Sunday, November 3, 2013

Clam Souffle

Thank goodness our church has reestablished its dinner groups. Parishioners sign up as part of a revolving group of potluck diners. We all take turns hosting the dinners. Usually, the person who hosts makes the main course. Everyone else brings appetizers, salad, a vegetable or dessert. It's a great way to knock off some of these shellfish dishes that Bob can't eat, as well as meeting people you see every Sunday, but don't know who they are.
Saturday night we served up two main courses. I made clam souffle and Bob made chicken piccata. Safeway was out of rice flour, so it was not gluten free. If you want gluten free clam souffle, use rice flour instead of wheat flour.  We were cooking and cleaning at the same time, so I didn't get started on the souffle until just before the guests actually walked in the door. Really, that worked out  fine, as souffles have to be made, baked and eaten with dispatch. You don't want them sitting around, as my son would say, festering.
I had the base, the butter, flour, clam juice and cream made before I bolted upstairs for a shower. It was supposed to cool slightly so that gave it the opportunity to do so.
Back downstairs, I separated the eggs. Note that this recipe makes two souffles and uses 12 eggs. It would be easy to cut it in half.  When you are separating eggs and need a large quantity of egg whites, separate each egg into a small bowl, and add the egg white to the other egg whites. That way, you avoid contaminating eleven egg whites with a tiny bit of yolk from number twelve. If you do end up contaminating an egg white, you can add it to the four left over yolks for scrambled eggs the next morning.
Honestly, souffles are not particularly difficult if you possess a hand mixer. If you have never separated eggs, watch a you tube video and then practice with a dozen eggs. If you mess up, you can have scrambled eggs. Anyone can separate eggs with a little practice. Just don't be scared of the egg.
I beat the egg whites, folded them into the base and popped the souffles into the oven in their buttered dishes. The diners were full of complements. I found clam souffle somewhat bland. The clams don't have a great deal of taste, but that's just my opinion. If you like lightly flavored foods, go to it. You could also add things, like Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

Clam Souffle

6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 cup clam juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups minced canned clams
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
grated nutmeg to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
12 egg whites

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. melt the butter and blend in the flour. Mix the clam juice and cream and slowly add to the butter-flour mixture, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, until thickened. (How thick? Kind of like cake batter, if that's any help.) Add the minced clams and remove from the heat to cool slightly.
3. Beat the egg yolks thoroughly and add to the sauce. Stir in the paresley and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
4. Beat the egg whites until firm. Fold them thoroughly into the sauce. Pour into two buttered two-quart souffle dishes and bake thirty-five minutes. Makes ten to one dozen servings.  

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