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Showing posts with label corn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corn. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Best Egg Salad You Will Ever Make

My mother and grandmother disagreed about many things as mothers and daughters do. They especially disagreed about the proper way to make egg salad.

Real egg salad, my grandmother said, was made with hardboiled eggs and mayonnaise with a little salt and pepper. My mother used those ingredients as a starting point. To her egg salad she added finely chopped celery and, sometimes, scallions. My grandmother thoroughly disapproved.
As a kid, I often found myself caught between the two of them. Siding one time with my mother, another time with my grandmother.

About egg salad, I definitely agreed with my mother. Chopped hardboiled eggs and mayonnaise cried out for more flavor and texture. The celery and scallions were a good start but, ultimately, I decided there were so many more ingredients that would improve egg salad why not add whatever you wanted, as long as the ingredients did not over power the eggs.

I tried lots of ingredients. Mango chutney (not good), raisins (not good), pitted green olives (very good) and pepperocini (very good) to name a few.
Right now I'm happy with adding charred carrots, onions and corn kernels tossed with fresh Italian parsley. The crunch of carrots and corn contrasts with the soft, creamy eggs and mayo. Italian parsley adds a fresh element. A dusting of cayenne or Korean pepper flakes adds a pleasing heat.

For special occasions, I also like to mix in chopped up charred shrimp, crab or lobster. Using a carbon steel or cast iron pan makes charring the vegetables very easy.

I'm pretty certain my mom would approve. I am as certain, my grandmother would not.

The Best Egg Salad

Yield: 4

Time to prepare: 20 minutes

Ingredients

4 eggs, farm fresh, large or extra large
1/2 cup corn kernels, about 1 ear of corn
1 medium carrot, washed, peeled, ends removed, small diced
1 small yellow onion, washed, peeled, ends removed, small diced
1 small bunch Italian parsley, washed, dried, stems removed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably Best Foods
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon blended oil (70% canola oil, 30% olive oil)
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
Pinch cayenne (optional)

Directions

Put kosher salt into quart sized pot filled with water.
Place eggs into water. Put flame onto medium-high.

After water boils, leave eggs in uncovered pot 5 minutes, then turn off heat and cover for 10 minutes.

Remove cover, pour out hot salted water and fill pot with cold water. Allow eggs to cool.

Peel eggs and reserve.
Place carbon steel or cast iron pan on a high heat. When metal smokes, add blended oil and vegetables. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Cook until vegetables are charred. Remove from stove and cool.

Finely chop hardboiled eggs and place into large bowl.

Add cooled charred vegetables and mix well.
Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne (optional). Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add Italian parsley. Mix well.
Add mayonnaise. Mix well. Refrigerate.

Serve with crackers, bread or romaine leaves.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Spice Up Thanksgiving with a Side Dish Straight Out of Mexico

On Thanksgiving I like the side dishes as much as the turkey. Maybe even more. Cranberry sauce, stuffing with dried apricots, pecans and sausage with fennel, Brussels sprouts with charred onions and almonds....I'm getting hungry thinking about those delicious dishes.
And yet.

As much as I'm looking forward to the sides we have every year, I also want to bring something new to the table. A dish that fits in and yet has a new flavor, something that surprises.

For Zester Daily, I interviewed chef Keith Stich in the Red O Santa Monica kitchen, across from the Santa Monica Pier. He did a video cooking demonstration of an easy-to-make succotash that he created for Thanksgiving.
Red O Santa Monica is part of a group of restaurants in Southern California, Chicago and the east coast created by Rick Bayless who has spent his career popularizing the foods of Mexico. His restaurants serve well-prepared, quality dishes with clean, fresh flavors.
At the Red O Santa Monica restaurant, my wife and I are big fans of his menu. We especially enjoy the ceviche, which may be the best we've eaten. The squid, shrimp and fish are fresh tasting. The sauce is lime-tart and hot in just the right way. And the plantain chips are crisp and delicious. I'm getting hungry again as I think about the ceviche.
Ok, back to Thanksgiving.

As part of the Red O menu, Stich serves Mexican street corn as a side dish. If you've traveled in Mexico you've seen street vendors selling corn on the cob from their carts. Charred and covered with flaky cotija cheese and eaten either in a paper tray or on the end of a stick, the corn has a wonderful smoky, salty flavor.
Stich took the kernels off the cob to serve the corn as a side dish to go with a menu focused on seafood and steaks. For a Thanksgiving side, he combines the ideas of Mexican street corn with a fall classic, succotash. Switching out the beans that are traditionally in the dish, he added butternut squash and he included poblano chiles to amp up the latin flavors.

Helpfully, most of the recipe can be prepared the day ahead which eases the craziness of Thanksgiving day.

