Dark Chocolate Souffle

Souffle: The final test

I’ve put off making souffle for a long. I would look at recipes and photos of them, and think they looked lovely, but were just too hard to make myself. One of those kind of dishes that takes a lot of skill and brings you crashing down to the reality of your culinary mediocrity when it doesn’t work out. If you hadn’t worked it out already, this blog is pretty much powered by my ego. So making dishes that have the potential to become fantastic faillures (whilst fun and a good way to learn) does not entice me to try.

But then along came Michel Roux. Who I’m sure anyone who reads this blog regularly is sick of hearing about. But really, the man is a genius. His recipes are simple, yet beautifully constructed. Refined, but not pretentious, and classic but not old fashioned.

So when I got to the souffle section of his Eggs book, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and have a go.

So a quiet Wednesday night to myself, and what does any red blooded Aussie guy do… Makes souffle !

So… a list of ingredients and a rambling set of instructions. If you don’t want to make so much, then just halve all the ingredients quantities (which is what I did, and still had enough to make two quite large souffles).


  • 3 tbsp softened butter (to grease the dishes)
  • 1/4 cup of caster sugar (to coat the dishes)
  • 240 or so grams of good quality cooking chocolate (I had a bar of Valrhona 70% dark chocolate to use up)
  • 10 egg whites
  • another 1/4 cup caster to use when whipping egg whites
  • For the Pastry Cream

  • 1 3/4 cups of milk
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • small 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • icing sugar to finish

How I made it

Heat the milk and two thirds of the sugar in a small pan and slowly bring to the boil. Put the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar together in a bowl and whisk them into a ribbon consistency (which I assumed to mean nice and smooth and wavey), then slowly incorporate the flour. Then pour the milk mixture into this egg yolk mixture return it to a low heat, and whisk it til its nicely smooth and a bit thick.

Well that was what I supposed to do. What I did in actual fact was not read the recipe properly… Forget to add the flour entirely, and then have to add it later, after I had already melted the chocolate down in a double boiler, and poured that into the egg yolk mixture… which still kinda worked.

So basically now you have thick chocolatey pastry cream, which can be used for lots of stuff, including fillings for choux pastry (ala Beard Papa’s).

To this I added my egg whites which were whipped into soft peaks with the rest of the sugar. I whisked in about a third of the egg whites, and then gently folded the rest in until it was nicely incorporated.

Then let it all cool down, and pour the mixture into the dishes.

The mixture ended up looking like this:

Soon to be souffle

Which I then put into the oven (preheated to 200 C), for roughly 15 minutes…

Souffle: Underdone

And then put it for a bit longer when I could see it was all rather molten inside… Can someone tell me how it’s supposed to be ?

Souffle: Rise my pretty

And thats how it came out… I was pretty happy with the result, although seeing as it was a complete experiment I wasn’t equipt with ice cream, double cream, icing sugar, or any other tasty little accompaniments to add to it… So what we had was nude souffle on a plate. The upside being, that it was lovely and airy and light, and made me feel happy with its magical mushroom shaped risingness. So much so that I intend to make a few more in the near future.

Also, thanks to Sue for the great title, and her ongoing committment to bad puns.

Must Wine Bar

Saturday night in the big city of Perth. What to do, what to do…

Sharon and I had decided it was time to head out and do something for once, rather than sitting at home in the safe little bubble that is my world of supposedly gourmet cooking. The interesting thing about running a food blog, is that when you want to look for a place to go and eat, you invariablely get sent back to your own website for more information. At which point you also get a chance to go over just how funny you were the first time you wrote whatever you happened to write (or possibly cringe at how lame you sounded).

So after a little checking and a few phone calls, it was decided. Must Wine Bar. Home of one of Perth’s best wine lists, some of the trendiest waiters in town, and some very tasty food to go with it.

I’ve been to Must many times before, although mainly to drink. It was the scene of a rather boistrous birthday party a couple of years ago where I think I over stayed my welcome after shattering 3 wine glasses. Good times.

Must is a funky place. It’s in Mt Lawley, which makes it funky by default…but it doesn’t rest on its funky laurels… It steps its game up big time. The place is always full of young sexy people (and old sexy people, and a few people who are neither young nor sexy, but who dress well enough to get past the bouncer).

