Tag Archives: kitchen

Well Delia, maybe ‘One IS fun’, at least when it comes to soufflés!

Today I went out for a wonderful and rather filling lunch (Nonna’s, Sheffield, http://www.nonnas.co.uk/), and since I had the evening to myself I decided to tackle something I’ve never before been brave enough to make – a lovely light souffle.

It’s frustrating trying to find a soufflé recipe for one, despite the fact that all sources seem to suggest that they are best cooked in small quantities. However, on this occasion Delia Smith came to the rescue with a book that has previously just sat on my shelf – ‘One is Fun!’ (something my mum sent me to uni with!). This particular soufflé is courgette and cheese which was great, as they were both in my fridge!

Heat the oven to 200 degrees (i put mine on at 185 as its a fan oven) or gas mark 6. grease a 13cm diameter soufflé dish with plenty of butter and fill a roasting tin with 2.5cm of water and place in the oven to heat up with it (the soufflé will be cooked sitting in this water). I don’t own a soufflé dish and whilst I considered using my house mate’s teacups (they’re pretty sturdy), I settled for my pyrex measuring jug on the grounds that a) it’s pyrex, what can go wrong? and b) when it goes wrong, it’s mine which will save a lot of guilt. Luckily, this turned out to be a remarkably successful soufflé dish!

Ingredients:

  • 175g Courgette(s – if they’re small)
  • 1 large egg, separated AND an extra egg white
  • 40g butter
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of flour (a dessert spoon)
  • 55 ml of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped parsley 
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped chives or spring onion
  • 10g grated cheese – Cheddar or Gruyère or other hard cheese of choice
  •  Nutmeg
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Grated parmesan or more cheddar for the top
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1. Cut the courgettes into 4 quarters, lengthways. then slice finely to end up with little delicate quarters of courgette. The precision of this does not matter too much as the courgette melts away as you cook it, the important thing is that it is consistently small, allowing it to cook evenly and rapidly. Put this in a medium frying pan or saucepan (the milk will be poured in later so it must be deep enough to hold a bit more stuff!). Put the butter in with the  courgette and cook slowly on a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes with a lid on, until the courgettes look soft and melty, but make sure to stir to avoid burnt bits. Season with salt and pepper
 
2. When the courgettes are cooked to perfection, add the 2 teaspoons of plain flour and stir around to soak up the butter/courgette juices. Then gradually add the milk a little bit at a time, stirring to create a smooth mixture – this is essentially a courgetty roux. Remove this from the heat and stir in the egg yolk, parsley, chives/spring onion, grated cheese (coarsely grated!!), a good whack of nutmeg and cayenne pepper to taste – for me also a good whack! As those of you who watch masterchef will have learnt this week, cheese for a soufflé must be coarsely grated if you want your soufflé to taste cheesey as finely grated cheese gets completely lost in the mixture, resulting in a disappointing cheese flavour.Taste this and adjust seasoning of the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.
 
3. In a separate large bowl beat the two egg whites. Make sure that no yolk has mixed in with the whites as it will stop the aeration process working effectively!! Beat until the whites are at the soft peak stage and be careful not to overbeat. Fold the whites a third of the mixture at a time into the bowl of courgettey roux. Gently coax into your souffle dish and sprinkle the top with more cheese. Place very carefully in the hot water in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. do not open the oven door to check until about 25/30 minutes (especially not early on in the cooking!). 
 
This is lovely served with salad and some tasty bread and makes a surprisingly filling dinner and a substantial lunch. I made waldorf salad with mine as apart from courgette I happened to have stilton, apple, celery and walnuts! This went quite nicely actually, and I had a few lightly toasted slices of the loaf I made yesterday with it (from the recipe posted by Jack a few days ago).
 
What amazed and delighted me was that this soufflé actually worked!! I think I may attempt a dessert soufflé next!
 
