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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cookbook Challenge: Week 1, Citrus

Rice and lemon souffle

Recipe: Rice and lemon souffle
From Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli

Hooray! It's my first Cookbook Challenge recipe. The theme for the first Challenge is citrus and I decided to make a rice and lemon souffle.

This is not a quick recipe to make and it uses rather a few bowls. I started with the lemons - large lemons are halved and hollowed out, before being brushed with a juice, sugar and butter syrup. The lemon "ramekins" are popped into the fridge while the rice is cooked in two parts. One part becomes like a "rice milk" and the second batch is to just cook the grains until they are al dente. After this, you're supposed to drain and discard the milk the rice was cooked in. I missed this step, but it didn't seem to affect the end result.

After the cooked grains have cooled, the rice milk and the grains are combined with cornflour and gelatine. Next, meringue is whipped up, and combined with the rice, before being spooned into the lemon halves and baked until they (hopefully!) rise and become golden.

I didn't have any issues with making the souffles - mine rose well and they looked very pretty in the lemons. It did take me a while to get everything together though. And as soon as the souffles were out of the oven, the race was on to photograph them before they deflated!

Rice and lemon souffle

But most importantly, how did they taste? Well, actually, I thought they were rather bland. The rice was only cooked with milk, so I didn't think the souffle was sweet enough. Not only that, but cooking the souffle in the lemons only imparted a TINY amount of lemon flavour. It smelt fantastic while it was in the oven, but once out you could barely taste any lemon. It didn't seem worth the fuss of making the lemon ramekins.

I think this would be better if these were cooked in normal ramekins, with a layer of rice pudding on the bottom, then some lemon curd, and finally the meringue on top. So it's probably not something I would make again, at least, not without significant variations.

Finally, I halved the recipe below, but I had a ton of rice/meringue mixture left over. I filled 3 lemons, and still had enough for four LARGE ramekins. The souffle in the ramekins rose really well though - check it out below!

Update: for a round up of all Cookbook Challenge posts for week 1, see My Food Trail for details. Thanks Rilsta!

Rice and lemon souffle

Rice and lemon souffle

From Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli

Serves 6 (I reckon more like 10, but whatever)

200g carnaroli rice
2 litres milk
1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthways
25g orange juice
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
3 big similar sized lemons or oranges
65g cornflour
3 gelatine leaves, soaked in water and squeezed (the book doesn't specific what strength gelatine leaves, I substituted with 3/4 tablespoon gelatine powder)

For the meringue:
250g egg whites
190g caster sugar

Place a tray into the fridge so that it gets cold. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Prepare the lemons or oranges by trimming each end (so that it sits flat). Cut each fruit in half width ways and scoop out all the flesh with a spoon. Discard the flesh. Place the fruit "ramekins" into the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

In a small pan, place 80g of the rice with half of the milk. Bring it to the boil, then turn to a simmer and let it cook until the rice is really soft. Blend the rice and milk with a hand/stick blender until smooth and then put the mixture through a fine sieve. Set aside.

Scrap the seeds out of the vanilla pod, and place with the rest of the milk into a pan. Add the vanilla pod and bring the milk to the boil. Add the rest of the rice, turn down to a simmer, and cook until the rice is al dente. Drain through a fine sieve, remove the vanilla pod and spread the rice out on the tray that you placed in the fridge. Set it aside to cool (but not in the fridge).

In a separate pan, warm the orange juice and sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, take if off the heat, and whisk in the butter until incorporated. Brush the inside and rims of your prepared fruit with the orange juice mixture. Make sure each bit is completely covered, this seals and smooths the insides so that the souffle doesn't catch as it rises.

Lay the fruit upside down on a tray and place it back into the fridge for about 5 minutes to drain off any excess syrup.

With a knife, chop through the cooled rice grains to produce finer pieces. Place into a bowl.

Put the reserved rice "milk" back on the heat, keeping back 4 tablespoons. Add the cornflour to this milk.

When the rice milk comes up to the boil, add the cornflour mixture, stirring all the time. Cook for about a minute.

Remove from the heat and add the gelatine. When it has dissolved, pour the mixture over the ice grains, stirring all the time as it will be very thick.

Next, make the meringue. Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar slowly, until the whites form stiff peaks.

Fold a third of the meringue into the rice mixture. Add the rest of the meringue to the rice mixture and fold in lightly. Don't overwork it.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared fruit, to about 1/2cm below the rim. Bake them in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until puffed up and golden.

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