A while back, I bought come extra sharp cheddar cheese at our local Costco. All I have to say about the “extra sharp” adjective is – HA! FAT CHANCE! It was about as sharp as a baseball. Needless to say, I can’t stand wasting food, so I had to find a way to use it up.
First up, Bacon Cheddar Quick Bread with Dried Pears, (by Dorie Greenspan in the October 2008 issue of Bon Appetit). Yes, I made something out of the magazine, even though I’ve been very disappointed with the change in format this year. For me, the biggest strike against the magazine is the microscopic, hard-to-read font that they’ve been using. A few months ago, I counted five different fonts on one page alone, and finally gave up. And, I’m not alone in my disappointment over the changes in a much-loved magazine. I really appreciate Bon Appetit trying to keep things fresh and interesting, but I think they went a bit too far.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system (thanks for listening), what can I say about this quickbread recipe from dear Dorie?
Pros: good texture and great idea. I will try it again, but I will tweak the recipe. Dorie offers some great alternate flavoring suggestions.
Cons: the flavor. I hated the bacon and the sage, and I used a quality bacon from Whole Foods, and I usually like sage. The aforementioned cheddar was completely indiscernible. Neither Master Chow nor I would eat more than a slice of this bread (and I picked all the bacon out of mine), so it sits in my freezer. If you decide to make it (and Brilynn had great results, so don’t be afraid), use a really, really sharp cheddar. The kind that will put hair on your chest.
What I will do differently in the future: no sage or bacon. I will use blue cheese, and increase the pears and walnuts. Did I say no sage?
On to experiment number 2 – a cheese souffle made with the same shameful IMPOSTOR of an extra-sharp cheddar cheese. If you’ve never made a souffle before, you should know that it is very important to make a strongly flavored base, so that the dish actually tastes like something once it has been mixed with the egg whites, and baked.
I got to work and doctored this recipe from Food and Wine by adding both anchovy paste and sundried tomato paste, since I didn’t have gruyere (nooooo, I had a crappy cheddar). Voilá! A pretty good cheddar cheese souffle and, unlike the savory bread, Master Chow had several servings of this, as did I. If you used a really good flavorful cheddar, this would be excellent. Recipe after the jump . . . .
Cheddar Cheese Soufflés
Adapted from a recipe for Gruyère Soufflés in Food and Wine
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus softened butter for brushing
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 1 Tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste, or regular tomato paste
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 8 ounces coarsely shredded cheddar cheese (2 packed cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 400° and brush seven 1-cup ramekins (or one large souffle dish) with butter. Lightly coat the ramekins (or dish) with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and set them on a sturdy baking sheet.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the anchovy and tomato pastes, and cook briefly for about one minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk and cook over moderately low heat until smooth and very thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and cayenne. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolks. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the cheddar.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-high speed until frothy. Increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the soufflé base until no streaks of white remain.
- Spoon the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, filling them to an inch below the rim. Run your thumb inside the rim of each ramekin to help the soufflés rise evenly. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano on top and bake in the bottom third of the oven until the soufflés are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- If you use one large souffle dish, it can bake for as long as 40 minutes – check by inserting a skewer in the middle, and it should come out clean. If you think it’s done, but cut into it, and find that it’s not cooked, just pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes. Serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. The soufflés can be assembled up to 1 hour ahead. The cooked soufflés can be reheated in the oven.