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So behold my very poorly photographed and extremely unglamorous but remarkably successful and totally delicious courgette soufflé. A great dinner for a freezing winter’s night and a wonderful treat for the lone diner!
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Dreams of Summer Food

Whilst winter food is so wonderfully comforting and can be fresh and salady (what with the winter salads I keep eating), there’s still nothing like good food eaten outdoors in wonderful weather, something which I find hard to replicate in the winter months. This summer we had an amazing holiday for food – staying on the lovely island off the West coast of France called the Ile de Re, we basically just ate beautiful food for a week in beautiful surroundings, some of which I think is very much deserving of a post, so what follows is a review of these beautiful food experiences – hopefully it will inspire you as it has done me!

A particular food highlight of the holiday for me was a rather decadent lunchtime trip to fish restaurant Le Skipper in Saint Martin (right on the harbour front). For starters I had a rather tasty creamy scallop dish, which was followed by a beautifully citrus-y octopus tagine (pictured below)…

Octopus tagine at Le Skipper

 While the savoury courses were very good, it was after these that I was really sold when the most exciting plateful was set before me – a ‘cafe gourmand’ (below), which hit the spot unbelievably (I have real trouble choosing desserts and a bit of everything couldn’t be more ideal!). With the fresh chocolate macaroon, creme anglais, mini trifle (which was boozy), bite sized piece of chocolate torte, the absolutely stunning caramel cake thing (I’m struggling to remember the name of it) and a hot espresso with a wonderful crema this was a dessert to remember!

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As there were a few couples holidaying together, one evening we decided to split the cooking between us and each create an element of one meal – naturally we ended up with the most colossal feast! Here (below) we have griddle chorizo, falafel burger, flat-bread, grilled aubergine, humus, tabbouleh, green salad and tzatziki (all home made). Needless to say, after this ridiculous feast no one could move for the rest of the evening and some serious swimming in the sea was required the following day!

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A standard meal by the coast, but one that cannot be missed, especially by the coast in the France is  moules, cooked in white wine and garlic…

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… These were stunning, with crusty French bread and the moule-infused white wine source you can’t go wrong! There were also prawns cooked in a very large amount of garlic and a little chilli but alas, no picture exists (they’re probably far too messy to have gone near my camera whilst eating them).

An interesting discovery for me was the fish ‘Ling’ which we came across in the bustling fish market of Le Bois Plage en Re. This we cooked on the barbeque, wrapped in a foil parcel full of lemon, dill and garlic.

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And which turned out wonderfully alongside some fantastic meguez sausages…

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So I’ve spent the evening drinking G & T and surveying my summer food snaps… It’s certainly inspired me to make plans for the summer and in the mean time to make some gorgeous summery food as a winter pick-me-up!!

Watch out for a follow up post on learning to prepare oysters!

Hannah

Side Dish Steals the Show

Last night was a lazy one, I was cooking for myself and decided to keep it simple just do pasta and pesto with a little salad. However when I surveyed the cupboard for ingredients it turned out a standard salad was out of the question so I needed to get inventive. Therefore below is the result of what I did, it wasn’t until I sat down to eat it that I realised it was worth sharing (hence the dodgy photo after I’d started eating), and that it was in fact far more than a side dish; it was the best bit! There is no excuse for not giving it a go, took less time than the pasta to cook.

One lesson to take from this, for me anyway, is that when cooking with ‘healthy’ foods I should be bolder with my seasoning. I never shy away from using enough salt or oil when cooking a standard dish but the second part of my meal is to be healthy I under season and avoid cooking in butter. However I now realise I would eat such food more if I conceded even a little to putting enough taste in! Another idea to bulk this meal out into a main course would be the addition of lentils… easy enough.