Please take a look at the article and video on Zester Daily. The dish is really delicious and chef Stich is fun to watch in the kitchen.

Have a great holiday.

Adding Mexican Spice to Thanksgiving Succotash

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Latin Flavors Spice Up Our Love of Corn

Piled high on tables at farmers markets and in supermarkets, sweet corn is everywhere. At the beginning of summer after a cold, dark winter, the sight of corn leads to a stampede of shoppers.
Every week we brought home bundles of corn because who can resist the fat ears with their light green husks and wispy tassels? And so, happily, we have cooked corn every which way--boiled, grilled on the BBQ and roasted in the oven. 

But now at mid-summer, we feel corn-fatigue.  We have begun to take corn for granted. We need a way to rekindle our love affair with corn.

The solution was easy. All we needed was some Latin excitement.
Elote Mexican Corn Salad
My newest favorite corn salad borrows from the flavors of Mexican street corn called elote where ears of cooked corn are skewered on sticks, flavored with grated cotija cheese and dusted with red pepper powder. I turned that street food snack into a salad, tossed with freshly chopped Italian parsley. 

The recipe is on Zester Daily, please try it and let me know what you think. I love it!


Turn Salsa into a Salad

Salsa and chips or salsa and tacos is the perfect summer light snack. Freshly made, salsa brings the best of the garden to the table. Personally, I like to use cherry tomatoes to make salsa because they have a good sweet-to-acid balance. Toss in charred or roasted corn kernels and the salsa brightens with sweetness.

Grilled Corn Salsa

Adding corn caramelized from light grilling gives this salsa its distinctive sweetness. When you buy corn from the market, look for plump kernels. Avoid ears with wrinkled or shriveled kernels. 
You can use any kind of ripe tomato you enjoy, but I prefer cherry tomatoes because they are sweet and they hold their shape after being cut up. For added color, select a basket with a mix of yellow and red cherry tomatoes.
Serves 4
Ingredients
1 ear of corn, husks and silks removed, washed
1 8-ounce basket of ripe cherry tomatoes, washed, quartered
1 large shallot, ends and skin removed, washed and roughly chopped
½ cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste (optional)
Directions
1. Preheat the grill to medium-hot.
2. Drizzle the olive oil on a large plate and season with sea salt and black pepper. Roll the ear of corn to coat. Using tongs, place the corn on the grill. Turn frequently to prevent burning. Remove the corn when all the sides have light grill marks. Let cool. Cut off the kernels and place in a large mixing bowl.
3. Use a rubber or silicone spatula to transfer the seasoned olive oil from the plate into the mixing bowl with the corn.
4. Add the quartered cherry tomatoes, shallot and parsley. Toss well and season with the cayenne. Taste and adjust the flavors with more sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and lemon juice (optional).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Summer’s Last Salad - Charred Corn and Chopped Vegetable Salad

How can summer be over? Honestly, it seems only a few weeks ago that we were in the park watching 4th of July fireworks. Now every day the sun leaves the sky earlier and earlier. 

Walking through our farmers market, the tell-tale signs that fall is closing in are everywhere. The mounds of corn at our farmers market are smaller. The tomatoes aren’t as acidic-sweet as they were last month. The peaches still look beautiful but they aren't as full of flavor with firm flesh.
In these last moments before temperatures plunge and skies cloud over, now is the time to seize the day and celebrate summer before it disappears completely.
Dylan Thomas said that we should “rage against the dying of the light” (Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night). Personally I prefer a good chopped salad to ragging against the inevitable.

Charred Corn and Chopped Vegetable Salad

Always examine the ears of corn closely before purchasing. That is always true but at the end of summer, choosing ears carefully is even more important. Ideally the husks should be green and pliant, the tassels moist and the kernels plump. Dimpled kernels are a sign the corn is losing its sweetness. A worm or two isn't a problem. The presence of a live worm says the corn is organically grown. Just cut that part of the cob off and discard.

Use whatever fresh vegetables you enjoy.

My preference is to cut the vegetables into a small dice so they are similar in size to the corn kernels.

Charring the corn adds a smoky-sweetness.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 basket or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, washed, dried, cut into eighths
2 ears fresh corn or 4 cups of kernels, husks and tassels removed, washed, dried
1 large bunch Italian parsley, washed, dried, leaves only, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, washed, peeled, stem cut off and discarded, cut into a fine dice
1 medium avocado, washed, skin and pit removed, small dice
1/3 cup green and black olives, pitted, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
1 red or yellow pepper, washed, dried (optional)
1 cup croutons, homemade preferable
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon reduced balsamic vinegar (made from 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar reduced on a low flame)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Place the ears on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Char the ears of corn either on the barbecue or in the oven. On the barbecue turn the ears frequently over medium-high eat to char but not blacken. Remove and let cool. If in the oven, preheat to 350F, place the ears on an aluminum foil or Silpat lined baking sheet and roast fifteen or twenty minutes, turning every five minutes for even cooking.

