Salmon Souffle

Salmon souffle is (like many of our favorite recipes) a dish with a story. Thirty-seven years ago, my good friend and neighbor Jean Merrill presented me with a gift: a cookbook titled Helen Corbitt’s Potluck.  I see several things that make me smile every time I take it from my shelf in the kitchen. First there’s its tomato red binding with a fanciful line drawing of a cow with some leaves in her mouth on the bottom right corner.  Just inside, the inscription “Mary Ann – thanks for being such a good friend. Love Jean  ’75.”  There’s the same cow from the front on the page.  Only this time she is standing with a pig and a chicken on her back.  The pig has a bottle of wine and a strawberry on its back, and the whole crew is plopped into a huge pot of vegetables labeled POTLUCK.  Not such a remarkable title for a cookbook unless you also know that Helen Corbitt was no everyday cook with her list of dishes to take to church dinners. This feisty chef authored 4 other cookbooks and is best known for her position as Director of Foods for Neiman Marcus and her menus for the Zodiac Room there.  So what makes me laugh when I pick up PotLuck is the unlikely face any recipe in there would actually find itself being called that.   In its pages, this little book has narrative and humour, and treasures from its author.  Poppy-Seed Dressing is one of her best known recipes. I have made  I have made Artichokes and Crab and a wonderful Lemon Rice Soup.  For my nieces bridal luncheon in 1983, I served Helen’s Cold Yogurt Soup.  But the recipe I have used so often that the book opens to its page is this one.  And every time I have made it, I have used leftovers, because the 1 1/2 cups of flaked salmon it calls for is just about right for leftover bits when I grill a salmon fillet.  I think Helen, the queen of sass and souffles,  would have approved.

Salmon Souffle

3 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon curry powder (we like to use a heaping teaspoon or more)

1 1/2 cups fresh or canned salmon flakes

Pinch of thyme

Salt and pepper

1 cup milk

4 eggs, separated

Melt the butter, add flour and seasonings, and cook until bubbly.  Add milk, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from stove.  add egg yolks beaten until light and the flaked salmon (no bones or skin). Cool.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Pour into a buttered souffle or casserole dish.  Place dish into a larger baking pan and add hot water carefully into the bottom pan (hot water bath).  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Left over chicken or ham works well instead of salmon.

Serve with Bengal Sauce, recipe follows.

Bengal Sauce

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon flour

1 cup milk or half and half

Salt

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

2 teaspoons grated coconut

1/4 cup slivered almonds

Melt butter, add flour, cook a few seconds.  Add milk and cook until smooth and thickened.  Add seasonings, coconut and nuts.

When I made this earlier this week, I served Italian plum halves filled with homemade fig chutney which I baked alongside the souffle.

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