Hay Hay It's Donna Day!

Tami over at Running with Scissors is hosting this months Hay Hay It’s Donna Day. Now, I am not at all familiar with Donna Hay but that’s just our little secret (actually, I think she deserves some further investigation on my part!).
Apparently though, the premise of the event is this: a Donna Hay recipe is chosen and then we have to put our own spin on it. Previous months have seen Risotto, Savory Tarts, Macaroons and Fritters.
This month however, Tami has set us a real task, guaranteed to send hundreds of people fleeing for cover under their aprons and pudding basins: Soufflé!
Soufflés put the fear of God into people for one reason only: egg whites. They can be notoriously unstable and if you are a little careless or don’t take the due care and attention of your egg whites, they can literally turn your dish into a runny plate of ooze or a big eggy lump.
I’ve only made Soufflé once before and that was a basic (but no less delicious) cheese one. I can’t remember where I got the recipe from or even what type of cheese I used, I just remember making a cheese sauce, folding it into the egg whites, pouring the ethereal mixture into small ramekins and ovening for 15 minutes or so, then smugly thinking to myself “this isn’t so hard”. Actually, they tasted excellent and rose a good inch or so about the rim of the ramekins.
This time around, the recipe we have to adapt is a Cheddar Cheese and Spinach Souffle. I suspect that there will probably be some sweet soufflés entered and that will certainly be the next logical step for me in realm of the soufflé. However, we had no dinner prepared tonight so I decided to make a savoury one, using the basic egg/sauce blueprint but playing around with the main flavours.
I have mentioned many times before that my cupboards and refrigerator are like a series of murky and sometimes scary catacombs. Climb in too far and you never know what might leap out and bite you. I was reminded of this fact whilst searching for a spare pack of butter the other lunch time as my fingers sank into a very old log of Goats Cheese that I had been hording since before Christmas. I gingerly sniffed it. It smelt as Goats Cheese always does: a bit like day-old urine (you think that’s bad? I recently bought a Selles Sur Cher that smelt just like decaying broccoli and as for Vacherin!). With that the wheels were set in motion. I had bought the Goats Cheese and sure as well was going to use it!
On the very same day, rediscovering the Goats Cheese, a rather large Butternut Squash decided to roll off the work surface straight onto my foot. I figured this to be some sort of sign (no, not of my own inherent untidiness) and mentally put the two together. But I felt it needed a third element, a herb if some sort...something seasonal. Fresh Thyme! I know that Thyme works well with both Squash and Goats cheese so the triumvirate was in place: I would make a Roasted Butternut Squash, Goats Cheese and Thyme Soufflé! And that is exactly what I did. I am proud of this recipe, not least because it is completely of my own design but because it tasted delicious! Sure, it’s not a high riser but that could have something to do with the shelf being too high or perhaps the Squash being quite a stodgy vegetable. Whatever. It rose a little, tasted great and had all the attributes of a Soufflé. We served it with the remainder of the roasted Squash and some Ciabatta Bread to mop up the cheese sauce (although a salad would have been preferable).
Here then is the recipe:
1 Butternut Squash, cut in half then chunks (you will need 400g cooked)
About 10 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
200g Goats Cheese (I left the rind on), which equates to about 2 small logs, depending on your personal taste
4 Tablespoons Plain Flour
70g Butter
2 Cups Milk
Salt and Pepper
4 Eggs Separated
20g Breadcrumbs
Pinch Dried Thyme
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Place the unpeeled chunks of Squash on a roasting sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with Thyme leaves. Roast until a knife point pierces the flesh easily (about half an hour). Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, infuse the milk with a sprig of Thyme (bring up to boiling point, turn off and let steep).
Turn the oven up to 220c.
Butter a 2 Pint Souffle Dish (or 4 small Ramekins). Mix the Dried Thyme with the Breadcrumbs, and dust the buttered the Souffle Dish with the mixture. Discard any unstuck crumbs.
In a medium sized saucepan, melt together the butter and flour until it has formed a golden smooth paste. Pour over the infused milk and whisk like the fury until it thickens. Crumble over the Goats Cheese and remaining Thyme leaves (discarding stems). Taste for seasoning. Turn heat down to very low.
Remove the papery skin from the Squash and weigh out 400g. You can serve the rest on the side. Mash in a bowl then stir into the cheese/Thyme sauce. It will turn a beautiful pale peach colour, dotted with tiny green leaves.
Remove from the heat and beat in the Egg Yolks. Leave to cool to room temperature.
Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until softly peaking.
Gently fold into the cheese sauce until thoroughly amalgamated, then pour into the prepared Ramekin(s).
Bake for 15 minutes (small Ramekins) to 20 minutes (large dish).
Serve immediately with a salad and the remaining roast squash.


charlotte said...

That sounds heavenly. What gorgeous winter comfort food. Good one, Freya!

Writing At The Kitchen Table said...

Hi Charlotte! It was perfect comfort food and between me, you and the rest of cyberspace, I would have had it with some mashed potatoes...!

wheresmymind said...

I've been pondering making a chocolate Soufflé for EVER!!

Margaret said...

When you buy a squash and need new and interesting ideas this is just perfect.

Kathryn said...

This looks fabulous!! Is this the time to confess that I've never made souffle? Wow. Maybe I'll try yours! Well done Freya for an inspirational idea!

By the way, I like Donna Hay sometimes and I like the arty settings etc but some of her recipes flop... just a warning.

Kathryn x

Brilynn said...

I love goats cheese! I'm still trying to figure out a recipe for this round of HHDD... and don't worry, I didn't know who she was either until I started participating in this event. But I sure am glad I did, her cookbooks are gorgeous!

Gemma said...

I love Donna Hay's magazine and am considering treating myself to a subscription. This Donna day challenge sounds like fun - I'll get my thinking cap on!

Writing At The Kitchen Table said...

Hi Jeff, you really should make a chocolate souffle, I'd be intruiged as to how it turns out!

Margaret, I often have stuff wilting in the fridge so I have to be inventive sometimes!

Kathryn! You must give it a go! Warning noted: thankfully the souffle wasn't a flop (ho ho).

Brilynn, can't wait to see what you come up with!!

Gemma, I'm going to see if I can get hold of a copy and investigate further!

Freya x

Ros said...

Nope, never heard of Donna Hay either. The souffle looks very impressive though - a nice combination of flavours.

I have a butternut squash in my cupboard which has a tendency to fall out onto my foot when I open it. Maybe its trying to tell me something?

Barbara said...

Hi Freya
Thanks for joining HHDD. Nice spin on the original.

rachel said...

Wow! I am so impressed. Not only did you whip up a souffle, but you created the recipe yourself. Your ingredients seem like an amazing combination! Good picks.

Arfi Binsted said...

looks really great!!!

joey said...

Your souffle looks great! And the flavor combination does sound delicious...I think I'm still a ways of from being experimental with souffles, heehee :)