Field to Feast: Corn

Does anything say “Summer’s here!” better than corn? When I spied it at the Bialas Farms booth a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t believe my eyes — an early harvest! Apologies to the Christmas crowd, but I think this is the most wonderful time of the year, at least in the kitchen. (But if you can’t bear the thought of standing over a pot of water in this heat, please don’t miss Kasha’s brilliant idea to keep cool while cooking fresh corn. I can’t wait to try it.)

I like to get creative later in the season, when seeing corn at the market is hardly novel, but for the first ears of the year, I keep the preparation simple. That meant grilling it (in the husks, of course), heat wave be damned. Grilling in the husks is doubly beneficial: It keeps the kernels from getting too dry and leathery on the grill, plus there’s nothing like that smokey flavor you get from the charred husks to really turn corn into something special. Once it’s grilled, you can dress it any way you like; thankfully, changing the flavor profile is a pretty simple thing to do because it’s such a neutral base, which got me thinking…

Adding an umami flavor to corn is a popular way of dressing it up. Umami’s the savory “fifth primary taste” found in all sorts of foods — mushrooms, meats, anchovies, tomatoes, and aged cheeses, just to name a few. Kasha used this idea to delicious effect in her grilled corn with parsley-garlic butter and Parmesan recipe here, and Mexican grilled corn uses cotija cheese for a similar purpose, but I wanted something a little different. Then I hit upon miso, king of umami, and got to work on a couple of compound butters.

Roasted Garlic | Minimally Invasive

Sticking with the simplicity theme, I didn’t go crazy with ingredients. In fact, all of the ingredients are spelled out in the names: Roasted Garlic-Miso Butter and Gochujang Butter. I thought the corn looked unfinished once it was slathered with the butter, so I sprinkled the ears with toasted nori flakes (another umami-bomb).

Aaaand done. So simple and so rewarding.

Grilled Corn with Gochujang Butter | Minimally Invasive

And if this isn’t enough for you, check out a few of my favorites from previous summers:

Grilled Corn with Harissa & Honey | Minimally Invasive

Grilled corn with Harissa and Honey

Corn Chowder with Crispy Duck Skin | Minimally Invasive

Smoked Corn Chowder with Crispy Duck Skin

Shrimp with Sweet Curry & Coconut Creamed Corn | Minimally Invasive

Shrimp with Sweet Curry & Coconut Creamed Corn

Sweet Corn Frozen Yogurt | Minimally Invasive

And for dessert, how about some Sweet Corn Frozen Yogurt?

Recipes

Grilled Corn in the Husks

Remove the very outer layer of husks from your corn and set them aside, then peel back the remaining husks without breaking them off. Strip silks from the cob. Season corn however you like (with olive oil, salt, a spice rub, etc.) or just leave it plain if you plan to use a compound butter later. Re-cover the corn with the attached husks, then use a strip of one of the detached ones you set aside to tie them off at the top. Roast over a hot charcoal fire for about 20 minutes, turning as the husks start to char. The outer husks will turn black and fall away while infusing the corn with the smokiness of the grill, but the inner ones will still protect the corn from the direct heat, so don’t worry. Once the corn is done, strip the ears bare and rub with compound butter, if using.

Roasted Garlic-Miso Compound Butter makes enough for six ears of corn

1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 medium head roasted garlic (or more, if you like)
1 sheet nori

Mash miso, butter and garlic together with a fork and slather on freshly grilled corn while it’s still hot. Toast nori briefly over an open flame, then grind in a food processor. Sift, then sprinkle the buttered corn with the sifted flakes to season.

Gochujang Compound Butter makes enough for four ears of corn

To make your own gluten-free gochujang, follow the simple recipe here. If you’re ok with wheat, it’s easily found at any Korean grocery.

1 tablespoon gochujang
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 sheet nori

Mash gochujang and butter together with a fork and slather on freshly grilled corn while it’s still hot. Toast nori briefly over an open flame, then grind in a food processor. Sift, then sprinkle the buttered corn with the sifted flakes to season.

