Rain! We’ve gotten lots of rain lately. Some late winter storms have brought precipitation to Southern California for the past several weeks and I’m glad.
Normally, I am not fond of rain (um, hello, that’s why I live in Southern California), but I am happy to see these showers. The fruit trees in my backyard need the water, as does the rest of our region. And I’m secretly hoping the rain will bring back the California poppies this year.
You remember the blaze of color those flowers brought last year? It had been a long time since we had seen fields and fields of orange like that. Such a long time, in fact, that it brought out the looky-loos and photographers, causing weekend traffic backups on I-15 at Lake Street in Elsinore.
I love the cheery California poppy, but springtime wildflowers, in general, are such a welcome sight. It means winter is over and summer is imminent. What’s been dead is alive again. It also signals the coming of spring holidays like Passover, Easter and Mother’s Day.
When I lived in Texas as a teenager, my family would go out to eat for holidays like Easter and Mother’s Day, and many times we would go to a Southern-style cafeteria called Luby’s. Based out of San Antonio, Luby’s cafeterias can be found all over Texas and Oklahoma.
If you’ve visited or lived in the southern U.S., you have probably eaten at a Southern-style cafeteria. Establishments like Furr’s, Wyatt’s, Piccadilly, and, of course, Luby’s were the place to go to get a deliciously square meal of meat, vegetable sides, fruit, rolls and glorious desserts.
Side dishes like macaroni and cheese, fried okra, collard greens, bacon-y green beans, jalapeno cornbread, cheesy squash casserole and sweet carrot soufflé could be chosen as you walked the line, sliding your tray along the rails. Ah, the choices!
Soufflé? You might be wondering what the heck that is about. Technically, a soufflé is a baked egg dish made with egg yolks plus other ingredients, sweet or savory, and whipped egg whites folded into the batter. When baked, soufflés puff up to lofty heights, deflating upon the first bite after leaving the oven.
Carrot soufflé is not a soufflé in the traditional sense since it doesn’t include whipped egg whites, but it does have a light and airy texture which is how, I’m guessing, it got its name. There are several recipes online for this southern food favorite, including a savory version, but I’m partial to the sweet ones.
This week’s recipe is very similar to one a friend of mine brings to potlucks. Her recipe adds crushed cornflakes, brown sugar and butter mixed together as a topping for the soufflé. It makes a nice side dish to your Passover brisket or your Easter ham.
And the fact that this dish is a bright and happy orange may remind you of our California poppies, and that winter is over and summer is coming once again. Enjoy your spring!
Sweet Carrot Souffle
- 2 lbs. peeled carrots, chopped into coins
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. flour (can be gluten-free flour or cornstarch)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a two-quart casserole dish with non-stick spray or rub with butter. Set aside. Place carrots and enough water to cover in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook carrots until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well.
Combine carrots, sugar, baking powder and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for five minutes. Alternatively, you can place items in a bowl and beat with hand mixer for five minutes. Add the flour and mix well. Next, add beaten eggs and mix well. Finally, add softened butter and beat for additional five minutes. Pour into prepared casserole dish and bake for 1 hour at 350 until top is light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.