When cooled, remove the kernels from the cobs with a sharp chefs or paring knife. Place in a large mixing or salad bowl.

Reduce the balsamic vinegar over a low flame. Allow to cool.

If using a pepper, char a whole red pepper on the barbecue or over an open flame on the stove. When the skin has turned black, remove and allow to cool. Under a stream of cold water, rub off the blackened skin. Place over a bowl. Using a paring knife, remove the stem. Cut open to release and capture the oils inside the pepper. Discard the seeds. 

Finely dice the cooked pepper. Add 1/4 cup to the salad. In a sealed jar, reserve the remainder to be used in stews, soups or another salad. The cooked pepper will keep fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Add the reserved pepper oil to the salad.

Add the cut up pepper (optional), cherry tomatoes, avocado, parsley, olives, carrots and croutons to the bowl with the corn kernels. Toss well. If desired, add crumbled feta cheese.

Season the salad with olive oil, reduced balsamic, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well and serve.

Variations

Use grated cheddar or crumbled blue cheese instead of feta.

Add a chopped protein like cooked chicken breast or grilled shrimp.

Add 1 tablespoon chopped red onions or scallions.

Add 1/4 cup fresh chopped bell peppers, preferably red and yellow.

Add 10 asparagus spears, woody bottom part removed, washed, charred on the barbecue or roasted in the oven, chopped.




Monday, September 2, 2013

Don't Do This At Home! Keep Your Eye On the Barbie When the Corn's On the Grill

Cardinal sin of cooking. Put a pan on the stove or a steak on the barbie and then go answer a couple of emails. Minutes pass. The emails are sent. A link sent from The Wrap leads to a few more minutes following the latest entertainment news and gossip. More minutes pass as checks are written to pay bills due in three days.
Then....what's that scent in the air? Sweet smoke with a hint of bitterness. Oh, yeah, that's the bacon in the frying pan or the ears of corn on the grill, now burnt to a blackened crisp. Perfect for the trash and compost bin but definitely no good for the table.

First rule of cooking: use a timer.
Second rule of cooking: keep it with you.

Third rule of cooking: when it goes off, check what you are cooking.

Yesterday I was making grilled corn for one of my favorite summer salads: chopped italian parsley with grilled corn. Simple, easy-to-make and delicious, the salad is such a summer treat. The perfect kind of dish to serve with grilled meats, fish and poultry.

The ears of corn were husked, washed and dried, then dredged through seasoned olive oil and placed on the grill. Nothing could be easier. All I had to do was turn the ears every couple of minutes, take them off the grill, let them cool and remove the kernels, toss them with freshly cut parsley and season the salad with more olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar.
Easy, except I burnt the nine ears of corn.

That meant a dash back to the Sunday farmers market to pick up nine more ears from Underwood Family Farms and do it all again.

And so it goes. Use a timer. Carry it with you. Listen when it goes off. And all will be good.

Parsley and Grilled Corn Salad

Yield 4 servings
Ingredients

2 ears corn, husks and silks removed, washed, dried
1 bunch Italian parsley, washed, stems discarded, leaves finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat the grill to medium-hot or set the oven to 350F.

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil on a large plate or baking tray, season with sea salt and black pepper and dredge each ear of corn to coat.

Using tongs, place the seasoned ears of corn on the grill or on a parchment lined baking tray in the oven.

Turn every 3-5 minutes so the kernels brown but don't burn.  Remove once the some of the kernels have browned. Set aside to cool.

Using a sharp chefs knife, cut the kernels off the cobs and collect in a large mixing bowl.

Add the finely chopped Italian parsley, toss well and dress with the remaining olive oil.

Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat. Gently reduce to 1 tablespoon. Allow to cool and add to the corn and parsley mixture. Toss well.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Variations

Add 2 tablespoons raw or grilled onions.

Add 1 avocado, diced.

Add 6 quartered cherry tomatoes.

Add dusting of cayenne.

Add 2 cups cooked chicken breast or grilled shrimp.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bulk Up and Trim Down for the 4th of July: Brown Sugar Ribs and Open Faced Cheese sandwiches

For 4th of July there's always a tug of war in our house. Do we go traditional and make ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled corn on the cob, cole slaw, potato salad and apple pie? Or, should we keep an eye on calories as we watch the fireworks, serving fresh fruit, salads and lighter fare?

