cheeeeeeeeeese!!! (and a souffle)

me holding a box full of gift cheese from Widmer's

One of the few remaining good food magazines is Culture Cheese Mag, to which we've subscribed for more than ten years. Because we love cheese. And one of the things that Culture does periodically is reader giveaways; we've actually won twice, once a decade ago, and once this month. What do they give away? Well, cheese, of course.

This month's contest was six assorted cheeses from Widmer's Cheese Cellars in Wisconsin. It included a butterkase, "Alpine" cheddar, mild cheddar, colby jack, brick cheese, and cheese spread. After a little recipe searching, we have plans for this cheese.

The mild cheddar was used for sandwiches. I'll use the brick cheese for Detroit pizza, the butterkase for spaetzle, and the colby for quesadillas. My sweetie used the "Alpine" cheddar for ... a souffle!

crusty souffle in a gratin dish, with browned top and four

Since this was for a casual weeknight dinner, she cooked Jacques Pépin's maman's souffle. Mme. Pépin's is a great recipe; it's easier, faster, and doesn't dirty as many dishes. That's because she doesn't separate the eggs. According to Jacques, when she got married she didn't really know how to cook, so she made a souffle ... but she didn't know to separate the eggs. And it worked anyways! It's a little less fluffy than a beaten-egg-white souffle, but still quite good and great for an easy meal.

Even though you haven't won free cheese, I know you'll want to make one too, so here's a recipe:

Jacques Pépin's Maman's Cheese Souffle

  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 6 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 5 large eggs
  • 9 ounces grated cheese (see below), plus optionally 1oz in thin slices.
  • 1/2 oz parmesan cheese or similar
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • bowl, whisk, medium pot, 2qt wide baking pan or gratin dish

Heat oven to 375F.

Melt the 6 Tbs butter in the pan. Whisk in the flour until well combined. Cook over medium heat for around a minute. Pour in the milk (cold is fine), whisking. Cook, whisking frequently, until the milk begins to simmer and the white sauce becomes thick. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cheese. Set aside to cool for 10-15 min.

Grease the baking pan with butter. Powder it with the parmesan until lightly coated.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until well beaten and fairly frothy. Add the minced chives. Whisk the cheesy white sauce into the eggs, and then pour the mixture into the baking pan. If using, decorate with a few more chives plus the slices of cheese.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until puffed up, brown all over the top surface, and completely done. This souffle can be a bit soupy in the middle, so if you don't care for that (we don't), cook it for another 3 minutes or so after you think it's already done.

Serve very hot, with a simple vinagrette salad.

Note on cheese: this souffle works best with a semi-soft, melty cheese with a medium-strong flavor, such as cheddar, swiss, gruyere, gouda, manchego, raclette, or kasseri. It will not work well with a blue cheese due to the higher fat content.