12 February 2011

Overcoming the Fear of the Souffle and a Little News

Wairau River, Blenheim, NZ
I love a souffle, so light and airy, it is like eating a little cloud.  One of my favourite meals I can remember having ever eaten was a double baked blue cheese souffle at Wairau River, a vineyard in Blenhiem ( sunny spot at the top of the South Island for you non Kiwis).  Looking back at the old photos it was Summer 2006, yet still I can remember every mouthful.  Light, fluffy, golden, and the tang and sharpness of the blue cheese, my Dad being terribly jealous that he hadn't ordered it too.  He did get me back this summer while he and Mum were on holiday in Blenheim with a text "just had double baked blue cheese souffle" That text was enough to take me right back to that double baked blue cheese souffle; on holiday, a lazy lunch, sitting in the Summer sun, chilled glass of wine in hand and of course the souffle.  I love how food and flavours can just transport you back through all your memories.  Oddly enough no picture taken of said souffle as it was pre taking photos of food obsession really kicked in.

But cooking souffles?  Well that has, until this Summer, been relegated to the too hard and potential cooking disaster basket.  The fear of a flat, deflated souffle.   As I love them so much it really was a cooking challenge that needed to be over come.  So over Summer one night Dad decided to cook and low and behold we were getting souffle!  Courtesy of Annabel Langbein and the Free Range Cook.  These were Twice Baked Smoked Salmon Souffles and they were everything a souffle should be - golden, light and airy enveloping the rich smokiness of the salmon.  Disaster was even averted when on the second round of baking,  the grill rather than the oven was switched on which led to a somewhat charred top.  However that was simply resolved by slicing it off and baking correctly...see the picture below, no harm done at all.

So after being witness to this success I felt I was ready to face the challenge.  This recipe is bit of a combination of Annabel's recipe and Mark Bittman's from the New York Times.  Annabel's because a proven track record and Mark Bittman's for the zucchini and cheese, and simplifying the process.  I had zucchini and liked the idea of them making it even lighter, plus another way to use zucchini! Next stop will be my pinnacle of souffles,  the blue cheese souffle.  I like the twice baking as it takes away some of the stress, especially if entertaining, in that if they rise once then chances are they can do it again.

Twice Baked Zucchini and Gruyere Souffle, inspired by Annabel Langbein and Mark Bittman


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 to 3 medium zucchini, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g/2oz butter 
1/2 cup flour
1 3/4 cup milk
Pinch ground nutmeg
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp lemon juice
5 egg yolks
225g /8oz Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
5 egg whites

To finish
6 tbsp cream


Pre heat the oven to 180C / 350F

Butter 6 1 cup ramekins and place them in the fridge to chill.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the zucchini is very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain an excess liquid to avoid a soggy souffle and let the mixture cool.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a medium saucepan until it sizzles.  Stir in the flour and cook for a moment or so.  It will come together in a smooth paste called a roux, this is what it is meant to do so don't panic.  Whisk in the milk, nutmeg and lemon zest.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture back to the boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.  It will become very thick, again no need to worry.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and then the egg yolks one by one.  Food through the cooled zucchini mixture, the Gruyere cheese and the parsley.

Whisk the egg whites until they are light and fluffy forming soft peaks.  Add one quarter to the zucchini and cheese mixture.  Then gently fold in the remaining egg white, be sure to be gentle to keep the mixture light and airy.

Fill the ramekins and place the ramekins in a roasting dish and pour boiling water around them until it comes half way up the sides.  The water bath will help ensure even cooking.  Bake the souffles until they are golden brown and slightly puffed.  About 15 - 20 minutes.  If eating straight away you could simply cook for another 10 minutes at this point.

If you are twice baking remove the souffles from the oven and the water bath and leave to cool.  And yes the will deflate, but will rise again when it comes to the second baking. Once cooled pop them in the fridge where they can stay for up to 2 days.  When you are ready for the second baking pre heat the oven to 220C / 425F.  Pour 1 tablespoon of cream on the top of each little souffle, place on baking tray and cook until they are golden and puffed. 

And then get them to the table quickly as in a few moments they will start to fall, that is just the way it is. So they are not the best behaved subject for photography!  You have only a moment to catch them in their true glory.
They were beautifully light yet full of gooey cheesy goodness.  Perfect as an entree or light lunch with a little salad.  I also reckon a clean crisp glass of sauvignon blanc would be the perfect companion to cut through the rich Gruyere.