In the spirit of liberty and freedom, why not do both? That means brown sugar ribs, deliciously fatty, sweet and salty and open faced melted cheese sandwiches with shrimp for a lighter but no less finger-licking-food entree with  tossed arugula and homemade crouton salad and end of the season sautéed asparagus for greens.

And, because the farmers market is filled with delicious berries and fruit, for dessert have a fresh fruit salad with blue berries, freshly picked strawberries, ripe yellow peaches and dark purple pluots.

The good news, none of these dishes take much time to prepare and they all work beautifully in the backyard or packed in a picnic basket.

Open Faced Cheese Sandwiches with Grilled Shrimp

Serves 4
Ingredients:

2 large slices of white or whole wheat French bread or 4 smaller slices of bread/person
16 medium, raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, washed and pat dried
1/2 pound white cheese (Comte, cheddar or Monterey Jack), thin sliced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mustard (deli, dijon or brown) (optional)
Sesame seeds, roasted (optional)
2 tablespoons scallions, white and yellow parts, thin sliced (optional)

Directions:

Heat a bbq grill. Toss the shrimp in the olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Grill evenly one minute on both sides to get light charring. Remove.

Lightly toast the bread. I prefer thin slices so the cheese and shrimp predominate. Line up the slices and prepare them assembly line style. If you like mustard, spread a thin layer on the bottom of each toast, topped with 2-4 shrimp, depending on the size of the slice.

Lay thin sheets of cheese over the shrimp and for added flavor sprinkle sesame seeds and/or scallions on top.

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350 F degrees. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil or a silpat sheet on the bottom of a cookie sheet. Place the open-faced sandwiches on top. Place into the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

For a beautiful crusty finish, raise the temperature of the oven to broil and cook until the cheese lightly bubbles and browns. Be careful not to burn.

Remove from the oven and serve.  If transporting to a picnic, let cool on a wire rack, pack in an airtight container with sheets of waxed paper between layers. Do not refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.

Variations:

Instead of mustard use remoulade sauce or mayonnaise

Dust the shrimp with cayenne for added heat

After the shrimp are grilled, toss with 1 tablespoon finely chopped mango chutney

Brown Sugar Pork Ribs


The cooked ribs can be kept in the refrigerator covered 2-3 days or frozen in an air-tight freezer bag.

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

1 3-pound rack, pork ribs, washed, pat dried
2-3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Olive oil
Black pepper
6 ounces Italian tomato paste
1 small yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped

Directions

Trim excess fat, the membrane, and flap from the ribs. Caprial Pence the owner-chef of Caprial's Bistro in Portland, Oregon shows how to prep the ribs with easy-to-follow photographs. Reserve the flap, trimmed of its membrane, to grill for tacos.

Spread a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter 5” larger than the rack. Dust the meat side of the ribs with the cumin.

Mix together the brown sugar, cayenne and kosher salt. Spread half the dry mix on the plastic wrap. Lay the ribs on top, then spread the remainder of the dry mix to cover. Place a second piece of plastic wrap over the ribs, seal, fold in half and place into a Ziploc or plastic bag. Place in a pan overnight in the refrigerator.

In the morning remove the ribs. The dry mix will have transformed into a slurry. Very alchemical! 

In a sauce pan sauté the onions and garlic with olive oil until lightly browned, season with pepper. Remove the ribs from the plastic bag. Capture the liquid from the plastic bag and transfer to the sauce pan. Add the tomato paste and simmer the sauce on a low flame for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavor as necessary.

Line a large baking tray with tin foil. Place a wire rack on top of the baking tray and lay the ribs on the rack. The ribs can either be cooked in a 350 degree oven or on the “cold” side of a covered grill with the heat on high.

Whether on the grill or in the oven, cook the ribs 30 minutes, turn them over, cook another 30 minutes and turn over again. If the ribs are tender, then baste the ribs with the sauce and cook another 30 minutes on each side or until the meat is tender. 

Remove from the oven, cut apart the individual ribs, and serve.




Saturday, November 5, 2011

Corn Soup for the End of Summer and Start of Fall

This is my second corn recipe in as many posts. Knowing that corn is about to go out of season makes me want it all the more. 
The recipe for corn soup I wrote for Zester Daily has been picked up by Yahoo's food site, Shine. I'm very happy the word is getting out about a soup I think is easy to make and delicious. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Corn on the Cob Gets Dressed Up For Dinner

We celebrate summer with grilled meats and boiled corn, the golden ears arriving at the table, resting in silky pools of melted butter, ready for a dusting of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
Many people hunger so much for corn they eat it every chance they can to such an extent that, sooner or later, familiarity breeds disinterest and even a little disdain. 

