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Cheese Souffle

March 21, 2007

Melanie’s Cheese Souffle

Serves 4-6

This dish is deliciously light and yet filling. It is perfect with a mixed green salad for an easy, dainty lunch. Nutmeg enhances the dish, but be sparing as it can also dominate.
I usually mix Compte, a type of gruyere cheese and Parmiagiano Reggiano cheese for adelicate soufflé, or a roubust white cheddar for a stronger flavor.

One word about the center of the soufflé. The French call a perfect center “baveuse” , or to translate, “drooling”. They want it a little runny and sauce-like. The soufflé continues to cook once it is removed from the oven, so if the center is totally dry it is probably over baked and will collapse quicker. If the center is more runny than you prefer, eat around the edges of the soufflé. Probably the center will be cooked before you reach it – or put the overly runny portion of the soufflé back in the oven and dish up the rest. Remember, a soufflé is inexpensive, so feel free to experiment.

3-1/2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups flavored milk
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cup grated cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash of grated nutmeg
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position a baking sheet in the center of the oven, with no racks above.

Butter a 6-cup soufflé dish and dust it with fine dry bread crumbs or Panko. Attach a buttered and crumbed paper collar if desired. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour. Add the milk all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture boils and is smooth. Remove from heat and add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the cheese, mustard and seasonings and mix together. Taste for salt and pepper. The sauce may be prepared in advance to this point, and stored in the refrigerator, or frozen. If letting the mixture rest, cover with plastic wrap or coat with a light cheese topping to avoid the forming of a film on top. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with cream of tartar to a firm peak being careful not to overbeat. If refrigerating, reheat sauce gently before proceding.
Stir about 1 cup of the egg white into the warm sauce to soften. Pour the sauce over the remaining egg whites. Do not attempt to fold in the egg white completely because the few pockets of egg whites will disappear as the soufflé bakes. This may be done up to several days in advance, with the soufflé brought up to room temperature before baking. Pile the soufflé carefully into the prepared dish. Smooth the top. If desired, make a circle in the middle of the top of the soufflé to form a “cap”. This will rise separately and enhance the presentation.

Position the dish in the middle of the hot baking pan. Immediately turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Bake 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTE: If soufflé seems too runny, it may be returned to oven until it firms, a bit. If it has fallen a little, heat the soufflé up in the microwave in 10 second increments until it rises.

TIP: The baking pan gives the soufflé a boost from the bottom and increases its rise.

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The magical combination of shrimp and grits, whether for pre-dawn breakfast on a shrimp boat or as an entrée in the finest New York restaurant can be deliriously wonderful.
A beautiful book, winner of the James Beard Award for Entertaining, that will help the novice and the experienced alike.
The best of traditional Southern cooking, as well as innovative, new cuisine.
This book will be a keepsake for anyone with Southern roots, and a practical book for those who like to cook! A winner of the 1994 James Beard Award.
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