Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spinach Soufflé and Plum Chutney

Television cracks me up, but not always for the intended reasons. I don't know if sitcoms have gotten any smarter since I just don't have time to watch them anymore. But in years past it seemed like they were quite free with employing exaggeration or perpetuation of commonly-held misconceptions about cooking to get a laugh.

One of the recurring themes was someone making a soufflé and being extremely careful not to slam doors or let the baby cry lest the dish instantaneously collapse into an inedible mass. Of course, some tragedy always happened and a despairing cook was left with an opportunity to display their weeping skills before the cut to commercials. I don't buy it. If the egg whites are beaten properly and folded carefully into the sauce and then the whole thing is cooked long enough at the right temperature you're pretty safe during the cooking stage barring a vehicle slamming directly into your oven. Once baked, you easily have several minutes to serve the soufflé before any serious collapsing begins. Our spinach soufflé was delicious if a little dry. The recipe was found online but pretty much paralleled the one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Another television cooking farce I remember revolved around someone making chutney. Chutney wasn't then and still isn't a word commonly used in most parts of the United States making it a good subject for laughs. This particular episode ended with an inexplicable explosion from the kitchen followed by the disappointed cook emerging covered in the failed concotion.

I get a kick out of making chutneys to preserve excess fruit for later use as a condiment with meats and curries. One of the easiest things to do is to stir a big whomp of it into rice before cooking--reducing the required amount of water to account for the moisture in it--to make a quick and simple side dish. You'll get an explosion of flavor without blowing up the kitchen!

Here's a recipe I created for a plum chutney. It's very good!

Plum Chutney

2 lb. Plums (after removing stones, cut into small pieces)
1 Cup Rice Vinegar
1 Cup Sugar
1 Clove Garlic (minced)
1 1/2 Cups Carrot (coarsely shredded)
1/2 Cup Raisins
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Cayenne

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Reduce heat until mixture is just simmering and cook stirring often until thickened and reduced to half the original volume.

Spread a small spoonful of the chutney on a plate and refrigerate for five minutes to check consistency. If it is still too liquid after this test, continue simmering and testing periodically.

When the chutney has finished cooking, place in 8 oz. sterilized canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for fifteen minutes. Refrigerate after opening and use within eight weeks.

Yields approximately 4 cups.

1 Responses (Leave a Comment):

Michigoose said...

Yumm. I'll have to try the plum chutney when plums come into season. I also love peach chutney.

I hear you about the souffle's. I think the concept of people having souffle's fall is because many new cooks have a habit of peeking too often, or taking it out before it has comepletely set.

I have only made chocolate souffles. I fear that I am forever scarred by a childhood experience. My mom, who is an excellent cook and was a home-ec teacher, once made a spinach souffle when I was probably about 8 years old. She brought too the table and in my inimitable way, I piped up "I'M NOT eating that."

She asked why...and I answered "Because it looks like snot." We were never served souffle again and I have never made a savory souffle...or eaten one. :)