Where it seemed so celebratory at the beginning of summer, by August they turn away when a platter of corn is placed on the table. 

That's pretty much the way it's been for me.

On my last trip to our local farmers market, I hadn't planned on buying corn until I noticed that very few farmers were selling corn and those that were had very little to sell. Arriving late, the corn was almost sold out. 

Talking with a farmer, I learned that local corn will disappear from the market in a couple of weeks. After that, no more corn until the spring.

I bought half a dozen ears, deciding we should have a farewell to corn dinner. Preparing the ears by grilling or boiling would still be great, but I wanted to do something different. 

At Cuban restaurants in New York, corn on the cob is served with butter, mayonnaise and grated cheese. The sweet chewy corn kernels benefit from those added flavors.

I liked the idea of a topping on the corn but decided on a different direction. 

Corn on the Cob with Garlic-Onion Crisps
Serves 4

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 ears corn, husks and silks removed, washed and dried
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, ends and skin removed, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, left whole or finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Directions
The corn can either be grilled or boiled. To grill, lightly drizzle each ear with a small amount of olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill and turn frequently until lightly browned.  If boiled, place the ears of corn in a large pot of water, turn the heat on high, turn the corn frequently and remove when the water boils. Keep warm.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan. On a medium high flame, sauté the onions, garlic and parsley until lightly browned and crispy.

Cut the corn into 2" long sections, place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the onion-garlic-parsley crisps over the corn and serve.

Variations

Add heat to the sauté with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder.

After topping the corn with the sauté, dust the corn with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lots of Veggies and a Little Meat

I like meat. Give me a thick ribeye steak with sauteed onions and roasted fingerling potatoes, a simple arugula salad with a reduced balsamic vinaigrette and I'm a happy camper.

Even when I crave a big plate of veggies, I still want some meat. A bit of sausage and chicken on the bone adds flavor and some comfort-food "stickiness" that is oh so very satisfying.

Sauteed vegetables, added to a braise of chicken thighs, wings or legs, is an easy to make meal that's totally satisfying. Some Italian sausage or something spicier like chorizo is frosting on the cake, as it were.

Get some help cleaning and peeling the veggies and it's 30-45 minutes start to finish.

Sauteed Vegetables and Chicken on the Bone

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients

8 chicken wings, washed
4 chicken thighs, washed
4 chicken legs, washed
4 carrots, washed, trimmed, peeled, cut into rounds
1 medium yellow onion, trimmed, peeled, washed, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
2 ears corn, kernels removed
1 medium sized broccoli crown, washed, end trimmed, stem peeled and julienned, florets quartered
2 Italian sausages, washed, grilled or roasted
1/2 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Use two pans. In one put a tablespoon of olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper. Saute until lightly browned, turning frequently. Add 3 cups water and raise the flame to high. Lightly cover with a piece of aluminum foil but do not seal.

Cook for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquid. If need be, add water, a 1/4 cup at a time.

At the same time, get the veggies going in the second pan. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Add the veggies and saute for 10 minutes.

The braising liquid should be greatly reduced to about 1 cup. The chicken should be close to falling off the bone.  If not, cook another 5-10 minutes.

Using a silicone spatula, transfer the veggies and their liquid into the pan with the chicken. Add 3 cups of water for a second braise. Stir well.

Reduce the flame to medium. Lightly cover with a piece of aluminum foil and, again, do not seal.  Simmer 10 minutes, checking the broccoli and carrots, making sure they don't over cook.

Serve in large soup bowls because there will be sauce.

Variations

Add 1 tablespoon sweet butter to the second braise.

Omit the sausage.

Substitute chorizo or another sausage for the Italian sausage.

Substitute 3 pieces finely chopped bacon instead of the sausage.

Add 1/2 pound cooked pasta to the second braise.

Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the veggie saute for heat.

Add 3 cups washed, roughly chopped spinach to the second braise.

Add 6 shiitake mushrooms, washed, finely sliced to the veggie saute.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Labor Day Meal: Salmon with a Citrus Glaze Tangos with Mango Salsa

On holidays like Labor Day, the best dishes to serve friends and family are the ones that take very little effort to prepare.  That way you can spend your time enjoying the day not laboring in a hot kitchen.

Versatile salmon can be grilled, sauteed, baked, and braised. More often than not the preferred approach is to simply grill the fish--whole or filleted--with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, the Italian way. But there are times when a little more seasoning accents salmon's natural flavors.

Spanish style preparations saute the fish with fresh tomatoes, pitted olives, peppers, onions, and parsley. American barbecue relies on sweet-heat. Another approach, one borrowing from South American and Caribbean recipes, marries citrus with honey and garlic in a simple sauce.

