My mother used to make a cheese souffle that she served at holiday dinners. I never wrote the recipe down, but I would like to try to make it. I think she used Swiss cheese.
It's making me sad to keep reading about people who lost or never wrote down their family recipes.
I will try to help on one condition: that regardless of whether you like this recipe as is or choose to tweak it to suit your taste, just write the darned thing down and pass it on.
That way, some future slob like me won't get a letter from your grandkids asking for help.
Your mother (who must have been a pretty good cook if she was pulling off souffles) probably did use Swiss cheese. But if you want to get adventurous, try substituting some other unique cheese. Years from now, your family will reminisce about your holiday dinners.
Jim Coleman is executive chef at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, a cookbook author and host of television and radio cooking shows. Candace Hagan is a food writer and cookbook author.
Here To Stay Souffle
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, heated
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
dash of cayenne pepper
6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2-quart souffle dish. Cut a piece of aluminum foil long enough to wrap around the souffle dish and fold it in half. Butter the part of the foil that will extend above the souffle dish and wrap the foil around the dish to form a collar. Secure with a toothpick. (This will contain the souffle when it rises up over the sides while baking.)
Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan. When the foam subsides, stir in the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for several minutes. Slowly add the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl using a whisk, then add them to the sauce little by little, beating well after each addition. Add the 1 teaspoon salt, white pepper, paprika, tarragon and cayenne. Return to low heat and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.
Using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Stir a few tablespoons of the egg whites into the sauce to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula.
Pour the mixture into the souffle dish. Place it in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown. Serve immediately.