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Corn souffle...why don't I make souffles more often?!!

  • c

I enjoy the aroma of food cooking nearly as much as eating it. It's hard to beat the smell of a Zuni chicken roasting in the oven (it smells like caramel corn, I swear), but tonight came pretty damn close. You see, I made the savory corn souffle that's pictured below, all fluffy, creamy, steamy, dreamy. The smell wafting through my little house is incredible right now...aaah...and has hypnotized me to share the recipe w/ you cooking hounds.

First, if you've never made a souffle, fear not. I don't understand why it has a fussy reputation. It's quite simple, and I haven't made a souffle in years. If you don't have a proper souffle dish, fear not. I don't either. I used an 8" springform pan.

Now that excuses are set aside, let me give you the original recipe that comes from Saveur (July/Aug 96). The recipe was provided by Cafe Jacqueline in SF, famous for their souffles. I've made this exact recipe before, and it's fantastic; however, I made modifications this time based on what I had on hand and increased amounts by 1/3-1/2 (except for fat) to fit the larger pan. I'll note those modifications in parentheses.

Corn Souffle
Serves 2 generously; my version serves 3-4

5 TB butter, unsalted
3/4 c. grated gruyere (I used 1/4 c. parmesan; 1/3 c. goat cheese crumbles)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. fresh corn kernels (I used 1.5 c. frozen organic corn)
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced (I used 1/2 tsp. madras curry powder)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper (I used black)
2.5 TB flour (I used 3 TB)
3/4 c. warm milk (I used 1 c.)
3 eggs, separated, at room temp. (I used about 4 yolks and 6 whites)

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Butter souffle dish (6.5"W X 2.5"H) or springform pan. Sprinkle w/ 1/4 c. gruyere or parmesan.

2. Melt 2 TB butter in skillet over med. heat. Saute garlic til fragrant, then add corn and ginger (or curry powder). Stir til corn softens, about 2-4 min. Remove from heat and season w/ S&P.

3. Melt 2 TB butter over med. heat. Add flour and stir constantly w/ wooden spoon for about 2 min. but don't brown. Remove from heat and whisk in half of milk. Return to heat and add rest of milk. Stir constantly til sauce gets very thick, about 2 min. Season w/ S&P, transfer to large bowl, and whisk in egg yolks. Make sure to season generously, since this will also flavor egg whites.

4. Beat egg whites in nonreactive bowl til stiff peaks. Add one scoop of whites to yolk mixture to lighten. Then slowly fold yolk mixture into whites, being careful to not deflate. Also sprinkle on corn and remaining cheese and incorporate. Do not overmix.

5. Spoon into souffle dish or springform. Make sure oven rack is low enough (I baked in lower third). Bake til souffle is browned on top, 18-22 min. Serve immediately. Mine could have gone darker on top, but it was still good and I don't like the insides to dry out.

Nothing smells much better than this heavenly combo of bechamel, butter, eggs, cheese, corn, and curry. I love corn and curry together and thought the subtle tang from the mild goat cheese had a nice cooling effect. Fresh corn would have been better, but frozen ensures that I can make this year round. Now that I'm on a souffle kick, what are your favorite SAVORY combinations (not really interested in sweets)?

Image: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

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  1. If you're worried about your springform leaking, then wrap bottom in foil. The batter is pretty firm though. Place sheet pan on rack underneath to catch any drippings, just in case. And...

    Don't open the oven for at least 15 min., unless you smell something burning!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Carb Lover

      Wow. That looks just so lovely. Am going to make it this weekend. Thanks so much. Now, if you have a spinach souffle recipe, my life will be complete, souflee wise.

    2. Souffles are actually quite easy to make, and fairly indestructible. They really ought to be part of any semi-serious cook's repertoire.

      They are also the cheapest glamour meal you'll ever make: if you are of limited means, knowing how to make a souffle will more than compensate for lack of lux food items!

      A couple of general suggestions (based on experience) about souffles:

      1. It really makes a difference to have all ingredients, utensils and equipment lined up at the ready (a mise-en-place, if you will).

      2. You can prepare many souffles in advance (actually a few hours ahead, if you don't have heavy ingredients like corn that might sink in the batter). Have an appetizer course ready for guests and, when all guests have arrived, pop the prepped souffle into the preheated oven to bake. Serve immediately when done.

      3. As for equipment, I made my very first souffle in a LOAF PAN! It was still wonderful. However, many recipes recommend that you put an aluminum pie plate underneath the souffle baking container, to reduce the immediate heat impact on the bottom of the souffle and focus initial heat on the sides, to raise the souffle a bit more.

