Tula Cheese souffle

We’re staying in the Delta Quadrant this week, because this tula cheese souffle is too delicious to resist! While we never see this dish on screen, I would not be surprised if it was one of Neelix’s most requested recipes. Neelix offers this dish to Harry Kim before Harry goes off on his first (and brief) captaincy (Voyager: Nightingale) - and Harry, as usual, doesn’t know what he wants. I know if Neelix offered me this dish, I’d definitely accept!

This cheese souffle is very rich and quite luxurious. I know many people are scared of making souffles but once you make a few you will wonder why you didn’t before. They are actually relatively simple to make, provided you are ready to serve them as soon as they come out of the oven. This basic recipe for a cheese souffle can be used to make any flavour of souffle you wish.

Replicate your own
(Makes 6 individual souffles)
(Based on the “Perfect Cheese Souffle” recipe at the bottom of this page)

You will need 6 oven safe ramekins or small dishes to cook the souffles in.

40g / 1.4oz butter, plus extra for greasing
40g / 1.4oz plain flour
300ml / 10oz milk
20g / 0.7oz breadcrumbs or fine-ground polenta, for coating the sides of the ramekins
4 large eggs
100g / 3.5oz cheddar cheese, grated
50g / 1.7oz parmesan, grated

Start by heating the oven to 200°C / 390°F. Put the butter in a medium saucepan and heat until it has melted. Add the flour all at once and cook for a few minutes. Add the milk, and stir until the mixture is smooth and starts to thicken.

Lower the heat and continue to stir the mixture for about 5 minutes, so that it is thick but still pourable. Remove from the heat so the mixture can cool slightly.

Separate the eggs and put the whites in a bowl suitable for whipping. Into the milk mixture, add half of the cheese and stir until smooth. Add the egg yolks, stirring well in between each one. Then add the rest of the cheese.

Prepare your ramekins: grease the bottom and sides with more butter, then add a small amount of breadcrumbs or polenta to each one and shake/tap the ramekin until the bottom and sides are coated with the breadcrumbs/polenta.

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, and then whip until stiff. Add a couple of spoonfuls of egg whites into the milk/cheese mixture to loosen it, then gently fold the rest of the egg whites in with a spatula. It is fine if there are still a few small lumps of egg white in the mixture - it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.

Divide the mixture between the ramekins (I find a soup ladle the easiest thing to use for this), filling them between 1/2 and 3/4 full.

Put them on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until risen and golden. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • You can, of course, substitute the cheese for whichever cheese you like
  • And of course you can make additions to the souffle - add some chives, perhaps, or even small pieces of mushroom or other vegetable.
  • Don’t be disheartened if your souffles fall. All souffles fall as they cool (which is why many restaurants say there is a 20 minute wait if you order a souffle, so they can prepare it fresh and it is served straight away), but are equally delicious in their fallen state.
Algae Puffs

When entertaining a diplomat from the Delta Quadrant, it’s important to have their local dishes on hand. Luckily, Neelix never disappoints, and in this case manages to churn out some algae puffs for the visiting Enaran diplomat (Voyager: Remember).

Before you are too horrified by the notion of algae puffs, let me remind you that seaweed is a form of algae, and definitely works well in this recipe. The ‘puffs’ are choux pastry with the seaweed mixed in. While they don’t puff quite as much as they would without the seaweed, they still make a delicious and airy snack - perfect for any passing diplomat!

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Replicate your own
(Makes 18-24 individual puffs)
(Based on the cheese puff recipe at Simply Recipes)

4 ounces / 1 stick / 115g butter
1 cup water
1 cup plain flour
4 eggs
35g dried seaweed, in small flakes or powdered

Preheat the oven to 425°F / 220°C.

In a medium saucepan, add the water and butter, and heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is at a boil. Reduce the heat and add the flour, stirring briskly.

Continue to stir as the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to release more heat - you don’t want to cook the eggs when you add them!

Add the eggs in one by one. The mixture will look like it separates each time you add an egg, but stir well and it will come back together. When it is smooth and sticky, it’s ready. Add the seaweed, stirring well to incorporate it.

