It seemed all to coincidental that the battery on my mac died the same time I decided to take a little creative hiatus. So for a whole week I have been pretty much computer-less, thanks to Apple and their unreliable range of macbook batteries. Apparently this is a fairly common problem and frankly I am pretty pissed off. Luckily my macbook is still under warranty. And so my love-hate affair with Apple continues.
But on to better, tastier things. Like Taleggio cheese.
Taleggio is an Italian cheese that originates from the region of, surprise surprise, Val Taleggio. As a cheese, I think Taleggio is one of those that just have to revered. It's been around for centuries and the process of how authentic Taleggio is made has changed very little. The cheese is usually left to mature in limestone caves or cellars and are washed in a special salty brine every week in order to inhibit the growth of certain moulds.
The cheese has a thin orangey-yellow rind, which you remove to expose the soft, straw-coloured runny interior which bears the pungent aroma of mushrooms and fruits. You can usually recognise the smell of taleggio a mile away, I know I can and it's taste can stay on your palate for a really long time. But in a way that will leave you wanting more. It's saltiness can be quite prominent at first but after a few seconds, hints of its sweet acidity begins to take shape.
I have been known to sneak into the fridge, cheese knife in hand just slicing shards of this wonderful cheese just to satiate my appetite for it. And what better way to showcase it's beautiful taste than through a soufflé. Really, you could substitute Taleggio for any other melting cheese, however this one is one of my favourites. Those Italians sure know how to make a cheese. And when a cheese is protected by the European Union and a whole lot of legislation and regulations, you know that there is something special about it. I am just thrilled that we can get it here in Oz.
When it comes to soufflés, well there is really nothing to them than a whole lot of of hot air, but that's the thing, all this air that makes a soufflé is the very thing that can break it. Once all that hot air is gone, then poof, there goes your soufflé with it. But the wonderful thing is that no matter if this soufflé is puffed up, glorious and risen or it has collapsed into wonderful mess, it still tastes the same.
And don't worry I haven't slumped into the vapid despair of the food blogging black hole. I am finding inspiration and haven't lost the fire for cooking, baking and eating, but I am just lacking the motivation to put legs on all those things that inspire me.
But I must say a massive thanks to all your well-wishes, I didn't think that I would get such a response from simply telling you how I felt. But I do appreciate all you encouragement. Spring is here and with it comes new weather and new playthings, asparagus is coming back and so are berries. Now if I can't find the motivation from those things then I don't know what will.
Below is the recipe for a cheese soufflé, as I mentioned before feel free to substitute the Taleggio with other cheeses- I am imagining, asiago, cheddar, gorgonzola, the choices are endless!
Adapted from Australian Good Taste, June 2005
Melted butter, to grease
breadcrumbs, to dust
2 tbs plain flour
310ml (1 1/4 cups) milk
80g (1 cup) coarsely grated taleggio
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
20g (¼ cup) grated grana padano
4 eggs, separated
sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Brush a 1.5L (6-cup) capacity ovenproof souffle dish with melted butter to lightly grease. Lightly dust with breadcrumbs.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming.
Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until mixture bubbles and begins to come away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat.
Gradually pour in half the milk, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk until mixture is smooth.
Gradually add the remaining milk, whisking until smooth and combined.
Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
Add the taleggio, chives, grana padano and egg yolks, and stir until taleggio melts and the mixture is well combined.
Use an electric beater to beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Add one-quarter of the egg white to the taleggio mixture and use a large metal spoon to fold until just combined.
Add the remaining egg white and fold until just combined.
Add some salt if required.
Pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared dish.
Place soufflé dishes on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed (souffles are best when they're still slightly runny in the centre).
Remove from oven and serve immediately.
If you want to know more about Taleggio, why not check out The Union of Taleggio Cheese website.