Summer Corn Dip

73 Comments

I’m not a huge fan of Emeril Lagasse. It’s not that I don’t respect his accomplishments, which are vast. In fact, he’s one of the longest lasting tv chefs in the U.S. We just never clicked. I didn’t get the “night show” element of live music on his cooking show, and the “BAM” was way overdone. Just my opinion.

So I wasn’t completely thrilled when I received an Emeril cookbook as a gift. But when I opened the book, Prime Time Emeril, to a random page, it was to the recipe for Hot Corn Dip.

Not being from the Midwest, I haven’t always been a huge corn fan like some people. I mean, it’s really good with butter and salt – on the cob, of course. But corn dip???

corn22

Well I made it, and it’s now one of my few repeat recipes I make in the summer. For this one recipe alone, I will always keep Prime Time Emeril, published in 2001.

So here is my version of Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for corn dip, from his cookbook. It’s especially fun to make when corn on the cob is 10 for $1.00! However keep in mind that to make it simpler, canned corn can also be used.

Hot and Cheesy Corn Dip

4 corn on the cobs
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces grated white cheddar or Monterey jack
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground cayenne pepper, to taste

Remove the corn from the corn cobs using a knife, slicing vertically on four “sides” of the cob. Then break up the pieces of corn into individual kernels.

Cook the corn in boiling water for about 10 minutes; test it to make sure it is thoroughly cooked. Drain the corn in a colander, and set aside to cool.

Place the butter in a large saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat. Chop the onion, red bell pepper and green onions. Add the vegetables and sauté for approximately 5 minutes.

Then add the corn, the cream cheese and cubed or grated cheese, and allow the cheeses to completely melt into the vegetables.

Add the salt and cayenne, or sprinkle the cayenne on top of the dip when serving.

Serve the dip warm with good corn chips. I like the “scoopable” variety!

I’ve also used mayonnaise in this dip along with cream cheese. It just adds a depth of flavor.

Now to change things up. You can make a Southwestern version of this corn dip by adding chopped green chile peppers and cilantro, plus a little ground cumin.


I’ve included made this dip with crumbled chorizo. Yum. Italian sausage also works.

For a pescatarian option, add crab, some Old Bay, and top with chopped avocado!

Green Rice with Corn

48 Comments

For Cinco de Mayo 2017, I made a Mexican-inspired meal, not surprisingly. Mexican and Southwestern foods are some of our favorites, and any excuse to cook a bunch of delicious food and include friends work for us!

For the main course, I served buffalo fajitas along with sautéed vegetables, plus I made refried black beans and what I called “green rice”.

The rice is green from green chiles and an abundance of cilantro. (Don’t read on if you dislike cilantro!)

Okay, so what’s the big deal? Rice with cilantro? I don’t know, but it was everybody’s favorite dish. I mean, over the queso, the guacamole, and the chipotle shrimp, the green rice was the bomb.

The next morning I heated some up and plopped a fried egg on top. It was just that delicious.

This rice is more of a pilaf, with all of the goodies I included. The green chiles, cilantro, and seasoning turn it into one that’s Mexican-inspired and delicious.

Green Rice with Corn

2 cobs of corn
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1 onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Rice of choice, about 1 1/3 cups
Chicken broth, about 3 cups
2 – 4.5 ounce cans chopped green chiles
Lots of chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, optional

Cook the corn cobs in boiling water until they’re done, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and rice, and stir for about 30 seconds, then add the broth.

Bring the rice to a boil, cover, then turn down the heat. Cooking time depends on the kind of rice you use.

Once the rice is about cooked, remove the lid and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cut the corn from the cobs. Break the corn up into neat pieces and stir into the rice gently.

I like to put the lid on and without heat, let the pot sit at the end of the cooking time. This step encourages more liquid absorption.

You can sprinkle on some cilantro leaves if you wish.

Fancy? Not at all. And just the same amount of time to make any pilaf.

And don’t forget to have the green rice with an egg the next morning!

Note: When I cook at home I always use brown rice, because it’s not processed. It takes a little more cooking time and a little more liquid, typically. White rice can certainly be substituted, and would actually look prettier. It’s just a personal call.

