Monday, 12 January 2015

All Rise - Fanny Cradocks Standing Ovation

Fanny Cradock is keen to point out that leftovers needn't just be everyday dishes thrown together, and sadly for me need not all be Deep Fried - they can also be showstoppers, easily fancied up to impress and give a sense of performance to the given occasion. New Year is traditionally a time in Scotland to get 'back tae auld claes and cauld porridge' but thankfully Fanny is having none of that and is dusting off that very favourite Ballgown. Everyday is performance day. For Fanny, the Master of Performance is of course Escoffier, and we are all urged to follow in his culinary footsteps. After all, this is the basis of the entire Cradock Cookery Programme. Before suggesting that you head off to study Escoffier's Guide to Modern Cookery (which Fanny notes has been translated into English for those less blessed linguistically than her) she also has a quick reminder to stick with her teachings in the weekly partwork, which really we have only just begun. Spend some time reading over the previous recipes (the basics) before we head into more ambitious creations as we soar up the Club Ladder. I'm a little (okay a lot) scared of heights, but I'm dizzy already at the thought of more ambitious dishes.

Fannys' favourite flashy feat is the soufflé. She performed it herself in front of thousands on 'tour' night after night and saw no reason for anyone to be frightened of it at home. Whether your audience was invited round your table, simply the family eating from the television trolley (we all have one, don't we? Must get one!) or even if you happened to be alone, all would be wow'd by a soufflé. Especially if you baked them in hollowed out tomatoes, of course.

To make the simple soufflé mix, melt some butter over a moderate heat, toss in some flour and beat until it forms a soft ball and leaves the sides of the pan. Still on the heat, add a quarter of your milk and ease it under the ball of roux with the aid of a wooden spoon. I can hear Fanny accentuating the word 'ease' and wrinkling her nose ever so slightly in emphasis. With the milk safely underneath, leave it until it bubbles, stir slowly and gradually increase your speed to beat it fiercely. It's time to think of that person you never really liked again. Add a third of your cheese (any leftover will do, but something strong is best, like Gruyère), season and another quarter of your milk. Beat vigorously and continue with additions until the mixture is thick and smooth.

The key to a well risen soufflé is of course the egg whites. Whip them up until they are really stiff, and fold them into the cheesy mixture gently. Fanny says if you are lucky and your egg whites are outstanding, which presumably you won't know until you get going, you may end up with more mixture than you need, so have some other containers at hand at all times. It's a dilemma however, as Fannys advice is to not prepare them as if not needed this will only be additional washing up. 

As soon as the mixture is fairly smooth, spoon it into your prepared tomatoes. This is not a phrase normally read in cookery books. They should be as large as you can find, with little lids sliced off the top and hollowed out. Fanny gives no suggestions on what to do with the insides, so this particular leftover dish creates more leftovers. Presumably we will need to wait for the more ambitious recipes. With tomatoes packed 'high' they need to be baked in a slightly cooler oven that 'normal' soufflés for slightly longer. Fanny points out this is not a mistake. Seemingly if the mixture rises too fast it may fall down the sides of the tomatoes. This wouldn't be the curtain call your audience were expecting. This would not impress Escoffier one little bit. Or Fanny. The final soufflés though certainly are impressive crowning glories, tasty, tall and theatrical. Standing proud, but light and fluffy inside. Well deserving of a thunderous round of applause before simply scoffing the Escoffier inspired beauties. And no nasty ramekins to wash up. Definitely deserving of an encore!


  1. These look delightful! I've always been a bit scared of soufflés (I am a total wimp sometimes), but these look relatively easy. Might have to give them a shot! Anything for a cheese-laced dinner...

    1. You should definitely try them, if you can make a be hames sauce you can make a Souffle for sure... Mmmmm, cheese!

  2. Cheesy souffle stuffed tomatoes oh yes please. I could quite easily go vegetarian you know!