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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Garden Vegetable Containers

Literally. Vegetables as containers to stuff with other stuff!

I had some market vegetables poking out of the vegetable bin that I wanted to use last night before my morning jaunt to the farmers market today.  I had a gigantic green bell pepper that I stuffed  with ground lamb, garlic, celery, onion, parsley, mint, and oregano.  Pretty basic stuff.  I doused the stuffed peppers in a red wine vinegar laced tomato sauce, covered them with foil,  and cooked them until they almost collapsed.

I had fresh Silver Queen corn.  I certainly had tomatoes.  I wanted to combine them, but not in the usual manner.  I decided to stuff the tomatoes with the corn.  At first, I thought I would simply shave the corn from the cob and fill the hollowed-out tomatoes with it.  Not crazy enough.  Then, I thought corn pudding would be an interesting twist.  That would have been good.  Maybe a little dense, but still good.

It hit me.  As if a Thomas Keller coffee-table cookbook had slammed against my head, it hit me.  Corn souffle!  Yup. 
I'm not afraid of souffles.  They might be a bit fussy, but they don't scare me. The fussiness  always outweighs the gorgeous outcome.  Generally, they don't fit my cooking style.  I prefer having food braise away slowly while I drink copious amounts of wine and enjoy  aromas wafting throughout the house.  Last night, it turned out that souffles also take time to make and to bake, allowing ample aroma wafting.

I plucked two beautifull tomatoes from our tomato jungle, sliced off the tops, carefully scooped out the pulp and seeds, salted them generously, and turned them upside down on paper towels to drain.
After shaving the kernels from two corn cobs, I scraped the sweet cob milk into the bowl with the corn.  Messy, in a good way.

For the souffle base, I created a  white roux with equal amounts of butter and flour until paste-like before adding heated milk to form a loose white sauce.  When it came to a simmer, I seasoned the sauce with sugar, salt, pepper, and  dropped in the corn with snipped chives and parsley.  I pulled it off the heat to cool. 

The fun part. Before whipping the eggs white to soft peaks, I cleaned the bowl with a splash of vinegar to remove any fat.  Fat is the enemy of whipped egg whites.  Once clean, I seperated two eggs, dropping the yolks into the corn base and the whites into the bowl. I mixed the yolks with the base for richness and  whisked the whites to form soft firm peaks. 
I folded a third of the whipped eggs whites into the souffle base to lighten it before adding the base to the remaining egg whites with parmesan cheese. Using a gentle figure-eight motion, I blended it all together. Once combined, I filled the tomatoes with the airy corn  and baked them alongside the stuffed green peppers for 45 minutes until browned and puffed.

Word of warning.  Apparently, I wasn't careful enough when hollowing out the tomatoes.  One had a slight tear. Big deal, I thought.  Well,  it was enough of a tear to bring down a majestic souffle. All the way down.  I ate that one.  Michael got the perfectly risen browned one.  They tasted the same, but.........

I looked at them and thought, crap!  Side by side, they reminded me of a seventh grade photograph taken of awkward me standing next to my ridculously good looking football jock big brother. Who's the ugly duckling?

Despite the visuals, they were delicious.
The corn was sweet, light, fluffy, and rich. Perfect when combined with the sweet cooked tomatoes and their dripping juices.

Fussy?  Yeah. Trouble?  Nope.  With a bit more care, I'd make them again.

In a heartbeat.

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