Summer Corn Chowder

55 Comments

Summer is not my favorite season. But without a second house somewhere in the northern climes, I must endure heat and humidity from May through September.

There are a few good things that I do appreciate – tomatoes, basil, and zinnias. Lots of zinnias to add color to my house. They make me happy.
_MG_0092
Although I don’t grow it myself, corn is readily available from local farms, and I’ve really come to appreciate the humble corn on the cob since living in the Midwest.

IMG_2585
Which brings me to this simple corn chowder that I made with extra corn I had on hand.

Corn and Chicken Chowder

1 small chicken
4 cobs of corn
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups, approximately, chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne

Poach the chicken using basic ingredients, like onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaves. After 1 1/2 hours, remove the chicken from the broth and let cool. If you need a tutorial on poaching chicken, check out chicken poach.
_MG_0083
Strain the broth and cook the corn in it. Remove the corn and let cool.


If you have lots of broth leftover, let it reduce gently on the stove.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion, red bell pepper and celery, and saute for about 5 minutes.
_MG_0096
Stir in the garlic, and after about 30 seconds, add 2 cups of broth, and then the cream. Let the mixture cook over low heat for about 15 minutes.


At that time, remove the meat from the chicken bones, then add it to the soup.
_MG_0102
To add the corn, simply hold the corn cobs on the edge of the pot, and using a small knife, cut parallel to the cobs, cutting the kernels loose.
_MG_0117
Stir the soup well, and add the seasoning. Taste for salt and pepper.
_MG_0120
If you wanted to make a Southwestern soup, you could add cumin, coriander, a little ancho chile paste or green chiles, maybe chorizo, and lots of fresh cilantro. Normally this is what I would have done, since my tastes tend toward a spicier direction.
_MG_0124
I use thyme a lot in fall and winter cooking, and I probably decided to use it in this soup because I’m subconsciously wishing it was cooler outside!
_MG_0160
Oh well, only one more hot month to go. And I still have my zinnias.

note: You could also add cooked potatoes to this soup, or include white beans, even with the chicken. Heartier and healthier!

_MG_0140

Pumpkin Polenta

42 Comments

Over the years I’ve been asked quite frequently about the difference between polenta and grits. But they are the same thing – essentially, cornmeal. Polenta is the Italian name for the dish, and grits are well known in the states as a Southern staple. They are both a savory porridge of sorts, made with ground corn. The only thing that is different is the grind of the cornmeal. There are finer grinds and coarser ones.

The reason I love polenta (and grits) is that I can do wonderful things with it depending on my mood and the season. For example, with fall approaching, I’ve begun stocking up on one of my favorite canned ingredient – pumpkin puree. I add pumpkin to soups, stews, pastas, meat loaves, risottos, and today, polenta. Pumpkin not only complements the cornmeal flavor, but it creates a beautiful orange color as well. It just screams autumn!

When you go to cook your cornmeal as polenta, you need to read the package directions. Because polenta comes in various grinds, the cooking times vary. Just as with purchased pasta, read the directions. Also keep in mind that cornmeal nearly triples in volume when it cooks, so unless you’re cooking for an army, don’t be tempted to use more than 1 cup of polenta, which is perfect for 4-5 servings. Here’s what I did.

This post is also at The Not So Creative Cook today. Jhuls is the author of this blog, and she actually is very creative! She was kind enough to ask me for a guest post, and I chose this dish because of fall approaching, although not fast enough for me. She used the Pumpkin Polenta for Fiesta Friday, which is a weekly post created by Angie over at The Novice Gardener.

Pumpkin Polenta

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup medium-grind cornmeal

In a large pot, heat the butter and oil over medium-heat until the butter just browns. Add the onion and stir, lower the heat to medium low. Sauté the onion for about 3-4 minutes.

pump
Add the garlic and cook for just about 30 seconds, then stir in the broth, pumpkin, and salt.

Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Using a whisk, slowly pour in the cornmeal. Lower the heat and simmer the polenta, whisking occasionally, until all of the liquid is incorporated.
pump2

If it gets too thick, add a little more liquid. This process should only take about 8-10 minutes unless you’re using a coarser cornmeal.

pump4
Serve with grated cheese, if desired, such as Parmesan, or, in my case, Monterey Jack!