Serve the roasted fish with a side of reserved pan drippings and a mango-grilled corn salsa and you'll have the perfect summer meal to be enjoyed with a glass of chardonnay or an ice cold beer.

Mango Salsa

Make the salsa ahead and keep refrigerated in a sealed container

Serves 4

Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 ear corn, husks and silks removed, washed
1 large mango, washed, skin removed, meat cut into small pieces, pit discarded
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, skin on, charred in an open flame
1 tablespoon olive or safflower oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method

Grill or oven roast the corn in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool and remove the kernels. Discard the cob. Clean off the charred skin from the garlic, finely chop, add to a bowl with the corn kernels, mango, onion, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss well. Taste and season with sea salt and pepper.

Roast Salmon with a Citrus Glaze

Buy a fillet that has skin but not bones for easy serving.  The fresher, the better.

Serves 4

Time 45-60 minutes

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet with skin on, washed, pat dried
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 garlic clove, skin removed, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes or cayenne
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped


Method

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cutting across the fillet, score deeply into the flesh about half way. Place the salmon on a Silpat or other non-stick material like parchment paper placed on a rimmed baking sheet.

Mix together the juices, honey, garlic, olive oil, cayenne, and parsley until the honey is well dissolved. Pour over the fillet.  Roast in the oven 30 minutes.  Remove and clean away and discard any pink solids.

Raise the temperature of the oven to 500 F. Baste the fillet with the pan drippings. Return the salmon to the oven and cook another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, baste, bake another 5 minutes being careful to brown but not burn the skin.

Transfer the salmon to a serving plate. Use a rubber spatula to collect all the pan drippings and place in a small bowl.

Serve the salmon with the pan drippings, mango salsa, and a green salad or freshly steamed rice.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Easiest Pasta You’ll Ever Make Using Grilled Corn and Roasted Garlic


On a recent trip to Sonoma County, my wife and I wandered from the coast to the inland farmland to eat our way across one of America's most productive valleys. We were lucky enough to have some wonderful meals. We especially enjoyed chef Josh Silvers' 
We loved his roasted garlic-butter sauce on his grilled corn, I was inspired to write a recipe that adapted that flavor combination with pasta.  I posted the recipe on Zesterdaily.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Egg Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Crisp Bacon


I keep connecting with an early childhood memory about summer days at the beach.

To get to the beach we'd drive a long time in our hot car and coming home, I was always sunburned, with gritty sand in my swimsuit.  The travel part wasn't what I liked, but the picnic lunch my mom packed sure was.

Fried chicken, potato salad, biscuits with butter and honey, watermelon slices, and egg salad.

My dad rarely came with us so usually my mom had a friend along for company while my sister and I splashed in the water, determined to annoy one another as much as possible.  After awhile we'd get tired. Then it was time to eat.

We'd load up paper plates and settle down on the sand watching the older kids body surf.  We didn't talk much but we'd share the moment enjoying our mom's food.

I don't know why but it's the egg salad I most remember.  Hers was a pretty straightforward affair.  Hardboiled eggs, some red onion, mayonnaise, a little salt and pepper.  Sometimes she'd add capers if she wanted to get all fancy.

I don't get down to the beach much these days, but when I travel and know I have to endure the long lines at security, a cramped airplane cabin, and no food service, I bring along a couple of egg salad sandwiches. Nothing is more comforting at 30,000 feet.

Egg Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Crisp Bacon

Starting with my mom's basic recipe, I've added grilled vegetables and freshly chopped parsley for color and flavor. Crisp bacon bits makes the egg salad really good. The bacon strips can be cooked first but better is to mince the raw bacon and saute the bits. That way, each bacon bit is nicely browned and holds a uniform shape.


Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

4 farmers' market fresh large or extra large eggs
1 large carrot, washed, ends trimmed, peeled
1 ear of corn, tassels and husk removed, washed
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, washed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, finely chopped
2 strips of bacon, finely chopped, sauteed until crisp, drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots or scallion
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

I like to put the eggs into a pot of cold water, turn the flame to medium-high, and cook them for 30 minutes. Many people say that's way too long but it works for me. The yolks come out flaky, the whites dense. Rinse with cold water, take off the shells, and roughly chop.

Slice the carrot into flat slabs about 1/4" thick and 3" long.  Toss in olive oil seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.  Do the same with the ear of corn.  Grill until lightly browned all over or oven roast in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn frequently to avoid burning. Let cool.  Finely chop the carrots. Remove the kernels from the cobs.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped eggs, carrots, corn kernels, parsley, shallots, and crisp bacon bits. Toss. Season with sea salt and black pepper.  Add the mayonnaise and mix well.

