It's mid winter and the June (Queen's Birthday) long weekend here in Australia. Peter and I have enjoyed a very restful Sunday, after a busy day of food shopping and generally rushing around for a good part of yesterday. A mid morning visit to the farmer's markets was followed by a trip to the supermarket and then to fuel the car. We arrived home and started to unpack the shopping, only to discover we had left a bag of groceries behind! Gah. Back to the supermarket and it was almost mid afternoon by the time we managed to catch our breath!
Once upon a time, I spent all day Saturday cleaning the house and doing the washing; and most of Sunday folding the washing and doing the ironing. As I get older, I am really starting to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Sunshine streaming in through the French doors on a winter's afternoon. Foraging for home grown produce in our kitchen garden. Eating my favourite fresh fruit when it is in season. Indulging in dedicated pyjama days. Curling up on the lounge together to read. Weekends spent just cooking, eating and relaxing. Deliciousness and a celebration of life!
I wish I could share with you the aromas that fill my kitchen this afternoon. There is a piece of corned beef cooking gently on the stove and I have sliced open several fresh passionfruit for tonight's dessert. I adore eating passionfruit fresh from the hand, but also love to cook with them.
Passionfruit soufflés are easy to prepare, but just take a little patience and practice. According to cookery writer and expert teacher, Shirley O. Corriher, in CookWise, 'A soufflé is an intensely flavoured base lightened with beaten egg whites and baked to puff to glorious heights ... the ideal soufflé is light and airy, yet still moist and creamy. This airy creaminess is created by perfectly cooked proteins just loosely joined, but it can be lost with overcooking'.
Bear this in mind. And, as always, use the freshest ingredients you can buy and have the ingredients and utensils ready before you start cooking.
50g unsalted butter, for greasing
4 egg whites (free range eggs)
100g vanilla infused caster sugar
pure icing sugar, to dust
Separate the eggs and save the yolks for omelettes tomorrow. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Gently melt the butter. Prepare four (or six) little soufflé dishes (or ramekins. 150-250ml capacity) by brushing them thoroughly with melted butter. Refrigerate the dishes until the butter has become firm, then brush on more melted butter, ensuring the inside of each dish is well coated. Refrigerate the ramekins once more.
Meanwhile, slice the passionfruit in half and strain the seeds and pulp through a sieve. Save the juice and mix with 50g of the caster sugar. Discard the seeds (or, if you are like me, eat them, I can't stand waste!).
Next, take the caster sugar and half fill one of the prepared ramekins with caster sugar and swirl it around, ensuring that the inside and bottom of the ramekin are coated with sugar. Sprinkle the remaining sugar into the next ramekin and continue with the rest of the ramekins.
Now, beat the egg whites just until soft peaks form and gently sprinkle over the rest of the caster sugar, beating through. Fold the passionfruit juice into the egg whites.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, dividing it evenly between the dishes. Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar and then run the handle of a teaspoon around the inside of the ramekin to create a hollow. This will help the soufflé to rise. Pop the soufflés onto a baking tray and fill with enough hot water to come up to the halfway mark on the ramekins. Bake for about 20 minutes until the soufflés have 'risen to [those] glorious heights'. Serve immediately.
* My recipe is adapted from Le Cordon Blue Desserts.
The process in pictures...
Baked and risen to 'glorious heights'...
Now, tell me, what are the simple pleasures you enjoy in life and have your priorities shifted over the years?
And please don't get the impression that I no longer clean my home. Of course, I do. I keep an immaculate household. But it's no longer a priority. And I no longer stuff cherry tomatoes either! These days, I figure life is too short!
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.