Monday, April 7, 2014

Meatless Monday: Eggs for Easter (Souffle)

Look at the colour of those yolks.* I feel happy just looking at that burst of colour in my kitchen. It's Easter time and we're including non-chocolate eggs, chickens and their life cycle in this month's Intentional Play theme. There'll be a moderate amount of chocolate eggs, but I love cooking with real eggs as well. Because neither Lovely Husband nor Dear Boy are fans of the texture of pulses like chickpeas and lentils, it's a struggle to still round out the nutritional content of our meatless meals. After tofu and cheese, eggs are our regular go to.

Some meals where eggs feature heavily are more kid-friendly than others. I am a fan of breakfast-for-dinner meals but can't convince my boy to eat regular scrambled, poached, fried or hard boiled eggs. Our list of toddler-approved eggy dishes include:
  • Little Egg Pies - line a muffin tin or baking dish with a slice of (mountain) bread or a piece of pastry, crack in an egg as is or beat one with whatever add-ins you want, and bake.
  • Omelette Rollettes - whip up an egg with a tiny splash of water (water in omelettes and milk/cream in scrambled eggs - do you follow that rule?), and pour it into a nonstick fry pan so it spreads thin. Flip after a minute or two, remove from pan and while still warm, roll into a long sausage, spear at intervals with toothpicks and slice into rollettes. Dear Boy will munch through a few of these with a plate of veggies for dinner (just have to watch the toothpicks!)
  • Asian Flavoured Omelette on Fried Rice - same as above but you can add Asian flavours - a drop of soy or sweet soy, for example - to the egg, cook then chop  and scatter over or through a veggie fried rice.
  • French Toast - sometimes a dribble of maple syrup with dinner is AOK by me.
  • Bull's Eye Egg - there are a few different names for it but it's essentially cutting a circle from the middle of the bread/toast, sticking it in a pan and cracking an egg into the middle.
  • Zucchini Bake or Gourmet Girlfriend's Spinach Slice (via Lunchlady) - minus the bacon for meatless meals, although the bacon is flipping awesome.
  • Frittatta - any and all leftover roasted veg are great in a frittata. I'm also a fan of tinned or jarred artichoke in mine.
  • Quiche - easy if you keep a little shortcrust pastry in the freezer (just blind bake that baby before adding your filling)
  • Vegetarian Scotch Eggs - I like these ones using grated carrot, curry paste and breadcrumbs in place of the traditional sausage
  • Sash's Perfect Baked Eggs - eggs cracked over a chunky tomato sauce and baked.
Do you have any other eggy faves?

Another of my favourite egg dishes is a savoury souffle, which is much, much easier and less faffing around than you'd imagine. Have you ever tried making one?

Here's my go-to recipe:

Make a Bechamel/cheese sauce. This is essentially melting butter, mixing in plain flour to make a paste, then whisking in milk and letting it thicken. Once it's done that, add in your preferred cheese and stir as it melts. I don't ever measure out mine, but there are plenty of exactly portioned recipes online. I generally add a spoonful of grainy mustard and a sprinkle of chives or thyme to the mixture, but have also added finely chopped baby spinach or pureed pumpkin at this stage. You just don't want heavy chunks. Let the sauce cool for about five minutes.

Separate 4-6 eggs and stir the yolks into the slightly cooled sauce (if it's too hot, you'll scramble the egg yolks).

Whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks.

GENTLY fold the fluffy egg whites into the sauce mixture. I add about a third of the egg whites first and fold that in, which helps loosen up the sauce mixture. Tip in the remaining egg whites and fold them in very, very, gently. This is really the only critical part of the whole enterprise. Souffles rely on keeping the mixture airy, so gentle does it.

Tip mixture into greased ramekins or dishes. A lot of recipes suggest sprinkling breadcrumbs around the greased ramekin to help the souffle rise evenly, but I never have and mine rise just fine. I don't care if it's wonky.

Put in a 220 degree (celcius) oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Unlike me, make sure you check on them or get them out when the buzzer dings instead of getting distracted and wrestling a toddler into pajamas. These were still flipping awesome even with the slightly darker coloured tops. Normally they're just golden, like the colour around the edges.

It's easy to make this a low-fat dish as well. I originally came across savoury souffles in a Weight Watchers recipe substituting in lower fat spread, skim milk, and low fat cheese. I've used savoury yeast flakes for a cheesy flavour (when I was out of actual cheese) but I'm not sure how they'd go with non-dairy milks in the sauce. If you try those and it works, let me know. I know a few dairy-free folks who'd appreciate the heads up.

* I've tended to associate this more vibrant colour with our free-range or organic eggs, but it turns out that's a bit of a misconception. It's the bird's diet that affects the colour of the yolk - the carotenoids in dark leafy greens in particular tend to lead to more orange yolks - but additives in chicken feed like dried algae or alfalfa meal can also create that colour in eggs produced by barn or caged birds. So don't judge a bird's treatment by the colour of its egg yolk alone. I still love this vibrant colour, though.


  1. I love that you've posted them with the darker tops, it's lovely and rich looking. You've definitely tempted me to try making a dairy free version of these.

    1. "Darker tops" sounds so much nicer than "slightly burnt". Let me know how they go with a dairy-alternative. I bet they'll still rise.

  2. This looks perfect, can't wait to try'


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