      One general problem with souffle recipes is that they are not easily extrapolated for different amounts of servings (eg, you have a recipe for four servings but want to do six). I ended up creating a spreadsheet for four different basic cheese souffles sizes that I now refer to anytime I want to make one. Makes assembling the mise-en-place a breeze instead of a headache.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Karl S.

        Thanks for your comments, Karl. Wow, your spreadsheet is a great idea. I was wondering how to increase the amounts. My guesstimations seemed to work ok, but I remember the original one being a tad fluffier. Would you mind emailing me your spreadsheet, or at least sharing how you went about calculating proportions? Thanks.

        Also had a few questions since the recipe wasn't that detailed:

        1. Is it correct to grease the entire container (sides and all) and dust cheese around the entire container? I did this and believe it helps rising.

        2. When you prep souffle ahead of time, do you just keep at room temp. til baking?

        3. What are your favorite savory combos? Thanks!

        1. re: Carb Lover

          I will try to remember to do this when I return home.

          To answer your short questions:

          1. Yes.

          2. Refrigerate.

          3. I just love cheese, mushrooms or finely prepared vegetables (I don't like coarse ingredients because they are likely to sink and they also mar the sublime texture of a souffle according to my palate).

      2. Stop posting those pictures before lunch time!! I had the best corn pudding last week from an Amish market. I wanted a recipe for that, but maybe I'll try this instead this weekend. Thanks for the idea.

        1. CL, was this part of a larger menu? If so, care to share?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Eva and Ziv

            Not really, no fancy dinner for a Thurs. night. This was the centerpiece, so we ate alot of it! I served some steamed veggies w/ a pat of butter on the side. I think a side salad w/ some sliced apples and shaved fennel would be lovely.

            People often think of souffles as "fancy food", but they can be made any night of the week using basic pantry ingredients most people have on hand. I'd rather have a souffle than an omelette or frittata for dinner...

            1. re: Carb Lover

              This is really true -- I once made an onion souffle when I was flat broke and needed to serve something at a potluck I was hosting. Since I couldn't afford to buy special ingredients, I looked at the staples I had on hand. It was onion with rosemary, IIRC.

              Another fabulous savory souffle was a bacon blue cheese souffle I made for brunch once.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Oooo that combo sounds great!

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I am a big fan of souffl├ęs too, but tend to make sweet rather than savory ones (the sweet ones seem easier to me), and am not confident enough (yet) to just improvise one. Those two you mention sound delicious. It's a lot to ask, but would you consider posting recipes? Or at least one? Please?

            2. That's some fabulous photo!! Good job.

              1. Thanks for everyone's comments. Since I can never leave well enough alone, just wanted to add a few notes that I've culled for perfecting souffles. Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking V.1 is a great reference, has a proportion chart for 6 and 8 cup molds, and has a number of savory variations. A few tips for refinement:

                1. If you're not using a copper bowl for whisking, then add cream of tartar to egg whites after soft peaks. Acid helps to stabilize and maintain volume.

                2. Fold whites INTO yolk mixture, not other way around as I initially indicated.

                3. She suggests pre-heating to 400F and then turning down to 375F for baking for about 30-40 min. I liked it at 450F, but may try Julia's method for comparison.

                4. She suggests to bake in middle rack of oven.

                5. She says batter can be made ahead and left at room temp. for up to an hour before baking, if securely covered.

                Any other important tips for perfecting?

                1. Beautiful, as usual Carb Lover.

                  I like Karl's idea of making ahead--don't like to do a lot of last minute prep when entertaining. (For those who attempt the make-ahead approach, please report back your experience :)

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Funwithfood

                    You can certainly prep at least two hours ahead. There are authorities who advise you can do it even longer, many hours ahead, but I have found that you do run the risk of having the souffle undercooked in the center (which becomes a lovely loose eggy topping for the fully cooked part of the souffle, so it's not a problem, but it may not be to the taste of those who cannot stand very moist egginess).

                    The souffle is the perfection of (1) frugality, (2) glamour, and (3) practicality for a single host (like me), the last precisely because it can be prepped ahead so well.

                    I love to precede the souffle by serving Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce with butter and onion as a soup course (she herself pretty much agrees it is perfection eaten on its own without pasta, and it is), and then serve the souffle with excellent bread and a lovely simple roasted or grilled vegetable (asparagus is a natural) and follow with a simple green salad and a fruit-oriented dessert.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      Mmmm...sounds great! I was also thinking that a souffle could be a great first course and made in individual ramekins. A lightly-dressed small salad could be served on side to cut through richness. Has anyone made in individual ramekins before? Any special tips? Karl, what temp. do you usually bake your souffles at? Thanks!

