Last week I decided to make a soufflé for dinner. We had some eggs and a really lovely Saint Agur blue cheese that needed eating up. We both felt like something light. So a soufflé seemed like a good idea.
I know these wonders of kitchen magic tend to have a reputation for being difficult to pull off. But my soufflé history has been pretty positive. Until now.
The thing I didn’t take into account was that most of my soufflés successes have been desserts like these berry soufflés or these heavenly chocolate ones. Since I didn’t have a good savoury soufflé recipe in mind, I did a quick search of my cookbooks and came up with a good sounding option.
My first mistake was not reading the recipe through before I started. To cut a long story short, our blue cheese soufflés were edible but only just. And boy were they ugly – I think my camera would have gone on strike if I had thought about photographing them.
Reflecting on my soufflé nightmare, I realized I made a few rookie mistakes. So today I wanted to share with you the 4 steps I should have taken.
I’m working on a foolproof soufflé recipe but since its not ready yet, I have one of my favourite never-fail broad bean recipes for you. Don’t worry, if it’s not Spring where you are now, you can easily make it with frozen peas (or frozen broad beans).
4 steps to avoid kitchen nightmares…
1. Read the recipe fully before you start.
I’m guilty of just scanning a recipe or worse, only reading the ingredients list to make sure I have everything. I’d say 90% of my kitchen disasters start with me skipping this step.
2. Visualize in your mind how it is going to work.
This helps bring the dish to life before you begin. Especially important if you’re making a few different dishes and need to coordinate for the one meal.
3. Think about potential pitfalls and make a plan to avoid them.
This helps you to focus on the areas that are the most likely to go wrong and be ready for them.
One thing I do for my students at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School is include a ‘Problem Solving Guide’ with each recipe so this step is already covered. I’ve had so many students tell me that this has been super helpful for steering them away from nightmares and into kitchen success land.
I’ve included an example with the broad bean recipe below to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
4. Unless it’s a complete failure don’t point out any imperfections.
I learned this from my days designing chocolate biscuits. I noticed that when we had a big tasting where the whole team was together, if I pointed out all the little flaws with the samples before we began, everyone would rate the samples lower in most attributes. But if I kept quite and let everyone taste first, everyone would be more enthusiastic about the samples. Even when I’d share my concerns after the fact.
This is all about the power of suggestion. After observing this at work, I made a rule for myself not to point out the flaws in my cooking when I had people over.
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