On a recent trip to the farmers market, I came upon the most lovely wheel of blue cheese. It was so pretty I got distracted photographing it and missed my chance at a basket of chanterelle mushrooms!
When you combine cheese, eggs, and a lot of air, the result is far greater than the sum of its luscious parts.
Our family loves a light and flavorful cheese soufflé. Our standard is always studded with a robust Vermont Cheddar, roughly following the soufflé au fromage in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. It’s a basic soufflé: make a thick roux, add hot milk to make a white sauce, beat it up, add the seasonings, stir in egg yolks, beat the whites, fold them in, and fold in the cheese. Bake, and don’t peek. It’s a perfectly delicious recipe.
Just a few changes
However, I never leave anything alone, so over the years, I streamlined the recipe just a tad, my apologies to Julia, to make breakfast prep for inn guests easier. I add the seasoning directly to the milk to save a step, and because my spices are right next to the stove. My pinch of cayenne is probably more like a large pinch, and I probably add a little more pepper than she did. More importantly, I add the cheese directly to the white sauce so it melts in evenly. This also saves the step of extra folding at the end which could deflate the whites. It’s our biggest fear, isn’t it, that we’ll deflate those whipped whites and ruin the soufflé even before it hits the oven.
The best cheese – the best eggs
We had our Labor Day family cookout on Sunday, and it was a good thing because today it is raining! So, I cooked.
On a recent trip to the farmers market, I came upon the most lovely wheel of blue cheese. It was so pretty I got distracted photographing it and missed my chance at a basket of chanterelle mushrooms! The cheese was worth it in this case.
When I got home with the beautiful blue cheese and a stash of beautiful blue and green eggs as well, I thought it would be fun to combine the two.
Blue eggs + blue cheese = Blue Soufflé in my book!
I was mildly concerned that the blue cheese might be too strong a flavor for the soufflé, but was pleasantly surprised! The three ounces is perfect –– sweet, flavorful, creamy, and not at all overpowering. You still taste the eggs, and the texture is like velvet.
As my husband said “It’s a keeper!”
Blue Cheese Soufflé
Julia devoted 17 pages in MTAOFC to soufflés, careful instructions, and lots of variations. My variation is to use blue cheese, and you can add lots of other ingredients to this such as spinach or herbs (we love chives). Make this in individual ramekins with a layer of pre-cooked apple or pear slices and you have a special dessert.
1 tbsp. butter for buttering
2 tbsp. grated hard cheese
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Large pinch of cayenne
Pinch of grated nutmeg
3 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 ounces grated blue cheese
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Assemble your ingredients so they are waiting for you when you need them.
Prepare your baking dish. I use my 6-cup soufflé dish. Butter it well, and line the bottom and sides with grated hard cheese. You can use Parmesan, but the dried remnants of some fantastic local sheep cheese you might have on hand works nicely. The idea is to give something for the batter to grip as it rises in the baking dish. You can also use breadcrumbs, but the cheese is better.
Pour the milk into a saucepan along with the salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg, and bring it to a boil.
Over medium heat, melt butter and add flour. Whisk, and cook for two minutes. Add the milk all at once.
The mixture will thicken immediately. Keep stirring with the whisk and cook for another minute.
Remove from the heat and add the blue cheese. Whisk to melt the cheese. Taste and correct seasoning.
Add the egg yolks one at a time, blending them in well.
Beat the egg whites until peaks form. You want them to be able to hold their shape, but not overly stiff or dry looking. The beater will move softly through the whites and not cut them like a knife. If they are separating from the side of the bowl, they are probably overeaten.
Add a fourth of the egg whites to the white sauce to loosen it up, no need to be gentle here. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. You want to keep the volume, so go slowly. You might have a few small lumps of egg white, but that won’t hurt the outcome; over-mixing will.
Pour into the prepared mold and bake, setting your timer for 20 minutes. Don’t open the oven door in this time.
The soufflé will probably need another five minutes.
Serve immediately! Soufflé waits for no one. And yes, as it cools it will deflate, that’s its nature, but the deflated soufflé will taste every bit as good as when it was nice and puffy. In my house, no one minds the seconds!
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