We rolled in at around 9pm, only to be told by the funky host waiter that the place was fully booked, and they wouldn’t be able to seat us. Having a quick look into the restaurant part, I could tell that was blatantly false, and I was also quite happy to have a wine or two at the bar while waiting for a table, so I says to him… i says (in a cockney accent) “Can you go and check if there are any tables coming free soon…”. So he wanders off down the back and has a look around, has a quiet word in the ear of a few of the other funky waiters, and then comes back and tells me… “Well, maybe we can fit you in if you can be out by 10:15pm”. Now some people would be terribly put off by such time limits… Not me… I like a challenge. Firstly it means I’m going to get fast service, and it also means I can test my speed eating skills out… in case the world of competitive eating ever comes knocking on my door.

So we are seated, get some menus, and quickly get down to choosing the wine and mains we’re going to have. Making sure that we are ready in time so as not to cause them any strife due to double booking. 15 minutes later however, with all of our decisions made… no sign of any waiters. No-one hovering over us tentatively, waiting to rush off to the kitchen post haste with our express post delivery. What’s more strange is that now the restaurant is half empty, and looks extremely unlikely to fill back up to capacity. So why the waiter felt the need to tell us there was no room in the first place is a mystery to me… but whatever… we were in.

I ordered the Beef Cheek Ravioli in a Wild Mushroom Jus, and Sharon ordered the Steak and Chips (it wasn’t called steak and chips on the menu, but I forget it’s fancy name… and it was basically steak and chips anyway). I also ordered some minted beans as a side, and a bottle of Prunotto 2003 Barbera D’Alba (which was a delicious big fruity well rounded red wine).

The meals came out soon enough and I have to say mine was delicious. The beef cheek ravioli was melt in your mouth texture, and the wild mushroom sauce over it was a great earthy compliment. The Barbera went really well with this too. Sharon’s steak dish was less exciting. It came with the option of either bernaise or poivrade sauce, she chose poivrade, which was tangy, but not particularly nice. The steak itself was well cooked, but really, it was just a steak, some frites, and a small bowl of the sauce. Not exactly worth the $30+ dollars.

Then on to dessert and I chose a sticky fig pudding with vanilla bean ice cream, while Sharon had a chocolate tart with orange ice cream (?) I think. mine was really nice, and Sharon’s not so nice. The orange infusion ice cream didn’t really work for me, and the rest of the dessert was kind of mediocre. Perhaps we’re just more easily pleased with the traditional sweet styles of dessert.

By this time we were done. The bottle of wine was fully polished off and the offer of Vittoria coffee (shudder) politely turned down.

There are a lot of things to like about Must, but it’s not for everyone. It’s reasonably expensive. Most mains are in the $25 – $35 range, and with side dishes, dessert, and wine, it adds up to quite a substantial bill, which is perhaps belied by the fact that it’s essentially attached to a bar. It’s also quite loud due to the bar section right next to the restaurant section, and if you aren’t into being surrounded by lots of trendy people dressed up for a night out, then it might not be your kind of place.

I personally love the atmosphere and the food, and the wine list makes me salivate every time I look over it. The waiters (when they aren’t turning people away from a half full dining room), are very knowledgeable about the wines and will provide you with a sommelier service if you ask for suggestions. The food in most cases is excellent, but I’d choose your meal carefully so as not to be disappointed by something that sounds fancier than it actually is.

It was great for us though… a chance to get out and do some people watching, and also add a couple of new dishes to my “I think i could make this better at home” list… which is growing just as fast as my ego is :)

All in all though a great night, and we will no doubt be back many times in the future.

Must Winebar
519 Beaufort Street
Tel: (08) 9328 8255
Fax: (08) 9328 8355
Email: must@iinet.net.au


WA Latte Art Competition

The Pour

Last Sunday I headed down to the WA Barista Academy to have a chat with Ben and a few of the more discerning baristas and latte artists in Perth about the upcoming WA Latte Art Competition. Once again an AASCA sponsored event, and part of the lead up to the Australian and World Latte Art Competitions to be held later on this year.

The format of the competition is basically as such: You need to make 3 types of 2 identical drinks. One is a latte (flat white / monk head / foamless cappucino), the other is an espresso macchiato (piccolo latte), and the final is a drink of your own creation. Then points are allocated to the taste of the drinks, the quality of the designs, and the similarity between both patterns (so you can prove it wasn’t a fluke the first time), and a bunch of other factors.

