I’m a big believer that food should be fun, for adults as well as for kids. Which is why, when I saw the recipe for the delightful dessert pictured above in a new cookbook my darling wife S had just purchased, I knew I had to make it. The book, which I urge all of you to buy (for two reasons), is called Off Duty, the world’s greatest chefs cook at home. Not only is this book filled with great profiles of and recipes by 48 terrific cooks like Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, Raymond Blanc, Nobu Matsuhisa, and several generations of the Roux family, proceeds from this book go to The Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation. The Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation was started by chef David Nicholls after his son was left paralyzed following a swimming accident. It’s mission is to fund research to cure spinal injury.
One of the chefs featured in Off Duty is Michel Richard, considered a pioneer in Franco-Californian cooking. I’ve owned Richard’s book Home Cooking with a French Accent for years and have always treasured it. Understandably, I was excited to discover some new recipes by this talented chef. The first two recipes in his section are Salmon Rillettes and Aubergine with Scallops and Goat’s Cheese. But it was his third recipe, for Egg Soufflé, that had me jumping up and down like Cruise on Oprah.
This is a great dessert. Looking at it puts a smile on my face. It’s fun, delicious and easy to make. It’s so very surprisingly easy to make. Which was one of the reasons why I was so taken with it and so astounded that it worked as well as it did. You see, the only cooking that is required is done in the microwave… yup, you read correctly, the microwave. Essentially, the dessert, served in an egg shell, is two layers of meringue with a surprise “yolk” filling made of lemon curd. The top of the soufflé is blowtorched briefly, giving it a lovely browned color while also puffing up the meringue.
S and I hosted some friends for dinner last Saturday. We served these gorgeous and humorous little soufflés, accompanied with a scoop of homemade Almond Roca ice cream, for dessert.
Makes 8 portions
Juice of 3 lemons
40g unsalted butter
Using an egg cutter, cut the tops off the eggs. Discard the tops and separate the yolks and whites of 4 eggs. Reserve the remaining 4 eggs. Make the lemon curd by placing the 4 egg yolks, lemon juice, butter and 100g of sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the mixture for 5 minutes, pulling the bowl out to whisk every minute. Cover with cling film and leave to cool. The curd will thicken as it cools. Place in the fridge for at least 6 hours. This can be made a day in advance.
To prepare, whisk the egg whites, adding half the remaining sugar little by little, until they form soft peaks. Fold in the remaining sugar with a spatula. Place the eggshells in egg cups. Put the meringue in a piping bag and fill half of each shell with meringue. Put the lemon curd in another bag and pipe a teaspoonful into each shell. Then add more meringue on top to make it look like a soufflé. Place the eggs in the microwave for 5 seconds right before serving. If you own a blowtorch, quickly brown the tops of the soufflés; if not, use a hot broiler and broil the soufflés for a few seconds.
Note: you can actually replace the lemon curd with other ingredients. I’ve made these with chocolate and they’re equally delicious.
In addition to the egg soufflés and ice cream, we prepared 3 savory courses. For a first course, I made some crispy sweetbreads with curry sauce, plated over some risotto à la Milanese. For a second course, S made a lovely steamed ocean threadfin with ginger and spring onions. She got the recipe from a book she’s just helped finish editing. The book is being produced by uber-kitchen manufacturer Miele and is a compendium of steamed food recipes, as contributed by 8 big-name Asia regional chefs. This threadfin recipe was created by Justin Quek, chef-owner of La Petite Cuisine in Taipei.
Our last main course combined two of my favorite foods, braised pork belly and macaroni and cheese. S made the pork following a recipe from Tom Colicchio’s Think Like a Chef. I made the mac & cheese. The pasta was cooked in a simmering combination of milk and water that had been flavored with a bay leaf and some salt. It was then tossed in a sauce made from reduced chicken stock, a little of the milk poaching liquid, some reblochon, parmesan, and a generous portion of Tetsuya’s truffle salsa. Each portion of the pasta was placed in a ramekin, topped with more parmesan and then grilled under a hot broiler for a few seconds. Not exactly the mac & cheese of childhood memories, but it’s something that I think references our youth well while appeasing our more adult tastebuds.