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Cheese and leek double-baked souffle with dandelion and walnut salad

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Cheese and leek double-baked souffle makes a great starter. It uses dandelion leaves, which are a fantastic addition to salads and in sandwiches. You can also eat the flowers, which bloom between February and November. Add them to risotto and omelettes. If you can’t wait for the buds to open, they can be marinated and used like capers for flavour. You can also make dandelion coffee by grinding the dried roots. It’s caffeine-free and has a vaguely chocolately taste.


  • For the souffle (makes four)
  • 125g unsalted butter, plus extra melted butter
  • 150g leeks, white part only sliced
  • 75g plain flour
  • 350ml warm milk
  • 125g Wensleydale cheese
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • For the glaze
  • 125ml double cream
  • 30g Parmesan cheese
  • 25g Wensleydale cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • For the salad
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110ml water
  • 110g walnut halves
  • 10 baby leeks
  • 110g dandelion leaves
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  1. For the soufflés, pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
  2. Brush four ramekins with melted butter and chill in fridge for 15 mins or until butter has hardened. Brush with a further coat of butter and chill again.
  3. Heat a frying pan until medium hot. Add 50g butter and the leeks and sweat over a low heat for 10 to 15 mins until very soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Melt remaining butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add flour. Mix well. Cook over a low heat for five to eight minutes, stirring gently. Gradually whisk in the warm milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Continue until all milk has been added then reduce heat to very low and cook for further five to eight mins.
  5. Remove the mixture from heat, season with salt and pepper, then strain. Set aside to cool slightly then add the cooked leeks, mustard and thyme to the warm mixture. Beat the egg yolks into the mixture and season.
  6. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold medium peaks and then fold into the soufflé mix.
  7. Divide the mixture among the ramekins and put the dishes in a roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes and then bake for 20 to 25 mins until they are risen and evenly coloured.
  8. Remove dishes from tin and set aside for a few mins before turning them out on to individual ovenproof dishes.
  9. For the glaze, pre-heat the grill to medium high. Whisk the cream, cheeses and egg yolks until combined and then coat the tops of the soufflés. Place under grill until the tops are golden.
  10. For the salad, pre-heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 190C/375F.
  11. Heat the water and sugar in a pan until they form syrup. Add the walnuts and cook for two to three mins. Remove the walnuts and set aside to drain on greaseproof paper then add the walnuts to the fryer and cook for a couple of mins until golden brown. Set aside the cooked walnuts to drain on kitchen paper.
  12. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the baby leeks for one to two mins, until just tender. Drain and add to a bowl with the dandelion leaves and walnuts.
  13. Whisk the mustard, vinegar and olive oil together with salt and pepper. Drizzle on to salad and toss well.
  14. To serve, pile salad on to serving plates and place soufflé alongside. Spoon extra dressing around the plate and serve immediately.
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