Unexpectedly Good.. unlike my photography

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 Big Handfuls of Spinach
  • Bit of Butter
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tomato – diced
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Start by dry frying walnuts and seeds, quantity depends on how much you want (obviously)
  2. Then chop up your garlic and fry in a good knob of butter… on a low heat
  3. Before the garlic starts to brown put in the spinach with a dash of water – remember you are trying to wilt it not fry it. So you may even want to take it off the heat and just use the residual heat of the pan (or put a lid on)
  4. If you put too much water in the drain some off… no drama.
  5. Once the spinach has wilted and taken on the lovely garlic buttery sauce your pretty much there…. chuck in the diced tomato and seeds before seasoning to taste
  6. Enjoy!

 

Jack

Bread: The Search for an Everyday Loaf

My bread making has been a long time in the making, first taken up during my undergrad dissertation writing as a way to stay sane during long hours in the house. After about three or four attempts at a Cob Loaf I had still not managed to stop it from being undercooked in the middle. This lead to ‘project bread making’ being shelved for a long time and I returned to my normal cooking. However after I found myself at a loose end over Christmas, injured and unable to do much other than work, I decided to step back into the apron and give bread making a second chance.

I decided to start off by banishing my nemesis, the same Cob Loaf recipe by Paul Hollywood, which had defeated me before. Alas this time I came up good and slowly improved in my attempts. I have to say the single best tip I picked up, which seasoned bakers will know is obvious, is that wetter is better! My only previous successful forays into baking had been flatbreads where dry is good. Secondly being aware of the temperature you are letting the dough rise at is important, kitchens can vary in temperature greatly and thus ‘room temperature’ is essentially a useless term. So while a thermometer is definitely overkill  a conscious thought of the temperature (e.g. are you wearing a jumper?) helps replicated good results. The recipe for this cob loaf can be found on the BBC and is definitely worth a go, makes a great sandwich!

The one issue with this bread was that I do sometimes get bored of white bread, and wanted a slightly healthier wholemeal loaf I could make more regularly. Importantly though it also had to be a simple recipe that wouldn’t put me off regularly making it. Therefore after much playing around with quantities and various recipes, including 100% wholemeal loafs, I have decided that for me this recipes hits the perfect balance. Not white mush but at the same time not a dry disappointment.

The ingredients for a good sized loaf are:

  • Strong White Flour – 400g
  • Strong Brown Flour – 280g
  • Salt – 2 tsp
  • Yeast – 8g (2.25 tsp)
  • Butter – 28g
  • Warm Water – 400ml
  • 1 Egg

And to turn this into bread I suggest you:

This photo is taken after I'd eaten most the bread and remembered to blog it...

  1. Mix the flour in a bowl and add the butter, cubed, into the mixture. Then rub the flour into the butter until it becomes a bit ‘breadcrumby’
  2. Add the salt and yeast (opposite sides of the bowl so the salt doesn’t kill the yeast) before adding half the water. Mix it together before slowly adding the rest of the water. Could need less/more depending on the batch of flour etc. It should be a relatively firm dough, but if in doubt remember wetter is better! (think I stole that saying from a Dan Lepard book Catriona has)
  3. Need the dough for 10 minutes… put some effort it!
  4. Return to a bowl, cover with damp tea towel, and leave in a warm place (like an airing cupboard) for 1.5 to 2 hours… essentially it should at least double in size.
  5. Knock it back and shape into however you want it to be.. but remember this effects the cooking times. I tend to go for a fat baguette/loaf thing which makes good sandwiches and is easy to toast. Probably between a 1ft and 1.5ft long placed on an oiled baking tray.
  6. Cover with damp towel again and leave at room temperature for 40 minutes… do not put somewhere too warm! The second rise should be slower. Also this is a good stage to put the oven on, get it nice and hot… about 230 degrees.
  7. Once the second rise is complete put some slices in the top and paint with an egg glaze… makes a lovely shiny crust!
  8. Place in the oven for 15 minutes at 230 degrees, then reduce to 200 degrees for a further 15-20 minutes. (remember that these numbers and times can change slightly with different ovens, so don’t be put off if the first attempt isn’t spot on, its almost always edible!)
  9. Leave to cool for 30 minutes before eating… if you can.

Any questions.. just ask!

Jack