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.

Crown Roast

 Since the only time I ever made this was in 1963, there is no photo to feed your eyes first and tempt your taste buds.  In fact, I have never seen this dish or a picture of it anywhere else.  Its claim to fame must lie in that fact that one time was enough!

                                                         Crown Roast

The very words of the title may set the table for you:  lovely linens, coordinated crystal, china, and flatware, tasteful flowers and candles.  Whether you are thinking “succulent crown roast of pork, stuffed with apples, herbs and onions” “crown roast of beef with potatoes and horseradish cream” or “elegant, stunning, and mouth-watering”, it would be easy to think of the holiday meal or dinner for guests where such a dish would appear.

 Let me take you instead to the very earliest days of my marriage to show you the table setting for this Crown Roast.  In 1963 as I was learning how much I loved the man I would marry just after Christmas, I owned 2 cookbooks, the first of over 100 in my current collection.  My sister’s high school home economics sold them so I bought Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers MEATS as well as one for DESSERTS, both wonderful collections of women who taught cooking all over the U.S. which included all the basics inexperienced cooks would need to use the recipes. I developed the habit of looking for a recipe requiring ingredients I already had.  This became a valuable tool for a new bride on a tight budget.  I made menus for 2 weeks at a time, grocery shopped for only what I needed, and if the need exceeded the cash I carried, it was no longer a need, but a “next time” on the list.

 The Christmas bride settled into busy life with school and work. We moved into a tiny 2 bedroom rent house in southern Oklahoma City. It was furnished with overused items (no, not shabby chic), but it had a small fenced yard, and it was home.  We painted the walls, stacked books under the sofa to correct the sag, hung curtains from Kmart, added personal touches from wedding gifts, and our cat, Pepper.

 Not always to my credit, I managed to make our budget stretch by the old adage “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  Let’s say that occasionally that led to unusual items on our menu.  One spring evening, Joe came home to find me with a large eyed needle and kitchen cord, threading hot dogs like beads.  My new husband laughed with me, not batting an eye, and sat down at our Formica topped table for dinner.  My featured special for the meal?  Crown Roast of WEINERS, stuffed with Sauerkraut.  We have never made the dish again, but we have told the story over and over.

You will need:

       16 wieners

       2 Tablespoons chopped onions

       4  Slices bacon, diced

       1 can (21/2) sauerkraut

       1 cups  cooked potatoes, cubed

        ¼ cup melted butter or margarine

        ¼ cup chopped parsley

 Run a string through wieners 1 inch from the top and another 1 inch from bottom.  Tie together forming a circle and stand up on heat resistant platter.  Sauté onion and diced bacon in skillet.  Place sauerkraut inside of wiener ring and top with onion and bacon mixture.  Dip potatoes in melted butter, roll in parsley, and place around wieners.  Cover entire platter with aluminum foil.  Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes.  Hot potato salad is very good placed inside of crown roast instead of potatoes and sauerkraut.                  ~This recipe is attributed to Clara E. Dalton, Piute H.S., Junction, Utah.  When choosing it from the Convenience foods section of the cookbook, I passed up the chance to make Spam Stroganoff!