Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Lemon Souffle (#ReadCookEat)

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major was published this year to an accolade of book reviewers. The novel is set in Oradour-sur-Glane, France and gives a fictional account of the true events which happened in the Unoccupied zone on June 10, 1944, when the whole village has been massacred by the Nazi soldiers.
The strength of the narrative lies in the well-researched historical background.

The story is told by three people, retelling the events during and after the war. It is like a tapestry woven from many threads. Each voice is unique, each story is tragic.
There is mute Adeline, taking refuge in a convent in South West France after the trauma of the war, running from the past. She cannot talk, but her story appears as thoughts and memories.
There is Sebastian, a young Jewish banker who falls in love with beautiful Isabelle.
And there's Tristin, a 9-year-old boy, whose family flees Paris to escape the war.
It took me a long time to finish the novel, as I knew what was going to happen from the book flyer, and just didn't have enough strength to get emotionally involved in another tragedy. In a way, I wish I didn't read it, not because it is not well-written, it is just after you finish it, it stays with you long after you turned the last page.

It's not that I only read books with happy endings, but sometimes my emotional balance is precariously tipped to the point of overturning, and I don't want any more dramas or tragedies to think about. For example, I loved the TV production of Wolf Hall, but I couldn't bring myself to watch the last episode. Maybe it is naive or childish, but I prefer a pure escapism when I read. Only rarely do I let myself to be emotionally involved into the novel.

As I am always on the lookout for food references in books, I noticed there were a few local dishes mentioned in the narrative.

In a letter from the front, Paul writes to his sister Isabelle "As for me I shall continue to daydream of Mother's rilettes de boeuf and the lemon souffle like air that melts the moment it is in the mouth. I'm practically slobbering over this letter now. I think we've all become quite obsessed, continually talking about food and drink. It seems everyone's mother makes the best meat course in France".
It's so true, don't we often think that our Mum's recipe is the best. I surely often think so.

To pay tribute to the book, I decided to cook a lemon souffle.
A souffle is quite a tricky job, so I thought I'd learn how to do it properly from the Grand Maitresse of the British baking, Mary Berry herself. You can find her recipe for hot lemon souffle on Good to Know site.
I won't list the ingredients, you can find all the relevant information if you follow the link above.

I brushed the ramekins inside with the melted butter and sprinkled with sugar to coat them evenly. Off they went in the fridge to chill.
I grated and juiced two big fat Sorrento lemons, which have an amazing aroma, almost like a perfume.
Eggs were separated into yolks and whites. There were 4 egg yolks left over with an advice to make scrambled eggs or custard. Well, custard doesn't benefit from being kept in the fridge, and who would fancy custard with a souffle? Scrambled eggs would also be a wrong choice on the day when you cook a souffle. How many egg dishes can one eat in one day? I suppose, you can freeze them for future cooking. I did use them the next day in a pasta bake.
Cream, flour and cornflour were mixed in a smooth paste, then the hot milk was added to the mixture. Cook over the gentle heat, and keep whisking until the sauce is thickened.
Later, the egg yolks are added, and it turns into a very creamy custard type of sauce.
The egg whites are whisked separately, then gently folded in.
Pour the mix into ramekins and bake for 10-14 minutes.

It came out quite all right. My husband enjoyed it more than I did. It was just too creamy for me, a bit like a fancy sweet omelette, not quite what I expected.
I remember a French friend cooking a souffle for me, and it was different. So, I am not sure if it's the fault of the recipe, or my incompetence, though I followed Mrs Berry's instructions step by step.
But I will try to cook another souffle recipe and compare the results.
Have you ever cooked a lemon souffle? Do you have a fvaourite recipe to share?

Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews was also inspired to cook a dish mentioned in the novel. She has cooked a delicious onion tart.

Have you read a book recently which inspired you to run to the kitchen and cook to your heart's content?

I hope you are inspired by books to join in our #ReadCookEat challenge.

The idea is to choose a book, either a world classic or modern fiction, or even memoirs and pick up a dish mentioned or described in that book and then recreate it in a recipe. Please say a few lines about your chosen book, and maybe even do a quote from the book.

If you decide to take part, please add the badge to your post and link up back to me, and either use a link-up tool or add the url of your post as a comment. Alternatively, email me with the link to your post (my email is sasha1703 at yahoo dot com).

I promise to Pin all blogs posts taking part in this challenge, as well as RT and Google+


  1. Well, to me a lemon soufflé sounds lovely. I think I made a soufflé only once, but I enjoyed it. Sorry, I haven't read any fitting books lately.

  2. Well, I don't know what it tastes like but it looks stunning. I took note of the lemon souffle reference too but it's a dish I've never dared to try to recreate because it always sounds like it's doomed to be a disaster !! I had a couple of #readcookeat recipes scheduled to go live during my holiday so I'll go and look them up for the linkie :)

  3. Oooh I'd totally missed Alison's recipe because we were on holiday but just realised mine is almost identical ... even though it comes from a totally different book ! lol