Thursday, February 17, 2011

Goats Cheese Puff

Every now and then one needs something truly rich and celebratory for no particular reason at all. And sometimes one needs this midweek; that is, without planning or shopping or meticulous preparation.

The following recipe is fast becoming one of our more luxurious staples. Decadent souls that we are, we always have goats cheese and parmesan in the fridge; they sit there for weeks until needed. Our chickens provide us with an abundance of eggs, and thyme, of course, grows in the garden. With ingredients to hand, the dish takes ten minutes to prepare and another ten to cook. Thus while my little wild things watch a Maurice Sendak animation, I can assemble and cook a sublime golden puff, whip up a salad – perhaps zucchini –, set out good bread, pour out the wine and dinner, my friends, is served.

Last night Grandpa joined us. After finishing the last morsel, he sighed, then waggled his finger at my very little children. 'When you move out,' he said, 'life will be expensive. This sort of meal costs a fortune in a restaurant, so you'd better start saving!'. My children looked at him blankly; they know, you see, how easy it is – my seven year old makes this under supervision, and we are all very proud of her.

The photograph shows the puff partially deflated. If you're not photographing your food before dinner (and I rather hope you are not), insist everyone sits up at the table just before it is ready so you can whisk it out of the oven and present it, in all its golden glory, before it sinks.

The foodies among us will recognise it as a simple flourless soufflé, but since so many people are scared of soufflés we will call it puff.

Goats Cheese Puff

- unsalted butter
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 150g soft goats cheese (I use Meredith Dairy chévre)
- 60g grated parmesan
- 1 tbs milk
- 5 or so stems thyme, leaves picked and chopped to make a scant tablespoon

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease a large ovenproof soup bowl with the butter.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites into a large stainless steel bowl*, and the yolks into another largish bowl. Lightly break up the yolks with a fork, then mash the goats cheese into the yolks. Add the milk, the thyme and two thirds of the parmesan to the cheesy yolks, and mix well.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold them into the mixture. Scrape into the soup bowl, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Slip into the oven for twelve or so minutes. It is cooked when the centre is goldenly puffed and the insides are creamy, not liquid. You can check by opening the puff with a metal spoon. If you can see liquid, slip it back into the oven for a few more minutes.

Serve immediately. Enough for three or four – it's very rich.

Adapted from a recipe in the delightful Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater.

*Plastic bowls are porous and always contain traces of fat; egg whites will not whisk if they come into contact with fat, so plastic bowls are no good. Aluminium bowls turn the whites grey, and copper bowls are wildly expensive. Thus, egg whites must be whisked in stainless steel bowls. Having said that, although whites will slide down the side of a glass bowl, if you don't have a stainless steel or copper bowl, glass will do.

(Local: eggs, goats cheese, thyme, milk. Not local: butter, parmesan.)

1 comment:

  1. That is so yum! I bookmarked this a while back and just had it for the first time for today's lunch :-) Next time I think we'll make it with Emmental: one of my favourite things.