Serve on bread, crackers, or lettuce leaves.

Variations

Add 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, finely chopped

Omit the bacon

Add 1/4 cup finely chopped, pitted olives

Roast 2 garlic cloves, tossed in olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper until lightly browned, peel off the skins, finely chop the soft garlic and add to the egg salad

Add a dash of tabasco or a dusting of cayenne pepper for heat

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grill, Baby, Grill: An Easy Summer Pasta with Grilled Corn and Black Kale

Now that corn has reappeared in the farmers' markets, it's time to grill, baby, grill.

Boiled corn slathered with sweet butter and seasoned with sea salt and pepper is delicious.  So too is grilled corn where olive oil replaces butter.  Lightly browned, the kernels caramelize, adding sweetness and the hint of smoke.

Make extra, so the kernels can be removed and used in green salads, salsas, and--my favorite--pastas.

Tuscan or black kale is widely available in the farmers' markets in large, inexpensive bunches.

Adding in mushrooms, onions, garlic, a pat of butter and you're ready to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner that needs little more than a simple romaine or arugula salad, a glass of wine or an ice cold beer, and you'll have a memorable meal with no more effort and time than it would take to order take out.

Pasta with Grilled Corn and Black Kale

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 ears of corn, husk and silks removed, washed
2 links, Italian sausage, washed (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, washed, skin removed, root end and top cut off and discarded, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/2 pound shiitake or brown mushrooms, washed, dried, sliced
1 bunch Tuscan or black kale, washed, center stem removed, leaves roughly chopped1/2 box DeCecco pasta, gnocchi, penne, spaghetti, or bowties
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 cup pasta water
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Method

If a grill is not available, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the olive oil on a flat plate. Season with sea salt and pepper.  Roll the corn through the seasoned oil to coat.  Put on the grill or into the oven, turning every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Do the same with the Italian sausage.  Roll in the seasoned olive oil and grill or roast.  For vegetarians, don't bother with the sausage.

While the corn and sausage are cooking, put a large pot of water on a high flame, seasoned with 2 tablespoons of kosher or sea salt.  Don't use ordinary table salt which has a metallic flavor.

While the pasta water is heating, saute the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and kale until softened.  If you want the kale more pliable, add 1/4 cup of water and braise for 5 minutes on a medium-high flame.

Put the pasta into the boiling water and stir every couple of minutes to prevent sticking.  Use the whole box if you want more pasta.

Cut the kernels off the corn and discard the cobs.  Finely chop or cut into rounds the Italian sausage. Add to the kale, together with the sweet butter.  Toss well.

Taste the pasta.  Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Put the pasta back in the still warm pot, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Set aside.

Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the vegetables and sausage.  Stir well and taste.  Adjust seasoning as desired.  If more sauce is desired, add a little more of the pasta water.

Pour the cooked pasta into the saute, toss well, adding another 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Serve in a large bowl, accompanied with freshly grated cheese.

Variations

Grill or roast a red pepper, discard the seeds and skin, finely chop, add 1/4 cup to the saute.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped, pitted green olives to the saute.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Feast Fit for a Son -- Pasta with Clams, Corn, and Smoked Sausage

Recently our older son, Frank, stopped by for lunch. Now that he has moved across town and works long hours, we don't see him often enough. It was great to share a meal and catch up.

The day was sunny and warm so we had lunch on the deck. Everything was quick and easy-to-make: a big bowl of cracked green olives, romaine lettuce with avocado and homemade croutons, grilled fillet mignon, and dessert of ice cold Valencia orange slices. The main course was something special: pasta, fresh clams, corn, and smoked sausage in a butter sauce.

Pasta with Clams, Corn, and Smoked Sausage

Finding fresh clams isn't all that easy. Luckily for us Carlsbad Aquafarm sells their shellfish at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market Wednesdays and Saturdays. The corn came from a local farmer at the Palisades Farmer's Market. The smoked sausage was a treat picked up at a Russian market in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach.

Yield 4 servings
Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

4 pounds live clams, washed
1 pound smoked sausage, finely chopped
2 ears corn, husks, silks, and kernels removed
4 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onions, leeks, or shallots
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, mostly leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sweet butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound pasta
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Put the clams in a pot with 1/4 cup water, cover, and cook on high heat 5 minutes. Remove and set aside all the clams that have opened. Return the pot to the heat and boil another 5 minutes. Continue until all the clams have opened. After a total of 15 minutes, discard any clams that haven't opened.

Reserve all the clam liquid, between 1-2 cups.

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta. Save 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the cooked pasta to the pot, drizzle with olive oil, toss and set aside.

