dont' fear the souffle

I don't know what it is about the idea of soufflés that strikes fear into the heart of any cook. Somehow we have been taught to fear them, thinking that they are the sort of thing to leave to the trained chefs and restaurant kitchens. So impossible a recipe is a souffle that it is only ever ordred and never made at home.

I am here to tell you that this is a monstrous lie! The soufflé may sound scary, the fear of a failed rise, of an over or undercooked centre, but in reality it is a tame as a pussy cat. The most important thing to remember is to treat the soufflé with a firm hand and to just go for it!  After all why would it matter if it comes out a bit mishapen but tasteing incredible or if they deflate slightly before they reach the table but inside are light as thislte down? 

There really are just two simple rules for souffles.

1. dont over mix

2. dont open the oven door for the first 2/3 of cooking time

that is it!

The other important thing to remember is..... if your souffle comes out of the oven and you take a peek inside and it isn't quite done - you can simply shove it back in the oven! The recipe below is a prime example, i always mis-time big sharing souffles. this one reached the table and i scooped into it's centre and it was far too runny. Back went the removed dollop and into the oven once more. 5 minutes later - a perfect (sligthly wonky) just set souffle!

Once you realise that you don't have to be so precise on timings and that really they are much more sturdy than you would have thought you will be well away.

Incredibly for early March I got my hands on a big bunch of just picked wild garlic. I was shooting for delicious mag, a cheese toasty competiton and one of the competitors, a fabulous chef called Sasha from The Green in Sherborne, had some leftover from his amazing cheese toasty (check out delicious. magazine in May for the recipe and the results of the competition!)

This supper came into being from having not only the ramsons but also an enormous quantity of home eggs from my moomin's chickens who seem to have gone into overdrive. This is, hand on heart, the best souffle I have ever made, or possibly eaten!

wild garlic and cheese souffle

serves 4

55g unsalted butter, plus extra melted butter to grease

50g parmesan cheese, grated

400g wild garlic leaves

50g plain flour

350-375ml milk

5 free range eggs, separated

100g really good strong cheddar, finely grated (I used Montgomeries cheddar)

pinch cayenne pepper

Heat the oven ot 200c. fan 180c. Brush a 15cm souffle dish with melted butter and scatter all over with a little parmesan. Set aside on a baking sheet.

Wilt the ramsons in a pan until really soft then rougly chop and set aisde.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour and cook for a minute until nutty and starting to become golden. gradually add the milk, stirring and bubbling, until you have a really thick roux.

Remove from the heat and add the cheeses, cayenne pepper and egg yolks. stir together then pour into a large bowl. Season with plenty of sea salt and pepper.

In a separate clean bowl whisk the egg whites unti they are holding soft peaks. With a large metal spoon, fold the whites into the main mixture, trying not to knock out too much air.

Pour into the dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until set and risen and still a little bit soft in the middle.




cheese fondue with a difference

So late to come this year, but winter's grip is still strong and I can't wait to get back out to Switzerland in March, to the wonderful village where i shot my latest book Winter Cabin Cooking, full of all the glorious traditional (and not so traditional) dishes of the mountains.

Made with a mélange of cheeses. A true Swiss fondue is a mixture of gruyere and Vacherin Fribourgeois which is a semi hard cheese with a lovely nutty flavour.  Traditionally melted with white wine and grappa or kirsch and served with chunks of bread to dip into it alongside charcuterie and pickles.  I like to make a more subtle version with beer and whiskey instead making it even more delicious, if that is possible. You really do need a fondue pot for the best results as it sits above a flame that keeps the cheese melted and gently bubbling. They are really easy to pick up second hand and don’t cost that much.

Traditional (ish) cheese fondue

serves 4-6

1 fat garlic clove, halved

2 tsp cornflour

400ml hoppy lager beer

800g mixture grated Swiss or French alpine cheeses such as Gruyere or Comte, Vacherin Fribourgeois, good quality Emmenthal and Beaufort. Choose two or three cheese

1-2 tsp whisky

1 large loaf of slightly stale country white bread, cut into cubes

cornichon, pickled silver skin onions and charcuterie to serve

Rub the garlic all over the inside of the fondue pot. Mix the cornflours with a little of the beer make a smooth paste then add this and the rest of the beer to the pot. Place over a low heat and add the cheese and stir until it is melted and steaming but not boiling. If it is too thick you can add a little splash more beer. Add the whisky and then transfer to the fondue stand and light the burner

Dip the bread into the melting cheese and eat with lots of pickles and charcuterie


lunch from an empty fridge

Proof reading is hungry work! Im SO excited to have proofs of my new book, The Bountiful Kitchen - a book devoted to the wonders of leftovers and all things simple and joyful that come with a fridge full of bits - on my desk today!!