If you want your polenta a little more decadent, substitute some heavy cream or even goat’s milk for some of the broth.

Just think of the ways you can make polenta! Add pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, both fresh and dried, ancho chile paste, achiote oil – you name it!

note: Just like oatmeal, polenta will keep thickening with time. If you need to refrigerate any leftover polenta, make it really soupy before you store it. Only then will you have a chance of not discovering a cornmeal frisbee in your frig the next day!

Late Summer Potato Salad

33 Comments

I grew up with what’s typically referred to here in the states as “German” potato salad. Instead of mayonnaise as the binder with the cooked potatoes, I was only familiar with an oil and vinegar dressing instead. I’m a huge fan of mayonnaise, and “traditional” potato salads, but I still prefer my potato salads with a vinaigrette.

Over the years I’ve made all kinds of potato salads, as you can imagine. If you cook like I do, you have as well, being creative with ingredients. I’ve added tomatoes, olives, roasted red bell peppers, capers, chile peppers – you name it. But I saw a recipe in this cookbook that really caught my attention for its simplicity.

The cookbook is called The Farm. The recipes are just what you’d expect with a name like the farm. Fresh ingredients and simple cooking.

download

I’ve often mentioned how sometimes simple is best when it comes to cooking, and that’s exactly why I decided to make Ian Knauer’s recipe. Although being the type of cook that I am, I did change it up a bit. But only slightly. His recipe called for both basil and cilantro. I used only cilantro, and added cumin to the vinaigrette.

But the potato and corn salad was delicious, and perfect to celebrate the summer coming to an end.

Potato Corn Salad

Salad:
Cooked red potatoes, peels on

pot88
Cooked corn on the cob
pot7
Purple onion, diced
pot99
Olive oil
Chopped cilantro

Drain the cooked potatoes so they’re not water-logged, and then place them in a large bowl. Add the corn and onion. Add a little olive oil and toss the ingredients gently. The olive oil will keep the potatoes moist. Then add the cilantro.


Let the salad cool slightly if the potatoes are still hot. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Place all of the ingredients in a blender jar. I included the mayonnaise to make the dressing a little milder and creamier, but that is optional.

Place in a bowl for serving.

pot4

Once the salad is just warm or at room temperature, it can be served.

If you want a heftier potato and corn salad, you could always include sausage. Polish sausage, Italian sausage, or chorizo would be delicious!

I added a little ground black pepper to the salad as well. Cayenne flakes would be good, too.
pot2

Summer Sea Bass

29 Comments

I actually went to the store to purchase salmon, because I promised Stefan, from the blog Stefan Gourmet, that I would sous vide salmon. I’ve used my beloved sous vide demi for a variety of meats, but never fish. When I met Stefan in person, he made me promise I’d try salmon.

But, they had no salmon. Not really surprising. I kind of live in the middle of nowhere. We’re landlocked here, so seafood is always a challenging purchase. But I also remember going to the store in this town many years ago with two different grocery lists. If I was having company, I planned two different menus, because most likely a significant ingredient was not available. Like, green beans or cilantro. Or pork.

Fortunately, grocery shopping has improved from those days, but honestly, I shouldn’t have high expectations from the seafood department.

So, no salmon. But I spotted a beautiful filet of sea bass. I always remember Julia Child suggesting that you ask the guy who works seafood who doesn’t really care about seafood fish monger to smell the fish you want to buy, to make sure that it is fresh. Great advice, but I’ve never been brave enough to do this. Fortunately the bass smelled really good when I got a piece of the filet home.

It’s a truly beautiful white fish. I got Stefan’s recommendation for sous vide’ing the filet. After all, he is the King of Sous Vide. Water temperature 118 degrees Farenheit, for 20 minutes. One end of the filet was quite thick, otherwise 10-15 minutes will do it.

It’s quite simple. You set the temperature, vacuum seal the fish, and watch the time.

Afterwards, pat the fish filet with paper towels.

bass77

Meanwhile, make a topping for the fish. This really isn’t a salsa, or even Southwestern, in my mind, mostly because I didn’t use hot sauce or chile peppers. To me, I wanted the flavors of summer to shine with the sea bass.

