Cheese Soufflé

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When I was commuting to and from Bishop’s University a couple years back, I stayed at a lovely B&B run in Lennoxville, Quebec, Les Matins D’Antoine.

Every morning, the owner, Ronald, cooked up a delicious breakfast. Often, because it was Quebec after all, maple syrup was on the menu. But one of the last mornings that I stayed there, he made a cheese soufflé. I was a bit leery—in part because I’d never had a cheese soufflé but also because I generally avoid eating eggs at breakfast. However, the soufflé was delicious, filled with bright herbs and gobs of melty, stringy Quebec cheese.

I was determined to try making it myself.

Making a cheese soufflé turns out to be fairly easy, as long as you make certain to keep your egg whites pristine. There must be absolutely no trace of the egg yolk in the egg whites! Cooking the soufflés in a bit of a water bath also helps keep everything nice and even when they cook. This is a good recipe to use up scraps of cheese, or use your favourite cheese. Myself, I like a nice combination of sharp cheddar (for flavour) and Havarti or mozzarella (for melt-ability).

Cheese soufflé is delicious at breakfast or brunch with toast, or you could even serve it at dinner with a nice green salad.

Cheese Soufflé

Makes 3 servings

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter + extra for buttering dishes
1 1/2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried mustard powder
1/2 tsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Pepper, to taste
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated cheese (cheddar, gruyere, gouda, or any mix of your favourite cheeses)

1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 390F. Butter 3 small ramekin dishes. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides.
2. Place ramekin dishes in a low roast pan. Carefully add water to roast pan until there water is about halfway up the height of the ramekin dishes.
3. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.
4. Separate eggs, making sure that no trace of yolk is found in the egg whites.
5. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 2-3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute.
6. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in spices, salt, and herbs. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Add half of the grated cheese, and mix into base. Set base mixture aside.
7. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry.
8. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in the rest of the cheese.
9. Transfer batter to prepared dishes. For an even rise, run a knife carefully along the inside perimeter of the dishes.
10. Place dishes (in the roast pan) in oven. Bake until soufflés are puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately.

This recipe can easily be doubled.

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