It seems fitting then that when i open my fridge there is bugger all inside. Not to be defeated i invented this little number with nothing more than a couple of store cupboard items a blob of mayo and some lettuce.

This is honestly one of the yummiest things i have eaten for ages!

 fridge raid rice

fridge raid rice



125g basmati rice

good dollop mayonnaise

tin of good tuna in olive oil, mosty drained and flaked with a fork

1/2 baby gem lettuce, shredded

Cook the rice in plenty of boiling salted water (sometimes life is too short for exact absorbtion methods!). Drain well and tip into a bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredinets. season and eat!


chocolate cake heaven

As the food editor of the brilliant delicous. magazine I wrote many wonderful and exciting recieps and features, but of all the chocolate recipes i wrote in my 6 years there this has to be my favourite.

The Chocoate Wars was the first of it's kind in the mag - four competitors putting up their best recipe for a chocolate cake to a pannel of distinguised judges. It was mayhem, chocolate literally flew around the room - we had to repaint a wall of the office after the event!  My fellow chocolate smeared competitors were none other than chocolate masters William Curly, Paul A Young and Will Leigh.

Needless to say, I didn't win. The winning cake (from Mr Curly) was a chocolate masterpiece full of techinque and skill - worthy of the award, if rather difficult to make at home so the rest of us admitted defeat with grace. That said - my recipe for the ultimate chocolate birthday cake is one that i am extremely proud of. It is simple and perfect, easy to make at home but showy enough for the maker to be extremely chuffed with themselves.

 ultimate chocolate birthday cake

ultimate chocolate birthday cake



If you’re making the cake the day before, you’ll need to add the sugar decorations on the day of eating, otherwise they’ll bleed into the icing and cause a disappointing sticky mess.

150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

150g dark chocolate (Lizzie used Willie’s Cacao Venezuelan 72), broken into pieces

250g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

50g cocoa powder

160g soured cream

200g golden caster sugar 

150g soft light brown sugar

4 medium free range egg

For the chocolate icing

2 gelatine leaves

500g double cream

300g dark chocolate (Lizzie used Willie’s Cacao Madagascan 71), broken into piece

Hundreds and thousands and a 30cm acetate sheet to decorate

For the buttercream

175g unsalted butter, softened

300g icing sugar

100g dark chocolate (Lizzie used Willie’s Cacao Indonesian 69), melted as in step 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line 3 x 20cm sandwich tins with baking paper. Melt the 150g chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, twice. In another bowl, whisk the cocoa with 250ml boiling water until smooth, then whisk in the soured cream.

Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer and large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Crack in the eggs one at a time, beating well.

Beat in the melted chocolate, then beat in the soured cream and flour mixtures bit by bit, alternating between them. Divide among the tins, then bake for 20-25 minutes. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the chocolate icing, soak the gelatine in cold water for 2 minutes. Heat 250g of the cream in a pan until almost boiling, then take off the heat. Squeeze the water from the gelatine, then stir into the hot cream to dissolve. In a food processor, whizz the 300g chocolate, add the hot cream and whizz until smooth. Chill for 30 minutes. Whisk the remaining cream to stiff peaks, fold into the chilled chocolate mixture, then chill, covered, for 2-3 hours.

For the buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Beat in the melted chocolate. To assemble, spread one of the sponges with half the buttercream. Add a second sponge, spread over the remaining buttercream, then top with the final sponge. Use a palette knife to spread the icing evenly over the top and sides. Wrap the acetate around the side of the cake, leaving the bottom third uncovered, then sprinkle the hundreds and thousands over the exposed icing. Brush off any excess, then remove the acetate. For a smooth finish, dip a spatula in hot water, wipe dry, then run it over the icing. Leave for 10 minutes, then serve.