Growing up I thought soufflés were the height of culinary sophistication. These airy puffs of pleasure seem to daunt many of the most experienced cooks, causing panic at the mere thought of failure. I am here to dispel these fears and tell you that soufflés are simple, stable and really quite easy.
In summer I make this recipe with fresh asparagus and parmesan or a mature cheddar, but at this time of year broccoli is far more fitting. I use the best gorgonzola I can find and it complements this beautifully. They are wonderful as an elegant light lunch served with a salad or as a starter, as I made last night for Bevan’s birthday dinner. Sophisticated enough to impress but homely, simple and nutritious enough for the kids to enjoy.
As always have some fun and play around with what you have and what you like. This is cooking not accounting!
Small head of broccoli +/- 300g
Ripe gorgonzola +/- 150g
Onion (finely chopped)
Heaped Tbl butter
Heaped Tbl flour
2 cups milk
1 clove garlic
4 eggs (separated)
Black and white pepper
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Butter six ramekins and place on a baking tray.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and just blanch the broccoli. Don’t cook it completely or wait for it to be tender, just get it to start cooking and intensify its colour. When it is looking bright green, remove from the pot and dunk into cold water to stop the cooking process, or just leave to cool.
Melt the butter in a pot and gently fry the onion until translucent and slightly caramelizing. Add the flour, making a roux. Stir while cooking this off for about two minutes. Add cold milk and whisk until you have a smooth and cooked white sauce – approximately 10mins. I chop the broccoli before putting it into a blender with the white sauce, garlic and the four egg yolks. Or use a stick blender in the pot! When your mixture is smooth but still hot, crumble in the cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste.
Now beat your egg whites in a clean, dry bowl. Don’t over beat, they must form soft voluptuous peaks, not stiff dry ones. But remember – this is the air in the soufflé if there is not enough air, they cannot rise. Add a third of the whites to the broccoli mixture and lightly fold in with a metal spoon. When the mixture is lightened, add the rest of the whites and gently fold in, taking care not to knock out the precious air you have been adding. When incorporated, pour into prepared ramekins and bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes until puffed-up and golden. Take care when removing them, they will be HOT.
Serve immediately either on their own or accompanied by a green salad. Be warned – they deflate fast! The sooner you serve the more your guests will ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhh’. By the time they are cool enough to eat they will have lost some of their visual drama, but none of their delicious flavour.