Soufflés, Puffs and Ramekins

More recipes from Bob Brown and his book “The Complete book of Cheese” published in 1955.

Soufflés, Puffs and Ramekins

There isn’t much difference between Cheese Soufflés, Puffs and Ramekins. The English Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery, the oldest, biggest and best of such works in English, lumps Cheese Puffs and Ramekins together, giving the same recipes for both, although it treats each extensively under its own name when not made with cheese.

Cheese was the basis of the original French Ramequin, cheese and bread crumbs or puff paste, baked in a mold, (with puff again the principal factor in Soufflé, from the French souffler, puff up).

Basic Soufflé

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, as in the Ramekin recipes below.

Parmesan Soufflé

Make the same as Basic Soufflé, with these small modifications in the ingredients:

1 full cup of grated Parmesan
1 extra egg in place of the ½ cup of Cheddar cheese
A little more butter
Black pepper, not cayenne

Swiss Soufflé

Make the same as Basic Soufflé, with these slight changes:

1¼ cups grated Swiss cheese instead of the Cheddar cheese
Nutmeg in place of the cayenne

Parmesan-Swiss Soufflé

Make the same as Basic Soufflé, with these little differences:

½ cup grated Swiss cheese, and ½ cup grated Parmesan in place
of the Cheddar cheese
¼ teaspoon each of sugar and black pepper for seasoning.

Any of these makes a light, lovely luncheon or a proper climax to a grand dinner.

Cheese-Corn Soufflé

Make as Basic Soufflé, substituting for the scalded milk 1 cup of sieved and strained juice from cream-style canned corn.

Cheese-Spinach Soufflé

Sauté 1½ cups of finely chopped, drained spinach in butter with 1 teaspoon finely grated onion, and then whip it until light and fluffy. Mix well into the white sauce of the Basic Soufflé before adding the cheese and following the rest of the recipe.

picture: pointer Cheese-Tomato Soufflé

Substitute hot tomato juice for the scalded milk.

Cheese-Sea-food Soufflé

Add 1½ cups finely chopped or ground lobster, crab, shrimp, other sea food or mixture thereof, with any preferred seasoning added.

Cheese-Mushroom Soufflé

1½ cups grated sharp Cheddar
1 cup cream of mushroom soup
Paprika, to taste
Salt
2 egg yolks, well beaten
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
2 tablespoons chopped, cooked bacon
2 tablespoons sliced, blanched almonds

Heat cheese with soup and paprika, adding the cheese gradually and stirring until smooth. Add salt and thicken the sauce with egg yolks, still stirring steadily, and finally fold in the whites. Sprinkle with bacon and almonds and bake until golden brown and puffed high (about 1 hour).

Cheese-Potato Soufflé (Potato Puff)

6 potatoes
2 onions
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup hot milk
¾ cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
A dash of pepper
2 egg yolks, well beaten
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
¼ cup grated Cheddar cheese

Cook potatoes and onions together until tender and put through a ricer. Mix with all the other ingredients except the egg whites and the Cheddar. Fold in the egg whites, mix thoroughly and pour into a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of Cheddar on top and bake in moderate oven about ½ hour, until golden-brown and well puffed. Serve instantly.

Variations of this popular Soufflé leave out the onion and simplify matters by using 2 cups of mashed potatoes. Sometimes 1 tablespoon of catsup and another of minced parsley is added to the mixture. Or onion juice alone, to take the place of the cooked onions—about a tablespoon, full or scant.

The English, in concocting such a Potato Puff or Soufflé, are inclined to make it extra peppery, as they do most of their Cheese Soufflés, with not only “a dust of black pepper” but “as much cayenne as may be stood on the face of a sixpence.”

Cheese Fritter Soufflés

These combine ham with Parmesan cheese and are even more delicately handled in the making than crêpes suzette.
PUFFS

Three-in-One Puffs

1 cup grated Swiss
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup cream cheese
5 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper

Mix the cheeses into one mass moistened with the beaten eggs, splashed on at intervals. When thoroughly incorporated, put in ramekins, tiny tins, cups, or any sort of little mold of any shape. Bake in hot oven about 10 minutes, until richly browned.

Such miniature Soufflés serve as liaison officers for this entire section, since they are baked in ramekins, or ramequins, from the French word for the small baking dish that holds only one portion. These may be paper boxes, usually round, earthenware, china, Pyrex, of any attractive shape in which to bake or serve the Puffs.

More commonly, in America at least, Puffs are made without ramekin dishes, as follows:

Fried Puffs

2 egg whites, beaten stiff
½ cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon flour
Salt
Paprika

Into the stiff egg whites fold the cheese, flour and seasonings. When thoroughly mixed pat into shape desired, roll in crumbs and fry.

