French Cheese Soufflé
Butter and dust with bread crumbs a 1 1/2 quart soufflé dish. Or, butter and crumb 6-8 (depending on the size) small souffle dishes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
This recipe makes one large 1 1/2 quart soufflé or approximately eight 6 or 8 ounce soufflé dishes.

Bechamel Sauce
1 cup whole milk
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
pinch of ground nutmeg

4 egg yolks
2/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese

2 Tablespoons minced parsley
1 Teaspoon minced chives
1/2 Teaspoon minced chervil or marjoram

6 egg whites at room temperature

Combine the milk, bay leaf, mustard, pepper and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat off to let the flavors infuse into the milk. While still hot, strain the milk into a measuring cup to make it easier to add to the bechamel base.

Melt the butter in a saucepan until frothy then stir in the flour. Stir quickly with a whisk to create a smooth roux with no lumps. Cook for a few minutes to cook out the flour taste. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, stirring constantly so no lumps will form. Continue to cook on medium low until thick and smooth. Stir in the nutmeg. Taste for salt and add more if you like. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks. Gently stir in the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper until ready to use. Remember to season the bechamel well as the egg whites will dilute the flavor.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. In France, I was taught to hold the bowl of whipped egg whites over your head. If they didn’t spill out, they were ready.

Pour half of the bechamel into the egg whites and fold together the two mixtures. Add the rest of the egg whites and all of the minced herbs. Fold with care to keep the mixture light and fluffy. Do not over mix. All of the egg whites do not have to be completely incorporated.

Immediately pour into the prepared dishes and place in the hot oven. The small ramekins took about 12 minutes and the medium size, about 15 minutes. The 1 1/2 quart soufflé dish will take about 20-25 minutes. I look for a brown top. You want a creamy center so try not to over cook.