This is all part of my cauliflower education. I used to hate it. A hideous, watery, childhood cauliflower cheese is the culprit I think. Thanks to The Washer Up, who persuaded me to reaquaint myself with it, I now love its delicate flavour, texture and versatility. With the addition of a little rosemary it takes on a very grown up and elegant disguise quite unlike any childhood packet cheese sauce memories…..
You start by making a cauliflower puree which can also be used as a base for soups, stirred into a risotto, as a sauce for pasta with spice toasted breadcrumbs or as a side dish. Scallops with bacon & cauliflower puree is a classic combination. The puree works really well with curry flavours added to it as well as the more traditional nutmeg & rosemary I am using for this recipe.
Cauliflower Souffle with Brie & Rosemary
makes 4 small individual souffles, vegetarian
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets. This makes more puree than you need for this recipe but you can use it for other things (see above)
- 1 or 2 tbsp milk
- salt & pepper 1/2 tsp each
- freshly grated nutmeg ( about 1/4 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- about 125 gr brie, cubed
- 3 or 4 tbsp finely grated parmesan
- 25 gr butter
- 40 gr plain flour
- about 165 ml milk (I used goat’s milk)
- 3 eggs, separated
- butter & flour for greasing dishes/ramekins
Put the cauliflower florets in a large pan of boiling, salted water and cook until very tender about 10-12 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl or food processor, add 1 or 2 tbsp milk, the nutmeg, rosemary, salt & pepper and blend with a stick blender (or process) until very smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Butter 4 small souffle dishes/ramekins and put in the fridge. Heat the butter, over a medium heat until melted and cook gently until slightly brown(not burnt). Dump in all of the flour and whisk it into the butter, it will go into a sandy paste. Whisk and cook out the flour for another minute or so then gradually start adding the milk, bit by bit, whisking all the time and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses, egg yolks & pinch of cayenne pepper. Take about 220ml (1 cup) of the cauliflower puree and put it in a large bowl then stir in the cheese/egg mixture combining everything well. Butter the souffle dishes a second time and put back in the fridge. (This ensures they don’t stick when rising). Whisk the egg whites in a cold bowl to stiff peaks, take 1 large spoonful of the whites and mix it into the cheese mixture to loosen it. Check for seasoning, add more salt if necessary. Then, carefully & gently, fold in the rest of the egg whites with a spatula a bit at a time until just incorporated. (Don’t over mix). Take the souffle dishes out of the fridge, flour the insides and gently scrape the souffle mix into the dishes, just to the top. Run you thumb all around the inside of the rim to take the mix away from the edge. (This helps it rise evenly).
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes until well risen & golden on top. Do not open the oven before then!
Have your serving plates dressed with a green salad, ready to go, before you get the souffles out of the oven so you can serve them immediately, to a standing ovation…..!
Please don’t be scared about making souffles. If you follow this recipe it is a really simple, impressive and delicious starter or lunch dish. By double buttering and flouring the dishes they will not stick and running your thumb around the inside of the rim lets them rise evenly and beautifully. You just have to be organised, confident and ready to serve straight away.
Such an elegant dish, a million miles away from watery cauliflower cheese!
You can also serve these as a Twice Baked Souffle. I made four so we had two for lunch and the other two I cooked at the same time and left to cool. When they were cool I easily removed them from the souffle dishes wrapped them in cling film and put them in the fridge. To serve just preheat the oven to 200 degrees and cook for about 15 minutes to heat them through.
They don’t puff up as much but this may be an easier option for entertaining. You can make them beforehand and just heat them up when you need to, they are just as delicious and moist inside. I kept mine in the fridge for two days before reheating them again and they were still fantastic.