I have thought for a while now that Meat Free Mondays (MFM) are really not going to take off in our house. The last time I attempted to place a completely vegetarian meal on the table, my sweet Handsome pointed in the direction of the kitchen and yelled “Mom! Chicken!”
Now while I may find a gorgeous lemony wild mushroom and herb cous cous salad both fresh and satisfying, as far as my Handsome is concerned, a bowl without chicken does not meet the criteria for dinner. Soup, so as you know, does not meet the criteria for dinner either. If soup is on the table, even if it has chicken in it, you will find Handsome quashing down four slices of fresh baguette and asking for baked beans. Bear with my pounding heart, bear with.
Now if you are struggling to understand all the “what the what” behind MFM, click over to the South African page here and read all about it. You can also see pictures of cows and sheep attached to hot air balloons, floating about in the sky. Or a cow smiling at a burger. Nothing weird about that at all.
Anyway where was I? Oh right, the Taylor family dissolution of MFM. I had got to the point where it just seemed futile to persevere given that I am not one to fight a child over food, especially on a Monday. Then it happened that one Tuesday I made a Butternut, Leek and Rice Soufflé. To be absolutely clear, I am not in the habit of making soufflés. Actually it would be more correct to say that I never bake soufflés. For some still unknown reason, I decided that week 7 of Freshly Blogged was the perfect soufflé time. (You think you are very smart planning certain souffle glory and all that, until you are shooting your photograph hours before the deadline and it dawns on you that there is no plan B.)
What matters in this story is the result. Handsome loved this soufflé and he ate it ALL. Either this soufflé is fabulous or Handsome is rallying for MFT. Either way, our house has a new very well acclaimed vegetarian dish and that gives cows and sheep new reason to float. Okay, that is still weird.
I have given the recipe as it is on the site, but let’s be honest; who in their right mind would go to all the trouble of making breadcrumbs out of a fresh baguette? A contestant who only has a baguette to work with is who. For everybody else I would suggest just using the already made kind from your local bakery. That makes much more sense.
If you like what you see please throw a vote this way. I do like to look mildly popular on the leader board, and my mamma only gets one vote.
½ short baguette
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup Spekko parboiled long grain rice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2 leeks, washed and finely sliced
4 sprigs thyme, pulled from the stalk
2 cups butternut puree
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups milk
⅓ cup butter
⅓ cup flour
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
7 eggs, separated
What you do
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
- Break the baguette into pieces and place on a baking tray.
- Place in the oven and bake until crisp and dry.
- Place in a food processor and process into breadcrumbs.
- Cook the rice as per the packet instructions, drain and set aside.
- Prepare the soufflé ramekins by brushing the bottom and sides with the melted butter and then sprinkling on a thin coat of breadcrumbs.
- Heat the butter and the oil in a frying pan and over medium heat sauté the leeks and the thyme until soft and tender.
- Mix together the butternut puree and the leeks.
- Season and set aside.
- Scald the milk.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour to make a roux.
- Stir over a medium heat for two minutes.
- Whisk in the hot milk and whisk well as it thickens to avoid lumps.
- Stir over low heat to cook out the flour.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard and cheddar cheese.
- Add the butternut and leek mixture and two cups of the cooked rice.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
- Allow to cool slightly.
- Turn the oven down to 180˚C
- Whisk the egg yolks into the soufflé base.
- Whisk up the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry.
- Vigorously stir in ⅓ of the egg whites into the souffle base and then gently fold in the balance.
- Run your thumb around the edges and then bake for 20 minutes until puffed and golden.
- Serve immediately.