I have several, very strong and special memories of my Mum teaching me to cook. Favourites include the attempt to make halloumi a few years ago, which I swear only failed because my friend Sarah and I had been on the gin most of the afternoon. Of course the mega huge batch of mincemeat. Which took months of planning because Ohio doesn’t seem to know about or stock Angelica, suet, or decent sickly sweet glace cherries, so she had to stock pile jars and packets and post them out to me before she visited. We then spent a wonderful afternoon in my small kitchen adding each ingredient carefully, basking in the glorious scents of orange peel, nutmeg, brandy. I used up the last of it just last month when I fancied a (somewhat out of season) mince pie.
But for some reason, perhaps as I was battling a depressive episode, and I tend to retain memories better during those episodes, or perhaps I just wanted to remember a really happy moment with my Mum. But I remember vividly, her whisking up a magnificent souffle for lunch when I lived in London. I was in a pit of despair, having exhausted myself in my final year of university. I had poured all my energy and time into exams and essays, and I was a husk…a shell…I took very little pleasure in anything. She visited for a few days and we watched reruns of Sherlock under a pile of blankets. That simple lunch stands out as a moment of food discovery and wonder for me. I learned to enjoy food again with that dish. Billowing, nay, towering out of the ceramic dish, perfectly freckled with blitzed spinach. It tasted like a garlicy, spinachy, eggy cloud. She guided me through the process, and I remember every motion and step and how important it is to be light handed when mixing the ingredients.
But rather than attempt to recreate that dish, I’m opting to make something sweet. It’s berry season here, and as I’m missing out on Wimbledon and the court-side staple of strawberries and cream, I’ve perfected a berry souffle recipe. Enjoy! And go Andy!
RECIPE- serves 4
1/2 tbsp CORN FLOUR
2 tbsp VODKA (I used local brand OYO, but I’m sure a flavoured would work well too)
300g RASPBERRIES AND STRAWBERRIES
3 EGG WHITES
Preheat oven to 375F, putting a baking tray on the middle shelf.
In a small pan, slowly warm your fruit with a dash of water for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix your cornflour and vodka together to make a slick paste, adding a spoonful to the fruit when combined.
Sieve fruit into a bowl, stirring in the remaining cornflour mix- stir until smooth and combined- save the macerated fruit.
Grease 4 ramekins, dust with sugar and layer some of the fruit compote on the bottom of each dish, and set aside.
Whisk your egg whites together, slowly adding the sugar until silky white peaks form (and you can safely do the “bowl over the head” trick!) and slowly, gently, stir in the vodka fruit mix until evenly coloured and distributed.
Spoon in equal amounts to the ramekins, and even the edges with your finger. Place on the baking sheet and cook for 8-9 minutes until well risen.
Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve fresh out the oven.