” Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.” — Julia Child
Oh what a wise woman Julia Child was! If Julia was still alive, she would have turned 100 years old on August 15th of this year. In honor of her birthday, more than 100 blogs around the country have been celebrating, over the 100 days leading up to her birthday, by cooking some of her most beloved recipe and sharing them on their blogs. It has been a crazy summer, but when I heard that this week’s recipe was Julia’s cheese souffle, I knew that somehow I was going to make it happen. I am a sucker for her cheese souffle recipe.
It’s weird to think that I had never cooked from any of Julia’s recipes until I tackled her eighteen page recipe for French bread as my first challenge as a member of the Daring Bakers in February of 2008. So little time has passed, yet it seems like a lifetime ago! Since that first foray into Julia’s world, I’ve jumped in with both feet and now I can’t imagine a world without Julia having a presence in my kitchen. Even my kids can tell you who she is if you show them a picture of her!
If you haven’t dipped your toes into Julia Child’s massive pool of kitchen wisdom, her recipe for a cheese souffle is a great place to start! Even if you’re already familiar with our friend Julia, you should still go and make yourself a cheese souffle, just because.
The recipe is simple, yet its appearance is elegant. Even if your baking dish is too big, like the one I used, or your souffle falls too quickly, the souffle will still be phenomenal. I chose to substitute Jarlsberg cheese in place of Swiss cheese listed in the original recipe, because I adore the sweet nuttiness of Jarlsberg. Take a bite of your finished souffle and see if you agree that it’s like eating light cheesy clouds. Pure heaven I tell ya.
Jarlsberg Cheese Souffle
Excerpted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child. Copyright © 1989 by Julia Child. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
For the white sauce (bechamel):
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites (2/3 cup)
1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) coarsely grated Jarlsberg cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and set the rack in the lower third level. Measure out all of the ingredients listed.
2. Prepare the baking dish: Butter a round baking dish that is 7 1/2 to 8 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep. Make a collar using a double thickness of buttered foil that rises 3 inches over the top of the baking dish, securing the collar by inserting a straight pin head down—for easy removal. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the inside of the buttered baking to cover the bottom and side.
3. Make the white sauce: Melt the butter in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan, then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth, somewhat loose paste. stir over moderate heat until the butter and flour foam together. Let it cook for 2 minutes without letting it color more than a buttery yellow, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
4. Let the mixture cool until the bubbling stops, then pour in all of the hot milk and whisk vigorously to blend. Return the saucepan to the stove and begin to reheat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat slightly and let it boil slowly for 3 minutes. The sauce will be very thick. Whisk in the paprika, salt, white pepper, ad nutmeg, and remove the saucepan from the heat.
5. Add the egg yolks: One by one, whisk the egg yolks into the hot white sauce.
6. Prepare the egg whites: In a clean, separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to until they form stiff shining peaks.
7. Finish the souffle mixture: Scoop 1/4 of the egg whites on top of the sauce and stir them in with a wooden spoon. Gently turn the rest of the egg whites on top, then rapidly and delicately fold them in, alternating scoops of the spatula with sprinkles of the coarsely grated Jarlsberg cheese. Adding the cheese now makes for a light souffle.
8. Bake the souffle: Gently pour the souffle mixture into the prepared baking dish, then set it in the preheated oven. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, then bake until the souffle has puffed 2 to 3 inches over the rim of the baking dish into the collar, and the top has browned nicely.
9. Serving: As soon as the souffle is done, remove the collar, then bring the souffle to the table. To keep the puff standing, hold your serving spoon and fork upright and back to back; plunge them into the crust and tear it apart. If you want the puff to hold and the souffle to stand a reasonable time, test it by plunging a skewer down into the side of the puff: if wet particles cling to it the souffle will be creamy inside and will not hold as long as if the skewer comes out almost clean.