e cooks: soufflé lorrain & leek, pepper and goat's cheese terrine

30 April 2014

More often than not, E prefers to follow recipes of his favourite cooks with a few personal tweaks here and there.

Today though, we have two completely original recipes of his own! (Of course, you might find similar ideas elsewhere but you get the gist.)

When Maille offered to send us a couple of ingredients to use in a cooking challenge - the Maison Maille challenge - it was game on. Both of us have grown up having Maille products in the fridge as a staple (namely their mustards and pickles), so it was a no brainer - we got given their original Dijon Mustard, and the Sherry Vinegar with Sundried Tomatoes.

E came up with two recipes, one that uses the mustard, and one that uses both the mustard and the vinegar.

Up first -

Soufflé Lorrain

Aptly named as the ingredients reflect those of the classic Quiche Lorraine, filled with onion confit, crispy lardons & a soft poached egg, and deliciously cheesy.

Ingredients (for 4-5 soufflés):
160g unsalted butter (and extra for greasing the ramekins)
60g flour
60ml water
500ml cold whole milk
9 eggs
150g grated Comté cheese (Emmental or Gruyère can also work)
a few tablespoons of parmesan for the ramekins
2 large onions
100g lardons
one sachet garni
nutmeg to taste
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
tablespoon of Maille Dijon mustard

Prepare the ramekins by brushing them with softened butter, and cover by swirling grated parmesan cheese to ensure the whole surface is coated, including up the sides. Pop them in the fridge.

To make the onion confit, slice up the 2 onions. Melt 100g butter in a saucepan until melted, add 60ml water, onions, sachet garni and salt. Set heat to very low, cover with a parchment lid (see below), cook on the lowest heat for 2 hours, checking regularly to make sure it doesn't colour or caramelise. This step can be done in advance as it can be time consuming!

The lardons are pretty simple - preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius, spread the lardons on a baking sheet, bake for about 20 minutes until they are coloured and slightly crisp.

For the poached eggs - it seems everyone has their own technique, so use the best one for you! Most importantly, prepare an ice bath so you can rest the poached eggs in there until they are needed.

For the béchamel sauce (the soufflé batter), heat 60 grams of butter in a large saucepan until melted. To create the roux, whisk in the flour and mix constantly until the butter is absorbed. Add the milk little by little, mixing in between. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let it reduce until the consistency is nice and thick. Remove from heat and add grated nutmeg, cayenne, and a large tablespoon of mustard. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then add 5 egg yolks (save the whites) and whisk until well mixed, season to taste. Cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming on the surface.

Whisk 5 egg whites with a pinch of salt to form stiff peaks.

Gently fold in the egg whites into the béchamel batter, and add the grated cheese in small handfuls, to make sure the batter loses none of the air and volume.

Fill a quarter of the ramekin, and gently place the poached egg on top, followed by the onion confit, lardons and thyme. Fill up the rest of the ramekin up to the very top with the batter, and make a slight ridge around the edge with your thumb. Bake in a bain marie for 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven - keep an eye out for the top of the soufflés, if they are starting to colour too much then lower the temperature.

You can scroll down to the end of this post to see how they came out...

But first, the terrine!

Beautifully colourful and makes for a great starter or side dish - and can (or rather, should) be made the day before.

Leek, pepper and goat's cheese terrine

about 20 leeks
6 red peppers
250g soft creamy goat's cheese
250g crème fraîche
2 tablespoons chopped thyme & 3 whole sprigs
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Maille dijon mustard
5 banana shallots
10 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
1 tablespoon butter
zest of one lemon & juice of half a lemon
3 litres vegetable stock
3 gelatine sheets
2 tablespoons Maille sherry sundried tomatoes vinegar
2 tablespoons caster sugar
300ml olive oil
salt & pepper for seasoning

Start with the red peppers, as they will become confit peppers and it takes a bit of time in the oven. Preheat it to 150 degrees celsius.

Chargrill the peppers either with a blow torch, or on the stovetop with an open flame until the skin is blackened (be very careful!).

Leave to steam in a bowl covered with cling film for 10 minutes, then clean the peppers of the charred skin with a kitchen towel.

De-seed and slice them lengthwise to create flat, lasagna-like pieces, and season them with salt and pepper.

Place the slices in a gratin dish, cover completely with olive oil, add the whole sprigs of thyme and smashed garlic cloves. Cover the dish lightly with foil, and cook for about 1 and a half hours. Leave to cool, and leave the pepper slices on kitchen towels to drain any excess oil.

For the leeks, trim and boil the leeks in vegetable stock for about 15 minutes or until completely tender. Drain and place on kitchen towels to cool, and reserve 200ml of the vegetable stock.

For the goat's cheese mixture, start with the shallots. Peel and roughly chop the shallots, dissolve the 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1 tablespoon of butter on a frying pan, add the shallots. When they start to soften and colour, add the 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar to deglaze, and turn up the heat until the liquid has evaporated. Lower the heat, and cook until soft and caramelised.

Beat the goat's cheese, crème fraîche, shallots and salt & pepper with an electric mixer until smooth. Once mixed, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped thyme and mustard.

Soak the 3 leaves of gelatine in cold water, and then dissolve in the leftover vegetable stock (heated to warm but not boiling).

Assembly time! Line a terrine pan (a small loaf pan will be fine) with cling film. Start with a thin layer of the gelatine and stock mixture, followed by a layer of leeks, then the cheese mixture, and then the red pepper slices. Repeat, just as you would with a lasagna.

Cover with cling film pierced in several places, place in the fridge upside down overnight or up to 2 days in advance, weighed down from the top with something heavy to set the terrine and drain excess liquid (line the bottom with kitchen towel to catch the moisture).

Place the terrine in the freezer for 15 minutes before serving, and slice in fairly thick slices.

To complete the meal, you can make a simple green salad - we had a salad with toasted walnuts, caramelised figs (cut in half, caramelise in a hot dry pan with brown sugar), and homemade croutons (tear some country bread, pan-fry in garlic olive oil).


Ready for the final result??

Look at that yolky goodness!

The soufflé was pillowy, fluffy and flavourful, with lots of goodies hidden inside. The terrine went very well with the richness of the soufflé, and you could really taste the sharpness of the vinegar and the sweet red peppers.

Although not exactly quick recipes for a weekday dinner, they would be great to try out on a weekend - and it's worth every bit of extra prep and elbow grease! (Not that I cooked any of it, but still.)

Thank you Maille for the inspiration, and hats off to the chef!

brighton around town

28 April 2014

Hopping back to our day in Brighton, we had a great time wandering around the town - the Lanes with its charming narrow streets and boutique shops, the beautiful tulips that just screamed spring, a quiet little garden that we stumbled across off a main street, all helped by the ideal weather.

We took two cupcakes to go from The Angel Bakery, a cute little cake shop on a tiny street, although I'm not sure how we managed to eat them on our way home after all the food we'd eaten already (which I'll talk about in a few days!). It's such a lovely seaside town, and it made for the perfect change of scenery from London - as much as I love the city, it's nice to enjoy somewhere not to far away, but still somewhere that feels unfamiliar and refreshing.

Any suggestions of where we should go next that's not too far by train from London?