And now the news... you are now reading the blog of a Stylish Blogger Award recipient!  Thanks goes to the very lovely and talented Lana over at Bibberche who I have met through the wonderful world of Twitter, yes I am a total convert as I am meeting so many wonderful people that I would otherwise just not cross paths with. A lovely lady who I forgive for supporting Novak Djokovic against Andy Murray in the final of the Australian tennis open only because she is from the same country.  And yes the best man did win, being Scottish we are well versed in being graceful in defeat when it comes to sport!

So thank you so much Lana for thinking of me and passing on this award to me and my little blog...my first award!  I am feeling quite special.

There are a few rules with this award:
  • Link back to the person who gave it to you.
  • Give 7 facts about yourself.
  • Award 15 great bloggers you’ve recently discovered.
  • Contact them and tell them about the award.
So the seven facts about me…this is the hard bit...how to try to be witty and interesting with 7 little known facts about myself...

1.I am an obsessive list keeper, almost to the point of lists of lists. Without my lists I don't think I would function....so this should actually be easier than it is!

2.I am from the same little town in Scotland as Andy Murray.  Dunblane - which is actually officially a city due to the cathedral. Hence the staunch support of him in the tennis, it is a national obsession that one day he will fulfill his win a grand slam!!

3.My ultimate comfort food: haggis, neeps and tatties.  Not just any haggis though, a stash of Macsweens' haggis is  delivered every year by my parents.  It travels all the way from the mother country packed in its little cool bag for the trip, requisite paperwork present, to get past NZ customs ever since the year they confiscated it and we had to make do with NZ haggis.  It was not good.  A sausage roll from the Mt Eden Bakery comes a close second.

4.My guilty pleasure is trash television...yes I watch them all Kim, Khloe, Courtney, Holly, Kendra...even the slow moving train wreck that is Jersey Shore.  Pure and simple, a mindless escape from reality.  And I know I am not the only one!  My excuse, I work in media and I am surrounded by the serious news all day and need a little less, a lot less, of the serious when I get home.  Does that excuse it??

5.In 2011 I want to become a better baker.  I want to work on my baking skills...bread, cupcakes, loafs, pavlovas, meringues...you name it I want to be able to bake it, if not perfectly, at least competently.

6.I am a compulsive book buyer...all sorts of books but especially cook books.  I just can't stop. Ask my parents who, along with the haggis, also usually have several heavy tomes from Amazon in their suitcase for me every visit. I don't think I will ever be able to convert to an e-reader.

7.Loving and thankful, how all my friends and dinner companions have come to accept my food photography obsession and now wait until I have taken said photos before they tuck in. And on that note so completely grateful and humbled by all the support and positive feedback they have given me for the little adventure that is Toast.

And 15 fabulous and stylish blogs....well that is the easy part!  For me these are 15 valuable and stylish blogs.

Alessandra Zecchini
Curious Kai

Happy Reading.


  1. Hey Mairi, thank you! Golly, I got one yesterday, and the same one two week ago from Italy... this is one that goes round!

    Was great to meet you today, hope to catch up soon again :-).


  2. Thank you so much for the honour Mairi! :-)

  3. Your souffles look delicious!

  4. @Alessandra - lovely to meet you to & you are welcome.

    @Maria...most welcome - love reading you blog and your beautiful pictures.

    @saucygirlskitchen - thank you :)

  5. I love twice baked souffles especially turned out on sauted mushrooms! Thanks for the award, I will have to get my A into G and pass it on! great meeting you Sat, hope you enjoyed the rest of your weekend.

  6. Awww, thanks so much for the award!! Can't wait to meet you so we can talk food!

    Andrea from So D'lish (www.dlish.co.nz)

  7. Thanks my dear, very sweet of you, and those souffles look delish! Could I talk Mr PK into making me one for V. Day..........?!

  8. Really enjoyed your latest blog even if you did tell everyone I burnt my souffles !!

  9. Mairi - these souffles look divine - I am really impressed. I've never been brave enough to try making souffles, but you've definitely inspired me to try.
    Sue :-)

  10. @ Dad.....well technically it was the grill that burnt the souffles...& the fact that we rescued them will inspire a flurry of souffle making!

  11. Thanks Sue, yes I was always scared too, but you can always trust Annabel!!


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