Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cooking Challenge Week 21 - French - Curried Celery Souffle

Alright, so it's really a French/Anglo-Indian fusion.  I've never made souffle, but I have several good all-around cookbooks that, between them, tell me pretty much how to make everything.  One of them (Kitchen Sense, which I know I mentioned before) has a Carrot and Ginger Souffle recipe which, in the description, says souffle can be made with pretty much any vegetable as long as you cook it until tender and puree it.  It then goes on to say, throw in some curry powder for a nice variation.

So that immediately reminded me of two things: 1) one of my favorite soups is curried celery soup, and 2) that I had half a bunch of celery in my crisper drawer.

And that's how this bizarre inter-cuisine love child was born.

The things I learned on my first souffle foray:  it really does start to fall immediately after it comes out of the oven, even if you've done everything right, which I'm pretty sure I did; and while it's delicious, it's an awful lot of trouble for something that doesn't make good leftovers.  What would one do with leftover souffle, anyway?

It's not a fail, certainly, but I don't think I'll be making it again.  It's good to know I can, though.

Curried Celery Souffle
(adapted from Kitchen Sense and The Cook's Encyclopedia of Soup)
  • 7-8 stalks celery, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, sour cream, plain yogurt, or buttermilk (I used yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Grease a 2-qt. baking dish or 8 individual ramekins.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the celery and onion until very soft, 20-25 minutes.  Drain, transfer to a blender or food processor, add the cream/yogurt/whatever, and process until very smooth.  You should have about 1 1/2 cups puree; discard any extra.  Add the curry powder and oregano, then season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Over-season slightly at this point, as adding the egg whites will dilute the flavor some.)

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until the flour smells toasted.  Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly to form a thick paste.  Mix in the celery puree and cook over low heat 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool another 5 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice.

Separate the eggs, one at a time, placing the whites in a mixer bowl and whisking each yolk into the cooled celery mixture.  When all six are done, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on low speed until just frothy, then increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the whites into the celery mixture, stopping as soon as the mixture is a uniform texture--don't over-mix!

Gently spoon the mixture into the casserole or ramekins and bake 15 minutes (for the individual servings) or 25 minutes (for the casserole).  Serve immediately.

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