August 15th, 2009
Today Julia Child would turn 97 years old. Last week many food bloggers wrote about “the movie“, but I will not add my comments, as the list is big enough already. Go see it and form your own opinion…
But many bloggers and non-bloggers alike will probably feel inclined to cook something from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” on her birthday. I gladly join this party, as she is one of my two “cooking idols”, the second being Jacques Pepin. Confession: I drool over Ming Tsai on a regular basis, but I am not sure his cooking is the only reason. :-)
But, I digress. To celebrate Julia, I made a souffle, using her recipe as the guideline, and I turned it into an appropriate dish for this time of the year and the place that we live: a corn souffle’…
If just the thought of making a souffle’ makes you hyperventilate, then I urge you to try Julia’s method. I was a certified souffle-phobe, but her book solved my handicap. Too bad that she never wrote about golf. ;-)
(adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
6-cup mold, buttered and sprinkled with grated parmiggiano cheese
1 cup hot milk
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites + pinch salt
3/4 cup corn kernels (see comments)
1/8 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, don’t allow it to brown. Remove from the heat, and when the butter stops furiously boiling, add the milk all at once. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly for a couple of minutes more. The sauce will thicken considerably. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Remove from heat, allow it to cool for 5 minutes or so, and add the egg yolks, one by one, mixing very well after each addition. This sauce can be prepared to this point and refrigerated; bring it to lukewarm before continuing. If you decide not to refrigerate it, then dot it with butter, cover it with a plastic wrap and go work on the egg whites.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form – depending on your mixer or the strength of your biceps it will take 2 to 5 minutes. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the sauce, to thin it slightly – add the corn kernels and the feta cheese, mix well.
Now, add the remaining egg whites and fold into the sauce. You don’t need to mix it until it is all incorporated and totally homogeneous, because the “lift” of your souffle’ depends on the air present in the beaten egg whites. If you deflate it, you won’t have a well-risen souffle (it will still taste good, though).
Fill the souffle’ mold to 3/4 of its volume, place it in a 400F oven, reducing the temperature immediately to 375F. Cook the souffle’ for 30 minutes – do not open the oven door during the first 20 minutes. If you like it moist inside, serve after 30 minutes. I prefer to cook for 5 additional minutes, then the texture inside is perfect, not too dry, not too creamy.
Souffle’ waits for no one. Serve immediately and enjoy the compliments of your guests!
jump for coments and additional photos
A few pointers for success: egg whites whip better if they are at room temperature, so start by removing the eggs from the fridge. If in a hurry, drop the eggs into room temperature water for 5 minutes.
These photos show the white sauce after the egg yolks were added, and the look you should aim for when mixing the whipped egg whites with the sauce.
For the corn, I used leftover corn kernels cooked the day before. You can use leftover grilled corn for deeper flavor, or frozen kernels, defrosted. Corn kernels are heavy and tend to accumulate at the bottom. It doesn’t bother us, but if you prefer a more homogeneous texture, then slightly mince the kernels.
If making a pure cheese souffle’, add nutmeg to the white sauce. I didn’t think it would go well with my corn / feta combination, so I skipped it. To make souffle’ with different flavors, simply substitute 3/4 cup of the filling of your choice for the corn kernels. Some ideas for you:
– mushrooms (diced, sauteed in butter with herbs)
– sundried tomatoes plus grated cheese
– broccoli (I use leftover broccoli puree quite often)
– artichoke hearts (diced) and grated mozzarella cheese
– spinach (sauteed, minced) with feta cheese
– cauliflower (roasted or cooked, diced) with a little curry powder and grated cheese.
Just have fun with it! I am sure Julia would be proud…
Note to self: when your souffle will be the subject of a blog, make sure your camera is ready WITH batteries inside, not in the charger on the other side of the house.