It was a challenging day; travelling from Sussex to London in the heat, leavened with a meeting of the Freelance Division at the Chartered Institute of Journalists, and chilled on the overground railway for over two hours on the way home. I was glad my car was waiting at the local railway station.
Leaping into the comforting, if somewhat chaotic surroundings of 'home in a tin whistle', I set off back to my seaside flat wondering what to eat. The idea of fish and chips, going to a local Chinese, Indian or anywhere at all was too much for mind and body, but I couldn't think of anything palatable waiting for me at home either. Sigh.
On the way home, however, I remembered young broad beans bought at the local farmer's market (Dymocks Farm Shop, Seaford) on Sunday. Chopped pods to be added into a risotto, perhaps? There was sure to be chicken stock in the freezer. There was.
"But not without onions," I observed on reaching the kitchen. Mysteriously, the big shallots had vanished. Ah yes, a 'senior moment'. I'd roasted them yesterday in fruity virgin olive oil with a variety of red, yellow and green peppers and refrigerated them in a glass container for later emergencies. My emergencies happen swiftly!
Well, that spooned onto fresh lettuce leaves cut from a small growing container in the kitchen, could be another dish in itself. But the last touch had to wait until the soufflé was cooked. "A soufflé is surely the 'last straw,' you might ask, when weary?" Comfort food is the simple answer.
Also in the fridge was three-quarters of a can (yes, that's what a stock cupboard is for) of tuna from last night. The first part was used with quartered boiled eggs and green beans in a variation of Nicoise salad with a few olives and, additionally, some quartered canned, artichoke hearts, toasted sunflower seeds and fresh chopped dill.
|Mushroom Souffle, VDuBourdieu©2011|
There was a carton of buttermilk in the fridge. I had planned to use it for a cold cucumber and buttermilk soup. As it happens, however, I ate most of the tiny cucumbers yesterday; they were sliced finely with baby tomatoes, and drizzled with organic apple cider vinegar in a typical New Zealand summer dish.
I confess that as soon as I spotted them in the fridge tonight, I ate the rest of the cucumber and tomato salad. It went down well with a glass of unusual white wine (Tilimuqui Single Vineyard Torrantes, made of organically grown grapes from the Faumatina Valley, Argentina) from Waitrose whilst I wondered about my next culinary steps.
Whilst searching for stock in the freezer, I came across some frozen, grated Gruyere cheese. That's precisely when risotto went west and soufflé entered the equation. Quickly, I knocked up a Béchamel sauce made with Brittany butter, flour and buttermilk. Then I added half a dozen sliced chestnut mushrooms, and cooked them in the sauce until they softened.
The grated cheese and leftover tuna followed, and then I took everything off the heat and added the yolks of two eggs. There was also the white of an egg not used in last night's mayonnaise in the fridge, so I beat that up with the whites from the two, new eggs, until it was stiff enough to form peaks. This was mixed gently into the sauce mixture in the saucepan.
I buttered four medium-sized soufflé containers, and ladled the mixture into them, filling them to about the halfway point. These were destined for half an hour in the gas oven: with an electric oven, at approximately 220 degrees Celsius, point 4 with gas.
No, I didn't forget the broad beans or the peppers. The broad beans were chopped into bite-sized pieces and flung into a microwave saucepan with a little of the Brittany butter. They took three minutes to reach a soft but still crunchy stage. I then added a teaspoon of horseradish sauce to the mixture. The peppers were ladled onto lettuce leaves and dribbled with fruity Balsamic vinegar.
On the right, you can see the soufflé alone, and on a plate together with the vegetables.