Goat’s Cheddar is a wonderful thing; there are lots of varieties on the market and if you can get hold of a mature version it will make this recipe even better. These puddings are based on soufflés but are denser, so make for a more substantial dish. As they need to be baked twice, you could actually cook them the day before. It is important to cool the puddings before the second bake, to create a lovely crust.
You can try adding different cheeses to the pudding, such as regular Cheddar or Stilton. You can also vary the dish by adding baked mushrooms (see here). One meal can actually become several variations, with a bit of imagination.
40g unsalted butter, plus more for the ramekins
40g plain flour, plus more for the ramekins
225ml warm whole milk
150ml whipping cream
4 eggs, separated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
175g goat’s Cheddar, grated
4 large ripe tomatoes
a little sunflower oil
2 heads of Little Gem lettuce
1 quantity Fried onion vinaigrette (see here)
Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan 130°C/gas mark 2.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, tip in the flour and cook gently for around 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the warm milk and heat until the sauce starts to bubble, then finally add the cream.
Cool a little, then whisk in the egg yolks. (If you add them while the sauce is still hot, the yolks will turn into scrambled eggs.)
Next whisk the whites in a clean bowl – I’m not suggesting you have bad habits, it’s just that egg whites will not rise in a greasy bowl – with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
Using a spatula, fold the whites into the sauce, then season the mix with salt and pepper and finally add the cheese. Be careful at this stage, you don’t want to undo all that whipping by being too heavy with your folding.
Now take six ramekins – or those silicone pudding moulds are really good – butter and flour them, then line with circles of baking parchment. Add the mix to them, making sure you get some of the cheese which will have fallen to the base of the saucepan. If you have any mixture left, bake it in another buttered and floured container; it can be your tester.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour; they will be slightly risen but still a little wobbly. Allow them to cool in the moulds.
Wait until the puddings are cold, then remove from the moulds and refrigerate. You can reheat them later, or even the next day.
When you are ready to serve the meal, preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas mark 3. Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters, brush with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop them in a baking tray, place at the bottom of the oven and cook for 20 minutes. At the same time, place the puddings on a baking tray lined with baking parchment on the top shelf of the oven, also for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, halve the lettuces, brush with oil and season. Place on a third baking tray. When the puddings and tomatoes have been in the oven for 15 minutes, add the lettuces for the last 5 minutes.
To serve, check the puddings are hot, put them on warmed plates and serve with the tomatoes and lettuces. Drizzle the tomatoes and lettuces with the Fried onion vinaigrette, or serve the vinaigrette underneath the puddings.