We were watching Jacques Pepin the other night and he made a mini-cheese cake / souffle that really looked interesting. Jacques is another of my most favorite chefs. No pretense, no huge ego – just really good, sound cooking and technique. I really like how he credits all of the various jobs he has had over the years for making him a skilled cook, today. Things he learned at his parent’s restaurant when he was a kid, things he learned working for Howard Johnson’s, things he learned in school. Taking things from one place and being able to adapt them elsewhere is important. One of the things I liked most about opening hotels all over the USofA was learning new ways to do things and tweaking them for the next property. Lots of different experiences, seeing different ways of doing things, and just being open to new ideas makes us all better people.
I also like how he doesn’t get flustered when things don’t go right. The episode with the mini cheese cakes, his daughter was supposed to butter the souffle cups and then coat them with bread crumbs. The reason for the crumbs is to easily get them out of the cups when cooked. She did butter them but as he was filling them, he realized they hadn’t been crumbed. He just said that if they don’t come out, they can serve them in the cups. No big deal.
And that’s an important thing to remember about most things in life – it’s no big deal.
Like the recipe calling for 6 oz souffle cups but we only have 10 oz souffle cups. And I only wanted to make two because Nonna sure wasn’t going to eat one. I cut the recipe in half, used 10 oz cups, and they came out stellar! Oh – and the recipe calls for whipped cream cheese and I only had half a brick. No big deal.
This took about three minutes to make and a mere 20 minutes in the oven. Ridiculously easy – and ridiculously good.
Light and delicate, rich, rich flavor, totally satisfying. I used an aged roquefort for the dish and it really shone. I would imagine just about any good cheese would work – maybe even my favorite traditional French brie – but the roquefort was so good, I may not mess with success.
Jacques served them on a bed of arugula as a salad. I just did them as a simple side dish and the recipe was easy to cut it in half for the two of us. I’m sure it would be easy enough to double for a crowd, as well.
I also mixed the cheese into the batter, because I think that’s how he did it on the TV show. You can’t screw it up, so do it as you see fit. It’s no big deal.
Mini Savory Cheese Cakes
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 cup (one 8-ounce container) whipped cream cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, like Stilton or Roquefort
Preheat the oven to 350. Generously coat four small (3/4-cup) soufflé molds with the butter. Divide the bread crumbs among the molds and coat the bottoms and sides heavily with the crumbs, pressing them onto the buttered dish so they stick.
Put the cream cheese in a medium bowl and add the eggs, sour cream, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Mix well with a whisk and divide among the soufflé molds. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture in the molds. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.
Arrange the molds on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. The cheesecakes will still be slightly wet and soft in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding.