What to Eat in France: Soufflé au Comté

Published by Monday, August 24, 2015 Permalink 0

What to Eat in France: Soufflé au Comté, or Comté Cheese Soufflé

by Jonell Galloway

Comté cheese is a jewel born of Franco-Swiss history. By today’s boundaries, it is in the Jura Mountains in France, so it is technically considered a French cheese, although it’s made in a manner similar to that of the hard “cooked” Swiss cheeses we know as “holey Swiss cheese.”

Cara De Silva waxed poetic about Comté several years ago in Saveur magazine. I can’t describe it any better:

…that semifirm Comté is born of the distinctive milk of the region’s Montbeliarde cows, whose diet includes wild orchids, daisies, dandelions, and more than 400 other plant varieties; that it’s produced in the fruitières, or cooperative dairies, that have dotted the landscape of the Franche-Comté region for centuries; that the Montbeliardes’ milk is partly skimmed and heated gently in copper-lined vats before being combined with rennet; that the resulting curds are broken into fine grains, put into molds for pressing, and set on spruce boards for a few weeks of aging before being entrusted to an affineur, who oversees the further maturing of the cheese.

The Ancient Romans were already enjoying cheeses from this Franche-Comté region, and the cheese production in the villages of Deservillers and Levier were mentioned as early as 1264-1280. In 1380, there was mention of a cheese of such a large size that it could only be produced by a cooperative. After 1678, when Franche-Comté became part of France, there was an exodus of native Helvetics. It was then that other Swiss from the Gruyère region moved to the region, bringing the method of making Gruyère cheese — the cheese we often call “Swiss cheese” — with them. It is for this reason that the original name was Gruyère de Comté, now the AOC “Comté.”

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Switzerland: A Geneva Christmas: Cardoon Gratin Recipe

Published by Wednesday, December 19, 2012 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

From the archives

Cardoon gratin is a classic Geneva Christmas dish, but only brave souls should to try to prepare them because they are prickly, and the preparation can be long and tedious. Many farmers markets in Switzerland now sell them prepared sous vide, in plastic vacuum-packed packages, which is probably the best option for those who don’t get a thrill out of getting a few pricks. In any case, it is important to schedule it carefully into your meal preparations, because it is time-consuming any way you go about it.

Cardoon Gratin Recipe

Preparation of Cardoons for Gratin

  1. Throw out any hard stems and any that are wilted.
  2. Peel the cardoons by removing leaves, spines and stringy parts. The exterior will then be covered with a fuzzy layer. Use a cloth to rub stalks gently to remove fuzz.
  3. Cut stems into 8 cm (3 cm) slices. Rub with lemon, or if you intend to use them later, put slices into lemon water so they won’t turn dark.
  4. You now have two choices: you can either cook them in a white vegetable broth you’ve made ahead of time, or you can cook them in the lemon water you soaked them in.
  5. Bring to a boil and boil until tender. It should take about 30 minutes for them to become tender, but if they are larger in diameter it can take up to 2 hours, so allow plenty of time.



All these steps can be carried out while the cardoons are cooking. There are actually several ways of doing this. You can either make a Béchamel (white) sauce and sprinkle cheese on the cardoons before you put them in the oven, or you can make a Mornay (cheese) sauce and pour it on the cooked cardoons before putting in oven to brown. I think it’s tastier to make a Mornay sauce, and then sprinkle a bit of cheese on the top before putting it in the oven. Here’s my recipe.


Click here for British/American/metric recipe converter

Approximately 1 kg of cardoons
30 g of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
2.5 dl of whole milk
1 dl of cream
50 g of cheese, type Gruyère or Swiss (see photo below), grated
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Salt and pepper to taste

Emmentaler (also known as Swiss Cheese), while...



  1. Make a Béchamel sauce, using the proportions of ingredients above.
  2. When finished and seasoned, add cream and cheese, setting aside a tablespoon of cheese. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 250° C.
  4. Once cardoons are tender, drain, making sure all water is drained off.
  5. In a large bowl, mix cooked cardoons and Mornay sauce.
  6. Pour into a baking dish of the appropriate size, so that there is a layer of about 3 cm high.
  7. Sprinkle evenly with remaining grated cheese and a few knobs of butter.
  8. Put in hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Notes: It is important to use a hard, Swiss-type cheese. Cheddar cheese would have too strong of a taste. If you can’t find cardoons, the same recipe can be made with Swiss chard, thus eliminating the long, meticulous preparation. Simply cut them as for the cardoons and cook in chicken broth until tender, then follow the other steps in the recipe for making the gratin. Its texture is quite similar to that of cardoons.

Health Challenge: 5 easy ways to make your lasagne healthier

Published by Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Permalink 0

by Tamar Chamlian

Lasagne doesn’t have to be fattening. Here are five easy steps to make your lasagne healthy while keeping it delicious!

  1. Opt for organic lasagne sheets instead of the traditional ones we find at local markets.
  2. Don’t butter the plate you are cooking the lasagne in. Add just a drizzle of olive oil and spread it with a paper towel.
  3. Substitute a traditional Béchamel Sauce for light double cream (there are several versions available such as fat free, low-fat, etc.).
  4. While cooking the meat for a Bolognese, for example, add tomato paste as well as smaller chunks of tomato. Make an even more vitamin-infused version of this by making a ragout of celery, carrot, and other veggies, and add it to the meat while cooking
  5. The lasagne is taking shape and you’re ready to top it with mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan. Great, well not really! Opt for the fat-free version of the above cheeses, and be careful to sprinkle it on as lightly as possible.

Bon Appetit!

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