I have been worrying lately that I might run out of sources for Recipes of the Damned. The current food movement seems to be based on whole foods, real foods, real cooking, and a real concern about the quality of the food we eat. But as I was doing an inventory of my cookbook collection this evening, I realized that my fears are misplaced. The Kelloggs Cookbook was published in 2006, and if only three years ago people were serious about publishing Cheez-It Soufflé, we are clearly not as highly evolved as I thought.
Which is not to say Ive never eaten Cheez-Its. I confess, I kind of like them. But in a soufflé? Shouldnt one be using real cheese, preferably a strong artisanal cheddar? I mean, Cheez-Its taste sort of like middling-to-good cheddar wrapped in a salt lick. Thats one of the things I like about them; a good snack food is first and foremost a salt delivery system as far as Im concerned. Corporate America has been happy to oblige me. But that seems all wrong for a soufflé.
1 cup Cheez-It crackers
6 large eggs
1½ cups milk
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon grated onion
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
2. Place the Cheez-It crackers in a resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and, using a rolling pin, crush the crackers to a fine crumb. Set aside.
3. Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in a small, heatproof bowl and beat to blend. Set aside.
4. Place the egg whites in a large bowl. Set aside.
5. Combine the milk and butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, or just until the butter has melted. Add half of the reserved crumbs along with the onion and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken and boil. Immediately lower the heat and whisk a bit of the hot mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. Scrape the egg yolk mixture into the hot mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture returns to a boil. Remove from heat.
6. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the reserved egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the egg whites into the hot Cheez-It mixture to just incorporate. Fold in the remaining Cheez-It crumbs to just blend.
7. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 1½-quart casserole. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1¼ hours, or until puffed and lightly browned.
8. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
From The Kelloggs Cookbook. Judith Choate, ed. New York: Bulfinch Press for Kelloggs Kitchens, 2006.