Saturday, February 14, 2009

Corn souffle

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet.**

Corn souffle, adapted from A Mingling of Tastes
I wanted to try something different tonight... something that I had never made before. I've seen about a million recipes for chocolate souffle this week as people prepare for V-day, so I got the urge to make a savory one. But then what do I do? Asparagus? Broccoli? Corn? Cheese? Corn seemed to be a good option because it would still allow me to taste the souffle flavor, and this felt important for my first one. I won't lie, I was nervous. Souffles have this reputation for being impossible to make. You hear stories about them falling if you simply walk through the kitchen. But recently I've read a lot of articles about how they're really not that bad - you just have to be careful about a few things. This gave me some sense of relief, and I was no longer afraid that I would look at my oven funny and ruin my dinner.

Corn souffles (adapted from A Mingling of Tastes)

butter for coating dishes
breadcrumbs for coating dishes
2 Tbsp butter
4 green onions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp whole white wheat flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
ground pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 large eggs, separated
3 Tbsp cheddar, grated
1 1/3 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed (or use fresh if it's in season)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 375 (it's really important that the oven is hot immediately after you're done assembling the souffle). Grease 2 (500 ml) ramekins with butter and shake breadcrumbs around until bottom and sides are lightly coated. Melt the butter over medium heat in saucepan. Add green onions and saute for 3 min. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 min, whisking constantly. Add milk and cook until slightly thickened, while continuing to whisk. Add salt, several grinds of pepper, and cayenne, and remove from heat.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Add a spoonful of the milk mixture to the yolks, stir, and then add the yolks back to the big pot of the milk mixture. Stir in the cheese and corn. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar in a metal bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form (this part is also very important - don't use plastic, and make sure you whip them enough). Fold egg whites into souffle batter very gently in three batches (it's okay if they're not completely mixed). Pour the batter into the ramekins, place ramekins on a baking sheet, and put in the oven immediately. Cook until tops are golden and they're set all the way through (about 40 min). Serves 2-4 (depending on whether you're eating it as a side or main dish).

You could also use more smaller ramekins or one big souffle dish, but of course this would affect the cooking time. My 500 ml dishes were both filled to the very top, so take that into consideration when picking your dishes (this is okay - they won't overflow). Ideally you want something with straight sides so that it can easily climb the dish.

Obviously it worked wonderfully. I'm not sure why one souffle turned out taller than the other, but I don't really care. I was so happy the first time I looked in the oven that I didn't know what to do with myself. I even took them out of the oven a few times to check to see if they were set, and that didn't seem to affect them. So, I don't believe all of the hype. Perhaps sweet souffles are more difficult, but this one is completely doable for a souffle novice. And it tastes great! It's sort of like a combination of spoonbread and an omelet... two fabulous things that go great together.

Now that the other one has cooled, it's fallen a lot, but that's fine because all I was asking was for it to survive the original baking. I'm sure it will still taste good, even if it is flat.

Mission accomplished.

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