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Broccoli Souffle with Three Cheeses

Soufflés are really something. Sublimely soft, foaming masses of egginess that rise to lofty heights and never fail to delight all who see and all who taste. I know rumour has it that soufflés are difficult, temperamental and can fall flat on you, and there is _some_ truth in that, but what I'd like to point out is that some soufflés are more difficult than others. This one is a savoury one made with cheese and a vegetable purée and it's this purée that does a kind of holding operation within, so that this particular soufflé – though it might shrink a little when it comes out of the oven – can never actually fall flat on you. Vegetarians might like to know that a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese is available from Bookhams

 
 
 Broccoli Souffle with Three Cheeses

  Serves 4 as a light lunch with a green salad; or 6-8 as a starter

Ingredients
 1 lb (450 g) broccoli, the very thick stalks trimmed off
 1 oz (25 g) strong Cheddar cheese, grated
 1 oz (25 g) Gruyère cheese, grated
 1 oz (25 g) Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), grated (see recipe introduction)
 1 oz (25 g) butter
 melted butter for the dish and collar
 1¼ oz (30 g) plain flour
 5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
 ¼ level teaspoon cayenne pepper
 ¼ whole nutmeg, grated
 3 large eggs
 2 extra egg whites
 pinch cream of tartar
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F, (200°C). Place oven shelf on lower third rack with no shelf above.
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Equipment
You will also need silicone paper (baking parchment), string and a 1¾ pint (1 litre) soufflé dish measuring 5½ in (14 cm) diameter and 5 in (7.5 cm) high, but if you want a 'mile high' soufflé, a 1¼ pint (725 ml) dish measuring 5 in (13 cm) diameter is th

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection and Delia's Vegetarian Collection.

Method

First of all prepare the soufflé dish and its collar.

To do this, cut a piece of silicone paper from the roll, 20 in x 12 in (51 x 30 cm) in length. Fold in half along its length so that it now measures 20 x 6 in (51 x 15 cm) doubled.

Now turn up a 1 in (2.5 cm) fold all along the length to stabilise the base along the collar.

Next butter the dish really well and sprinkle the inside with some of the Parmesan, tipping the dish from side to side to give the base and sides a light coating. Empty out the excess, then tie the paper collar around the dish with the 1 in (2.5 cm) folded bit at the bottom.

The paper will overlap around the circumference by 3 in (7.5 cm) and stand 3 in (7.5 cm) above the rim of the dish.

Fix the collar in place with string and tie with a bow so that when it comes out of the oven you can remove it quickly and easily.

Now butter the inside of the paper and that's it – the dish is now ready to receive the soufflé.

When you're ready to make the soufflé, sprinkle the broccoli with salt and steam until tender – about 10 minutes. While the broccoli is cooking, prepare the eggs. Have ready one large and two small spanking clean bowls, separate the eggs into the small bowls one at a time, transferring the whites from the small bowl into the larger bowl as you go.

When the broccoli is tender, remove it and leave to cool until barely warm. Pop it into a food processor and whiz it almost to a purée.

Next make the base sauce. Place the butter, flour and milk in a small saucepan and whisk with a balloon whisk over a medium heat until you have a smooth, glossy paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then season with the same amount again – this extra is really to season the large volume of eggs.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the cayenne, nutmeg, Cheddar, Gruyère and one tablespoon of Parmesan. Add 3 of the egg yolks plus the broccoli and mix everything together thoroughly.

Now the vital part – beating the egg whites. Add a pinch of cream of tartar to the whites and then, if you're using an electric whisk, switch it on to low and beat the whites for about 30 seconds or until they begin to start foaming, then increase the speed of the whisk to medium and then to high, moving the whisk round and round the bowl while it's beating until you get a smooth, glossy mixture that stands in stiff peaks when the whisk is removed from the bowl.

It's better to underbeat than overbeat, so watch carefully.

Next, using a large metal spoon, stir 1 tablespoon of the egg whites into the broccoli to lighten the mixture, then empty the broccoli mixture into the egg whites and fold, using cutting and turning movements, until everything is well amalgamated.

Don't be tempted to do any mixing – it must be careful folding done as quickly as possible.

Now pour the mixture into the prepared dish, sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan and place on a shelf in the lower third of the oven for 40-45 minutes.

When it's done it should be nicely browned on top, well risen and beginning to crack. It should feel springy in the centre but it's important not to overcook it, as it should be nice and moist inside.

Divide between warm serving dishes and serve it absolutely immediately.

 

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