Twice-baked Goats' Cheese Souffles with Chives and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Is there anyone who doesn't love to eat a fluffy cheese soufflé straight from the oven? But, oh, the anxiety for the cook who has to commute to the kitchen to keep peering into the oven – and then finds that the guests all want to go to the bathroom the moment the soufflé gets to the table! Well, now you can relax, because twice-cooked soufflés can be made 2 or 3 days in advance (or even weeks if you want to freeze them). All you then do is turn them out on to a baking sheet and bake them 25 minutes before you need them. They are extremely well-behaved when cooked and, although they may lose some of their puffiness if kept waiting, we have eaten them half an hour after cooking and they still taste great. If you don't like goats' cheese, use 4 oz (110 g) strong Cheddar instead. Also, if you wish, you can give the soufflés their second cooking in the dishes without turning them out. But I think it's more fun to turn them out, and that way you get nice crusty edges.
This recipe is taken from Delia’s Vegetarian Collection.
| 4 oz (110 g) peppered goats' cheese, cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) cubes|
| 1 dessertspoon snipped fresh chives|
| 8 fl oz (225 ml) milk|
| 1 small onion, cut in half|
| 1 bay leaf|
| a grating of fresh nutmeg|
| a few whole black peppercorns|
| 1 oz (25 g) unsalted butter|
| 1 oz (25 g) self-raising flour|
| 2 large eggs, separated|
|For the balsamic vinaigrette dressing: |
| salt and freshly milled black pepper|
| 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar|
| 1 fat clove garlic|
| 1 level teaspoon Maldon salt|
| 1 rounded teaspoon mustard powder|
| 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil|
| 1 oz (25 g) sun-dried tomatoes, chopped|
| freshly milled black pepper |
|To serve: |
| freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)|
| Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).|
|You will also need four 5 oz (150 ml) ramekins, 3 inches (7.5 cm) across and 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, well buttered, a roasting tin and a solid baking sheet.|
Begin by placing the milk, onion, bay leaf, a good grating of nutmeg, a few whole peppercorns and some salt in a small saucepan. Slowly bring it up to simmering point, then strain it into a jug and discard the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns. Now rinse and dry the saucepan, place it back on the heat and melt the butter in it. Stir in the flour and cook gently for 1 minute, stirring all the time, to make a smooth, glossy paste. Now add the hot milk little by little, stirring well after each addition.
When all the milk is incorporated, let the sauce barely bubble and thicken, then leave it on the lowest possible heat for 2 minutes. Now take the sauce off the heat and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Beat in first the egg yolks followed by the snipped chives. Mix everything thoroughly together and taste to check the seasoning. Finally fold in three-quarters of the cubed goat's cheese.
Next, the egg whites should go into another clean bowl and be whisked up to the soft peak stage. Then take a heaped tablespoon at a time and fold the egg whites into the cheese-and-egg mixture using cutting and folding movements so as not to lose the air. Now divide the mixture between the buttered ramekins, place them in the roasting tin and pour about ½ inch (1 cm) of boiling water straight from the kettle into the tin. Place the roasting tin on a high shelf in the oven and bake the soufflés for 15 minutes or until they are set and feel springy in the centre (it is important not to under-cook them at this stage, because on the second cooking they are going to be turned out).
Don't worry if they rise up a lot – as they cool they will sink back into the dish. Remove them from the roasting tin straight away, then cool and chill in the fridge until needed (they can also be frozen at this stage). To make the dressing, all you do is peel the clove of garlic, pop it in the bowl of a pestle and mortar along with the salt and smash the garlic with the pestle – as it breaks down and mingles with the salt, it will turn very quickly into a creamy mass.
Now add the mustard and several good grinds of freshly milled pepper, and work these into the garlic. Next mix in first the vinegar and then the oil and, when everything's amalgamated, add the sun-dried tomatoes. Pour the whole lot into a small screw-top jar until you're ready to serve. Give it a hefty shake before using.
To serve the soufflés, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C). Butter a solid baking sheet, then slide the point of a small knife round each soufflé, turn it out on to the palm of your hand and place it the right way up on the baking sheet, keeping it well apart from its neighbours.
Sprinkle the remaining goats' cheese on top of each one, then pop them into the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they're puffy, well-risen and golden brown. Using a fish slice, slide each soufflé on to a hot serving plate and serve straight away with some freshly grated Parmesan sprinkled over. Serve on a salad of rocket leaves dressed with the Balsamic Vinaigrette.