Friday, November 13, 2015

Carnival Squash Soufflé







     Light, Delicate, Carnival Squash Soufflé!
     It seems like new varieties of winter squash appear in food markets every autumn.  Some are relatively unknown natural varieties and others are carefully developed garden hybrids.  The names of odd winter squash can be confusing too, because produce department managers at grocery stores often mislabel exotic varieties of squash that they have never seen before.
     Originally, I thought the squash used to make today's recipe was a Dumpling Squash, but that was because the squash was mislabeled at the food market.  As it turned out after doing a bit of research, the squash was actually called a Carnival Squash.  Carnival Squash are also called "Festival Squash or Heart Of Gold Squash."  Because Carnival Squash have about the same shape and flavor as a green speckled Dumpling Squash, it easy to get the two mixed up.  In the end it really does not matter, because it is the good taste that counts!  
     There are a few different color varieties of Carnival Squash.  The yellow orange striation color variety looks pretty on a plate.  Carnival Squash have a delicate flavor that tastes kind of like Acorn Squash.  A light delicate winter squash flavor like this is perfect for making soufflé.  
     Two small Carnival Squash are required for today's recipe.  A hollowed par-baked Carnival Squash is used as a soufflé baking ramekin, instead of a ceramic ramekin.  The second Carnival Squash is used to make the soufflé batter.  Because the soufflé is baked in a squash shell, the soufflé is practically guaranteed to have a moist texture.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 petite soufflé!

     Dumpling Squash Preparation:
     Step 1:  Cut the tops off of 2 Carnival Squash.  (This is done just like cutting the top of a pumpkin open to make a Jack O' Lantern.)
     Use a spoon to remove the seeds and pulp.
     Step 2:  Place the 2 squash shells on a roasting pan.
     Place 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter in each squash.
     Bake in a 300ºF oven till the squash just starts to become tender.  (par-bake)
     Step 3:  Allow the squash to cool to room temperature.
     Set 1 of the par-baked Carnival Squash aside.  (This Carnival Squash will be used as the soufflé ramekin.)
     Step 4:  Cut the second squash in half.
     Scrape the squash meat out of the shell and set it aside.  
     Discard the empty shell.  

     Béchamel Sauce:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.  (Enough for at least 2 petite soufflés.)  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.  (The roux should be shiny and not caky looking.)
     Constantly stir till the roux become a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add thick slice of onion.
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1/2 of a small bay leaf. 
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.

     Carnival Squash Brandy Crème Puree:
     Step 1:  Place the reserved prepared Carnival Squash meat in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of the béchamel sauce.
     Step 2:  Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     When the sauce start to simmer, add 1 ounce of brandy.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Simmer the ingredients for 1 minute.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Finely puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand or a food processor.
     Step 4:  Place the thick squash puree in a mixing bowl.
     Add a little bit more of the béchamel sauce, while whisking, so the puree is a medium thin sauce consistency that easily coats a spoon.  (The amount depends on how moist the squash meat is.  About 2 to 4 tablespoons more béchamel is about enough.) 
     Set the mixing bowl of brandied squash puree aside.
     
     Carnival Squash Soufflé:
     Step 1:  Place 2 egg whites in a second mixing bowl.  
     Whisk the egg whites till medium soft meringue peaks appear.
     Gently fold the meringue into the brandied squash puree.
     Step 2:  Place the reserved par-baked Carnival Squash on a baking pan.
     Pour the Carnival Squash Soufflé Batter into the Carnival Squash Shell till it is full.  (Any extra batter can be baked in a separate ceramic ramekin.)
     Step 3:  Select a steel ring mold that is the same width as the open top of the Carnival Squash shell.
     Brush the inside of the ring mold with melted unsalted butter.
     Press the ring mold onto the open top of the Carnival Squash shell, so it is firmly seated.  (The ring mold will act as a soufflé collar.)
     Step 4:  Bake the soufflé undisturbed for 20 minutes in a 375ºF oven.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Run a paring knife against the inside of the steel ring mold, to loosen the soufflé from the steel ring mold collar.
     Remove the ring mold.
     Step 6:  Place the Carnival Squash Soufflé on a small serving plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve immediately before the soufflé deflates!

     Viola!  A nice tasting savory Carnival Squash Soufflé with a natural looking presentation! 

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