Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Enters, Baseball Departs: Corn-Cheddar Souffle


For me, the beginning of fall is not marked by Labor Day nor the equinox. No, autumn doesn't officially begin until the last baseball game is played in Chicago on the south side.

I'm a relative newcomer to the appreciation of America's pastime. Never one for sports, it wasn't until I met my sports crazed husband, that I understood its appeal. I fell in love with the game many autumns ago when the game was won over by a series of underdogs starting the Arizona Dbacks defeating the 1990's dynastic Yankees to our own White Sox, the second team of the second city, whose dramatic and decisive World Series cemented me as a lifetime fan. We've had season tickets since 2006 and we've seen our share of wins, losses, rain days, and fireworks. Throughout the six month season, I get attached to the other season ticket holders around us and the ballpark and so when it comes to an end at that last home game, it's hard for me to keep a dry eye.

Today's game was a particularly emotional one with the retirement of long time organist Nancy Faust and the possible departure of two of the most beloved White Sox players of this decade. Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzinski have each come to be almost inseparable to the White Sox brand. Both crucial to bringing the World Series trophy to the "Cell" as the rechristened Comiskey Park has come to be known. Each player's contract is up this year and there's no guarantee that either will ever play again in a White Sox uniform.

We sat on a crisply cool October afternoon cheering our Sox to a 6-5 victory over the Indians, a day that seemed so full of promise that it could almost disguise itself as one in April were it not for the sky festooned with autumn's colors of red, orange and yellow. It was then that I knew that summer was over. The outdoor markets will close in just a few weeks, the leaves will drift away from their branches and snow will soon fall. To savor the moment, but yet honor the transition, we enjoyed a meal of autumn flavors, including Gingered-Pear Pork Chops, Honey Glazed Acorn Squash and a Corn-Cheddar Souffle, stuffed in the last of our purple bell peppers.

Corn-Cheddar Souffles
Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 2 % milk
1/4 cup grated cheddar
salt, pepper and nutmeg
kernels from 1 ear corn
2 eggs, separated
Pinch of cream of tartar
4 bell peppers, hollowed out and with a touch sliced off the bottom so that it will sit flat

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook until thickened. Season with a touch of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cheese and heat until melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks and then stir in the corn. With an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and increase the speed. Cook until stiff peaks form. Fold in about a third of the corn and cheese base into the whites gently. Add the remaining amount and fill the bell peppers with an equal amount of batter. Bake in the center of the oven until puffed and golden about 20 minutes.

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