On a baking tray lined with baking paper, spoon out small-medium balls of the mixture. Make sure you leave enough room between them as they will puff up considerably when baked.

Place the tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350°F / 180°C and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until the balls have puffed up and have started to brown on top.

Serve to whatever visiting dignitary happens to be passing by!

Notes:

  • I bought flaked dried seaweed and then pulverised them further in a spice grinder. You could also bash them in a mortar and pestle to break the pieces up.
  • Make sure you use baking paper or a slilicone baking sheet to cook the puffs on - do not grease a baking tray with butter as the butter will seep into the puffs
  • If you don’t have any seaweed on hand, you can of course turn these into cheese puffs by substituting cheese in the place of the seaweed (I would suggest adding more cheese to taste).
For Easter: The eggs of Star Trek (in cookie form)

There are many different holidays to be celebrated in the Star Trek universe, and Easter and Star Trek don’t necessarily go together. However, in the spirit of Star Trek-ifying the main holidays currently celebrated, I present - some of the eggs of Star Trek, in cookie form.

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First up we have Ktarian eggs, from Star Trek: Generations. These were a popular breakfast choice in the Nexus, and were a particular favourite of Antonia when prepared with dill weed. They certainly look like they might be delicious.

There are four lights, even if there is only one Taspar egg. I think it’s impossible to do a post about eggs in Star Trek without including that iconic raw egg that Captain Picard eats after being imprisoned by Gul Madred for several days. I can guarantee that this sugar cookie version is more delicious than the original.

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Cardassians sure seem to be fond of their egg dishes. This one is from Deep Space Nine, as served in Quark’s. These regova eggs were considered a delicacy, particularly when served very fresh. Personally I think they look too pretty to eat, but maybe they are so delicious I wouldn’t be able to help myself if they were put in front of me.

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And finally, from the depths of the Delta Quadrant, come these Porakan eggs. Again apparently delicious when served with dill weed (is dill weed the universal accompaniment to eggs?), these eggs need to be sterilised for days to make them safe for eating. Luckily there is no such issue with the cookie version of these eggs!

Replicate your own
(Makes 40 egg-shaped cookies).

I used a 1/2 batch of Sweet Sugarbelle’s sugar cookie dough and made royal icing with 1 eggwhite and icing sugar mixed until it reached a thick consistency. Add drops of water to thin the icing if needed.

To make the Ktarian eggs: Outline the egg and flood with bright yellow icing. Let dry overnight and then mix individual batches of red, orange and blue colours with small amounts of water. Wearing gloves, dab a paintbrush into the colour and then use your finger to flick each colour onto the cookie in turn. It’s good to lay down some baking paper or similar to catch drips.

To make a Taspar egg: Outline the egg with beige coloured icing, drawing some triangles across the top of the egg, to represent the cracked egg. Flood with the same colour, then leave to dry overnight. The next day, draw some tentacles in black or dark brown icing, coming out of the egg.

To make the Regova egg: Prepare both light yellow and teal icing. Outline the bottom half of the egg in teal, and the top half in yellow, drawing a line across the top third so there is some room to add the decorations on top. Flood the bottom half with teal, and the top half with yellow. While the icing is still wet, drag a toothpick through middle, where the two colours meet. Swirl it around a few times.

With dark red icing, add some small circles/blobs to the top of the egg. Leave gaps in between each blob. Let dry for about an hour, then go back and fill in the gaps with more red blobs (this ensures they don’t all run together when drying).

To make Porakan eggs: Outline and flood the eggs with beige or tan icing and let dry overnight. Mix a small amount of brown colour with some water. Wearing gloves, use a paintbrush to flick the brown over the eggs with your finger. It’s good to lay down some baking paper or similar to catch drips.

Happy Easter everyone!

Zoth-nut soup

Zoth-nut soup. From the Delta Quadrant, it’s clearly a very prized soup, as the recipe was given to the Think Tank as payment for helping a planet resist the Borg (Voyager: Think Tank). While the focus of the episode is the Think Tank wanting to keep Seven of Nine as payment for assisting the Voyager crew, I couldn’t help be curious about this soup. It must be a very great soup indeed to be worthy of payment when your planet has just been protected from the Borg! I was determined to try it out and see how good it actually was.

