“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” – Thoreau
There’s nothing better for the spirit than a strong dose of fresh air and sunshine, a leafy hillside with moss-covered trails to walk upon, and a friend with whom to share the path. The pleasures of Vermont are simple, serene, homey, and historic – one of the few places I’ve visited that caused me to think, “I could live here.”
Recently, my husband and I stayed at Twin Farms, in Barnard, VT, just a stone’s throw and a covered bridge away from Woodstock, that quintessential New England town with Greek Revival architecture and a quaint village green. Everything about Twin Farms is exceptional: the 300-acre grounds, the rooms and cottages, the food, the kind staff, and the clear, cold pond stocked with trout. I even got my husband to paddle a canoe for the first time in his 57 years!
We stopped at Quechee Gorge to take in the view and I took the opportunity to load up on Vermont cheeses. I bought a couple of bricks of Cabot’s three-year-old artisanal cheddar and used one to make a cheese soufflé. Cheese soufflés are one of the few dishes that have remained in our menu rotation for as long as we’ve been married. I bought my first soufflé dish when I first moved to Washington and still use the same recipe that came with the dish. In the summer, I serve the soufflé with a green salad; in winter, I add carrot soup as an appetizer.
It was a reminder for me of how important it is to use the best possible ingredients when cooking: the soufflé made with the artisanal cheddar was rich, with a substantial flavor to it, but still light as air. Most grocery stores carry a variety of aged cheeses, so you don’t need to drive to Vermont to make this recipe work. But if you can, it’s well worth the trip – and not just for the cheese!
The souffle can be made up to 3 hours in advance, and stored in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before baking.
Prep time: one hour
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup sifted flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- pinch of paprika
- 2 cups milk
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 eggs
- optional: aluminum foil for soufflé collar
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add in flour, salt, and paprika and mix well.
- Slowly stir in milk and keep stirring until sauce thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat
- Beat 8 egg yolks until well mixed and gradually pour into cheese mixture, stirring constantly.
- Beat 8 egg whites until stiff and fold gently into cheese mixture. Turn mixture into a 10-inch soufflé dish. To create a crown around the top of the soufflé, run a knife around the edge of the soufflé, about one inch from the rim of the soufflé dish, making a small indentation all around.
- Bake 10 minutes at 475 degrees, then reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
- Optional: I fold a collar of foil and place it around the outside of the soufflé. It seems to keep the soufflé from listing to one side or the other.
- Serve immediately.