Macchiato Art

So it was a good day, and I got to meet a few more of the cool people that make up the Perth coffee scene, like Clare from the newly opened “Tiger, Tiger” in the city, Corey from Core (soon to be Epic Espresso), Megan from Core, Jeremy (WA Barista Champion), and Dom of “My Favourite Perth Cafes” and “How to Poach an Egg” comments fame on this very website.

After the formal procedings we got into “Barista Jam” mode, and I made a mockery of the Mazzer Robur by adjusting it three times in the wrong direction…before realising what the hell I was doing and finally getting some decent shots after about 20 minutes. Then attempted many poor excuses for latte art that Ben assures me could be good enough to use in the competition, which according to him I have a good chance of performing well in, when you take into account nerves of competitors and the like… but I will need to start churning out something a hell of a lot better than my recent efforts for me to want to take the step and compete.

I’m more of a big fish in a little pond kind of guy…


Egg Week – Poached Eggs on Sweet Potato Mash

Poached Eggs on Sweet Potato & Spinach Mash

Well egg week continues here at Abstract Gourmet. Lazing around last night, wallowing in my own little world of ennui, and too lazy to cook a “proper” meal. I once again turned to my new favourite book of the moment, Eggs, by Michel Roux.

This recipe was supposed to be called “Herby Poached Eggs in Mousseline Potato Nests”. Problem was I was running low on potato, and so I made the executive decision to give sweet potato a run. This was easy as pi (3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510…). Boil some sweet potato in salted water until its soft. Drain, mash, add butter, mash again, add a little milk, some baby spinach, and some parmesan, mash again. Stop.

Cook two poached eggs to perfection, make a little mound of mash on your plate and put a hole in the middle, drop the eggs in and top with a sauce or stock reduction of your choice. I choice to reduce a little of my home made chicken stock with a stick of butter and a touch of corn flour. Then a little cracked pepper and we’re done.

Poached Eggs on Sweet Potato & Spinach Mash

International Syndication

Well recently I was lucky enough to get my espresso cubes article picked up by slashfood.com, and now it seems that someone else has picked it up from there…

I must say, it’s rather strange seeing my photo and name attached to a post that is otherwise completely incomprehensible. So if anyone out there can translate Japanese for me, I would appreciate it.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

My first successful attempt at making hollandaise sauce. This one came from Michel Roux’s Sauces (actually its in both his Egg’s book, and his Sauce’s book), but the recipes are identical. Basically white wine vinegar, water, and white peppercorns into a pan, reduce volume by a third. Let it cool. Stir in 4 egg yolks… put it back over a low low heat until it starts to thicken up. Now when its got a nice thick creamy consistency, take it back off the heat and gradually add clarified butter until you’ve got the taste and consistency you want. Season with salt to taste, and add some lemon juice just before serving.

The poached eggs are getting better by the day… the method keeps on getting perfected every time and I’ve got a kind of cross between the whirlpool method and the simmer over bubbles method that has been giving me great shape and perfect consistency inside.

So… toast some turkish bread loaves, cook some bacon… Layer the bacon on the loaves, put the eggs on top, wilt some baby spinach in a pan with a little butter, and then put that on top. Smother the whole thing with freshly made hollandaise.


Eggs Benedict

5 Things I Know About Me.

Well I’ve been given a sympathy tag for this Meme by the always friendly Ange of Vicious Ange (who’s website is about as vicious as mine is abstract… or gourmet for that matter).

So here goes with the 5 things meme.

5 items in the freezer

  1. Breadcrumbs: you never know when you will need them and I can never be bothered getting the food processor out to chomp them up… So when i finally give in to the relentness need for bread filling in my dishes, I make lots and freeze the rest.
  2. Ice cubes: Ummm yeh… You fill up these little trays with water and then put them in drinks to make them cold. I know what you’re thinking… I was amazed too the first time I heard about them.
  3. Chicken Stock ala Michel Roux: I just bought Michel Roux’s excellent book called “Sauces”. I should probably not admit to this, but i’ve never made my own stock before, and so just last night while waiting for the football game to start, I put together a couple of litres of chicken stock. It turned out great… So i’ve got a litre in fridge, and froze the rest.
  4. Turkish Bread Burgers – I love turkish bread… but I’m not organised enough to make sure I always but it fresh. So from time to time I buy a bunch of loaves and freeze them. Not as great as fresh bread of course, but after defrosting and toasted it over a flame, its great.
  5. Bugger… I really don’t use my freezer that much… I’m stuck already… now i know why I don’t get tagged for these things. Lets go with Chorizo… which is technically in the fridge and not the freezer, but is becoming more and more of a staple food for me every time I use it. I think I could plan an entire meal around that one sausage…

