feel the fear and cook it anyway – how to become fearless in the kitchen

souffle-8

Have you ever eaten something breathtaking and wished you could go home and make it yourself?

Have you known in your heart that you’d be too scared to try?

Fear. It’s something that’s a part of life. It can stop is from achieving our dreams. It can stop us from even having a go. It can stop us from creating amazing things in the kitchen.

Even someone like me, who has attempted a Turducken, suffers from occasional kitchen fear. It’s normal. So this week I thought I’d share with you a few tricks that help me overcome my culinary fears.

egg whites ready for whisking

How to become fearless in the kitchen.*

i. acknowledge your fear.
The first step to solving any problem is to admit that there is a problem in the first place. Same goes for fears. Its amazing how something simple as telling it like it is can make our fears seem less scary and overwhelming.

ii. feel your fear
Take a little time to get to know your fear. Facing up to the fear can bring it back into perspective – at the very least it means you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

iii. ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’
What’s the worst thing that can happen if you completely burn dinner? It will be a waste but you can always dial a pizza or have some cheese and crackers handy.

And if your souffle doesn’t rise? It will still taste sweet and lovely – maybe call them berry puddings to manage expectations.

iv. then cook it anyway
Show your fear who is boss. Invite some mates over, get into the kitchen, and give it a go.

We all learn best by doing. So why not try out these kitchen-fear-busting berry souffles. With only 4 ingredients and a whisk required, you’ll be doing Julia Child proud in no time [or Margaret Foulton for us Aussies].

I’d love to hear about your kitchen phobias and any tips you have to help overcome them.

souffle-9

4 ingredient berry souffles

serves 3

If you’re like me and store your excess egg whites in the freezer without knowing how many are in the bag, I picked up a great tip from Stephanie Alexander. An average egg has about 2 tablespoons of whites.

You don’t need one of those fancy stand mixers to make a souffle – a simple whisk, a clean bowl and some good arm muscles will suffice. It actually surprised my how quickly it happens.

If this is your first time separating eggs, it might be a good idea to allow a few spares for practice. But don’t let fear put you off. If all else fails use your fingers a la Nigella.

To prepare ahead, you can pre-whisk your whites and sugar and leave aside at room temperature for a few hours. Just give it another whisk before you fold through the jam.

If you’re cooking for more than 3 it’s probably better to make the recipe twice rather than doing one larger batch. Makes for easier whisking.

1T butter or vegetable oil
4 egg whites
1/3C caster sugar
1/3C – 1/2C berry jam
semi whipped cream, to serve.

Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Grease 3 x 1 cup ramekins or teacups with the butter or oil and place to one side.

In a clean dry bowl place the egg whites and a pinch of salt. Whisk using your muscles or a stand mixer until the mixture looks like soft marshmallow [see picture below]. Gradually whisk in sugar a little at a time until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Fold through 1/3C jam then taste. Adding more jam if you think it needs a more sweetness and/or colour. Divide mixture between the prepared dishes then use a knife to level them off. You’ll have some left over but better to have each dish full than have stingy souffles.

Prepare your guests for dessert. Bake souffles for 8 minutes then reduce the heat and bake for another 5 minutes until souffles are risen and lightly golden on top.

Serve immediately with cream passed separately.

* Inspired by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and mnmlist.com.

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{ 21 comments }

Alison November 2, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Hey Jules,

I took the plunge and attempted a chocolate tart recently – first tart ever – made my own sweet pastry from scratch WITHOUT a food processor, and it was a roaring success, though not without a few hitches along the way.. I wrote about it on my blog with all the relevant pictures if you feel like a read..

http://hitchingmywagon.blogspot.com/2009/10/just-call-me-tarty-tarterson.html

Wish I was off to El Bulli – it’s on my must visit list someday!

:) Alison

Trissa November 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Well done! Souffle without a kitchen aid! It looks delicious too!

maybelles mom November 3, 2009 at 4:51 am

pressure cooker. but, I am tackling this fear b/c I am working on a book of family recipes as a wedding gift for my sister in law. I would never have tackled the fear otherwise probably.

Sue November 3, 2009 at 7:20 am

Great looking souffle!

That is the most useful question I ask myself – What is the worse that can happen? It is beneficial in all scenarios.

kathryn November 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

I first made souffles after watching Donna Hay make little passionfruit ones – in the middle of David Jones Food Hall, in a camping oven. Which made me realise they really weren’t that hard.

