On my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I vowed to “turn over a new leaf”. This past year, though particularly this past summer, I’ve let a few things slide. Some more visible than others. One of those things that have gone by the way-side has been my blog, and my connections to my ffwd crew. To be honest, there were a few recipes that I was a little ok with missing, but there were weeks when I didn’t even know what anyone was cooking, other than if I got a notification (and those seemed a little few and far between).
This Friday’s recipe is for a Muenster cheese souffle. I don’t really know Muenster as a cheese, but I certainly know souffles. I had to learn to make them when I was in college and they became an inexpensive, but fancy, favorite. Then I found out that they were a favorite of my Grandmother’s too. So to me, a little bit of a throw-back. But pretty doable, in any event.
I made this for myself, so I wasn’t quite as strict with the recipe, though I did search out (what I thought was) the correct cheese. Surprisingly, Whole Foods only had a few versions sliced. Go figure! The reason I always liked these when I was in college is because they take such everyday ingredients – a bit of butter, flour, eggs, milk, cheese or whatever you’re using for flavoring.
First, a roux is made of butter and flour, then milk added to make a very, very thick bechamel sauce. This gets seasoned with salt and pepper (I didn’t add the cumin) and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, the pan is prepped, the eggs separated, the cheese grated (or whatever!).
Once the sauce has cooled for 10 minutes or so, the yolks are tempered and then added into the sauce (you put a bit of the warm sauce into the yolks, then add the whole thing back into the main part of the sauce). Once that’s done, you add the cheese. Full disclosure: Dorie suggests straining the bechamel. I didn’t do that. I never have. Maybe it’s important, but I haven’t really noticed any lumpiness or whatever else might result.
Similarly, egg whites are whipped until they are fluffy, but not too much so (they shouldn’t look “chunky” or they won’t mix in). Then about a quarter or so are mixed in to lighten up the sauce, and the remainder folded in. It’s of course important to make sure they stay as light as possible at this point, as this is what makes the whole thing rise so beautifully. It gets turned into the prepared pan, and placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Since I made one souffle instead of individual servings, I baked mine at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (10 more than the lower end of the original recipe).
Mine stayed together for a few minutes, at least until I cut into it.
This was pretty tasty, and the level of effort is pretty small for the beautiful presentation. Now, for this recipe specifically – well, I cut up the cheese because the recipe called for 1/4″-1/2″ cubes. While the bites with a nice bit of cheese were really good, the ones without were a little bland – I think I should have stuck to a smaller size (or grated if possible). The texture was nice, the edges were satisfyingly crispy. But I expected more from that Muenster. I guess mine was “the supermarket deli variety”. I’ll blame it on Whole Foods! Tasty, yes. Big, bold fragrance and flavor. Well, next time.
All things being equal, however, it was fun to get back to cooking with the group. If you’d like to see what the others in the French Fridays group thought, check them out here.