In a large frying or chef's pan, saute the sausage, corn, garlic, onions, and parsley in olive oil, seasoned with black pepper until lightly browned. Use 1/2 cup of the pasta water to deglaze the pan. Add the sweet butter and clam broth, stir, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the cooked clams and pasta. Toss with the sauce and simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Stir frequently to coat the clams and pasta with the sauce.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper. If more liquid is needed, use the remaining pasta water.

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Grilled Corn Salads

Luckily there's still great corn available in the farmers' markets although some farmers have run out.

Summer for me is defined by vegetables: great tomatoes, corn, melons... Our favorite way of preparing corn is simply grilling the ears on the grill with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Eaten on the cob is so delicious but added to salads is also a great way to go.

I posted 2 recipes on Mark Bittman's site, Bitten. One combines the grilled corn with parsley, the other features tomatoes. They're easy to make and go with just about anything. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A 4th of July Picnic, the Perfect Time for Salads and Ribs

We've lived in Pacific Palisades for many years, treasuring its small town qualities as a respite from the congestion of the Los Angeles megalopolis. The 4th of July brings out the best in our community. We celebrate Independence Day by getting together with our neighbors, family, and friends. The celebrations begin in the morning with the 5k/10k run, the parade down Sunset at mid-day, an early evening picnic, and conclude with the night-time fireworks at the high school.

To prepare for the picnic, we shop at the local farmers' market, buying as many fresh vegetables and fruits as we can carry. On the 4th we spend the day cooking for the pot-luck picnic we organize with a dozen of our friends. So we'll have a good spot to watch the fireworks, we meet at 6:30pm at the park opposite the high school. We look forward to the picnic because we can catch up with our friends. Even though the picnic is pot-luck, we make extra just in case... Some of our friends who like to cook bring their specialties, like Lesli's mixed berries, while others make a run to Bay Cities or Gelson's and bring containers of deli treats and rich desserts.

By 9:00pm cars are double-parked on both sides of the street and people have crowded into the park, taking up every square inch of space. Everyone is ready for the fireworks to begin and yet...the sky is not yet completely, definitively dark. In the cool night air we bundle up and pull closer together. Only when all traces of the departing sun have been drained from the sky will the fireworks begin.

And when they do, they are a treat. From the first high-streaking skyrocket that bursts into a hundred points of light to the last crescendo of a dozen overlapping explosions, the crowd oohs and aahs. With the last firework dying in the sky, we get up slowly, feeling the dampness of the ground, hug and kiss our friends goodbye, and make our way back to our cars through the haze of gunpowder smoke still hanging in the air.

4th of July Picnic

In our experience salads work well at the picnic: beet salad, carrot salad, potato salad, egg salad, and corn salad. Finger food is good too: bread & butter pickles, salt-boiled corn on the cob and grilled artichokes. This year we'll also contribute a platter of deliciously salty and sweet Brown Sugar Ribs.

Brown Sugar Pork Ribs

Yield 4 servings
Time Prep (20 minutes) Marinate (overnight) Cook (2 hours)

Ingredients

1 rack of pork ribs
1 pound brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Olive oil
Pepper
6 ounces Italian tomato paste
1 small yellow onion (peeled, finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (peeled, finely chopped)

Method

Trim excess fat, the membrane, and flap from the ribs. (Caprial Pence the owner-chef of Caprial's Bistro in Portland, Oregon and a fellow contributor to Eat Drink or Die shows how to prep the ribs with easy-to-follow photographs.) Reserve the flap, trimmed of its membrane, to grill for tacos.

Spread a piece of plastic wrap on the counter 5” longer than the rack. Dust the meat side of the ribs with the cayenne. Mix together the brown sugar and kosher salt. Spread half the dry mix on the plastic wrap. Lay the ribs on top, then cover with the rest of the dry mix. Cover with a second piece of plastic wrap, seal, fold in half and place into a Ziploc or plastic bag. Refrigerate in a pan overnight.

In the morning remove the ribs. The dry mix will have transformed into a slurry. Very alchemical! In a sauce pan sauté the onions and garlic with olive oil until lightly browned, season with pepper. Remove the ribs from the plastic bag. Use a rubber spatula to remove most of the liquid from the ribs and plastic bag and transfer to the sauce pan. Add the tomato paste and simmer the sauce on a low flame for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavor if necessary.

Line a large baking tray with tin foil. Place a wire rack on top of the baking tray, then lay the ribs on the rack. The ribs can either be cooked in a 350 degree oven or on the “cold” side of a covered grill with the heat on high. Cook the ribs 30 minutes on each side, then baste the ribs with the sauce another 30 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from the oven, cut apart the individual ribs, and serve.