Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ancien Impérial Cheese

Normandy, France

Soft; fresh cream; white, mellow and creamy like Neufchâtel and made in the same way. Tiny bricks packaged in tin foil, two inches square, one-half inch thick, weighing three ounces. Eaten both fresh and when ripe. It is also called Carré and has separate names for the new and the old: (a) Petit Carré when newly made; (b) Carré Affiné, when it has reached a ripe old age, which doesn't take long—about the same time as Neufchâtel.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Basic Souffle

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 tablespoons flour
1¼ cups hot milk, scalded
1 teaspoon salt
A dash of cayenne
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese, sharp
2 egg yolks, beaten lemon-yellow
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Melt butter, stir in flour and milk gradually until thick and smooth. Season and add the cheese, continuing the cooking and slow stirring until velvety. Remove from heat and let cool somewhat; then stir in the egg yolks with a light hand and an upward motion. Fold in the stiff whites and when evenly mixed pour into a big, round baking dish. (Some butter it and some don't.) To make sure the top will be even when baked, run a spoon or knife around the surface, about 1 inch from the edge of the dish, before baking slowly in a moderate oven until puffed high and beautifully browned. Serve instantly for fear the Soufflé may fall. The baking takes up to an hour and the egg whites shouldn't be beaten so stiff they are hard to fold in and contain no air to expand and puff up the dish.

To perk up the seasonings, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, nutmeg and even garlic are often used to taste, especially in England.

While Cheddar is the preferred cheese, Parmesan runs it a close second. Then comes Swiss. You may use any two or all three of these together. Sometimes Roquefort is added.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hand Cheese

Hand cheese has this niche in our Cheese Hall of Fame not because we consider it great, but because it is usually included among the eighteen varieties on which the hundreds of others are based. It is named from having been molded into its final shape by hand. Universally popular with Germanic races, it is too strong for the others. To our mind, Hand cheese never had anything that Allgäuer or Limburger hasn't improved upon.

It is the only cheese that is commonly melted into steins of beer and drunk instead of eaten. It is usually studded with caraway seeds, the most natural spice for curds.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tillamook

It takes two pocket-sized, but thick, yellow volumes to record the story of Oregon's great Tillamook. The Cheddar Box, by Dean Collins, comes neatly boxed and bound in golden cloth stamped with a purple title, like the rind of a real Tillamook. Volume I is entitled Cheese Cheddar, and Volume II is a two-pound Cheddar cheese labeled Tillamook and molded to fit inside its book jacket. We borrowed Volume I from a noted littérateur, and never could get him to come across with Volume II. We guessed its fate, however, from a note on the flyleaf of the only tome available: "This is an excellent cheese, full cream and medium sharp, and a unique set of books in which Volume II suggests Bacon's: 'Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.'"