I’ve never made a soufflé before. I’ve never even eaten a soufflé before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even seen a real live soufflé before, only on the telly. And it was seeing one on the telly recently that made me want to make one. So off I went to good old Robert Dyas and bought myself a couple of ramekins to make them in. This recipe is from Delia’s Vegetarian Collection, so what could possibly go wrong?
I decide to take a before photo
to compare the difference between that and after it had been cooked, as I think soufflés are supposed to rise, aren’t they?
Hmm, oh well. Still, it tasted very nice and I served it up with a veggie sausage, mushrooms, new potatoes and the fonduta sauce.
Spinach and ricotta souffles with fonduta sauce
(serves 8 )
For the soufflés:
2 lb (900 g) young leaf spinach
2 oz (50 g) ricotta cheese
4 large eggs, separated
2 oz (50 g) butter, plus a little extra for greasing the ramekins
freshly grated parmesan for dusting the insides of the ramekins and sprinkling on top of the soufflés
10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
2 oz (50 g) plain flour
freshly grated nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the fonduta sauce:
7 fl oz (200 ml) crème fraiche
6 oz (175 g) Fontina, Gruyere or Emmental, cut into very small cubes
a good pinch cayenne pepper
a squeeze of lemon juice
You will also need eight 1 1/2 inch (4cm) deep ramekins, with a base diameter of 3 inches (7.5 cm), and a large baking sheet.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375F (190C), and pop the baking sheet in to pre-heat too.
First of all, butter the ramekins and lightly dust the insides with parmesan. Then thoroughly wash the spinach in several changes of cold water and pick it over, removing any thick, tough stalks or damaged leaves. Next, press the leaves into a large, saucepan, sprinkle in some salt (but don’t add water), cover and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Just let it collapse down into its own juices and then give it a stir halfway through. Now drain the spinach thoroughly in a colander, pressing it very firmly with a sauce to extract every last bit of juice, it needs to be quite dry. Then chop it fairly finely.
For the soufflés, put the milk in a saucepan, then simply add the flour and butter and bring everything gradually up to simmering point, whisking continuously with a balloon whisk, until the sauce has thickened and becomes smooth and glossy. Then turn the heat down to its lowest possible setting and let the sauce cook very gently for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Now remove the pan from the heat and transfer the sauce to a large bowl. Next, beat the chopped spinach and the ricotta into the sauce with the egg yolks. Now season with salt, pepper, a generous amount of nutmeg and the cayenne. Beat the egg whites in a large clean bowl until stiff, then using a large metal spoon, fold one spoonful into the spinach sauce to ‘loosen’ it. Now carefully fold the remaining egg whites into the spinach mixture before dividing it equally between the 8 ramekins. Sprinkle the tops of the soufflés with a little parmesan and bake on the baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, or until well risen and slightly browned on top.
While the soufflés are cooking you can make the fonduta sauce. Put the crème fraiche into a small saucepan with the cheese and slowly bring it up to simmering point, with the cayenne and a good squeeze of lemon juice, whisking as the cheese melts. The soufflés need to be served hot and puffy from the oven. Make an incision into each soufflé with a knife and pour in a little sauce, then hand the rest around separately in a jug.