Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bleu Belle

img_5831Life has been serving me up the blues lately. First there was the Valentine’s Day Vurkey incident with my asshole-ex. Then Taleggio ate my peacock feather boa and started shitting blue; the vet was amused by my 3 AM, $300 hospital visit. That made one of us. His diagnosis, “Your cat has an affinity for feathers. Keep them out of sight.” Please, I live in a classic village-tenement-shoebox-studio…there is no out of sight! But the real heartbreaker of the week was reading through my friend Nick’s daily dining newsletter, Tasting Table, only to discover that, “Thanks to an impending 300 percent tariff on imported “luxury foods,” the price of France’s esteemed Roquefort will skyrocket to prohibitive levels beginning next month.”

I love bleu cheese (not to mention luxury foods). This seriously sucks.

Nick goes on to say that as a final adieu to affordable French bleu, Murray’s Cheese is offering $5 tastes, $10 cheese tours and free wine for the first 50 guests who enter the store today. I’m so there! Even though I’ve basically been bathing in flour and Roquefort all week, busily perfecting a recipe for bleu cheese soufflé to post on the Zette wine blog, I’m not tired of the stinky stuff that makes the insides of my cheeks tingle in only the way a stinging bleu or bad wine can do. If Taleggio’s Achilles’ heel is feasting on feathers, my weakness is for formaggio.

Case in point: after my Roquefort adventure later today, I’m headed to a Raclette dinner party hosted by friends who just came back from the Austrian Alps, a custom cheese grill snuggly stowed in the overhead compartment. I have a feeling Halumi kebobs are about to be a thing of my past. Grilled Raclette in one hand, a German Weisse beer in the other, life should always taste so sweet.

Maybe it can. The soufflé recipe below is equally excellent made with a Spanish cabreles or a Danish bleu. With spring right around the corner, a new Dinner Belle website poised to bring in new catering business, and an introduction to a new cheese treat just hours away, I’m hoping these blues will pass on by and leave me feeling gratefully green.

souffleBelle’s Bleu Cheese Soufflé (serves 4)

• 3 t unsalted Butter (plus extra for greasing the dish)
• ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (plus extra for sprinkling)
• 3 t AP Flour
• 1 cup scalded Milk
• ½ t Kosher Salt
• ¼ t freshly ground Black Pepper
• 1 pinch Cayenne Pepper
• 1 pinch freshly ground Nutmeg
• 5 large Egg Yolks (at room temperature)
• 3 oz Roquefort Cheese (chopped)
• 6 large Egg Whites (at room temperature)
• 1/8 t Cream of Tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the inside of an 8-cup soufflé dish (about 7 ½ inches in diameter by 3 ¼ inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and the nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort and the 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and just a pinch more of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the soufflé dish, and then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the soufflé rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don’t peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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One Response to “Bleu Belle”

  1. Katja

    Looks surprisingly easy to make, with an impressive outcome. Would love to show up to a Bills game with these in tow, and give new meaning to the words “Blue Cheese”!

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