Souffle Calabragilistic

I discovered soufflé during the, so-called winter of discontent. It was 1974 and I’d just set up home and had my first proper job, working albeit a three day week.  My employer was having such a hard time, he asked us to prioritise calls because it was cheaper to phone in the afternoon. The current BBC TV series, The Real 1970s reminds me of those bleak times with fuel rationing, food shortages, inflation out of control, power cuts and total black outs.

I got through those cold, dark winter nights tucked up in bed reading by candlelight Elizabeth David’s, French Provincial Cookery book. Perversely, reading about food seemed the next best thing to eating it. She wrote about food for the soul, which was such an exotic idea compared to the ideas I’d got from cook books written by sensible women who called themselves home economists. Fantasising about foreign foods and experimenting with new recipes cheered me up no end. I owe Ms David, it was a revelation as well as an education. My favourite frugal meal, at the time was ED’s cheese soufflé. Having a dozen hens as neighbours and a generous owner helped to keep up my soufflé habit.

Back to the future, it’s the day before the next veg box delivery and I’m rummaging around the fridge for a meal: half a head of calabrese and three eggs. Inspired by my 1970s food memories it seems right to get out the soufflé dish from the back of the cupboard and see if I’ve still got the knack.

Take: a handful of calabrese (broccoli), 3 eggs separated, 25g butter, 30g plain flour, 50g hard cheese, 300ml milk, fresh grated nutmeg, seasoning.

Butter 1 litre soufflé dish. Pre-heat oven 200C, Gas 6. Make a white sauce, remove from heat, season. Add cheese, nutmeg and three egg yolks. Set aside. Cook calabrese, chop finely. Whisk egg whites to stiffness. Fold in calabrese followed by egg whites. Pour mixture into the dish and cook for 30 minutes until well risen and brown. Serve immediately. Super duper expialidelicious! As good now as it was back then.

One Legged Food

‘Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs and other mammals)’. So says a Chinese proverb offering traditional wisdom on a healthy diet. But what stand should we take on fish with no legs?

Advice about what and how to eat probably benefit those who publish more than the folks who read them. When the Blood Type Diet came out in the 1990s, it seemed to explain something that I’d already figured out for myself. An O blood type person, like me, should eat meat and forget wheat. O types, according to Eat Right 4 Your Type, come from a line of foragers and hunter gathers who lived in the northern hemisphere and what they needed was lots of protein. It’s true, wheat and I don’t get along and I do get along with meat in moderation and I get along even better eating lots of veg and fruit. The blood type diet has since been rubbished by the established medical experts.

Probably the best way to eat is to let common sense be our guide and trust our guts to know what we need. The Food Rules book is a good source of common sense, like Rule No. 20 ‘It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car’, (unless it’s road kill but let’s not go there).

These days I’m so busy eating vegetables every which way just to keep up with my veg box, I haven’t got time to think about meat. Which brings me back nicely to the three varieties of one legged food in my box this week: mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower. All good for a fast food lunch.

Steam green and white florets whilst flashing the mushrooms in a drop of oil around a hot wok. Add steamed veg, toss with mushrooms for a minute or two then sprinkle dark soy sauce (or any other sauce you fancy). Toss a bit more and it’s ready to serve. Add carbs to suit maybe a portion of rice, couscous, quinoa or if in a hurry, hurry drop a handful of noodles into boiling water, wait a couple more minutes until they’ve gone soft and plump, drain, serve, eat.