We’re Back! (or Let’s eat Soufflé and Sizzler cheese toast)

Souffle

I read a great post by decor8 the other day, about how a blog is only dead when you are.  As I’m still ticking, I guess it means this blog is still well and truly alive!

It has been a horrendously long time since the last post, and I have all sorts of excuses.  The latest one, is a three week holiday which my mum took Louis and I on (thank you mum!).  Not just any holiday, this was my mum’s first foray into Europe.  It was an incredibly hectic non-stop sightseeing frenzy which barely left time for shopping *shock, horror*.  I’m still in denial that I only purchased two handbags.  Ah well, next time.

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Before taking off, Louis and I finished the photos for this post, and I had grand plans to finish writing up this recipe while touring.  However, I tend to  feel sick if I try to read (or write) while traveling on coaches or planes, and by the time we collapsed with exhaustion in the hotel room each night, any thoughts of pounding out another post during the holiday quickly evaporated.

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That is not to say that this blog has not benefited from our holiday.  You see, in the haze of jet lag over the last week, I’ve had a bit of a travel-induced epiphany.

While I have learnt to relax somewhat as I get older, I still tend to over-organise, and do things like write a two page run-sheet for Christmas day, or diligently document every single item I plan to take on holiday (yes, yes I did…).  After several days of packing (and stressing), as  we walked out the door on the first day of our holiday, I conceded to myself that as long as we had bankcards, passports, insulin, glucose monitor and strips, that we had all the essentials and  could buy anything else we needed once we got wherever it was we were going.

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Then as we lugged our suitcases between seven different hotels I came to the conclusion that I could have packed far less than I had brought, and would still have been clothed everyday (and even had clean teeth).  Finally, once we came home, as we walked through the front door and I looked at everything we had done without for three weeks, I realised just how unessential so much of the stuff I surround myself with is (nice, but unessential).

Which brings us to this mixer.

Gratuitous photo of my new KitchenAid Mixer
Gratuitous photo of my new KitchenAid Mixer

For the last couple of years, a little broken hand mixer has been living in the back of my cupboard. During this time, I have lusted obsessively over KitchenAid mixers, while simultaneously avoiding any recipes which actually required a mixer (unless I could inveigle Louis into providing manual labour, though we all know how that can turn out…). Then last year Louis bought an ex-demo KitchenAid mixer, which I had for two glorious weeks, before realising that it was faulty (we realised that it probably shouldn’t sound like a plane taking off, and that the neighbours down the street definitely shouldn’t be able to hear when I’m using it!).

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Then for my birthday, Louis bought me a brand new KitchenAid mixer. It was like all my culinary dreams come true (apart from the dream where we win Tattslotto and have a live-in chef). And yet, I have barely used the mixer since receiving it.  Not only have I barely used the mixer, but I can’t even remember the last time I tried a new recipe.  So what is going on?  And the answer is ‘nothing important’.

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All excuses aside, the reality is that my days had filled up with ‘unessential’ activities: a few minutes here checking Facebook, a few minutes there checking Instagram, a few more minutes checking my emails (in case I miss a sale), then repeat several times a day.  Watching the latest reality cooking show, then watching The Blacklist.  And the result of all these innocuous little activities, was that they chipped away at my precious time, and left me with no time for the things which are actually important to me.

Sizzler cheese toast + really, really gratuitous KitchenAid shot (because you don't even need a mixer to make the cheese toast)
Sizzler cheese toast + really, really gratuitous KitchenAid shot (because you don’t even need a mixer to make the cheese toast)

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So I’ve made a decision to cull the unessential activities from my life.  Ok, maybe not cull exactly, but do things like check Facebook only once a day only twice a day not as often as I used to (you get the idea). I’m making a conscious effort to use my time more efficiently, so that I can make this blog a priority.  Not because blogging is important per se, but because the way in which Louis and I have agreed to split the household chores, means that I inevitably have a lot to do with how Louis manages his Type 1 Diabetes – and this blog forces me to think carefully about the food I create in the kitchen.

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Just to clarify, it’s not like I’ve fallen into old bad habits and have been feeding Louis junk food and frozen meals for the last few months.  It’s more that my repertoire of ‘approved’ dishes is still really small, and we have been eating an awful lot of pizza lately…  So finally, time for something new!