I mixed together purple onion, avocado, freshly cooked corn, tomatoes, and cilantro. Plus a squeeze of lime. Simple. Mango or peach would have worked with the other ingredients, but I hadn’t planned ahead when I purchased the sea bass. Stir the ingredients well and set aside.

To prepare the fish to serve, only a slight bit or searing is necessary, since the sous vide does the cooking. The searing just adds a little color. You can sear as much as you wish; I went for a modest sear.

I love fish cooked in butter, but because of the summer-inspired topping, I decided on olive oil. Simply add about 2 tablespoons of oil to a skillet and turn on the heat to its maximum. You might want to turn on your ventilation system as well.

Add the fish, which I cut into four pieces to make things easier, to the skillet. Stefan suggested only searing on the skin side, but I did both. The fish flesh was very firm, so I knew it wouldn’t fall apart from being flipped over in the skillet.

Serve the sea bass immediately along with the summer-inspired topping.

I paired the meal with a Tecate, which is one of my favorite beers. A crisp Riesling or Pinot Blanc would be wonderful as well.

As you can see, the fish is glistening. It’s perfectly cooked – tender and moist.

bass3

This was so successful and impressive. I will definitely use my sous vide machine for more fish experiments. After all, we must eat!!!

Double Corn Grits

22 Comments

There’s nothing quite like fresh corn, especially just picked. Where I live in the Midwestern U.S., corn is a major crop, so it’s readily available and extremely inexpensive. So in the summer, I like to use it in as many ways possible. Some of you may live in areas where corn must be imported, so your choice of corn might be limited to canned varieties, which unfortunately do not compare.

I’m not going to say that canned corn is completely off limits in my kitchen. I have used it, but it’s just not the same, which isn’t surprising, because what is better canned commercially rather than fresh?

Today I’m making grits, which is essentially cornmeal or polenta, and adding cooked corn to it. I mean, why not? Fresh corn has a very different flavor from grits/polenta/cornmeal, so it will just add another layer of corn flavor. So if you love corn…

Double Corn Polenta

3 corn on the cobs, husked
3 cups water
1 cup polenta or grits
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
Cream or milk

Cook the corn on the cobs until done, about 7 minutes in boiling water. Drain and set aside to cool.
corny4
Meanwhile, pour the water into a medium saucepan or polenta pot. Heat to boiling, then whisk in the grits, salt, and butter.

corny2

Whisking occasionally, cook the grits until it has absorbed all of the liquid. This should take about 15 – 20 minutes on medium heat.
corny1

Turn the heat to low, and cook the polenta for about another ten minutes or so, adding cream as necessary as the polenta thickens. You will probably use about 1/2 cup of cream at least. The amount will depend on how coarsely ground your polenta is, which is why I’m not using an exact measurement. You will know when the polenta is completely cooked.

corny3

Cut the corn off of the cobs, then break the pieces up to get the individual corn kernels. Then add them to the polenta.

corny

Stir well and taste for seasoning. For this polenta I kept it simple, but you could add cayenne pepper, hot paprika, ground chipotle pepper or ground ancho chile pepper, or just about any herb, fresh or dried.

corn3

I topped the double corn polenta with slices of filet, and sprinkled everything with fresh tomato, goat cheese, and a chiffonade of fresh basil.
corn (3)

note: If you’ve never made grits or polenta, give it a try. Grits are inexpensive, and one cup of the dried ground corn makes a lot of servings.

Also, I did publish this post last summer, but I’ve been spending a lot of extra time with my pregnant daughter when her husband is out of town. Priorities people!!! Hope you’re having a lovely summer!

Nutrition Facts Widget Image

Squash and Corn Pancakes

23 Comments

I happen to love savory pancakes. By that, I mean potato pancakes, wild rice pancakes, and vegetable pancakes like a sweet potato pancake.

This recipe would classify under vegetable pancakes, made from seasonal vegetables. Most of us who have a garden have an overabundance of one of two vegetables at least for a few weeks or longer at one point during the summer. For me, it’s been summer squash.

I recently made a soup from a combination of summer squash and fresh corn, flavored with coconut oil, curry powder, and hot sauce. It was so good I want to continue this vegetable combo, and so I decided to make these pancakes.

The fun thing about making savory pancakes is that you can create the recipe as you go along. Just about anything works. But I settled on summer squash, zucchini, purple onion, walnuts, and cilantro.

