There's 3 'C's' in my life - chocolate, chillies and cheese. Today it's all about the cheese, Cheddar cheese.
Now if you thought all Cheddar was equal, think again. There's cheddar and then there's Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar!
Barber's 1833 is an intense strong Cheddar, with a wonderful slightly crumbly texture that only comes from a minimum of 24 months of maturing. And yes, if you were wondering, the Barber family have been farming the land and making cheese for six generations, since 1833 to be precise! At their Maryland Farm in Ditcheat, Somerset, traditional methods combined with modern technology (in strict accordance with the Protected Designation of Origin for West Country Farmhouse Cheddar) means that the cheese has a unique character and is at the peak of perfection for the consumer. The latest generation of the Barber family are very active on the farm, managing their own land and dairy herds, and are a significant part of the local economy.
I met with charming cousins Charlie and Giles Barber at the Good Food Show in Birmingham recently. There was a buzz in the air (and a whiff of cheese!) as the World Cheese Awards were being hosted there, with nearly 3,000 entries from 34 countries. It was exciting to see that Barber's 1833 had won a gold award in the Farmhouse Cheddar category.
If you would like to try Barber's 1833, you can buy it from good supermarkets or from the online shop. Treat your cheeseboard to some Barber's 1833 for Christmas or New Year, you probably won't want to go back to any other Cheddar! It's also perfect for cooking, there's recipes and videos on the website too. As well as the Cheddar, Barber's also produce a range of regional British cheeses and butter under the Maryland Farm brand.
I was given the ingredients to make their twice baked Cheddar soufflés using Barber's 1833 Cheddar. I can report that the soufflés were light and rich; the cheese gives the soufflés a fabulous deep flavour and they make a perfect starter or light lunch.
for a vegetarian main course
Twice Baked Cheddar Soufflés
Recipe taken with kind permission from the Barber's 1833 website.
225ml/8fl oz milk
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
40g/1½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
40g/1½oz plain flour
125g/4½oz Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, grated, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
3 large eggs, separated
1 tbsp chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150ml/5fl oz double cream
Salad leaves, to garnish
Place the milk, shallot, bay leaf and peppercorns in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Strain into a jug. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the egg yolks, chives, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg whites until holding soft peaks then fold into the cheese mixture. Divide between the prepared ramekins. Stand the dishes in a roasting tin and pour in boiling water to come two thirds up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 15-20 minutes until well risen and firm. Leave to cool.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Run a knife round the sides of the ramekins and turn the soufflés out into an ovenproof dish. Pour over the cream, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Serve with salad leaves.
Disclosure: I attended the Good Food Show as a guest of Barber's and was given the ingredients to make the cheese soufflé recipe.
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