Sunday, April 26, 2020

Simple Soufflé and Impossible Pie

I didn't post last weekend because the most notable things I made were two very indulgent desserts. I'll post about those later, but I thought a couple of simple, tasty dinner dishes would be more useful right now.

You can make either of these from what you've got on hand - you don't have to have exactly what's listed. No goat's cheese or parmesan? Any good tasty cheese will do. No courgettes? Use a little sauteed onion and finely cut up broccoli, or a lightly cooked mix of small frozen veges. No tinned fish? Try a can of creamed sweetcorn (but use less milk) and gently fried bits of bacon or salami.

Goat's Cheese and Courgette Soufflé

This recipe from my blog in 2012 is a variation on the classic cheese soufflé. My friend Frances taught me to make it when I was a totally ignorant, about to be married 19 year old. Now I use Julia Child's recipe. If you'd like to see how it's done, try this handy tutorial:

Soufflés have an undeserved reputation for being difficult, when in fact they're quite simple (and inexpensive): a good buttery white sauce with egg yolks stirred in, mixed carefully with well beaten egg whites and any other ingredients you are using. Just don't open the oven door for the first 20 minutes. As long as it's reasonably well risen, it doesn't matter if it isn't soaring above the rim of the dish (as this one wasn't). And make sure the people eating it are ready and waiting so you can serve it as soon as it's ready.

Impossible Pie
This is called Impossible Pie because it forms its own "crust". It's a sort of down home version of a souffle, very useful for making a main course out of tinned fish. I've always cherished the recipe because my mother in Auckland carefully cut it out of one of her magazines and posted it to me in Wellington with a chatty letter. She chose well - I copied it into my hand-written notebook of recipes acquired from friends and family, and I used to make it a lot. 

I rediscovered it thanks to the lockdown. The old notebook was disintegrating, but I had a new one lying around that I'd been meaning for ages to transfer everything into. So this week I set to work. Sorry I forgot to take a photo! It should look a bit like a wide, gently risen, shallow soufflé, with a similar though less fluffy texture inside, and a lightly browned bottom and sides, so you can easily cut it into wedges. By all means use a bit more cheese on top if you want to. It's quite filling - and the leftover part made a very nice lunch next day.

List 1:
4 eggs
2 cups milk
¾ cup plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
Good pinch of salt
3 Tbsp soft butter (about 45 grams)

List 2:
185g tin well drained tuna or salmon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
¾ cup grated tasty cheese
¼ cup finely chopped parsley and/or chives
Freshly ground black pepper

(In List 2, you can try substituting: a can of creamed sweetcorn instead of fish (but leave out 1 cup of milk) and fried bits of bacon or salami; cooked or tinned asparagus pieces; other firm cooked veges, cut into small pieces, plus some extra seasoning; thinly sliced button mushrooms.)

Grease a 20cm shallow pie dish, preferably with a flat rim to catch any escaping liquid.
Preheat oven to 190C or 180C fanbake.
In a large bowl, beat together the ingredients in List 1.
Stir in the ingredients in List 2, saving a little grated cheese.
Pour into pie dish and scatter remaining grated cheese over the top.
Bake until custard is set (test with a thin knife) and top is browned – about 35 to 45 minutes.
Serve hot or warm with bread and butter and salad or your choice of cooked vegetables (if you didn't use them in the pie - a frozen mix is fine). You might also enjoy a little relish on the side.

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