Why do certain dishes I have eaten stick in my mind practically forever? Why are those the dishes I don't actually have the recipes for? Those are two questions I will also never be able to answer. The only solutions for my dilemma are that I will finally re-create those dishes, or that I will finally stumble on reasonable facsimiles of the recipes for them.
In 1970 something, I went to a potluck dinner with some friends, and one brought a mock cheese souffle made from a recipe of her mother's. It was delicious, easy and I never forgot it. Unfortunately, I did forget to ask for the recipe.
I thought about it occasionally over the years, but never found anything like it. Until one Sunday, that is, when I paged to the recipe section in the New York Times magazine. There it was. The author's mother apparently also had a mock cheese souffle recipe. Did I try it, though? I did not, but at least I kept it. I didn't think any more about it until yesterday. The last time I had opened that recipe binder I hadn't bothered to close the rings properly. I must have been in a terrible hurry. It couldn't possibly be my general laziness. Picking up the file again, all the recipes, naturally enough, fell out. I decided to sort them and found the mock cheese souffle recipe. I don't need a brick wall or a ring binder to fall on me. It had to be a hint, so I tried the recipe. Was it the same? I couldn't swear to it, but it was certainly a reasonable and very good facsimile thereof. Now, if I can only find a recipe for that wonderful hickory nut frosting I remember!
Mock Cheese Souffle
Don't use really spongy white bread for this, not that you would. It just bears mentioning. I made this with 2% milk because that's what I normally buy, but the recipe calls for whole milk. I'm not sure I could have detected the difference. The original called for greasing the souffle dish with butter, but I used cooking oil spray.
8 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 lb sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk (or 2%)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Pinch cayenne pepper
Spread some butter on the bottom and sides of an 8-cup capacity souffle dish or spray it with cooking oil. Butter each slice of bread on one side and cut each into 4 squares. Layer half of the squares, buttered side up, in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining bread and cheese.
Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over the bread and cheese. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Uncover souffle and bake on center rack until it puffs up and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. It won't rise as much as a conventional souffle. Serve as a main course with a salad or as a side dish.