Cheeseboard soufflé with summer salad
A soft and cloudlike soufflé is a great way to enjoy cheese in a different way. Grace any celebratory table, as a starter or light lunch, and serve with sweet, salty and spicy nuts, roasted grapes and a herby salad – a delicious ode to the flamboyance and flavour experimentation of the 1970s
Start by making the accompaniments to the soufflé. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c (fan) and line a medium baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Place the nuts and seeds in a sieve and rinse under cold water, then place to one side. Pour the icing sugar, and a good pinch of salt and pepper into a small mixing bowl with the cayenne and chopped rosemary.
Tip the damp nuts and seeds into the bowl and mix well to coat, then spoon the nuts in an even layer onto one half of the baking tray. Add the grapes to the other side of the tray, drizzle with a little olive oil before placing the tray in the oven for 10 minutes, until the nuts are golden, and the grapes are looking tender and juicy. When cooked, remove the tray from the oven and place to one side.
Meanwhile, make the soufflé. Place a baking tray near the top of the oven to heat up. Brush 4 ramekins with butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, knocking out any excess into the next ramekin.
To make the panade base (a thick roux), place a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then mix in the flour, mustard, cayenne and a sprinkle of black pepper to make a thick paste. Keep stirring for around a minute, until it starts to bubble, turning down the heat if needed.
In a slow and steady stream, add the milk, stirring continually. Keep stirring for around 2-3 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and the flour is cooked, then place to one side and leave to stand for a minute or two. Add the cheese and egg yolks to the pan and stir well to incorporate, making a paste. Season well and place to one side.
Place the egg whites in a very clean bowl and whisk into stiff peaks with an electric whisk. Once stiff peaks are formed, use a large metal spoon to fold in a spoonful of the cheesy egg mixture.
Spoon the remaining mix into the egg whites, then quickly divide the mixture between the ramekins. Fill the ramekins around 2/3 full and use a thumb or knife to run around the edge of the ramekin, to allow the mixture to rise and form a ‘top hat’ during cooking.
Carefully pull the tray out of the oven and place the ramekins onto it. Gently place the ramekin tray back into the oven and bake for around 10-12 minutes, or until well risen.
While the soufflés are cooking, prepare the serving boards. Arrange the roasted grapes, salad and crackers on the board, and place the seasoned nuts and seeds in a little dish and add to the board.
When the soufflés are ready, move quickly to place them on the serving board and serve straight away. All that’s left to do is enjoy.
75g mixed, unsalted nuts
2 tablespoons mixed seeds
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
½ bunch of grapes, washed
35g melted unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for greasing
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
30g plain flour
½ teaspoon mustard
Good pinch of cayenne pepper
90g mixed of finely grated strong cheese (cheddar, Parmesan, gruyere or comté work well)
4 large Old Cotswold Legbar eggs, separated
Mixed leaf salad, to serve
French salad dressing, to serve
Crackers, to serve