It’s really all about making the batter light enough to not make the pancakes doughy, but also holding everything together. So here’s what I did.

Summer Savory Pancakes

2 large ears corn
2 medium summer squash
2 medium zucchini
1 small purple onion, finely chopped
1 cup walnut halves, chopped
1 bunch cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Black pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream, evaporated milk, coconut milk, almond milk, etc.
Approximately 1 cup white flour, or any flour
Butter or olive oil

Cook the corn for 7-8 minutes in boiling water, then drain. Let them cool
squash2
Grate the squashes and place them in a large bowl.
squash3
Then add the onion and walnuts
squash4
Slice off the corn kernels and add them to the bowl, along with the cilantro and the seasoning.
squash5
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream, and pour the mixture over the vegetables. Stir to combine.
squash6
Add a little at a time, begin incorporating the flour into the vegetable mixture until no liquid remains. Stop then. These are vegetable pancakes, not doughy pancakes with a little bit of squash thrown in. There’s a difference.
squash7
By the way, any flour works with these pancakes. Gluten is not a necessary factor in making these pancakes cook, so if you prefer barley flour, go for it. Whole wheat flour works as well as any whole-grain flour, if you prefer.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form two 4″ wide pancakes and smooth them as much as possible. Let them cook for about 1 minute, so they get nice and golden brown.
squash9

Then turn the pancakes over. Immediately cover the pan and lower the heat as much as possible, so they brown on the other side, but also cook though. You don’t want the insides uncooked.

I have a gas stove. On an electric stove, I would just take the skillet off of that burner to let the inside heat cook the pancakes through.
squash8
After about two minutes, place the pancakes on a serving tray, add a little more oil, and continue with the rest of the batter. This recipe made 14 pancakes.

squash1

These are best served warm. They’re crisp on the outside and the walnuts add a bit of crunch. The pancakes make a very good side dish with any kind of meat or fish, but they’re also good served with a tomato salad for a light lunch.

squash22

note: One thing I like about making pancakes like these, is that no pre-preparation is required. Except for cooking the corn some, but that doesn’t take long. I’ve seen similar recipes out there in the blogosphere, sometimes called fritters instead of pancakes, where the onions are sautéed, and the squash is prepped to remove its water. Unless you really don’t like the flavor of fresh onion or shallots, then I can see only using them sautéed, but it seems silly to me. And as far as the water in the squash, I just use it to my favor. The wetness of the squash just means I don’t have to add that much liquid to the bowl of vegetables. They don’t have to be squeezed and dried first. Just FYI!

Achiote Cornbread

18 Comments

I’m not a huge cornbread lover. For one thing, when I first tried it after I moved to Texas a million years ago, it was way too sweet. And unnecessarily sweet. So I stayed away from it for years. But then I started making it from scratch, and ignoring the sugar. I like it much better sugar-free – besides, corn is already sweet!

But, the great thing I’ve learned about making cornbread is that you can do so many different things to it to make it your own, and really compliment whatever entrée you’re serving with it. Cornbread can be Southwestern with the addition of chile peppers, or it can be Mediterranean with the addition of olives. You can herb it up in the summer, or add any kind of flavor during the winter months like sun-dried tomato pesto. And, of course, you can always add cheese!!!

Today I wanted my cornbread fairly plain, but I wanted a little flavor enhancement and beautiful color from achiote oil. So here’s my recipe for Skillet Cornbread with Achiote Oil.

Achiote Cornbread

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons achiote oil, plus a little more
6 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Have a 10 – 12″ iron skillet on your stove.

Get your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then place the buttermilk, eggs, and achiote oil in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Have your melted butter handy.

corn6

When your oven has preheated, turn on the heat under your skillet and let it pre-heat.

corn3

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, whisking just until smooth.

corn1

Using a little extra achiote oil, grease the skillet. Then pour the batter into the hot skillet, an immediately place it in the oven.

corn4

Bake for 18 minutes. It should be nice and golden and the middle should be somewhat firm to the touch.

corn2

Remove the skillet from the oven and let the cornbread cool a little for about ten minutes. Loosen the sides, then remove the cornbread onto a cutting board.

corn7

Slice into wedges and serve warm!