Cup4Cup Week: The Pie

Gluten-Free Pie with Cup4Cup flour

You can blame/thank Joy the Baker for this entire week of posts. If not for her gorgeous strawberry-ginger pie and enthusiastic championing of Cup4Cup Flour, I never even would’ve attempted this pie, much less five posts on the topic of… flour. My frustration with the intersection of pie crusts and small countertops is well-documented on this site, but I miss having a good slice of pie, especially after going gluten-free. See, I LOVE pie. I’m a pie girl. If you give me a choice of cake or pie, I’ll choose pie every day and twice on Sunday. I’m not too picky on the filling as long as it’s freshly-made and not dumped in from a can, but a bland or god-forbid bad crust really offends my delicate sensibilities. As Joy’s detailed instructions gave me hope of making my own pie with an amazing crust, I dove in after receiving my flour order.

Gluten-Free Pie Dough with Cup4Cup flour

Looks like pie dough, right? There’s usually a trade-off with gf flours: you don’t have to worry about overworking the dough, but it’s often so sticky, it’s tough to approximate an old favorite recipe. Not the case here, though! Win-win!

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I didn’t buy strawberries at the market, but did come home with a load of beautiful peaches and blueberries, so I swapped out the filling. Like I said, I’m not that picky.

Gluten-Free Pie with Cup4Cup flour

Into the crust it went. I was down a peach, so the filling wasn’t as bountiful as it should’ve been, but it didn’t matter too much in the end.

Gluten-Free Pie with Cup4Cup flour

Sure, my crimping skills aren’t up to par, but let’s just call this intentionally rustic and leave it at that. I topped it with a mixture of palm sugar and cinnamon instead of white sugar because I’ve been on a real palm sugar kick lately; it can be subbed one-for-one with white sugar but has a much more complex flavor, somewhere between cane sugar and brown sugar without the added moisture. I just love it and it gives a little color to your baked goods. It’s also in the spotlight at the moment because it’s supposed to be low on the glycemic index. I don’t eat enough sugar to be that concerned with sweeteners, but if you do, you might want to look into it.

Since this was the first thing I baked with Cup4Cup flour and I’ve decided to turn it into a review series, you’ve probably already drawn the conclusion that it’s pretty good stuff. And it is. No complaints at all so far. Of course, the pie crust isn’t as flaky as one with AP flour would be, but it was leagues better than any other gluten-free crust I’ve tried — flavorful and tender. It’s a pretty starchy flour blend, but not so starchy that the crust squeaks when you bite into it. And it browns beautifully. Thomas Keller’s no slouch, as it turns out. Heh. On the basis of this pie alone, I’d recommend Cup4Cup.

recipe after the jump

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From the Market: This & That Edition

I realized there were a lot of half-finished posts in my folder that didn’t quite meet the mark individually, but worked together as a summertime pot luck, so that’s what you get today. Hope you don’t mind leftovers!

To blame my recent lack of cooking and posting on the lazy, hazy days of summer wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but wouldn’t be the whole story, either. Now that I don’t have those killer workdays anymore, I find myself wanting to take it a little easier. We wake up at 6:30am now instead of 5, which is a lovely thing. After walking the dogs, I have a strenuous-for-me yoga workout, then start my day after Gil goes to work. Our house is the cleanest it’s ever been — not as easy as it sounds with perpetual shedding machines underfoot — plus I’ve gotten my portfolio and billing system in order. (There are a few projects on the horizon, but no contracts in hand yet, so I’m taking advantage of this down time while it lasts.) You’d think I’d want to spend at least part of my day making a big production in the kitchen, but that just hasn’t been the case. While we’re swimming in beautiful, local produce, going overboard isn’t necessary at all.

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Grilling’s another story since it doesn’t heat up the house and takes so little time to accomplish great things. For the bastardized bi bim bap above, I salted and grilled a nice grass-fed steak for about three minutes per side then brushed it with a mixture of equal parts miso, Dijon mustard and melted butter* and cooked it for an additional minute on each side. After the steak rested for a few minutes, I sliced it up and served it over rice with some vegetables I had in the fridge — carrots, asparagus, and shredded spinach and arugula — and thinned out a little of my homemade gochujang with water to make a simple dressing. An over-easy egg would not be a bad idea on top, but this was more than enough food for me.

* Since I first read about the miso-mustard-butter blend on the always-excellent Cookblog, I’ve been obsessed. We went through a stretch of eating it a few times a week as I experimented. I can report that it’s gorgeous with salt-roasted root vegetables and welcomes maple syrup with open arms.

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A few days later, our friend Mark paid a visit. I love having him over, not just because of the great conversation and incredible stories (check out the Virtual Memories podcast he recorded with my husband), but also because he really knows how to make a cook feel appreciated. Planning a menu is a lot of fun when you know someone will get a kick out of it. The main course was smoked chicken, so I started us off with a simple appetizer to eat while the chicken was cooking low and slow. It took advantage of the massive amount of beautiful English peas we had in the market at the time.

