Thursday, January 30, 2014

Marnie’s Magnificent 'Faux' Cheddar Soufflé

One of the first women who taught me about the secrets of the kitchen was Marnie. Dating her stepson for a couple of years, I was embraced as part of her culinary family. With a beautiful country escape out of the city, Marnie and her husband Bob would host weekend after weekend of impromptu drop-in guests, and would have to come up with quick luncheon menus that would be simple and easy to prepare. One of Marnie's memorable recipes was her fabulous faux Cheddar Soufflé, which looked and tasted like a soufflé, but was so much easier to make. With a handful of ingredients and a wealth of culinary knowledge, Marnie was able to create sumptuous summer afternoons with simple and delicious ingredients that resound with me to this day. 

Marnie’s 'Faux' Cheddar Soufflé 
Serves 8-10

1 loaf of country bread, crusts removed and torn into 2-inch cubes
4 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
12 large eggs
3 cups light cream
1 cup of finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp paprika
salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a large greased soufflé dish, place half of the bread cubes and sprinkle with half of the cheddar, then cover with a second layer of bread and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Press down gently so the mixture fits within the dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, green onions, parsley, mustard and paprika, and season well with salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the bread and cheese, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready, preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the dish and sprinkle with a little more cheese. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the soufflé is puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately with a lovely green salad, selection of sliced cold meats and maybe a warm baguette with some ripe stinky cheese. 
Better yet, start with a tray of spicy Blood Mary's, just as Bob and Marnie used to do before lunch was served buffet-style outside in their gorgeous garden!

Bloody Mary's
Serves 8-10

48 oz tomato juice
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
12 dashes Tabasco, or to taste
2 cups vodka
1 lemon, sliced
8-10 celery stalks

These Bloody Mary's can be made ahead and be ready to pour over ice as soon as guests arrive. In a large pitcher, combine of the all ingredients together, except for the sliced lemon and celery, and stir. Refrigerate until ready to pour. To serve, fill each glass 3/4 of the way with ice. Stir the pitcher to combine any settled horseradish and seasoning, then pour the drinks. Squeeze a lemon slice right over the top and garnish each glass with a celery stalk.

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