(Bloomberg) -- Mary Berry is a like a favorite aunt whose warmth and intelligence make you love her and want to impress her at the same time.
She’s kind and softly spoken, but with a sharp mind and a presence that has won her millions of fans around the world for TV shows such as the The Great British Bake Off. And now she has a new series on the BBC, Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts.
I decided to try a recipe from the accompanying cookbook Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts (BBC Books, £26) for double-baked mushroom souffles with cheese. It is not as difficult as I expected, though my version was far from perfect.
I broke one of the six required ramekins before I even started, and the ovenproof dish I used was too small at 22 centimeters (8.7 inches) by 15 cms. The trickiest parts for me were stiffening the egg whites, and popping the souffles out of the ramekins. Oh, and I also managed to burn the souffles, but only a little bit. Apart from all that, it was all tickety-boo.
This recipe serves six, and I should warn you that it is very rich, as befitting a dish with full-fat milk, butter and double cream.
Mary Berry says: “Pure indulgence in the best way! You can make these simple mushroom and cheese souffles well ahead of time, then reheat them in the creamy spinach sauce and they still stand tall.”
75 grams (3 ounces) butter, plus extra for greasing
200g chestnut mushrooms, finely diced
50g plain flour
300 milliliters (10 fluid ounces) hot full-fat milk
50g Gruyère cheese, grated
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, separated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
300ml pouring double cream
50g baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1. You will need 6 x size 1 (100ml) ramekins. Preheat the oven to 220°c (430° Fahrenheit)/200°c fan/gas. Butter the ramekins generously. Lay a piece of kitchen paper in the base of a roasting tin – the paper stops the ramekins for slipping in the tin.
2. Melt 25g of the butter in a large, non-stick frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry them over high heat for a few minutes. Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat and cook for another 4 minutes, then remove the lid and fry over a high heat to evaporate the liquid. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set them aside.
3. To make the base, melt the remaining butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour to make a roux and cook for a minute. Gradually add the hot milk and whisk over a high heat until you have a thickened, smooth sauce.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until the sauce is smooth. Add the mushrooms and the cheese and season, then set aside to cool a little.
5. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir about a tablespoon of egg whites into the egg and mushroom mixture and carefully fold it in, keeping everything light and airy.
6. Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins and sit them on the paper in the roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the souffles for about 5 minutes until risen and lightly golden.
7. To make the sauce, pour the cream into a jug and add the spinach and mustard. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
8. To serve, preheat the oven to 220°c /200°c fan/Gas 7. Carefully run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and remove the souffles. Sit them, browned side up, in an ovenproof dish, then spoon the sauce around them. Reheat for about 12 minutes until piping hot. Serve with dressed leaves or some brown bread.
Extracted from Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts by Mary Berry (BBC Books, £26). Photography by Laura Edwards.
Richard Vines is Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines.
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