I was lucky enough to spend a week in Ballymaloe Cookery School two years ago. And fell in love with food, Cork and found my food hero, Darina Allen. My whole attitude towards food, sourcing, saving and cherishing food changed in that sun blissed week in Shanagarry,East Cork. I learnt how to make mayonnaise, how to chop an onion and to always keep eggs at room temperature. I also got to taste Smoked Gubbeen in the same county it comes from with a glass of red wine outside the pink cottage where the group of us were staying on the grounds. The sun would go down on some very blessed and content cookery students every evening. It was one of the best week’s of my life and I dream of going back.
I try to include cheese in most of my meals and this recipe is adapted from Ballymaloe’s www.cookingisfun.ie
I’ve adapted it to include the delicious Smoked Gubbeen and it works a treat as an impressive dinner party starter:
Smoked Gubbeen Soufflé
15g Parmesan cheese (Parmigano Reggiano is the best kind) – optional
4 eggs, preferably free range and organic
30g Gruyere cheese, grated
25g Smoked Gubbeen, grated
55g freshly grated Parmesan
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 individual soufflé dishes, 7cm (diameter x 4cm high or one large dish 15cm diameter x 6.5cm high.
First prepare the soufflé dish or dishes: brush evenly with melted butter or some freshly grated Parmesan.
Preheat the oven to 200º C/400º F /gas mark 6 and a baking sheet. Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Return to the heat, whisk as it comes to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Separate the eggs and put the whites into a spotless stainless steel bowl. Whisk the yolks one by one into the white sauce, add the cheese, season with salt, pepper, cayenne and a little freshly ground nutmeg. It should taste hugely seasoned at this because the egg whites will dull the seasoning. Stir over a gentle heat for just a few seconds until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat. (you can make them ahead to this point – perfect for a dinner party)
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt, slowly first and then faster until they are light and voluminous and they reach the ‘stiff peak’ stage. Stir a few tablespoons into the cheese mixture to lighten it and then gently fold in the rest. Fill the mixture into the prepared dish or dishes (if you fill them three quarters full you will get around 10 but if you smooth the tops you will have about 8). Bake in a preheated oven for 8-9 minutes for the individual soufflés or 20-25 minutes. For the large soufflé reduce the temperature to 180ºC / 350º F /gas mark 4, after 15 minutes and use a bain marie to help you out.
Prepare for ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and enormous satisfaction when they come out of the oven.