I wanted the flavor of the peas to shine through, so after shelling and blanching them, I kept the rest of the preparation minimal.

gluten-free

Peas, sweet onion, avocado, a little fresh garlic and lemon juice.

I whirred it to taste in a food processor with some salt and fresh thyme, and had a silky dip perfect for crudités or spreading on toast or crackers.

gluten-free

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The idea here was to make a spaghetti-like dish using julienned zucchini and yellow squash in place of the pasta, because I don’t like to be weighed down by all those carbs when it’s blazing outside. For the sauce, I smoked some roma tomatoes in my Cameron’s Stovetop Smoker, then blended them with a little olive oil, some lemon, garlic, onion, thyme and goat’s milk ricotta. Salted & peppered to taste and topped off with a sprinkling of Parmesan. This dish was awfully good with a crisp rosé…

Local produce from Bialas Farms. Grass-fed steak from Snoep Winkel Farm. Ricotta from Edgwick Farm.

Iiiice Creeeeeeam!

For various reasons there was no farmers’ market for us this weekend, but we did eat our weight in ice cream sandwiches, so it wasn’t a total wash.

Who cares if the ice cream was store-bought? Just sandwich some Haagen-Dazs vanilla between homemade spicy molasses cookies and call it a party.

Like I did with the popovers, I subbed Jules Gluten-Free Flour in place of the AP flour in the recipe and the cookies came out great. It’s been my experience that gluten-free cookies spread a bit more than regular, so I used a smaller amount of dough per cookie and they were absolutely perfect. Next time, I’ll try using coconut oil instead of the butter to see if that firms them up a little bit. (There’s less moisture in the cookies from the original recipe because it calls for shortening instead of butter, but man, that stuff gives me the willies.)

recipe after the jump

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From the Market – Week Whatever

I’ve lost count of the missing weeks by now, but couldn’t let the last vestiges of summer slip by without posting about the latest seasonal finds from our market in Ringwood.

I don’t know about you, but we’ve nearly eaten our weight in corn this summer. Grilled, smoked, raw, creamed, sautéed … it’s all been delicious and now that summer’s winding down, I’m truly savoring fresh corn while it’s still around. But a couple of dishes really stood out from the crowd and I want to make sure I tell you about them, and include links so I can re-create them next year.

This weekend I adapted Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for baked buttered corn (seen above), gilding the lily with burro di parma and wisps of freshly grated locatelli before baking, then finishing with a dab of truffle butter before serving. It sounds excessive, but the extra ingredients were used in moderation for just a touch of earthiness so really, corn was still the star. This dish is a great way to use late-season corn that maybe isn’t quite the revelation it was even a few weeks ago.

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For a couple of weeks in August, I was obsessed with cooking variations of Shrimp with Sweet Curry and Coconut Creamed Corn. We had it 3 times in the span of two weeks and I could still go for more, which will probably happen next weekend, now that I think about it. The only reason for adapting the recipe at all was because I didn’t have the specific spice blends called for, but after working around that problem, I’ve discovered that there isn’t a way to mess this up. The first time around, I left the curry out of the corn mixture and coated the shrimp with it instead (using Singapore curry from World Spice Merchants). The curry blend was light and paired perfectly with the shrimp; it accentuated the shrimp’s natural sweetness and, with a dash of cayenne pepper, added a touch of heat which cut through the richness of the coconut corn.

Nina found herself up to her ears in callaloo this summer, after deciding to grow it on a whim. Since I’m a sucker for any new (to me) ingredient, I made a beeline for the strange-looking vines when they appeared at her booth and managed to work it into a couple of other iterations of the shrimp and coconut corn recipe. If you’ve never had callaloo, it’s similar to water spinach or chard, but cooks down to something that seems much less virtuous, with a thick, silky, rich mouthfeel. I used madras curry in the corn base this time and simmered the shrimp along with it, so the dish was more of a stew than it was the first go-around. (No picture of what was an otherwise delicious dish because the callaloo turned the whole mixture a thoroughly unappealing-looking shade of bile green. And because I cobbled together a few recipes without writing down any of the steps/measurements, there’s no real recipe for you. But I’ll try to re-create it this weekend and let you know how it turns out.)

continued after the jump

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Don’t leave meeeee!

corn

Summer’s almost over before it really started and I’m missing it in advance — fresh corn and herbs in just about everything, sun tea, baby radishes with anchovy butter, blueberries and peaches, grilling… Aaaahh, soak it up while you can.