And I totally agree with your point about “what’s the worst that can happen”. While the dish might not be perfect, it’s usually often salvageable. While it might not be a souffle, a berry pudding sounds absolutely delicious to me.

jules November 3, 2009 at 12:03 pm

alison
good on you for tackling pastry from scratch without a food processor – love stories like that.
better get ready to apply for el bulli – they usually open their reservations after they close the previous season – so will be in dec some time.

thanks trissa – it’s quite liberating to give the kitchenaid a rest.

maybelles mom,
I’m hearing you about the pressure cooker – something I need to put on my list to conquer. brilliant idea to pull together your family recipes – hope your experience is as rewarding as mine was

sue
you’re so right – it is a brilliant question outside of the kitchen as well

hey kathryn
love the story about donna hay and the camping oven souffles. cute

peasepudding November 3, 2009 at 5:51 pm

souffles, macarons, nougat, they all have that fear factor for me but being the sugar junkie that I am I keep making them even when I do have disasters! I had one bad session and very amusing with nougat that I had to turn into parfait! http://peasepudding.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/buzy-bee-nougat-parfait/

Toni November 3, 2009 at 6:48 pm

These look lovely. I have a tiny, tiny, grad student kitchen, so only needing a bowl and a whisk is great for me.

I’ve been afraid of souffles ever since I saw Sabrina (the original, Audrey Hepburn one, mind you) when she horribly botched hers by forgetting to even turn on the oven. Maybe I’ll finally concur that fear, for me and Sabrina.

Great blog! Can’t wait to try the recipe.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 4, 2009 at 12:16 am

Fabulous post! Puts a smile on my face :)

I find that having successes in the kitchen, no matter how small, really helps you to be brave when you need to be! And you can find success wherever you want. Sliced a tomato really thinly? Success! Cooked your pasta perfectly al dente? Success! Made a perfect croquembouche? Success! ;)

jules November 4, 2009 at 5:35 am

pease pudding
love the turning nougat into a parfait idea – brilliant

toni
I love sabrina – I’d forgotten about her misadventure with the souffle – good luck conquering the fear for both of you!

conor
love the idea of celebrating success at every opportunity – I was reading somewhere about how bill gates focused on a ‘sprial of success’ – why not employ this in the kitchen

Erin November 4, 2009 at 6:33 am

Rabbit. Can’t do it.

Thought I’m justifying this now by tell myself it’s the wrong time of year.

Memoria November 4, 2009 at 7:22 am

It’s funny. I’m scared of many things, but I’m not scared to try anything in the kitchen. When I started baking last year, I just tried any and everything I wanted. I still do this. In fact, my first blog entry was a danish with homemade yeast-based, laminated dough. I just though I’d make it because it seemed fun. I think I don’t have a kitchen phobia because I see baking as a distraction from the reality of life. So, no matter how complicated or seemingly daunting the task, I’m willing to do it just to get away from the things I really am afraid of…..hmmm…wow. I’ve never thought about this deeply. Nevertheless, outside of the kitchen, I’m afraid of many things. Thanks for what turned out to be such a thought-provoking question.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 4, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I think some food smells fear quite honestly. You need to show them who is boss. The only example of a food that defies this is macarons, they’re just temperamental! :P

Amuse-bouche for Two November 5, 2009 at 2:42 am

I try to compress too much into too little time which sets me up for many a failure. But when there is a success I am flush with happiness.

Aimee November 5, 2009 at 8:00 am

Thanks for making these souffles for us last night Jules! They were delicious (as was the rest of the meal…) I might even give them a go myself sometime ;)

Lauren November 6, 2009 at 9:37 am

I like this recipe, it seems do-able and really yum! The only thing is, I don’t think you mentioned what temperature the oven should be set to, nor what it should be lowered to!

nicole November 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm

This looks divine and I’m not afraid to try it! You photos are glorious.

Arwen from Hoglet K November 11, 2009 at 6:59 pm

I wish I had the strong arms of my grandmothers, who always make hand whisking look easy!

Paul November 16, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Your souffle recipe looks and sounds delicious.
I’m an adventuous home cook. Motto = Nothing tried is nothing ventured. ()

Tip from a fave restaurant of mine in Sydney – Banjo Patteson Cottage. (www.banjopatterson.com) They do an amazing souffle with vanilla bean. After preparation and dusting top run a PERFECTLY CLEAN finger dipped in iced cold water around the rim to creat a small “edge”. Do this in three efforts of 1/3rd each ensuring you clean finger perfectly. The souffle will rise upwards evenly.

Shannon December 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Hi! So I just made 4 blackberry souffles for my family and they were a hit! They rose beautiully and tasted magical! I served them with french vanilla ice cream and blackberries which made it out of this world! This is an amazing recipe which I am sure to use again. Keep the wonderful recipes coming!

cookingrookie April 28, 2012 at 4:46 am

I just found your site through Pinterest, it’s so lovely! I am certainly going to come back soon :-). You have a new fan

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