Asparagus and gruyère soufflés
Makes 6 Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 25 min
100g rindless gruyère cheese,finely grated
500g thin asparagus spears
200ml whole milk
25g plain flour
3 medium free-range eggs, separated
You will also need
6 x 250-300ml oval or round ovenproof baking dishes
1/Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/ gas 5. Melt the butter in a
small pan and use a little of it to brush the insides of 6 x
250-300ml ovenproof baking dishes. Sprinkle a little of the
grated cheese into each dish and tip on its side, turning them to
coat the insides with the cheese. Put the coated dishes in a
2/Cut or snap off (and discard) the woody ends from each
asparagus spear – you should be left with about 300g. Cut the remainder into 5cm lengths, keeping the tips separate from the stalks. Drop the stalks into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drop the tips into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes until just tender, then drain and refresh. Dry the asparagus pieces on kitchen paper, then tip the stalks into a food processor and blend into a smooth purée. Season lightly and set aside.
3/Warm the milk in a small pan until just above blood temperature. Reheat the rest of the melted butter and when it is bubbling hot, stir
in the flour and leave it to cook gently for about 30 seconds. Take
the pan off the heat and gradually beat in the warm milk with a wooden spoon (or a whisk) until the mixture is smooth. Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Lower the heat and simmer gently for3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
4/Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the egg yolks, followed
by three quarters of the remaining cheese and the asparagus purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5/In a large, clean and dry mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to
soft peaks (as you lift out the beaters, you’ll create peaks that will droop over to one side at the very top). Vigorously stir a large spoonful of the beaten egg white into the sauce to loosen it slightly, then very gently fold in the remainder with a metal spoon or
balloon whisk, using a figure of eight motion. When mixed, spoon
the mixture equally into the prepared dishes, filling them to within 2.5cm of the top, then push the reserved asparagus tips gently into
the top of the mixture. Sprinkle lightly with the remaining grated cheese.
6/Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed up, golden and just cooked through. Serve straightaway.
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