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, everyone! I plan to relax and work on getting my mojo back. Oh, and geaux Tigers!

Ice cream!

090726_cornbasesm

We’ve had a weird spring-into-summer around here. It’s easier to appreciate freakishly cool days now that we’re nearing the end of July, but it was tough going for a couple of months, when the sun kept to itself and seasonal cooking seemed like a faintly-remembered dream. The dreary weather even convinced me that this drink would be a perfectly refreshing and appropriate summer quaff, but when corn debuted at the farmers’ market two weeks ago, warmer weather did too, and any desire to sip on a hot beverage went right out the window.

Despite the thermometer’s reluctance to get with the game, I’ve been experimenting with different ice creams this “summer,” and mostly successfully. (We won’t discuss last weekend’s vegan debacle — it never happened, you hear me?) My latest version was an attempt to 1) rejigger the sweet corn and milk drink into a frozen dessert, and 2) use ingredients already in my house (goat’s milk yogurt) instead of going to the store (for the standard stuff). By combining recipes, I ended up with a frozen yogurt I’ll quite happily nom on all week. The best part is that it’s so well-balanced — not too sweet, not too goaty, not too corny — that each ingredient complements the others without overpowering them.

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My earlier attempts at ice cream-making actually involved ice cream, not frozen yogurt. Imagine!

My favorite ice cream since I was a little girl has been my godmother’s cherry vanilla (though her banana version was a very close second). K&B had excellent cherry vanilla as well, but they’re gone, pecan, so I kept it in the family and asked my dad to get my aunt’s recipe the next time he saw her. After making both cherry vanilla and banana versions, I’m really happy to say it wasn’t just an exalted memory, but that this ice cream really is that good … so good that peach probably isn’t too far away. I just need to make sure the weather holds up.

Better get to it before an early autumn arrives.

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recipes after the jump

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Summer lovin’

Oh, boy, do I ever love summer — buying berries by the quart doesn’t require a loan, and the best desserts are the simplest, like this blueberry and blackberry galette.

<Sigh> It actually makes me a little sad, knowing this will come to an end so soon. </Sigh> Guess I’ll just enjoy it while I can and take lots of pictures to tide me over during the long winter to come.

And hey, there’s always apple crisp season to look forward to!

recipe after the jump

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More grilling? Well, if you insist…

I fully intended to give you a rundown of our July 4th menu today, complete with a couple of lovely side salads inspired by Mark Bittman’s picnics column from last week, but today’s fare was ribs and there’s just no way I can write about vegetables at a time like this.

Since I first posted about the grilled vegetable salad I found on The Kitchen Sink, it’s been a weekly fixture on our table, so I knew Kristin’s featured recipe for baby back ribs wouldn’t disappoint. As ever, through poor planning or simple willfulness, I adapted the recipe a bit, but can’t imagine them being any better even with the full complement of ingredients.

The adaptations were fairly minor, but worth pointing out. To start, as embarrassing as it is for a Southern girl to admit, I have no bourbon in the house. Lucky for me, there is a lot of Jack leftover from some party or other, so that went into the glaze instead.

Though I seem to have an extremely well-stocked spice rack (okay, well-stocked spice bins), my refrigerator is lacking in the saucy condiments department, so I went without the plum and hoisin sauces called for in the glaze. I thought the finished product would lack some depth because of these omissions, so I tinkered a bit on the front end, baking the ribs in a favorite marinade for flank steak — equal parts pineapple juice and soy sauce with a hefty dose of garlic — instead of the stand-alone pineapple juice in the recipe.

Gil and I ran out while the ribs were baking and we were treated to the most mouthwatering smell as we walked up to the front door two hours later. Poor Rufus was left alone with the baking ribs and was beside himself with pork lust by the time we got home; to reward his patience, I gave him a tiny piece of meat with a little fat attached, fresh from the oven.

And I’m not too proud to admit I rewarded myself, too. Mmmmmmm…

At this point, it was a simple thing to fire up the grill, brush the ribs generously with the glaze, and grill them until the crispy bits outnumbered the soft.

As Rufus would (and did) say, “NOM! NOM! NOM!”

recipe after the jump

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