When a vegetarian theme was selected for the Irish Foodies September Cookalong I instantly decided I would try to use some of our own produce and also cook something I hadn’t tried before. We have some fabulous beetroot in the garden and a lot of eggs thanks to our lovely hens so I opted for a twice baked Cheddar and Chive Souffle with a roasted beetroot and spinach salad with walnut dressing. The one thing that this cookalong did teach me was that I don’t really prepare a lot of meat-free meals – something I will definitely rectify.
I opted for a twice-baked souffle as I understand this version is more forgiving and therefore perfect for anyone a little apprehensive of souffles, like me. This turned out to be a lovely dish and ideal for a light lunch or supper and I was delighted with the results. I used a recipe from the BBC Good Food website as a starting point and adjusted quantities.
For the souffle (makes 4):
- 300ml milk
- 1 small onion, thickly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- very small pinch of grated nutmeg
- 25g flour
- 25g butter
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 2 eggs – whites and yolks seperated
- Salt and black pepper
- 100g strong/vintage Cheddar, grated
- small handful of chives (around 8-10), finely sliced
- 4 tablespoons of cream
Place the milk, onion, bay leaf and nutmeg in a small pot and bring to near boiling point then turn off the heat and allow to infuse for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 190ºC. Butter 4 ramekins and stand in a roasting tray.
Once the milk has infused, heat the butter in a pot and when completely melted add in the flour and use a whisk to mix thoroughly. Cook for 1 minute stirring continuously then strain in 1/3 of the milk (using a sieve) and whisk well to remove any lumps. Add in another 1/3 of the milk (again using the sieve) and whisk again. Then add in the remaining milk (discarding the onion and bay leaf) and cook on a medium heat, continually stirring to ensure the mix doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot, until the mixture has thickened and is bubbling. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Dijon mustard and 2 egg yolks, whisk well and then season with salt and black pepper. Add three-quarters of the cheddar and all of the chives and stir well to ensure the cheese melts completely. Empty the mixture in to a large bowl.
Boil a full kettle and whisk the egg whites until stiff. Then, using a large metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites in to the cheese mixture to ensure all of the whites are incorporated but without beating or knocking the air out of the whites.
Spoon the mixture in to the ramekins and then fill the roasting tray with hot water from the kettle – up to the half way mark on the ramekins. Place in the oven and cook for around 15/20 minutes until they have risen and are golden on top but still have a slight wobble in the centre.
Remove the tray carefully from the oven and then take the ramekins out of the tray and place to one side. They will quickly deflate but will rise again when baking a second time. Allow to cool completely in the ramekins – you can even store them overnight in the fridge like this if you wish.
When you are ready to serve the souffle preheat your oven to 200ºC. Carefully remove the souffle from the ramekin, running a sharp knife around the edge. Either place the souffles upside down on a baking sheet or upside down back in a clean ramekin. Pour 1 tablespoon of fresh cream over the top of each souffle and top with a sprinkling of the remaining cheddar. Place back in the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes – the cheese should become golden and the souffle will rise again.
Beetroot and Spinach Salad with Walnut Dressing
- 1 medium beetroot
- baby spinach leaves
- 50ml of walnut oil
- 25ml of cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
To roast the beetroot: preheat oven to 180ºC. Wash the beetroot and trim but be careful not to cut the stems or roots too close to the beetroot and do not peel – this will stop the beetroot ‘bleeding’ when cooking. Wrap the beetroot in tin foil and place in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and unwrap and allow to cool for a while. Then using a sharp knife trim the skin off the beetroot leaving the beautiful tender vegetable ready for eating.
To make the dressing whisk together the walnut oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined.