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Cauliflower soup with Morbier air profiteroles and watercress oil

15 March 2010

March is the time when cauliflower is at its best. Madalene Bonvini-Hamel suggests wasy to make the most of this seasonal delight.

See also her article on seasonal spring recipes and her recipes for:

Oyster beignets with a sorrel velouté Pistachio and walnut baklava with rhubarb and rose delight
Pickled broccoli and chestnut mushroom salad

INGREDIENTS (Serves 8)

For the cauliflower soup

  • 650g cauliflower
  • 750ml vegetable or white chicken stock
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 200ml double cream
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the profiteroles

  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 120g plain flour
  • 150ml cold water
  • 3 whole medium free range eggs
  • 1tsp table salt

For the Morbier air

  • 150g Morbier cheese, rind removed
  • 100ml water
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 leaf of gelatine, soaked

For the watercress oil

  • 20g watercress leaves
  • 20g olive oil
  • 20g sunflower oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    METHOD

Cauliflower soup

Remove and discard the green outer leaves from the cauliflower, and finely chop the rest.

Heat a large saucepan with the unsalted butter. As soon as it starts to foam, add the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the cauliflower and stir continuously. When it starts to take on colour, add the stock of your choice, cover the saucepan with a lid and bring the soup to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook the soup for 12 minutes. Add the cream, bring the soup back to simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Blend the soup until smooth, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

The soup is now ready to serve. If you are not serving the soup immediately then chill and reheat once you are ready to serve.

Profiteroles

Preheat the oven to 220°C, line two baking trays with either parchment paper or silpats and have a jug with 100ml of cold water ready.

I have been making choux pastry in a Themomix for about a year and would never return to the conventional way. The Thermomix saves time on washing up and a lot of stirring. You could however follow the conventional way if you do not have a Thermomix; the ingredients remain exactly the same.

Weigh the salt, water and butter directly into the Thermomix bowl, place the cap in the hole and set the timer for 5 minutes at 100°C, speed 1. Add the flour, return the lid and remove the cap, and blend the mixture at speed 4 for two minutes. Remove the lid and leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

Return the lid and secure, turn the dial to speed 5, add the eggs one at a time directly onto the running blades, and mix the eggs into the flour mixture for 5 minutes. The choux pastry will be glossy and ready to use.

Transfer the pastry to a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe 2cm-wide teardrop shapes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Leave a large enough gap between the mixture to allow each profiterole to puff.

Place the tray in the preheated oven on the middle shelf, quickly pour the cold water on the bottom of the oven floor and close the door. The water will create steam and the buns will form a crispy outer shell and a large air cavity will be created on the inside.

Bake the profiteroles for 5 minutes at 220°C, then turn the heat down to 180°C for a further 20 minutes.

Once the profiteroles are cooked and are light and crispy, transfer them to a cooling rack and leave them to cool completely.

Keep the profiteroles in an airtight container in a dark, cool and well-ventilated space; they will remain crispy for up to three days.

Morbier air

Just a little warning that this cheese sauce does not look great when cooking but once blended it will look creamy, smooth and appealing.

Soak the gelatine in cold water. Chop the Morbier cheese into small pieces, place the cheese, water and cream in a small saucepan and gently heat. Once the cheese mixture reaches 80°C, transfer it to a blender. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add the soaked gelatine to the warm cheese sauce. Blend the cheese until smooth.

Thermomix users: Place the chopped cheese, water and cream in the Thermomix bowl. Set the timer for 6 minutes at 80°C, speed 3. Once the cheese has melted and starts to bubble, turn the heat off, squeeze the soaked gelatine to remove the excess water and add the gelatine to the cheese sauce. Turn the speed dial to 10 to purée the cheese sauce until smooth, which should take about 20 seconds.

Pass the cheese sauce through a fine sieve and pour it into a cream whipper. Fit the needle attachment to the cream whipper's lid and seal the whipper with the lid. Charge the whipper with two gas pellets, shake it vigorously and refrigerate to let the cheese set.

Remove the cream whipper from the fridge about 30 minutes before it is required.

To serve

Remove the Morbier air from the fridge and loosen the mixture by shaking the cream whipper vigorously and dipping it under hot running water if necessary.

Bring the cauliflower soup to the boil, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. If the soup is slightly thick, add a bit of stock or water to let it down to the required consistency.

Fill the profiteroles with the Morbier air. Ladle the soup into the serving bowls, drizzle over the watercress oil (having mixed together the watercress oil ingredients) and shave the toasted hazelnuts over the soup to garnish. Serve immediately, with the Morbier air profiteroles garnished with the watercress leaves.

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