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July 5, 2007

Red, white and blue cheese (Recipe: blue cheese souffle)

Cheeses

Stand in front of a mirror, and say cheese.

Are you smiling? No?

Now say cheeeeeeeze.

Are you smiling? Not yet?

Try again. Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze.

By now you're probably giggling.

For me, just the thought of cheese -- soft and gooey, spread on a slice of crusty bread or a crisp cracker -- brings a smile to my face.

Our refrigerator is never ever without several kinds of cheese that, together or individually, can turn any random set of pantry staples into a wonderful meal. Today I have organic Cow Girl Red Hawk; lovely white mozzarella; and Great Hill Blue, made close to home in Marion, Massachusetts.

Of course there's Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is a constant in my pantry, beloved for its nutty flavor, grainy texture, and the rinds that add character to vegetable soups. For old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwiches, I keep slices of emmental or muenster or cheddar or comte. For newfangled panini or tartines, there's goat cheese from Rawson Brook Farm in the Berkshires, or brie from the supermarket's ever-improving cheese department.

Ricotta or cottage cheese for lasagna, mascarpone for tiramisu. Gruyere for French onion soup. Boursin, for the garlic. If I stand in front of the refrigerator and say cheeeeeeeeeze, all sorts of things will come tumbling out.

What cheeses do you keep in your fridge?

Blue cheese souffle

Make this for lunch, with a nice green salad. Invite me, and I'll be your best friend. This recipe, from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, serves 2-3.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan (I use parmigiano-reggiano) cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup scalded milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 oz blue cheese, chopped (I use Great Hill Blue)
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7-1/2 inches x 3-1/4 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with parnesab. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, the cayenne and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the blue cheese and 1/4 cup of parmesan, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a Kitchenaid-type stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, onmedium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375°F. Bake for 30-35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

Lydia, the souffle sounds really tempting! I'm still learning to like blue cheese,

This souffle sounds delicious, Lydia!

I wasn't much of a blue cheese fan in the past, but now I'm a convert. :)

Lydia, cheese rules...there's no question about it. I'd like to be able to show restraint around it, but I can't...just can't...

Oh I miss Cowgirl Creamery, lucky you that you can get it where you live! And I have never made souffle but have been dying to learn. My incentive now is so that you can come over and be my best friend, Thanks!

I'm lucky in that I live in the greater Ann Arbor area -- Zingerman's Deli and Creamery are but a mere 20 and 10 minutes from my home, respectively.

I usually stock:
- Parm-reg
- A goat cheese of some sort (Zing's Detroit Street Brick, Lincoln Log, or goat cream cheese)
- Hand-made Mozzarella

I'll occasionally stock:
- Pecarino Romano
- Grafton cheddar (1 or 2 year, from Vermont - 4 year if I want something extra special)

All of the pictures of me as a child show this weird mouth saying cheese.... I, apparently, didn't know I was supposed to smile when I said it.
There's always a few cheeses in my fridge, too. My favorite lunch is baguette, really stinky cheeses, country pate and wine.
I could help with that souffle, though, if you really want me to... be right there!

Nora, I had to learn to like it, too. I still prefer the mild blues to the really stinky stuff. Try the Danish blue to get started.

Patricia, same here. Now I can't imagine that I used to avoid blue cheese!

Genie, no self-control here. I really think I eat cheese every day, but it wouldn't be in my pantry if I didn't also cook with it.

Callipygia, there's a lovely shop in Tiverton, Rhode Island, that brings in Cowgirl Creamery cheeses. Souffles aren't quite as scary as they seem to be!

Patrick, I have Zingerman's envy...I've never been but am devoted to their catalog. A couple of years ago I took a tour of the Grafton cheese place with a group of chefs from Providence. Fascinating. We tasted each of the cheeses, up to 6-year. Wow!

Katie, our five-year-old grandson makes the "cheese" face whenever he gets his picture taken. I'm always amazed at how wide he can make his mouth! Bread and cheese is a perfect lunch, maybe with a ripe peach, too.

manchego, of course! there´s also some idiazabal right now, very strong and sharp. and yes, I´d also hate to be without some grana padano for whatever pasta/risotto/whatever I might suddenly crave.