Roquefort Puffs

⅛ pound genuine French Roquefort
1 egg white, beaten stiff
8 crackers or 2-inch bread rounds

Cream the Roquefort, fold in the egg white, pile on crackers and bake 15 minutes in slow oven.

The constant repetition of “beaten stiff” in these recipes may give the impression that the whites are badly beaten up, but such is not the case. They are simply whipped to peaks and left moist and glistening as a teardrop, with a slight sad droop to them that shows there is still room for the air to expand and puff things up in cooking.

Parmesan Puffs

Make a spread of mayonnaise or other salad dressing with equal parts of imported Parmesan, grated fine. Spread on a score or more of crackers in a roomy pan and broil a couple of minutes till they puff up golden-brown.

Use only the best Parmesan, imported from Italy; or, second best, from Argentina where the rich pampas grass and Italian settlers get together on excellent Parmesan and Romano. Never buy Parmesan already grated; it quickly loses its flavor.

Breakfast Puffs

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
¼ cup finely grated cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt

Mix all together to a smooth, light batter and fill ramekins or cups half full; then bake in quick oven until they are puffing over the top and golden-brown.

Danish Fondue Puffs

1 stale roll
½ cup boiling hot milk
Salt
Pepper
2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
4 egg yolks, beaten lemon-yellow
4 egg whites, beaten stiff

Soak roll in boiling milk and beat to a paste. Mix with cheese and egg yolks. When smooth and thickened fold in the egg whites and fill ramekins, tins, cups or paper forms and slowly bake until puffed up and golden-brown.

New England Cheese Puffs

1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
2 egg yolks, beaten lemon-yellow
½ cup milk
1 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
2 egg whites, beaten stiff but not dry

Sift dry ingredients together, mix yolks with milk and stir in. Add cheese and when thoroughly incorporated fold in the egg whites to make a smooth batter. Drop from a big spoon into hot deep fat and cook until well browned.

Caraway seeds are sometimes added. Poppy seeds are also used, and either of these makes a snappier puff, especially tasty when served with soup.

A few drops of tabasco give this an extra tang.

Cream Cheese Puffs

½ pound cream cheese
1 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard

Soften cheese by heating over hot water. Remove from heat and add milk, eggs and seasoning. Beat until well blended, then pour into custard cups, ramekins or any other individual baking dishes that are attractive enough to serve the puffs in.
RAMEKINS OR RAMEQUINS

Some Ramekin dishes are made so exquisitely that they may be collected like snuff bottles.

Ramekins are utterly French, both the cooked Puffs and the individual dishes in which they are baked. Essentially a Cheese Puff, this is also au gratin when topped with both cheese and browned bread crumbs. By a sort of poetic cook’s license the name is also applied to any kind of cake containing cheese and cooked in the identifying one-portion ramekin. It is used chiefly in the plural, however, together with the name of the chief ingredient, such as “Chicken Ramekins” and:

Cheese Ramekins I

2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
⅛ pound butter, melted
⅛ pound grated cheese

Mix well and bake in individual molds for 15 minutes.

Cheese Ramekins II

3 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon each, salt and pepper
¾ cup bread crumbs
½ cup grated cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups milk

Mix the first four dry ingredients together, stir eggs into the milk and add. Stir to a smooth batter and bake in buttered ramekins, standing in water, in moderate oven. Serve piping hot, for like Soufflés and all associated Puffs, the hot air will puff out of them quickly; then they will sink and be inedible.
TWO ANCIENT ENGLISH RECIPES,
STILL GOING STRONG

Cheese Ramekins III

Grate ½ pound of any dry, rich cheese. Butter a dozen small paper cases, or little boxes of stiff writing paper like Soufflé cases. Put a saucepan containing ½ pint of water over the fire, add 2 tablespoons of butter, and when the water boils, stir in 1 heaping tablespoonful of flour. Beat the mixture until it shrinks away from the sides of the saucepan; then stir in the grated cheese. Remove the paste thus made from the fire, and let it partly cool. In the meantime separate the yolks from the whites of three eggs, and beat them until the yolks foam and the whites make a stiff froth. Put the mixture at once into the buttered paper cases, only half-filling them (since they rise very high while being baked) with small slices of cheese, and bake in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes. As soon as the Puffs are done, put the cases on a hot dish covered with a folded napkin, and serve very hot.

The most popular cheese for Ramekins has always been, and still is, Gruyère. But because the early English also adopted Italian Parmesan, that followed as a close second, and remains there today.

