Thursday, 30 August 2012

Banana Souffle and Instant Banana Ice cream

 Another day, another souffle- this time Banana. I admit I've gone a little souffle mad of late. But really, how can you blame me? They are delicious; they are, relative to other puddings, relatively healthy and you can make a souffle in almost any flavour you could possibly imagine. So far I've made apple and cinnamon, Rhubarb, raspberry, strawberry and banana. I don't plan on stopping there, either- think of all the other flavours I could make!

Ordinarily I would use the leftover egg yolks to make a creme anglaise (custard). With this particular flavour, however, I decided to try something different. Some time ago I saw Matt Preston make an instant Banana Ice cream and I've been waiting for the occasion to make it. Luckily I happened to have a freezer full of over-ripe bananas. All you do is peel the frozen bananas (One banana seems to make a generous scoop), chop them into chunks and blend in a food processor. You may have to stop the motor sporadically to scrape down the chunks towards the blades, but after a mere minute, you will have a most delicious, velvety textured banana ice cream. I even give you permission to let your guests
think that you slaved away for hours making custard
 and churning it by hand; it will be our little secret.

As for the souffle, the method is the same as for the preceding recipe, only substitute the strawberry for banana and the caster sugar for brown.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Strawberry Souffle

I'm afraid I've been terribly lax of late and haven't updated the blog in quite some time. I could blame it on the Olympics, on Masterchef All Stars, on any number of things really, but essentially I've just been too lazy to take the time to blog. Apologies!

Going back a few weeks ago now, I was at home by myself on evening and, cold and miserable from the wintery wind, decided to make myself some dessert. It can be a tricky task to find a dessert recipe that can be successfully divided to make one individual serving. Many recipes call for 1or 2 eggs for a dessert that feeds 6-8. Now tell me, how are you supposed to divide one egg by 6? With difficulty. So, with very little options to choose from, without having a week's supply of left-over pud, I decided to make a souffle- a dessert that I have found, to my great delight, divides exceedingly well. One egg white= one lovely serving.

Not only is souffle a suitable sweet for one, it is also incredibly delicious and, best of all, contains no fat. True , it does contain sugar and whatever it lacks in fat, I generally make up for by serving a big scoop of ice cream or a jug of custard alongside. I'd be quite content, however, eating one of these little babies unadorned.

Please don't be nervous about making souffle. You mustn't be nervous about egg whites-if you are, it will show in the finished result. Egg whites are really so much tougher than they are made out to be. So for an amazing winter treat for one or for many, try your hand at a souffle!

Strawberry Souffle recipe (one portion)

1/2 tablespoon melted butter for greasing
50g Strawberries (weight with greenery removed), quartered
30g Caster Sugar + 1 tablespoon more for dusting ramekin
1/2 teaspoon Cornflour, mixed into a paste with 1/2 teaspoon water
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 170 C

Grease a 250ml capacity ramekin with butter, then sprinkle generously with caster sugar, turning the ramekin around to coat the bottom and sides with an even layer of sugar. Tip out any excess and place rameking in the refrigerator while you get on with the souffle mix.

In a small saucepan place the strawberries and half the caster sugar over a low heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved and the strawberries are yielding. Remove from the heat and whisk in the corn flour. Using either a whizz stick, a blender or a processor, puree the strawberry mixture until smooth and completely free of any lumps. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg white with a pinch of salt until light and foamy, then gradually add the remainder of the caster sugar, continuing to beat until thick (when you lift the beater out of the egg white, the peak should bend over slightly, although it should be thick enough that you can safely hold the bowl upside down over your head).

Add about a third of the egg white to the strawberry mixture, stirring the two together to combine. At this stage, you are only trying to loosen the strawberry mix, not retain air, so you don't have to fold. Place the remaining meringue mix into the strawberry and this time, fold the two together to combine, while retaining the air in the egg whites. You really need to spin the bowl around as you do this, so that you are gathering the  mixture from every corner of the bowl and incorporating it into the meringue. The best way is to use a metal spoon, drag it around the right rim of the bowl, scraping the base as you go, towards you, then flop, or fold, all that you have gathered back over into the centre of the bowl. Make sense? Then give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until it is no longer streaky.

Remove the ramekin from the fridge and gently spoon the matter into the mould. Try not to disturb the buttery sugar coating you created earlier with your spoon. Spoon into the centre of the mould, coaxing it gently downwards and outwards. Fill right to the top and then, place a long spatula or butter knife midway across the ramekin and scrape towards you, allowing any excess the plunge over the rim. Repeat on other half and if necessary, back track to ensure a completely smooth surface, flush with the rim. With a bit of luck your spatula will catch the excess with every scrape. If not, clean the outside of the ramekin and then, using a clean finger, run your fingertip around the inside of the rim to create a small moat, if you will, between the souffle and the dish itself. Place souffle onto a tray and into the oven for 12-14 minutes. Do not open the door at all before 12 minutes- you don't want it to collapse.

Remove to awaiting plate and serve immediately with ice cream, custard or cream. I'm warning you- it will sink if you leave it lying about. I apologise for the lengthy, especially to those of you who have baked before. I merely wish to equip newbies with as much knowledge as possible to give them confidence in the kitchen. It can be a scary thing baking something for the first time, especially a souffle, so I hope these instructions will help you tackle the challenge with relative ease. If it doesn't turn out perfectly the first time, don't give up. Believe me- I've failed plenty of times. Practice makes perfect. If you don't know what went wrong, just ask and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction.

Bon Appetit!