My other half loves anything that is cheese especially blue cheese and goat cheese. I have tried both several times but I'm still not used to the taste. He would love to be your invited guest for lunch if you make this ;). Perhaps I can make this for his birthday as a surprise.

Currently, I have some Maytag blue cheese, Iowa, in my California fridge. They're stinky good. :p

I saw this souffle on Barfoot contessa once and has since been dying to try it. In my fridge, you will find some Conte cheese that we enjoy with a slice of bread, some gruyere, which I can't stop eating, my Fetta that I always marinate, some ricotta that I still don't know what I am going to do with and a homemade mascarpone cheese. I tried Mascarpone cheese several times, the brand on the picture too, I even spent $10 on a small ball of mozarella which I tought would be great but still, it was tasteless to me. So no mozarella again in my fridge.

Oh and I forgot! I love Roquefort.For me the best kind of blue cheese.

My fridge is full of cheese. One I almost always have is raclette. A whole meal of melted cheese and potatoes and mustardy onion relish -- what could be better than that?

Now you've done it! I have a package of Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam in the fridge and I wasn't going to eat it yet! But, I feel that it's days are numbered now. I love cheese more than meat, that's a fact. So, your post was food porn for me! Ahhhh!

Oh dreamy - yes I love blue cheeeeeese! It's been forever since I did a souffle with it. High time for another. Like this recipe too.

Lobster, I adore manchego -- I'm so glad it's getting more popular in the US so it's easier to find.

Ninja, some people (like me) really have to work at loving blue cheese. But now I love it -- so keep trying!

Tigerfish, Maytag blue is wonderful, isn't it?

Rose, most mozzarella is tasteless, which I think makes it a great foil for wonderful flavors like drizzles of balsamic vinegar -- and of course for salted garden tomatoes. I do love feta -- my local Middle Eastern grocery has French feta now, which is very mild and lovely. Thumbs up for Roquefort, too!

Christine, raclette -- I forgot how good that is!

Sher, I can't imagine a day without cheese, but there have been plenty of days without meat, so I guess I'm with you there. Although there are definitely days with cheeseburgers!

Tanna, the blue cheese is always such a surprise in a souffle, and it's a perfect lunch with a tart green salad. Actually, that sounds really good right now!

Hehe I actually said cheese and cheeeeze (it was fun and it did make me giggle). ;D That blue cheese souffle recipe looks like a real winner (definitely saving it). We keep a lot of cheeses in the fridge because my bf likes to snack on it constantly. Right now we have cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, gruyere, mascarpone, stilton, and montery.

I just found your fabulous blog! We always have a blue, brie and manchego. Also adore Shropshire Blue. I would love to put a link to your blog from mine.
All the best!

I have a big hulking piece of Vegeatrian Parmesan, that I buy straight from a dairy. I also have feta, mozzarella, smoked applewood, a really strong cheddar and a little bit of Lanark Blue. I eat way too much cheese!

haha, very creative combination of cheeses there

Oh, yum, yum, yum! I'm going to have to buy all the cheeses you mention. The recipe you've posted sounds delicious. I've added it to my list.

Paz (salivating)

I'm not too fond of blue cheese except w/ hot wings. In the fridge at the moment are Gruyere, Lorraine Swiss, Monterrey Jack w/ peppers, and good old yellow American.

Amy, great selection of cheeses -- I never feel happy unless there are at least half a dozen varieties in my fridge!

All the Best, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I've never had Shropshire Blue -- is it a strong or mild cheese?

Holler, parm is a must. The smoked applewood sounds so interesting!

Connie, thanks!

Paz, I adore Great Hill Blue, not just because it's local but because it's a medium-strong cheese, not stinky, not wimpy. I'm sure you'll find it in some of those great NYC cheese shops.

Susan, you have all of the classics!