Sharp Cheddar makes tangy Ramekins, as will be seen in this second oldster; for though it prescribes Gloucester and Cheshire “‘arf-and-‘arf,” both are essentially Cheddars. Gloucester has been called “a glorified Cheshire” and the latter has long been known as a peculiarly rich and colorful elder brother of Cheddar, described in Kenelme Digby’s Closet Open’d as a “quick, fat, rich, well-tasted cheese.”

Cheese Ramekins IV

Scrape fine ¼ pound of Gloucester cheese and ¼ pound of Cheshire cheese. Beat this scraped cheese in a mortar with the yolks of 4 eggs, ¼ pound of fresh butter, and the crumbs of a French roll boiled in cream until soft. When all this is well mixed and pounded to a paste, add the beaten whites of 4 eggs. Should the paste seem too stiff, 1 or 2 tablespoons of sherry may be added. Put the paste into paper cases, and bake in a Dutch oven till nicely browned. The Ramekins should be served very hot.

Since both Gloucester cheese and Cheshire cheese are not easily come by even in London today, it would be hard to reproduce this in the States. So the best we can suggest is to use half-and-half of two of our own great Cheddars, say half-Coon and half-Wisconsin Longhorn, or half-Tillamook and half-Herkimer County. For there’s no doubt about it, contrasting cheeses tickle the taste buds, and as many as three different kinds put together make Puffs all the more perfect.

Ramequins à la Parisienne

2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 ounce salt butter
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup grated Gruyère
Coarsely ground pepper
An atom of nutmeg
A soupçon of garlic
A light touch of powdered sugar
8 eggs, separated

Boil milk and cream together. Melt butter, mix in the flour and stir over heat 5 minutes, adding the milk and cream mixture a little at a time. When thoroughly cooked, remove from heat and stir in cheese, seasonings and the yolks of all 8 eggs, well beaten, and the whites of 2 even better beaten. When well mixed, fold in the remaining egg whites, stiffly beaten, until you have a batter as smooth and thick as cream. Pour this into ramekins of paper, porcelain or earthenware, filling each about ⅔ full to allow for them to puff up as they bake in a very slow oven until golden-brown (or a little less than 20 minutes).

picture: pointer Le Ramequin Morézien

This celebrated specialty of Franche-Comté is described as “a porridge of water, butter, seasoning, chopped garlic and toast; thickened with minced Gruyère and served very hot.”

Several French provinces are known for distinctive individual Puffs usually served in the dainty fluted forms they are cooked in. In Jeanne d’Arc’s Lorraine, for instance, there are the simply named Les Ramequins, made of flour, Gruyère and eggs.

Swiss-Roquefort Ramekins

¼ pound Swiss cheese
¼ pound Roquefort cheese
½ pound butter
8 eggs, separated
4 breakfast rolls, crusts removed
½ cup cream

The batter is made in the usual way, with the soft insides of the rolls simmered in the cream and stirred in. The egg whites are folded in last, as always, the batter poured into ramekins part full and baked to a golden-brown. Then they are served instantaneously, lest they fall.

Puff Paste Ramekins

Puff or other pastry is rolled out fiat and sprinkled with fine tasty cheese or any cheese mixture, such as Parmesan with Gruyère and/or Swiss Sapsago for a piquant change, but in lesser quantity than the other cheeses used. Parmesan cheese has long been the favorite for these.

Fold paste into 3 layers, roll out again and dust with more cheese. Fold once more and roll this out and cut in small fancy shapes to bake 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven. Brushing with egg yolk before baking makes these Ramekins shine.

Frying Pan Ramekins

Melt 2 ounces of butter, let it cool a little and then mix with ½ pound of cheese. Fold in the whites of 3 eggs, beaten stiff but not dry. Cover frying pan with buttered papers, put slices of bread on this and cover with the cheese mixture. Cook about 5 minutes, take it off and brown it with a salamander.

There are two schools of salamandering among turophiles. One holds that it toughens the cheese and makes it less digestible; the other that it’s simply swell. Some of the latter addicts have special cheese-branding irons made with their monograms, to identify their creations, whether they be burned on the skins of Welsh Rabbits or Frying Pan Ramekins. Salamandering with an iron that has a gay, carnivalesque design can make a sort of harlequin Ramekin.

Casserole Ramekin

Here is the Americanization of a French original: In a deep casserole lay alternate slices of white bread and Swiss cheese, with the cheese slices a bit bigger all around. Beat 2 eggs with 2 cups of milk, season with salt and—of all things—nutmeg! Proceed to bake like individual Ramekins.

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