I decided to use chestnuts for this soup because they are fairly rich and creamy, so I thought they’d add some qualities which would make zoth-nut soup so prized. I used chicken stock but you can of course substitute vegetable stock to make a fully vegan soup.

Replicate your own
(Serves 2 as a main course)

400g chestnuts, shelled (see below) or tinned
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 small-medium leeks, or 1 large leek
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
Salt
Pepper
2 bayleaves
2 sprigs parsley
Vegetable oil, for sauteeing the vegetables

If you’re working with fresh chestnuts in shells: using a sharp knife, cut an X shape into the base of each nut. Spread them on a roasting tray and roast in an oven at 190°C / 375°F for about 15 minutes. Let them cool until you can handle them, and then peel the skin off. They are easier to peel when still warm, so if they cool down too much you can pop them back in the oven for a few minutes.

Roughly chop the garlic, carrots and leeks. Add some vegetable oil to a large saucepan and add the chestnuts and garlic, and sautee for a few minutes until they start to soften.

Add the carrots and leeks and again sautee for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are softening up.

Add the stock, salt and pepper, bayleaves and the parsley, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 40-50 minutes, until all vegetables (and the chestnuts) are quite soft.

Remove the bayleaves, and blend the soup (you can also squash the vegetables with a potato masher if you want a coarser texture).

Sprinkle some extra parsley on the top for a garnish, and be thankful the Think Tank already have the recipe and won’t be coming after you.

The (zombie) captains of Star Trek

Happy Halloween! I know that Halloween isn’t really a Star Trek-related holiday, but I had this idea which made me laugh, and seemed too good to ignore. I present to you: the zombie captains of Star Trek - in cookie form!

For once, Captain Kirk has managed to keep his shirt on but unfortunately has managed to partially pop his eye out and his intestines have exploded everywhere - I sense a shirt change coming up!

Picard, on the other hand, has lost his head somewhat but is still keeping a firm grip on it under his arm.

Captain Sisko has lost a limb (I think he may have eaten it) but is still looking dapper despite the fighting he’s undergone.

Poor Janeway has somehow had her brain exposed (and it appears to be…leaking) and she’s also almost lost an eye. At least she’s made sure her hair looks nice.

And finally, Captain Archer has clearly recently had a nice meal (I wonder where Porthos is…) and has also been in a battle or two.

I couldn’t help reproducing the photo of all Star Trek captains together at the recently held Destination Star Trek event in London.

It’s good to see they’re all still friends.

Notes:

  • I use Sweet Sugarbelle’s sugar cookie recipe - it’s easy to work with and the cookies don’t spread or rise too much. For these cookies, I made a half batch and ended up with 15 cookies. 
  • While there were a lot of colours, I decorated all the cookies with 1 batch of royal icing
  • When piping details onto existing icing, make sure you let each layer dry completely before adding the next one (for several hours or overnight). You risk the base colour bleeding through if you don’t.
  • If you’re interested in making your own decorated sugar cookies, there are lots of blogs out there who can explain the process a lot better than I could (and with lots of pictures!). Three of my favourites are Sweet Sugarbelle, Bake at 350, and Sweetopia.
  • Happy Halloween!
Canape plate: Ailis pate, Felada onion crisp and stuffed Cardaway leaves

This week we’re travelling to the Voyager universe and the Delta Quadrant by preparing a canape plate devised by Neelix. He used this to give the bridge crew some sustenance during a particularly stressful time (Voyager: The Cloud). I suggest you can take Neelix’s plan and use this to de-stress dinner party guests, captains (of any sort) and even yourself. Like many foods in Star Trek, we don’t get a great look at the plate, although it’s definitely all finger food.

This canape plate involves three recipes - Ailis pate, onion crisps and stuffed cardaway leaves. Due to the pate being quite strong flavoured, I decided to make the stuffed cardaway leaves vegetarian - but you could of course add some mince meat if you wish. I also added some corn bread to the plate to go with the pate.

