Monday, June 10

Easy breezy souffle....yes, really

So my last post was moaning about the heat.......I'll resist the temptation to start complaining about the cold. I doubt you could hear me over the roar of the heatpump anyway.
Although it has turned a bit chilly recently I don't always want stodgy comfort food. Ok, quite often that's exactly what I want, but not every day, I don't really want to have to buy TWO plane tickets for my trip to New York in September (I know, wheeeeeee!!!).
My Outlaws arrived the other day, en route to the airport with fresh eggs from the farm. While this does not quite compare with two weeks in Fiji it is still a lovely treat to have in the fridge. A girl cannot live by omelette's alone, and fresh eggs and various remnents of cheese in the fridge says souffle. Now souffles do have a reputation (the dirty things!) but for the most part it is unwarranted. This particular recipe, adapted from the ever fabulous Delia Smith is cooked twice, is very user friendly, and means you can have the souffles ready to go in the fridge if , like me, you cant always be sure what time you will be eating dinner.
Rich but light, I like this with a fresh apple & lettuce salad. Cheese and apple are so good together, especially with a tangy mustardy dressing. Comfort without the stodge....although I may well have hot chips tomorrow

Twice-Baked Cheese Souffles adapted from Delia Smith

Make 4 souffles, serving 4 as a starter, or 2 for a light supper

1/2 cup milk
Thin slice of peeled onion
1 bay leaf
Fresh grated nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 large fresh eggs, separated
1 tbsp of fresh herbs- I use chives, parsley or chervil would also work
1/4 cup Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup blue cheese
4 tbsp cream
Extra cheese to sprinkle

Heat the oven to 190C, and grease 4 half cup ramekins/tea cups.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan or a microwave jug until almost boiling, add the onion, bay, nutmeg & pepper, and leave to sit for 10 minutes or so.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour. Stir and cook for 3 minutes. Add the milk and whisk together , the mixture will be very thick. Cook for a minute or so, and remove from the heat. Add the egg yolks and herbs,  whisk together until smooth. Add the cheeses and whisk again, the cheese will mostly melt in the heat.
In a clean bowl whisk together the egg white until when the beater is lifted out a soft peak falls over. I recommend the old fashioned handheld beater in the picture, so easy  and quick to use, check out Hospice or Salvation Army stores for these gems (I use one found in a cupboard when my in laws sold their Bach)

Using a metal spoon add a tablespoon of the egg white to the cheesy sauce and stir, this loosens the mix & makes it easier to add the rest of the egg white. Now add the rest of the egg white and using a twisting motion fold it into the sauce, quickly but gently. The aim is to keep all the air in the bowl, this is what gives you puffy cheesy gorgeousness for your supper.
Pop the ramekins into a baking dish, and pour hot water around (not over!) them, then carefully pop into the oven. Water can only heat to 100C so this stops the egg getting too hot and over cooking to rubbery toughness.
Cook for about 20 minutes until risen and puffy, then remove from the oven and put them onto a cooling rack. They will sink, dont stress, this is normal! When they are cool enough to handle, run a knife around the edge and flip out onto a baking tray

You can pop them into the fridge, pour yourself a vino (you Souffle Master you!) and when you are ready for dinner pull them out, top wioth extra cheese and bung back into the oven at 180C for another 20 minutes. Take them out, pour over a tablespoon of cream over each souffle and pop back into the oven for a couple more minutes

Serve with a crispy salad and a smile of satisfaction, no cooking version of craft fail for you, nailed it!
The Engine Room in Auckland does a wonderful twice baked Goat Cheese souffle, so if you happen to have goat cheese that would certainly be worth trying. And chedder would of course be just dandy also
It took me longer to type the recipe for these than it did to cook them, so please dont be put off, I just like to over explain everything see?

PS please excuse the orange tint to the pics, we are mercifully replacing our orange light shades in the kitchen renovation..........sigh

Sunday, February 3

To hot not to really.....

I am writing this from my kitchen table, ambient temp in the room about 35 degrees. Why do tomatoes, so essential for the best condiment known to woman, appear right when it is least comfortable to have the oven on, or indeed be anywhere near the kitchen at all? While I ponder this & other mysteries of the universe (Marmite , the appeal of those incredibly sad animal rescue programs on TV, Rap music....) I have a couple of kilos of homegrown tomatoes roasting away in the oven. My desire for delicious pizza sauce has outweighed my desire for a nice cool house.

Instead of standing over a bubbly pan or several hours I am taking the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall route and making an oven roasted sauce. Place about 1.5-2 kg of tomatoes on an oven tray. I use a mixture of heirloom cherry tomatoes from plants Mum gave me & a slightly bigger variety called Tommy Toe. This I brought solely because I have a cat called Tommy, as you can see I'm quite the scientific gardener.......

Anyway, toss your chosen tomatoes with a good glug of Olive oil, a clove or two of chopped garlic, a few sprigs of thyme & a few of oregano, sprinkling with plenty of salt & fresh pepper. Roast in a 180C oven for about 45-50 mins until the fruit has collapsed, with tinges of brown. You may also have collapsed from the heat, can I just say its worth it?

Let the tomatoes cool for a while, then either push through a sieve or commender your Mums retro cool orange Mouli, (burnt melted bits where it was left on the stove countless times optional). Actually with the resurgence in interest in sauce making I have seen this beauty, certainly a bit more stylish than mine.....! Unlike a food processor a mouli gets rid of skin & pips, saving you having to skin hundreds of cherry tomatoes, surely the quickest way to a complete sense of humour fail.
This recipe makes about 500 mls of sauce depending on the moisture levels in your tomatoes If you find it a bit thin for your liking reduce it down by rapid boiling in a saucepan. Use right away or pop into the freezer for a taste of summer another day.....

