was my turn to take the entree to a dinner party last night so it had to be both comfort food to suit the weather, and be easy to transport.

These delicious fool-proof souffles were perfect. The recipe came from an English magazine a few years back. I've made them quite a few times and they always turn out perfectly. They can be completed to the end of step 4 up to a day ahead, then baked when you're ready to serve them.

Twice-baked Cheese Souffles (serves 6)

300ml milk

1/2 small onion, studded with 1 clove

40g butter plus extra for greasing

40g plain flour

75g each of good cheddar cheese and gruyere cheese, grated and tossed together

1 t wholegrain mustard

pinch nutmeg

3 egg yolks

4 egg whites

200ml thickened cream

2 T grated parmesan

parsley sprigs, to garnish

1. Put the milk in a small pan with the onion and bay leaf. Bring slowly to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 min. Remove the onion and bay leaf. Preheat the onion to 180C.

2. In another pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Remove from the heat, then gradually stir in the infused milk. Return to the heat and stir constantly until thickened and just beginning to boil. Remove from the heat then add 125g of the cheese and the mustard. Season well and add a good pinch of nutmeg, then beat in the egg yolks.

3. Butter six 150ml ramekins thoroughly. Put the kettle on to boil. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the cheese sauce. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, then put them in a roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 15-20 min until set and golden. Remove from water bath and leave to cool.

4. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, then carefully turn the souffles out on to a buttered oven proof dish.

5. Increase oven to 200C. Season the cream, then pour it over the souffles. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and parmesan and bake for 15 - 20 mins. until the cream is bubbling and the souffles have risen. Remove with a palette knife and serve immediately, garnished with parsley.

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