Pasta Cheese Soufflé

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, gotta love that name, is featured chef of the moment at IHCC (I Heart Cooking Clubs); especially focusing on recipes with eggs in them this week, since it's that time of year.  I have a cookbook on order, but for now am going with something found at his BBC site: Spaghetti Cheese Souffle.  So, for Happy Resurection Sunday, we had this - risen eggs!  How appropriate.  I think so anyway.

Spaghetti Cheese Soufflé
  by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, from the BBC site
Serves 4 , prep. Time 30 min. cooking 1-1/2 hr.
  • 250g/9oz spaghetti
  • 75g/3oz flour
  • 75g/3oz butter
  • 250ml/8fl oz. hot milk
  • 100g/3½oz mature Caerphilly
  • 100g/3½oz strong cheddar, grated
  • pepper
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 extra egg white
  • black pepper

  1. Break the spaghetti into lengths of about 5cm/2in and boil in salted water until al dente. Drain and toss in a few drops of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the flour to make a roux. Cook for a minute or so, then add the hot milk, stirring until you have a thick, smooth béchamel. Allow to simmer gently for just a minute. 
  3. Remove from the heat, add the cheeses and mix until melted. Beat in the egg yolks. Stir in the cooked spaghetti until thoroughly incorporated. Season well with black pepper
  4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold gently and thoroughly into the mixture. Divide between four small soufflé dishes (or two medium, or one large) and cook in a preheated oven at 170C/325F/Gas 3 for about 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden.

I didn't have the Caerphilly cheese, so substituted the remainder of a brie, to go with my nice strong cheddar.  Also, I don't know if it's my wonky oven, but I did end up cooking it longer - about 30 min., and as we waited, sipped a lovely Riesling ( Frisk) ate salad and nibbled on bread, but it didn't get really golden brown or well risen.  Just golden, but tasted just fine, good texture and cooked enough.  However, I went back and noted on the BBC site, it does say at the top - Cooking time: 30 min. to 1 hour.  So, maybe you should allow an hour, though souffles are not supposed to be kept waiting.  Hummmm.  Don't think we would have held out an additional 30 min.

Just as a sort of P.S. note, the left-overs of this dish were way better than expected.  Cut the remaining souffle into fat slices, blanketed them in a savory tomato sauce, and voila!

Will add this contribution to the I Heart Cooking Clubs site, and to Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event.


Chouquettes - The Postscript

As a bit of an addendum to my previous review post on Gourmet Rhapsody, I am sharing the lovely Chouquettes, which were mentioned as the elusive, wonderful flavor sought in that novelette.  Just couldn't resist making them, and so glad I did after eating about 100 of the little delights for breakfast with my hot cocoa.  They are just small cream puffs without the filling, and baked with coarse or pearl sugar on top.
           From The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

About 24+ Puffs

Shaping the mounds of dough is easiest to do with a pastry bag, although you can use two spoons or a spring-loaded ice cream scoop. ( I used 2 spoons.)

    1 cup (250ml) water
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons sugar
    6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
    1 cup (135g) flour
    4 large eggs, at room temperature

Glaze: 1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon milk
Pearl or Crystal sugar (Pearl sugar is available in the US from King Arthur and on Amazon.   (Claudia's note: I used a coarse-grained turbinado sugar to good effect.)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (220 C.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Depending on the size of your baking sheets, it may take two.)
2. Heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and dump all the flour in at once. Put the pan back on the heat and stir rapidly until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

3. Allow dough to cool for two minutes, then briskly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and shiny.
4. Using two spoons, scoop up a mound of dough with one spoon roughly the size of an unshelled walnut, and scrape it off with the other spoon onto the baking sheet. You can also use a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip and pipe them.
5. Place the mounds evenly-spaced apart on the baking sheet(s). Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg glaze then press pearl sugar crystals over the top and sides of each mound. Use a lot. Once the puffs expand rise, you’ll appreciate the extra effort (and sugar.)
6. Bake the cream puffs until puffed and well-browned, about 25 to 30 minutes. If they get too dark midway through baking, lower the heat of the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking.
(If you want to make them crispier, you can poke a hole in the side with a knife after you take them out of the oven to let the steam escape.)

What fun, delectable little morsels, and no more trouble than making muffins or scones in the morning - alternatively, you could bake them up for your "Afternoon Tea" - if you do such a thing.  Will share this with the charming folks who visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event.


A Not So Rhapsodic, Gourmet Rhapsody

 Just finished a little, 156 page, novelette, Gourmet Rhapsody, by Muriel Barbery.  I had read a review of this book last month, which led me to check it out myself.  So, my two cents' worth follows.  Especially as it follows Dinner with Edward, this provided such a contrast in characters.  One a loving  husband, caring father and warm human being, the other a greedy, self-indulgent, self-absorbed and cold hearted individual, who treats his wife, children and most other people with contempt.  We know from the outset that he's an arrogant douche-bag, so no surprises there.

The book alternates the reminiscences of a renowned food critic on his death bed, trying to recall a particular flavor from his past, with chapters from the point of view of various his relatives, acquaintances, etc.  He blatantly  enjoys his power to make or ruin both chefs and restaurants; a man who has spent his life, as Barbery notes, among those erecting "temples to the glory of the goddess Grub."  Definitely an extreme of living to eat, rather than eating to live.  I found the whole thing rather sad, as there are so many in this world who do spend a lifetime seeking pleasure in one form or another, often at the expense of others, dying unregretted, and spiritually bankrupt.