5 items in my closet

  1. My safari suit – The best $20 I’ve ever spent at the Good Sammy’s. That suit has seen some good times, and has a way of turning every party into a 70’s cheese fest. Plastic white rimmed, rose coloured aviator glasses are the perfect companion.
  2. A wooden tennis raquet – Which was probably pretty top of the range back when Bjorn Borg ruled the courts… but has since faded into anonymity since your fancy carbon fibre types came along… It’s really there only to make a fourth raquet alongside the rest of my collection, just in case I ever need to organise an impromptu game of doubles and noone else has a raquet… which may just happen one day.
  3. Countless shoes that don’t belong to me – I have no idea where they all came from, I think some of them evolved in there, or were created through some kind of molecular fission. Either way, every time I open the closet there are more shoes in there than before.
  4. Bull worker – I inherited this from my Dad. I have no idea how to use it, or why anyone ever would. I can however confirm that bulging pecs and ripped lats are a little more difficult to attain than squeezing this thing occasionally.
  5. About 20kg of green coffee beans – Storage space is limited these days, and cool dry storage space even more so. Hence whenever I order my green coffee online it gets sent back in nice little cotton sacks and is safely stored away in the closet for me to roast when the urge strikes.

5 items in my car

  1. Takeaway coffee cups – That I buy myself… to make takeaway coffee at home (which means I can still make myself a coffee in the morning even if I’m running late for work).
  2. CD’s without cases and CD cases without CD’s – It’s about as bad as the ongoing missing sock fiasco in my drawers, but I can never seem to find the CD I want to listen to in the actual case it came in, and when I do find the CD, there is never a matching case… Coincidence ?? I think not !
  3. Picnic Blanket – because you never know when the need to picnic is going to strike, and I hate getting grass stains on my knees. It’s tartan of course…because I think it’s a requirement that all picnic blankets be tartan.
  4. Jumper leads – It’s happened one too many times and I refuse to be at the complete mercy of strangers in car parks again.
  5. Not petrol – I think a car needs to earn its petrol. Really… If you give it to them all the time they get complacent. I make my car work for it. If I can’t drive for at least 3 days with the little orange fuel light on, then something is seriously awry. Suprisingly I have only run out of fuel completely once.

5 items in my purse

Well we can see who this meme is catered towards can’t we ?? :) Lets go with wallet.

  1. A membership card to a video library that closed down about 4 years ago. It was a lifetime membership when I got it, so i’m hanging onto it just in case they ever open up again. It’ll save so much time having to reapply.
  2. Every drivers licence i’ve had in the last 5 years… Some from when I had facial hair and some without. Just in case I need to get myself into a nightclub but I don’t look enough like myself for them to believe it’s me.
  3. An advanced go-kart licence – That means I get to drive the fast go-karts when I go to Kart World… Which are infinitely faster than the normal ones. Yeh, i know you’re jealous…
  4. Timezone VIP Powercard – I don’t know if Timezone even still exists, back in the day it was the best chain of video game arcades around, before Xbox’s and Nintedo’s and Playstations killed the market. They brought out these Powercards God knows how long ago to make it so you don’t use coins in the machines… My VIP status card meant I got discounts on games. That was a serious status symbol back then.
  5. Enough Subway stamps to get a footlong for free !! – I haven’t been to subway in a long time, but I still seem to accumulate the stamps. Not the greatest meal, but sometimes (and i mean rarely) the thought of a footlong meatball sub smothered in bbq sauce just gets to me.

And I’m done… That was suprisingly fun… Perhaps because I got to tell a lot more stories than would otherwise have made it in under the “gourmet food” classification I tend to apply to myself. Thanks again to Ange for letting me know.

I hereby blanket tag anyone who reads this post that runs their own blog and hasn’t participated yet. Yeah, that means you ! Sucka.