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.