SWEET CORN TIMBALE WITH PEPPERS
Serve in small portions as a first course, or spoon out larger portions for brunch.
(Allow about 2 hours, including final cooking time, about an hour. But note, much of the early preparation can be done ahead, storing base in refrigerator until just prior to whipping egg whites and baking..)
1/2 cup milk
1 sprig mint (or, some other fresh herb, e.g. cilantro, tarragon, or basil)
2 cups fresh, uncooked sweet corn kernels
plus ½ cup corn
kernels (from 5 or 6 ears
1 tablespoon butter
2 mixed-color, red and yellow, bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 green chili, stemmed, seeded and diced (use hot or mild, to your taste)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
4 large eggs, separated
Zest of one-half lime.
1. Place milk and mint sprig* in
medium saucepan and heat until warm. Remove from heat and let steep about 15
minutes. *(If you are using cilantro, I suggest skipping this step, since
cilantro will not benefit from the steeping process. )
2. Purée two cups of the corn kernels in food processor until smooth. Reserve remaining one-half cup kernels.
3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet. Add peppers and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat.
4. Fill large roasting pan with 1 inch of water and place in middle of oven.
5. Preheat oven to 375° F.
6. If using mint, remove and discard
sprig from warm milk. Return saucepan to medium-low heat, add 2 remaining
tablespoons butter and bring to a simmer. When butter melts, slowly whisk in
flour and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and quite thick,
about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cool a minute or two.
7. Whisk in egg yolks. Grate zest from one-half lime into mixture and stir to blend. Stir in pureed corn and 1/4 cup corn kernels. Stir in sautéed pepper mixture. Season lightly with freshly grated pepper and a few drops of lime juice. Set aside in a bowl large enough to accommodate addition of four beaten egg whites. (Bowl can be covered and refrigerated several hours at this point -- do be sure to remove this mixture about one half hour before you want to incorporate beaten egg whites into this base.)
8. Butter and dust lightly with flour a 2-quart soufflé dish.
9. Egg whites should be at or near room temperature when beaten, for maximum volume. With electric mixer, whip egg whites until stiff but not dry; when making soufflé, take care to avoid overbeating the egg whites. With rubber spatula, gently fold egg whites into corn mixture. Scrape mixture into soufflé dish and sprinkle with remaining corn kernels and chopped herbs, e.g. cilantro, tarragon or basil, if you have opted to use an herb other than mint.
10. Place dish in water bath in oven and bake until well browned and puffed, about 1 hour. (There is some dispute among soufflé buffs about the need for the water bath. You really have to do this yourself, and see which method, with or without the bath, you and your oven prefer If you do not use the bath, it really is more akin to a soufflé but the dish will cook more quickly; so watch your timing. ) Serve immediately.,
(Adapted from a soufflé recipe by Eberhard Muller, a chef-owner at Lutece in New York City, which appeared in the New York Times a while ago.)
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