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        375F. I emailed you my study guide, as it were.

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          At a winery restaurant in Sonoma a number of years ago for lunch I had an individual cheese souffle that had a wonderful seafood stuffing in the middle. They were baked in individual souffle dishes (Corning French White) about the size of a soup or cereal bowl, but with straight sides. It was a main course and absolutely delicious. I bought the indvidual souffle dishes but have never gotten around to treating guests to this delight. I need to get on this! It was really wonderful.

                          1. re: Carb Lover
                            Caitlin McGrath

                            I've made dessert souffles in individual ramekins. They've been the standard 6-oz size used for desserts, not the 1 1/2-cup size, which would be more appropriate for savory souffles, at least as a main course. I could see using the small ones for a starter if you did serve a particularly rich souffle with a salad on the side. Anyway, to the point, the individual ramekins are good for entertaining because the souffle bakes in ~15 minutes, which is a fine break time between dinner and dessert, and would also be handy for the time between greetings and/or aperitifs or hors d'oeurves and the start of the meal. I have always prepped them ahead and held them in the fridge for a few hours, with no problems.

                      2. Mmmm, lovely pic. I've been meaning to make your/Jacqueline souffle for a while, but every time I bring back fresh corn from the farmers' market, my flatmates and I end up roasting and eating it immediately. Maybe Monday's market...

                        I love making souffle tarts - savoury crust, and a souffle top made from bechamel, cooked pureed veg and of course eggs. Most savoury tarts have whole pieces of veg in them, which is lovely, but the smoothness of a souffle is a nice, sophisticated change once in a while.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Kate
                          ChowFun (derek)

                          Souffle tarts sound decadent...are there any cookbooks with recipes, or could you share one of your own?

                          1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                            ChowFun (derek)

                            I Googled Souffle Tart, and this was the first recipe!!!

                            Link: http://members.tripod.com/~BayGourmet...

                            1. re: ChowFun (derek)

                              This is a tart close to my heart. I received the recipe from an Italian farmhouse kitchen I briefly worked in earlier this year. The farmer wrote it down for me on the back of a napkin, and like all Italian recipes, it was basically a list of ingredients. I've added in a bit more detail from memory.

                              Bake your favourite savoury tart pastry in a tart dish. Put to one side.

                              250ml milk
                              25g flour
                              50g butter
                              Make into a b├ęchamel (melt butter, dissolve flour, whisk in milk until thickened and gloopy, stirring all the time)

                              3 eggs, separated
                              a splash of white wine
                              500g onions, finely sliced

                              Fry onions in some butter until soft. Add white wine, and increase heat to caramelize them to a dark golden colour. (10-20 minutes in total. Don't be afraid to take your time). Leave to cool slightly. Puree in a blender. Add yolks, salt and bechamel to blender, and puree again.

                              Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into onion mixture. Gently pour into crusts, and bake at 150C until golden-brown, with dark edges, approx 25 minutes.

                              As you can see, it is very simple, yet that deep, richness of the onions and the smoothness of the souffle texture is a wonderful combination. I'd serve it with a green salad, or as a starter to a more elaborate meal. Don't worry if it loses height when taken from the oven - it's still delicious. Enjoy, and please let me know how it goes.


                              1. re: Kate
                                ChowFun (derek)

                                Thank you Kate..I've copied it down...I'm glad i have a scale that can weigh metrically!

                                1. re: Kate

                                  This sounds absolutely delicious; thanks for sharing the recipe...

                            2. Eggplant souffle!
                              so incredibly yummy!
                              To the hot, mashed pulp of 1 large baked eggplant, add 1 cup cream sauce (using 1/2 cream, 12/ veg stock), 3 beaten egg yolks, heat over low heat 1 mintute to allow egg to thicken, season with s&p and nutmeg. Cool slightly, fold in 3 stiffly beaten egg whites.
                              Bake as ususal.
                              oh, la la!

                              1. Thanks so much for posting this. I'm hoping you still get my response - as it's now 2010!!!
                                My friend and I made this last night (together with an incredible Warm Mushroom Salad from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris). C'est Magnifique!!!

                                Anyway...SOOOO easy to make.
                                Now I want to do this for brunch for 6 people.
                                Is there anyway you can send the souffle conversion chart to me?
                                And - would you have any idea of what size souffle dish to use for 6 people>

                                MANY thanks in advance!
                                (Who knew that making a souffle would be so easy?!)