The Scotsman again.
Mull cheddar cheese is made on the island of Mull, using traditional methods and a traditional recipe. If you can't find it (you probably won't, without special-ordering it from Scotland), try a good-quality "micro-brew" cheddar.
Chickpea soup with thyme and cheese
500g dried chickpeas
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 thick sprigs fresh thyme
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
50g Mull cheddar, coarsely grated
extra-virgin olive oil
Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Next day, rinse them (discarding any dark ones) and place in a big, heavy pan. Pour in enough cold water to cover by about 5cm (about two litres). Bring to the boil, then remove any scum with a slotted spoon. Meanwhile, heat three tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion and thyme (keep the sprigs whole) for about three minutes, then add the celery and garlic and fry gently for a further five minutes.
Add the contents of the frying pan to the pan of chickpeas, bring to the boil and then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for about three hours, until tender. Top up the liquid level every hour, adding enough boiling water to cover the chickpeas.
Once the chickpeas are tender, remove the herb sprigs (don't worry if the leaves have fallen off), and put four ladlefuls of the soup into a blender with two ladlefuls of very hot water. Whizz until you have a purée, then return this to the pan of chickpeas. (If your food processor has a small bowl, do this in batches).
Season with two teaspoons of salt and plenty of ground pepper, then reheat the soup (which is half purée, half chunky chickpeas). To serve, check the seasoning and then ladle it into six bowls. Top with some cheese, then drizzle each with a little fruity olive oil.
Cheddar souffle with warm tomato and anchovy salsa
Serves three to four
40g plain flour, sifted
4 medium free-range eggs, separated
100g mature farmhouse cheddar, grated
Melt the butter in a solid pan, add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and gradually blend in the milk, then cook over a medium heat until it thickens; stir or beat with a balloon whisk all the time to prevent lumps. Season with salt and pepper, then beat in the four egg yolks and the cheese.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft, glossy peaks. Do not overbeat, or they will be too dry to fold in. Using a metal spoon, fold a large spoonful of the egg whites into the mixture, and then, once incorporated, gently fold in the rest. Transfer the mixture into a buttered soufflé dish (1.2 litre) and bake in a preheated oven (190¼C/375¼F/gas 5) for 35 to 40 minutes, until risen and golden-brown. Serve at once with some salsa.
Tomato and Anchovy Salsa
Serves three to four
4 medium tomatoes, diced
8-10 anchovy fillets, snipped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 large basil leaves, torn
Heat the first four ingredients in a saucepan until just warm, then remove. Add the basil and then season to taste.