Artichoke Heart Souffle

Serve this unusual souffle as a first course or as the main course for lunch or supper. It may be accompanied by allumette potatoes and a salad of cold, cooked French beans with a vinaigrette sauce, or a tossed green salad. A well-chilled, light, dry, white Italian or French would go well with thissouffle.

2 oz. plus

1 teaspoon butter

2 oz. flour, sifted

10 fl. oz. milk

1 teaspoon salt

5 grindings black pepper

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons single cream

2 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated

6 artichoke hearts, cooked fresh, or canned egg yolks egg whites

Preheat the oven to 400UF (Gas Mark 6, 200°C). Grease a 3-pint souffle dish with 1 teaspoon butter. Tie a strip of grease proof paper around the rim of the souffle dish so it projects 2 inches above the top.

Melt the remaining amount of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and, with a wooden spoon, stir in the flour. Replace the saucepan on the heat and, stirring constantly, cook for 2 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well. Add the milk, a little at a time, and, stirring continously, bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes, still stirring, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and the grated cheese.

Place the artichoke hearts in a bowl and, with a table fork, mash them well. Add to the cheese mixture. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and stir well.

Beat the egg whites in a medium-sized mixing bowl with a whisk until they form stiff peaks. Be careful not to over-beat the whites or they will begin to collapse.

Fold a large tablespoon of beaten egg white into the sauce. With a rubber spatula, scoop the rest of the egg whites on top of the mixture and fold in very gently. Pour the mixture into the souffle dish. It should fill two-thirds of the dish.

Place the dish on the middle shelf of the oven and reduce the heat to 375°F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C). Bake for 35 minutes. When the souffle is ready, the top should be brown and it should have risen 2 or 3 inches above the top of the dish. To be sure the souffle is cooked, plunge a thin knife into the centre. If the souffle is ready the knife will come out clean.

Serve immediately. w»

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