Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rememberance of Things Past or Grits Souffle

A few weeks ago Alison sent around a picture of Jamie and Sam taking a lovely golden orb out of the oven - Belle's grits souffle, an old childhood favorite of hers. I remember Belle so well. She was a marvel. Everything she made was full of butter and sugar and tasted amazing. When I was a vegetarian I'd ask her, Belle, how do you feel? And she'd tip her head back, making her appear even shorter than her already not so big self, and roar out, I falafel! and bust up laughing. Her white stockings made a rustling sound as she sped around the kitchen, making cinnamon rolls, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, Carmelitas and grits souffle, apparently.

I remember Sue as the originator of the grits souffle recipe, but Mom clarified that it was originally Aunt Mary Harry's recipe and that Sue introduced it to us, since Aunt Mary Harry was on Henry's side of that marrying-cousins family. 

I also remember it as much flatter than the current photo. But I had fond memories of it none-the-less so set to work. Mom and Abby were coming for dinner and Downton Abby so that seemed the perfect opportunity. I planned porkchops with bitter winter greens from Epicurious to balance the richness and Pineapple Upside Downton Cake for desert (that's another story, but it doesn't have a happy ending).

The original recipe calls for heating milk and butter, adding the grits and cooking til thick, then beating for 5 minutes and baking in a souffle dish. Abby and Mom were due at seven and my unfailing belief that I could do just one more thing before getting ready meant I was late and not ready. Consequently, there was a temper tantrum, followed by some bellowed curses when the milk boiled over because I had it on too high because I wanted it to boil faster. Right. in my post-tantrum state of excess adrenalin I forgot the part about cooking the grits and just went right to the 5 minutes of beating.

The result mirrored the geographical deposition that you would see on a canyon wall. The lowest layer, the sedimentary layer, was like dry, tough cornbread; the next layer, the metamorphic layer, was a rich soft  custard of cooked milk; and the top, the igneous layer was a thin brown crust. Not inedible, but not far from it and nothing liking the memories of yore. No photos.

 The next weekend armed with real grits this time, I tried again. I started early, avoided temper tantrums, remembered to cook before beating. Huge success - just like I remembered.

Still curious about what Jamie had done, I called him up. He revealed that he had tinkered with the original "a bit", adding eggs (separated and whites whipped to soft peaks, then folded in) and Parmesan cheese. Apparently Alison had remarked, well, it's not what I remember, but it's not bad. I'm sticking with Alison on this one.

1 comment:

wyatteal said...

Looks beautiful and I wish I had some right now!