Cheese soufflé & spinach salad

Serves 2
Per serve: 0.9 Exchanges, 14g carbohydrates, 1407 kJ, 336 Calories

As soon as I got my KitchenAid, I was desperate to make something which I couldn’t have made without a mixer.  A soufflé fit the bill quite nicely, since there is no way I would have ever manually whipped eggs to a stiff peak.  So here it is, my simple version of what was originally a Three Cheese Soufflé.  (I know, how unlike me to remove cheese.  However I was desperate to make a soufflé, and only had one cheese in the fridge at the time!).  Enjoy!

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Ingredients

  • 30 grams salted butter
  • 10 grams Panko breadcrumbs
  • 10 grams plain flour
  • Half a cup of skim milk
  • 50 grams finely grated Pecorino
  • Half teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs (50 grams each)
  • 60 grams baby rocket
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic glaze

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 170° Celsius (fan-forced).
  2. Divide 10g of the butter between two ramekins (one cup capacity each), and place in the microwave at low heat for 30 second bursts, until the butter is melted.
  3. Remove one of the ramekins from the microwave, and turn it around, so that the melted butter coats the inside of the ramekin.  Repeat with the second ramekin.
  4. Divide the Panko breadcrumbs evenly between the two ramekins.  Turn each one so that the breadcrumbs cover the butter.  Tap out the excess breadcrumbs into a small bowl.  Combine the excess breadcrumbs with a tablespoon of the grated cheese.
  5. Place the flour, milk and remaining butter (20g) in a small saucepan.  Place the saucepan over medium heat, and whisk continuously until you have a smooth, thick mixture.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove the white sauce from the heat.  Add the cheese and mustard and stir well.
  7. Separate the eggs, and place the egg whites in the mixer bowl.  Add the yolks  to the cheese mixture, and stir well.
  8. Using the wire whip attachment on your mixer, gradually turn the speed up (to 8 for a KitchenAid), and whip until peaks form.
  9. Spoon a quarter of the egg whites into the cheese mixture, and gently fold through until just mixed.  Add the remaining egg whites and continue to fold through until mixed.  Be gentle, the goal is not to push the air bubbles out – it’s okay to still see streaks of egg white in the mixture.
  10. Spoon the mixture evenly between both ramekins.
  11. Sprinkle the ramekins with the remaining breadcrumb/cheese mixture.
  12. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  13. While the soufflés are in the oven, divide the baby rocket between two bowls, and squeeze the balsamic glaze over them.
  14. As soon as the soufflés are ready, serve with the baby rocket, and eat with gusto!

Notes

  • It is super easy to double this recipe (the original recipe was for four soufflés).  It is also more than acceptable to eat leftover soufflé for breakfast.

Sizzler cheese toast

Serves 2
Per serve: 2.1 Exchanges, 31g carbohydrates, 1291 kJ, 309 Calories

It was with a mixture of surprise and sadness that I heard Sizzler were closing their Australian stores.  Surprise, because I didn’t actually know they were still around.  Then sadness, because like so many other Aussie children, I had fond memories of family dinners there (predominantly due to the dessert buffet, and the fact that I don’t know anyone else since, who has frog in the pond on their menu).  So when my friend Jean requested that I put the cheese toast on here, I was more than happy to acquiesce.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients

  • 4 slices frozen white bread (cut thick for toast)
  • 20 grams Kraft grated Parmesan
  • 40 grams margarine

Directions

  1. Combine the Parmesan and margarine in a small bowl.
  2. Spread one side of each piece of frozen bread with the Parmesan/margarine mixture.
  3. Heat a frying pan to medium heat.
  4. Place the bread in the frying pan, with the Parmesan/margarine mixture face down.
  5. Put a lid on the frying pan, and fry until the cheesy side of the  bread is golden brown (about five minutes).  Serve immediately, and eat with gusto!

Notes

  • Ingredients
    • I hadn’t bought Kraft Parmesan in years, but it seemed nostalgically appropriate here.  Feel free to use whatever real Parmesan you have in the fridge!
Even Alexa was licking her lips in anticipation of this one - pity I only made enough for two...
Even Alexa was licking her lips in anticipation of this one – pity I only made enough for two…

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