Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cheddar Cheese Souffle

My mom used to make soufflés often, and what I remember most about them, rather than the taste or even whether I ate them at all, was that while they were baking, both me and the dog had to stay out of the kitchen. There was so much drama involved in a soufflé: Will it rise? Will any children or pets be killed? The dish has even been compared to the invention of aircraft, so if you need to put on a show, try a soufflé.

Other than the business of not causing the soufflé to fall, I knew from helping my mom that they were not too complicated to make, and so, when I recently had a surplus of cheese, I set out to make a cheese soufflé. I turned to my favorite publishing house, Nitty Gritty Productions, and their 1972 “Souffle and Quiche - a 2 in 1 cookbook” by Paul Mayer, which instructs that “a soufflé is anything which, when mixed together, placed in a dish and baked – if done properly – lifts itself by means of expanding air incorporated into beaten egg whites, above and beyond the confines of the dish in which it was originally placed.”

I very carefully mixed everything and put together the soufflé… but I got one (hugely important) element wrong. I couldn’t find my soufflé dish! So I used a large casserole dish I had which was the project’s downfall. Had I only paid attention to the book’s introduction, where Mr. Mayer provides 5 tips for sure-fire soufflés, number 1 being: “Select a dish of the proper size. No use at all in making the most delicate of soufflé batters and then putting it into a dish so large that no matter how high it rises, it cannot reach the top. The soufflé will look awful but taste fine.” Exactly! Sigh. At least I can say that I can make a soufflé (easy, tasty and totally worth it) and next time, I’ll find the proper dish and rise to the occasion!

Cheddar Cheese Souffle

6 cup, well-buttered soufflé dish
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
¾ cup milk
Salt and cayenne pepper
4 egg yolks
1 cup (4oz.) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Pinch dry mustard
6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt butter in top of double boiler over direct heat. Remove from heat. Stir in four. Gradually belnd in milk. Season with salt and cayenne pepper> return to very low heat. Stir constantly until mixture barely begins to thicken and resembles a medium cream sauce. Remove from heat. Continue stirring a moment while sauce thickens a little more. Add egg yolks and cheese alternately. Place over boiling water. Stir constantly, to prevent curdling, until cheese is melted. Transfer to a large bowl. Season with mustard. Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Thoroughly fold into cheese base. Pour into prepared dish. Bake in preheated oven 17-20 minutes. Serve at once.

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