Thursday 5 November 2009

Recipe: Apple and Calvados Souffle

Along with grapes, the other glut that we're currently experiencing is apples. Vast quantities of them...and I'm not complaining. Chicken pieces sautéed with garlic and then baked with apple & thyme; thin-crust pies, filled with apple and guinea-fowl, and a sage flavoured cream; strawberry and apple tarts; apple and vanilla tarts, with brandy; apple and cinnamon cake....and now, an apple and Calvados soufflé which is both light and delicious, but with an unexpected edge.

This recipe has the additional benefit that it uses only egg whites, not the yolks, and so is another one for the list of dishes which eats into the ever-present egg-white mountain which lurks in a plastic container at the back of the fridge!

For two individual soufflés.

Ingredients: 2 apples (my preference is for something pink and robust like Gala or Pink Lady); 1 oz butter; 2 oz +1 tablespoon sugar; 4 sponge fingers (or thin pieces of sponge cake - something which will readily absorb liquid); 2 tablespoons calvados; 4 egg whites; icing sugar (to serve).


1. Grease (or Trennwax) two individual ramekins. Line the base of each ramekin with the peices of sponge finger (or sponge cake) and add a spoonful of Calvados to each ramekin, trying to soak the pieces of sponge evenly.

2. Melt the butter in a small pan, and add to this the apples, peeled, cored and finely diced, and the 2 oz of sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for ten minutes or so, until the apple is good and soft. Allow to cool slightly and then purée in the food processor.

3. Beat the egg whites until quite stiff, then add the remaining tablespoon of sugar and beat for a further ten seconds or so.

4. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the apple mixture, then fold in the rest of the egg whites and divide the mixture between the two ramekins. Place the ramekins in a bain marie and bake 15 minutes in a 220 degree C oven.

Serve straight from the oven, after dusting the tops with icing sugar.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

How to de-seed grapes

We have a glut of grapes, both white and dark. In the fridge currently is of a box of about ten kilos of the things which the Technical Dept harvested from the garden in about three minutes, at the start of the week, and I've been working my way through relevant recipes ever since. A white grape sorbet was pretty good, frothed with some beaten egg white and enlivened with a glass of vin santo, and last night's Duck, pot-roast in white grapes also got significant points. I've tended to stick with recipes where the process of crushing or liquidizing or sieving eliminates the need to deal with the seeds, since de-seeding grapes has always been for me one of the most thankless of all kitchen chores. Until now. Research has unearthed this elegant version of keyhole surgery which is both quick and efficient:

1. Take a standard paper-clip and unfold it into a 'S' shape.

2. Insert one end of the 'S' into the end of the grape which was where the stalk had previously been, and bear down into the grape.

3. Bury the clip into the grape to the depth of the first arm of the 'S', and then invert it, so the bit you first inserted is now pointing back up in the direction whence it came, and you have the curve of the clip in the centre of the grape, positioned to act as a hook.

4. Twist the clip slightly, to loosen the innards of the grape, and then carefully pull the clip out of the grape, bringing the seeds with it.

5. Once the seeds reach daylight, discard them and move on to the next grape.

Couldn't be simpler!

Tonight's dinner:

Celery Risotto (with stock made from last night's Duck)

Sausages of Wild Boar, with a Potato and Shallot Gratin

Clafouti of White Grapes, baked in Lemon & Cognac Cream