Monthly Archives: October 2013
I LOVE cheese, especially smelly cheeses. One of the things I’ve recently learned is that the smelly cheeses are typically have washed rinds, which means that the outside of the cheese is brushed, or washed, with liquid as it ages. Different cheeses are washed with different liquids, each option providing a unique flavor profile to the cheese. Some cheeses are simply washed in brine. Other cheeses are washed with beer or cider. It depends on where the cheese is from and the local traditions.
This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is miniature Munster Cheese Soufflés. Munster cheese is a soft washed-rind cheese made with cow’s milk that comes from the Alsace region of France. Munster, not to be confused with the mild Muenster I grew up with (and still enjoy), is known for its strong aroma and taste. In the Alsace region, the residents typically eat Munster cheese daily, often with rye bread or, to emulate the bread’s flavor, other food seasoned with caraway, cumin, or fennel seeds (which all look the same, though taste quite different).
For the soufflé, you start by making a thick bechamel sauce, seasoned with ground cumin. Then you whisk in egg yolks and stir in diced Munster. Finally, the egg whites are beaten until they are firm, then folded into the cheese mixture. Cheese soufflés have a reputation for being difficult to make, but I found it to be relatively easy.
Dicing the cheese into small cubes was challenging. Even though the cheese was cold, it remained soft and sticky. After removing the rind, I tried freezing the wheel for about 15 minutes, but that didn’t make it any easier.
I bought a cheerful new set of ramekins for the soufflés. The dishes I had were too small. I always love an excuse to add to my dish collection.
The soufflés puffed up perfectly, and we ate them immediately. Good thing, because other two soufflés deflated within minutes. Reheated, they make an acceptable breakfast, though not at all light in texture.
I’ll admit that the taste was disappointing. It tasted like cheese soufflé with a hint of cumin. The strong and unique flavor of the Munster didn’t come through at all. That’s too bad because the cheese was pricy ($12 for a 7 oz wheel). Next time, I’ll save the cheese to enjoy on its own with bread or crackers, not as ingredient in something else.
In honor of Dorie Greenspan’s birthday today, the French Fridays crew is having a virtual birthday party. I love birthdays, anyone’s birthday! And who doesn’t like an excuse to celebrate?
This week, I’m visiting my sister for a couple days. My niece Rachel and I baked cupcakes for the occasion. Rachel, age 11, is an accomplished and enthusiastic cook. She’s been working on perfecting strawberry cupcakes so that’s what we made, in miniature. The cupcake batter has strawberry purée in it, giving it a lovely light pink hue. Rachel likes to frost them with whipped cream and top them with a strawberry, like a strawberry shortcake in cupcake form.
Everyone got in the act. My sister Jennifer was in charge of piping the whipped cream. It looked very professional.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DORIE, from Betsy and Rachel! We hope you have a fabulous day!
Rachel’s Strawberry CupcakesMakes 2 dozen mini cupcakes plus a few regular sized ones
2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
24-30 fresh strawberries, for garnishing the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a mini-muffin tin (with 24 muffins) with cupcake lines and set aside.
Puree strawberries in a food processor. Measure out 1/3 cup of puree. Mix the puree in a small bowl with the milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture, mixing until just blended. Add the strawberry mixture; mix until just blended. Add the remaining flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just blended.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling just 2/3 full. If there is extra, make a few full-sized cupcakes. Transfer the muffin tin to the oven, and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch (and the inside of the cake is cooked). For mini-cupcakes, bake for 15-20 minutes. For full-sized, bake 22-25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.
When cooled, ice with whipped cream and top with half a strawberry. Enjoy!