Thanks Susan!
Shropshire Blue is made in a similar way to Stilton. It's a soft cheese with a sharp, strong flavour. It's orange in colour with blue veining. Yummy!

Oops, wrong name! Sorry Lydia. It's early and I've yet to have coffee!!

I saw your mention of Cow Girl cheese. When Jeff and I were in San Francisco last year, I thought he was going to move there just to be close to their shop. It was love at first sight for him!

I always have a good hunk of Reggiano-Parmesan (usually from Dad), feta, goat, Cheddar, and ricotta.

I don't know what I'd do without cheese in my kitchen, especially the Parmigiano. I use it like a seasoning. I've had the Great Hill blue and I love it.

These days, however, my husband is "off" dairy, so it's a challenge when my reflex is to sprinkle a little cheese on dinner.

I saw this BC recipe and have wanted to make it - sounds delicious.

All the best, thanks -- I'll look forward to finding this blue cheese.

Susan, without a hunk of parm, my fridge feels empty. I always have the others on your list, too.

Karen, next time you're in RI, come to my house and we'll eat cheese together! Sorry your husband is off dairy -- hope it's temporary.

Lydia, that Red Hawk cheese is what gave birth to this bit of naughtiness (that's an apron at my GastroGear.com store at CafePress):

http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/3782/goodcheesemc6.jpg

My favorite cheeses: always a good, organic parm, Pt. Reyes Blue (the cleanest-tasting blue cheese in the world), chevre, pecorino with peppercorns, feta, and some kind of cheddar: the sharper, the better.

One of the pleasures of my life last year was attending a cheese class at The Cheese School in San Francisco. We tasted seven cheeses (six of them, farmstead) with wine pairings. Teachers were Wil Edwards, formerly of Harley Farms Goat Dairy, and Alex Fox, the sommelier of Myth restaurant in San Francisco.

I heart cheese. Forever and ever. I think I'll go have some now, for breakfast.

Tana, I'm giggling -- and I really must get one of these aprons! Your cheese class sounds amazing, one of those experiences that changes your palate forever. I traveled with a group of chefs to Vermont a couple of years ago, and one of the farms we visited (where we actually helped make cheese) was Jasper Hill. They make an amazing blue called Bayley Hazen; I'm completely addicted to it now. I heart cheese, too.

About to sample a chunk of Berkshire Blue!

Always keep Parmeggiano-Reggiano, Gruyère, soft goat cheese and whatever I happen to be tasting for my weekly Fête du Fromage.
You have a wonderful site!

TW, I love Berkshire Blue. And whenever you're next in the Berkshires, I'd really recommend Rawson Brook Farm in Monterey -- their garlic and chive goat cheese is my all-time favorite.

Loulou, thank you for visiting! I love the idea of your Fete du Fromage. Readers, check this out!

Ah wonderful cheese, I love to see all the packaging that you get, so pretty.

We always have at least 3 cheeses and some cream cheese in the fridge.

Kelly-Jane, I forgot -- I always have cream cheese, too, though I don't cook with it much. I do use an old Moosewood recipe for mushroom pate, though, and it has a cream cheese base.

In the last month, I've had two different blue cheeses that weren't blue at all, even though they tasted of blue. I wrote to both companies who both wrote back to say it happened in the maturing when the cheese was too soft and the spike holes had closed over stopping the mould formation. Funny though, the blue mould started on the cut surface in the fridge. Oh, got my money back both times.

Neil, I've had plenty of that "homemade blue cheese" in my fridge -- they haven't tasted blue, unfortunately, but they certainly have turned blue when left in the fridge for too long.... Yours sounds positively eerie, though. And this happened with two cheeses from different companies? I'm glad you got your money back.

It certainly did, pretty amazing huh? There was definitely blue culture in both cheeses, you could taste it, but without air, no blue mould could form. So when it was cut and put in the fridge, the mould activated on the cut surface. I suppose I could put on a cheesemaker's cap and pierced the cheeses myself!

Neil, perhaps this is how some affineurs got their start, by stabbing cheeses in their refrigerators!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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