I used a little of this as a basis for homemade pizza. Due to the fire ban in Auckland at the moment (we have not seen rain in weeks, the lawn looks like a brown and Mr PK is the only person happy about it, no mowing required....) the pizza oven is a no go. I spied a pizza stone at Farro on special for $20 and decided to splash out. Yet more heating up of the oven, but homemade pizza is SO much better than brought........

My go to pizza dough is here, if you have not made your own before I urge you in the strongest yet least bossy terms I can to try. A great crispy base, rich roasted sauce, a bit of mozzarella, maybe a few basil leaves, how good does that sound? 
I am a real purist when it comes to pizza, I think I am going way out when I put mushrooms on. Strangely I am married to a man who thinks Tandoori chicken & banana is completely acceptable as a pizza topping, at least making my own I have complete control. I do enjoy a hot pizza out of the oven topped with prosciutto, I like it cold & chewy rather than crispy after cooking, but its up to you.  Control freak I hear you murmur? Hmmmm.........

Are you having a tomato glut at the moment? 

Tuesday, January 29

Dont you want me Baby.....?

Well friends it would seem my hopes of TV superstardom are to be dashed once again. Despite a cracking audition vid (courtesy of Mr PK’s very clever cousin, who kindly brought his filming expertise, amazing kit and extreme amounts of patience to my kitchen for the price of a sponge cake) and potential writers cramp filling out an extensive application form I am not to be the next NZ Hottest Home Baker……..sigh.
I am must say I thought I might at least warrant an audition, but perhaps there was a surplus of competent baking woman my age (“cough cough”) with a taste for floral aprons & nary a tattoo to be seen clamouring to appear on screen?

I shall not however waste a perfectly good film, if you would like step by step instructions in the Art of the Sponge, please ignore the references to auditions and sugar companies & enjoy….

At least I got to feel like Nigella for five minutes………..

Ellerslie’s Slightly Lukewarm but still Enthusiastic Baker xx

Thursday, January 3

A new salad for a new year.....

So its 2013 already.I am resisting the temptation to bang on about all my New Years resolutions, I am quite sure you don't really give a toss if I lose 10kg by my birthday or finally get around to learning Spanish this year.
See, you don't, I knew it. I will tell you I have resolved to create a new recipe every week for the year. By new I mean original to me. Perhaps not recreating the wheel (not every week anyway), but created in my own little kitchen all fresh & new and lovely. Actually the kitchen is going to be ripped apart at some stage this year, so we shall see how we go (that could be smoothie/microwave/raw food week....)
Right, new recipe we have. Inspired by the delicious Nigel Slater & his fabulous Kitchen Diaries Two, which I was very happy to see in my Christmas Stocking this year, this is a fresh fast salad using Bulgur wheat. It has a pleasant nutty flavour, only requires soaking (no boiling pans in my kitchen, given its about 97% humidity at the moment this is a Good Thing) and makes me feel like I am being much nicer to my body than several weeks of rampant vino consumption should allow. Nigel's version is a bit simpler, more a side salad than the main event, but the addition of the halloumi in particular means this is plenty substantial enough for lunch or a light supper.
Bulgur wheat salad with melon, mint & halloumi
Serves 2 with leftovers
1/2 cup Bulgur wheat (also known as Cracked wheat or Burghul wheat) I use the Ceres brand
Boiling water to cover
1/2 small rockmelon
2 spring onion, sliced
1/2 small red or green chilli, sliced thinly
2 radish, sliced thinly
3-4 asparagus spears, chopped
Tbsp pinenuts
1/4 block of halloumi ( I used a chilli version, but plain would be perfect to)
Splash of olive oil
juice of a lime
Handful of parsley
Handful of mint
Put your bulgur wheat into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to sit for 10 minutes or so while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Peel and chop your rockmelon into small chunks and put into your salad bowl. Add the spring onion, chilli and radish. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the asparagus. Boil for 2 minutes, then drain & cover in icy cold water (this stops it cooking any further). Drain again & add to your bowl.
Toast your pinenuts in a small non stick pan until just colouring, then add to your salad. In the same pan over medium heat put your helloumi slices and cook for a minute or two each side until golden and melting hot . While this is happening drain your bulgur wheat and add to the salad bowl with the oil, lime juice, herbs & some salt and pepper. Top with your cooked halloumi & devour, yum!

This is a very flexible recipe, so just add, remove or substitute as needed.
A ripe juice peach would be great in place of the melon, if you had the grill/BBQ going you could grill it, the asparagus and the heloumi all at once for a different flavor. Any nuts could be used in place of pinenuts, and feel free to substitute lemon or other citrus for the lime. If you don't want to use helloumi try feta, or leave it out all together and serve as a side to some grilled chicken or fish....
Now, to celebrate the New Year, and just because I can, some gratuitous cat shots. Tuppence does have a weight loss goal this year, I keep saying she is big boned but the vet suggested she is turning into a chubby so a little less food should be coming her way.........she isn't best pleased

Tommy is going to attempt to grow a brain this year. This is so he knows to not sit in the rain getting wet , or under the car when it is running, or on top of Tuppences head when she is clearly getting cheesed off............he has relied on his looks for too long.

Happy 2013 everyone, I hope you are looking forward to lots of good times this year, starting with a good meal!