I was delighted to wake up one morning last week and see a post on what looked like a very professional souffle. I had to do a double take to make sure where it was coming from. Now, we are not talking about any of the food blogs I follow. No, it was posted on one of my favorite art blogs, The Corinthian Column, better known to most of us as the Columnist. I know very little about him, personally, but I like his style, his taste in art, his knowledge and the fact he is a true gentleman. He lives in Bangkok, summers in Scotland, and was born in Singapore to British parents. Sometimes when things get crazy in Thailand, as they have recently, we follow him to undisclosed locations until things get better and it is safe for him return back home.
His blog is a treasure trove of information on art, antiques, interior design, architecture and as of now, souffles! I urge you to take a peak and if you are interested in learning about beautiful thing from a very knowledgeable source, follow him.
But now, back to his souffle...
I have asked him if we would be so kind as to share his recipe with my readers and he has graciously agreed. I am also dying to ask him some questions as I am always interested in knowing what makes people tick in the kitchen. Does he cook everyday? Where and when did he learn? What are his favorite dishes? Cuisine? Where does he get his recipes? Favorite cooks? Cookbooks? Did he really beat those egg whites BY HAND? and finally what is it like living surrounded by all that wonderful Thai food!
My partner and I both enjoy cooking and sometimes work together, disproving the proverb "too many cooks spoil the broth". We seem to have perfected the art of ignoring each others' foibles, so it's usually a harmonious experience, as was the case with making these souffles. He made the white sauce, separated the eggs and beat the yolks and whites, (by hand). I prepared the broccoli and the ramekins. When we cook together it is not preordained who does what, but when tasks are agreed, we tend stick to them.
We cook or prepare one or all meals everyday, quite often taking turns. We are both fastidious about a tidy kitchen, so once pans and boards are used, they are washed straight away. As much as anything in a hot climate it is important to remove any food residue that might attract insects. In addition the kitchen counters, hob and oven are thoroughly cleaned by the maid everyday.
In particular response to your piece, we are both self-taught, although my mother showed me some basics when I was young. I have no particular favourite dish, although I enjoy "comfort food", but everything in moderation. Cuisines I favour include Japanese, (my partner is Japanese), Chinese, (I lived in Hong Kong for many years) and Thai, (I have lived in Bangkok since 2003), but the latter not all the time, as it can be very rich.
The recipe is as follows:
45g (1 1/2 oz) butter
3 tbsp plain flour
250 ml (8 fl oz) milk
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and cayenne pepper
375g (12 oz) broccoli florets
3-4 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
4 egg yolks
175g (6 oz) blue cheese, crumbled
6 egg whites
4 x 250 ml (8 fl oz) souffle dishes/ramekins
Melt the 30g (1 oz) butter in a large pan, add the flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat, gradually blend in the milk, then bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.
Add the nutmeg, and salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Rinse in cold water, then chop coarsely.
Heat the remaining butter in the pan, add the shallots, and cook gently for 3 minutes, or until soft.
Prepare the souffle dishes; butter the bottoms and sides and sprinkle with a thin layer of the grated Parmesan, rolling it around until it adheres to the surface inside.
Beat the egg yolks, add to the cooled sauce with the broccoli, shallots and blue cheese.
Whisk the egg whites until they form a firm but not dry peaks. Fold 1-2 tbsp of the egg whites into the broccoli mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the souffle dishes. Bake the souffles in the top half of a preheated oven at 180C, (350F, Gas 4) for 30minutes. Serve at once.
This recipe is from Mary Berry's Complete Cook Book.
For more pictures and a post on the next day's lunch click here and here.