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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Irish Cheese Soufflés

Irish Cheese Soufflés
About midway through February, I got it into my head that I was going to post only Irish recipes in March.  That's it.  Oh, the thoughts swirling through my head.  I went so far as to make two lists.  One was a running list of the different dishes and drinks that I wanted to make.  The other was something I do every month - a "calendar" of sorts where I list all of the days in the month and start filling in what I'm planning on posting when.

With the second list, I quickly realized that it was going to be near impossible for me to post only Irish recipes.  I get ahead of myself sometimes.  But even though every single post this month cannot be Irish, a good number of them can be.  Or at least Irish-inspired... as in containing Irish ingredients or inspired by something Irish.  Let's see how many I actually wind up sharing.
Irish Cheese Soufflés
I'm kicking things off with this soufflé.  Uh...yeah.  Soufflés are French, thank you.  But this one is made with a mild, creamy, Irish cheese from Coolea Co. Cork - hence named Coolea.  Coolea is rich and tends towards the sweet and caramely flavors of Gouda (which makes sense since the recipe originates from an old Dutch recipe for Gouda).

This is really a very basic soufflé - no bells or whistles.  But it is rich and fluffy and utterly perfect with a salad alongside and a dram of good, Irish Whiskey.

p.s... I promise you that these soufflés rose up big and beautiful and full o' Irish glory.  But you try sweet talking them into standing tall until you take a picture of them.  They also have that stubborn Irish temper.

Irish Cheese Soufflés
Irish Cheese Soufflés
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Keywords: bake entree vegetarian cheese eggs Mothers Day St Patricks Day French Irish

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter + more for greasing ramekins
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. Coolea cheese, shredded
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400° F. Heat the milk to warm in the microwave or on the stove top. Butter the inside of four (8 oz.) ramekins and set them on a baking tray.

Place the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat until melted, stir in the flour to form a roux. Gradually whisk in the milk until you have a creamy béchamel-style sauce.

Scatter the cheese over the top, along with the nutmeg, and whisk until combined. Very quickly (so that you don't get scrambled eggs) whisk in the egg yolks (drop into the center of the pan, as opposed to the edges and whisk like crazy), one at a time, and then remove the pan from the heat. Continue to whisk for another minute or two to help the mixture thicken and help it cool down a bit. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into a medium-large bowl.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (either using a whisk by hand or with a hand-mixer). Whisk one-third of them into the egg/cheese mixture. Fold half of the remaining egg whites in, followed by the remaining whites. Be careful not to over-mix, as you don't want the whites to deflate.

Divide evenly amongst the ramekins (mixture will come very close to the top - you'll have maybe ¼" of head room) and immediately slide into the preheated oven.

Bake for 25 minutes WITHOUT opening the oven door (lest your soufflés flop).

Soufflés should be served immediately. Have the rest of your meal plated and ready to go, and just slide the hot souffles in front of your guests (or yourself) as soon as they come out of the oven. They will deflate. There's no way around it. That's why you want everybody there to witness them in all their glory as soon as they come out of the oven.

The Irish cheese used in these soufflés is called Coolea (after the place it originates - Coolea Co. Cork). If you are unable to find Coolea, you can substitute Gouda. Although if you do, you can't really call it an "Irish" Cheese Soufflé... (but it will still be rich, cheesy, and delicious).

If you have trouble folding in the egg whites with a rubber spatula, try quickly, yet gently whisking them in. As long as you're not beating like crazy, your whites should still keep most of their air and body.

adapted from Clodagh's Kitchen Diaries
Irish Cheese Soufflés