This picture was taken in the hazy afternoon light, but if you squint hard enough, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a view into the stars…

This one’s a long one, but all recipes are fairly straightforward and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic canape plate acceptable anywhere on Earth - and the Delta Quadrant.

Note: As always, photos of the cooking process are available on the Facebook page. This week this will include step by step photos for folding up your own cardaway - or grape - leaves.

Replicate your own
(Makes a canape plate enough for 5-6 people)

For the Ailis pate
(Makes 5 small containers or ramekins of pate)

You will need to start the day before.

500g chicken livers
1/2 onion, minced
5 sage leaves, chopped fine
1 tablespoon green peppercorns, crushed
100g butter
25ml cup sherry (optional)

Start by rinsing the livers in cold water. Change the water a few times until it runs clear. Trim the livers by removing any sinew and discoloured pieces. Set aside.

Sautee in a small amount of butter the onions in a frying pan until softened. Add the livers and cook until they are no longer pink - about 3-4 minutes. Toss in the sage and green peppercorns and mix.

Put the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend. Add the butter and sherry if using, and blend again until smooth - this might take a few goes. Spoon the mixture into some small containersor ramekins and refrigerate.

In the meantime, make the sauce.

For the sauce:
25ml sherry
15ml Worcestershire sauce
300ml water
14g powdered gelatine

In a small saucepan, add the sherry, Worcestershire sauce and 60ml of the water. Heat until almost boiling and add the gelatine, stirring until it is dissolved. Add the rest of the water and let it cool to room temperature.

Spoon the sauce over the pate until the top is covered, and return to the fridge. If you want, you can press some sage leaves or green peppercorns into the top of the sauce once it has been in the fridge for an hour or so (so it has started to harden but you can still press the leaves into the jelly).

Refrigerate the pate overnight, then serve with crackers or bread.

For the stuffed Cardaway leaves

1 jar or package of brined grape leaves (about 40-50 leaves)
1/2 cup pinenuts
1 cup uncooked rice
4 sprigs dill, minced
1 bunch mint, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Start by plunging the grape leaves into hot water, then rinse under cold water. Let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a dry frying pan, toast the pinenuts until they begin to brown. Remove and set aside. In the same frying pan, add a small amount of olive oil and then cook the garlic and onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the uncooked rice, toss with the garlic and onions and cook until golden. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Mix together the pinenuts, rice and onion mixture, dill and mint. Now you’re ready to fold!

Line a heavy casserole pot or dutch oven with grape leaves. Smooth out a grape leaf, vein side up. Cut away the stem. Place a spoonful of the mixture in the middle of the grape leaf, above where you’ve cut off the stem. To fold, picture the grape leaf as an outspread hand. Start by folding the pieces in the thumb and little finger positions over the mixture. Fold in the sides and then roll the leaf up. Place seam side down in the pot. You can stack them on top of each other if you need to.

Step by step photos of rolling up the grape leaves will be on the facebook page.

Once you’ve rolled up all your dolmades, sprinkle them with the lemon juice and olive oil. Add enough water so the dolmades are covered, and cover with extra grape leaves if you have any left (if you don’t - don’t worry - it’s not essential). Add a plate or saucer to weigh the dolmades down, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

Let cool while you prepare….

Felada onion crisps

3 or 4 onions
4 tablespoons plain flour
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Smoked paprika
Salt
2 eggs, beaten
Grapeseed oil for frying

Mix together the flour, breadcrumbs, paprika and salt. Set up a dredging conveyor belt with a bowl of the eggs, then a bowl of the flour mixture. Slice the onions into thin-medium rounds and pat them dry.

Dip each piece of onion first in the eggs and then in the flour mixture. You do need to be gentle to ensure the onions stay together.

Heat the oil in a saucepan until it is 180 degrees Celsius. Carefully place each onion piece in the oil, and cook until both sides are golden brown. Drain on some paper towel before serving.

All that is left now is to assemble your canape plate: I’d suggest adding some slices of bread or crackers for the pate and then enjoy everything by eating it with your fingers.

This plate is great for not only diffusing stressful situations if you’re on the bridge, but also for dazzling at a dinner party.