A cheese soufflé is old school and oh so satisfying. I’m feeling the need for warm, comforting food with another winter storm zooming our way. I’m thinking we should start a movement to bring back the soufflé. I’ll bet you have most of the ingredients already in your house.
Say yes to something cheesy and warm. Something simple to prepare that looks and tastes super fancy. I took out napkin rings and the good plates. Lit candles. After all, we have something to celebrate.
Our family has expanded. Meet Morty. He’s a two year old miniature schnauzer, silver gray, 16 pounds of exuberance. Poor little guy was abandoned at a high-kill shelter a couple of weeks ago and ever since, he’s had a rough go. Shelter nights. A retrieval by City Dogs Rescue, followed by neutering and what might have been his first ever grooming. He was in at least three foster homes before he got to us.
For the first two days, he had to take several laps around the house before he could settle down, and even then, it was rarely for more than five minutes. He doesn’t want to let us out of his sight and likes it best when we are all in the same room. He’s following Louie around like a little shadow. Sometimes Louie tells him to back off, and Morty is very respectful of his place in the order of things. The two of them are about the cutest thing ever doing laps around the backyard.
He’s a charming little fellow who is housebroken (thankfully) but otherwise knows absolutely nothing. We’re trying to get him to recognize his name. We are enrolled in the March basic obedience class at Capitol Dog Training Club (from which Louie and Dylan graduated). Fortunately, Dennis and I remember some of what we learned the last time at this rodeo, so there’s a lot of calling him by name, teaching him to sit, and saying things like “stay in” and ‘go to your place” even though he has no idea what that means quite yet. Repetition and consistency and cookies.
He showed little interest in treats initially, but found a kong bone and brought it to his bed the first night. (My heart broke a little.) He’s also been carrying around a stuffed squirrel that’s at least as big as he is. Today, he decided liver bits from Painted Hand Farm were pretty terrific.
He loves to look out the window and clambers up any piece of furniture to get close to the view. There is so much to see! He’s great in the car, spending most of his time looking out the window there, too. He’s so darn curious.
We still haven’t heard him bark. Pretty sure that’s going to change.
Today, he started napping (albeit, within eyesight of one of us.)
And that’s why cheese soufflé and a celebration were in order.
Any Cheese Soufflé
adapted only a bit from Julia Child’s classic
Serves 4 or maybe 2
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs or very finely grated Parmegiano Reggiano
1 cup milk
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup coarsely grated cheese (I like Comte or Gruyere, but sharp cheddar, smoked gouda and aged goat cheese are all wonderful. Use what you have.)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, optional
Adding any of these additions is entirely optional but will also elevate that souffle from exceptional to extraordinary. Adding them all is overkill, in only the very best way. Stir in with the cheese, making sure everything is evenly distributed before folding in the egg whites.
2 tablespoons finely minced flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely minced chives
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/4 cup chopped crisp bacon or pancetta
- Heat the oven to 400°F, placing a rack in the lower third of the oven. Butter a one quart soufflé dish. Add the bread crumbs or Parmegiano and tilt the dish to and fro until well coated.
[Some cooks make a parchment band to help the soufflé rise above the dish. I do this sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t. It does guarantee a prettier lift. Remember to butter and crumb the band, too.]
- In a small saucepan, warm the milk until bubbles form at the edges. Alternatively, microwave for one minute.
- In a heavy medium saucepan, melt the butter until bubbling. Whisk in the flour, salt and nutmeg until smooth. Cook until the raw flour smell is gone, about 3 minutes. Stream in the milk whisking until smooth, bring to a slight boil and cook until very thick, another 3 or 4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking well after each one. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.
- Beat the egg white until stiff. A little cream of tartar help the whites lift, but if you don’t have it, don’t worry. I used my stand mixer for this, but there have been times I’ve used a big whisk and a large bowl just to prove to myself I’ve still got it.
- Fold one quarter of the beaten whites into the cheese mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Spoon into the prepared soufflé dish and pop it in the oven.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. It should have a big top hat which will promptly collapse as soon as you dive in to serve. Use two serving spoons to bite into the top, slice to the bottom of the soufflé, then cut a wedge-ish piece and move it to a pretty plate.
- Serve immediately with a little chutney. I prefer tomato chutney, but apple or pear or cranberry chutney pair well, too.