Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter Mornings, Subtle Distinctions, Soufflé.

"Delight in diligence / Watch over your mind"
I come to write here for a number of reasons today. The first few are predictable. They have to do with my love of words, my passion for feeding myself and others, my fascination with the science and mystery of food, and the joy in feeling  -even if briefly- connected to like-hearted wanderers in the vast unknown freeways of this virtual world. But a little further down the list, hiding timidly behind other reasons, is an equally important one that I feel I should explore: put simply, it is a need to get my hands back into something I know I have done successfully in the past. I wrote that last sentence and paused to look at it. My mind wanders.

Another writing project has been weighing somewhat heavily on my heart and mind for some time now, it is no secret. My master's thesis has been testing my strength and ability and passion; it's true. But for a moment last night while I lay in bed, in that gentle and brief time between thought and sleep, I wondered if I have let the insecurities and doubts of my academic self penetrate the rest of me. The mind needs attention -as strange as that sounds- not to let one thing bleed into another.

I feel a bit more tentative, a bit more apologetic these days and I don't like it. This morning while I was drinking my coffee and looking out at the muffled, snow covered street, I thought about these fine and delicate separations: between prudent and afraid, pensive and withdrawn, ambitious and self-deprecating. I've decided to to pay more attention to these subtle distinctions, as they almost seem to prevail much more in my life than those stark dichotomies that are easier to notice. They seem just as important, if not more. After all, the difference between luscious whipped cream and butter lies in only a few extra shakes.

The recipe I am attaching to this post is here because it is the breakfast I make myself on such slow and introspective mornings when I have the luxury to spend time in my favorite room in the house and cook and eat and think in the blue light. Also because anyone who has tried to make a good soufflé appreciates the importance of recognizing the fine line between perfectly enough, and too much. The same action that assures the airy height of a soufflé, in excess, can cause it's downfall. The cook needs no special skill or equipment, but only to pay close and loving attention.

Pineapple Soufflé
(for two)

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
100g pineapple juice
50g finely chopped pineapple flesh
4 eggs (separated)
2tsp caster sugar
butter and sugar for ramekins
icing sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 175/350 degrees

Prepare two medium ramekins by spreading butter and sprinkling sugar on the insides.

Melt butter over medium heat and add flour and stir for a minute. Do not brown the flour. Add juice and pineapple flesh and stir for a few minutes letting small bubbles form. Remove from heat and add egg yolks, whisking them in one by one. Add sugar and whisk until smooth. Leave off heat to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile beat egg whites with a dash of caster sugar until stiff peaks form but not more. Over-beating the egg whites will reduce their ability to lift the soufflé.

Fold egg whites into the pineapple mixture in three additions. Make sure to do this in a large enough bowl. The first addition should be mixed thoroughly to lighten the colour and consistency of the batter. The next two additions should be gently folded to leave white streaks, using a spatula. Over-mixing at this stage will be to your detriment. Trust yourself to do it in a few strokes and resist over-doing.      

Fill ramekins almost to the rim, but not quite.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the soufflé has doubled in height and is beginning to gain some colour on the edges.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.