Tag Archives: recipes

Esquites – Mexican Corn Salad

I’m kind of agnostic on fresh corn. It’s good and I’ll eat and like it if someone serves it to me, but I’m rarely moved to do anything with it myself. Plus, I get sick of flossing after a cob. So when I found this recipe on the food blog Serious Eats, I wasn’t hugely hopeful. I just thought it might make a good side with grilled meats. Then I made a test batch and we decimated the bowl.

When you make this, you might be tempted to up the spicy elements. Try to resist the first time – you don’t want the spiciness to overshadow the fresh and sweet flavors at play. And be very sparing with the salt – you get a nice punch from the cheese.

2 T vegetable oil
4 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)
pinch salt
2 T mayonnaise
2 oz (50 g) feta or cotija cheese, crumbled
1/2 c finely sliced green onions
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
1 medium clove garlic, pressed
juice of 1 fresh lime
pinch chili powder

In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add corn kernels (careful – they’ll probably pop and splatter) and stir until well distributed, then allow to cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes. When you stir, the bottoms of the kernels should appear browned and caramelized. Add salt and cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and browning corn on all sides without burning. Remove corn from heat and allow to cool completely.

After cooling, add remaining ingredients, stir well and enjoy!

Wild Rice & Broccoli Salad

We finally got a grill! And we know how to use it and how to make most of the meaty deliciousness we plan on cooking with it.

So…um, now what? We need accompaniments to the meat explosion. Nice, vegetabley salads are the next hurdle. We generally don’t do salads that need to chill, due to lack of fridge space, but they go so well with grill fare that we might need to clear out some room. This recipe (original is here – measurements are my own) was the side to our inaugural grill usage and we ate it – and enjoyed it – the same day. However, Cliff took the leftover for lunch the following day and said it tasted quite a bit better after the flavors had time to mingle. If you can plan ahead, make it the day before you plan on eating it.

And feel free to tinker with the measurements. I certainly did.

1/2 lb (250 g) wild rice, dry
raw broccoli, 1 lb (500 g) head, cut into florets
3 oz (80 g) goat cheese, crumbled or diced
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1-2 t honey
1 clove garlic, pressed
fresh rosemary

Cook rice, according to package directions, and allow to cool completely. Mix cooled rice, broccoli florets and goat cheese in a large bowl. Whisk together lemon zest, juice, honey, garlic and rosemary and toss with rice mixture. Chill (at least 4 hours, preferably overnight) and serve.

Pecan Pie

PC291395Pecans are not the easiest thing to find here. Most of the ones you find are smoked or salted or candied or something and not suitable for pie-making. Sarah did find them once at Aldi, but we’ve been prepared this time, somewhat, by importing a few pounds thanks to our Costco-membership-having friends and family on our last U.S. visit.

So, armed with those, we tried out a pecan pie. We took this recipe from epicurious.com used it mostly as-is, with the exception of the orange peel. It seemed dumb to me to only use one half-teaspoon of zest, so we put in the zest of a whole orange. That tasted great. Also, we backed off on the corn syrup somewhat (versus the original recipe), and I think we could have backed off even more.

Here’s what you need:

3/4 stick (75g) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (262g) packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (150ml) light corn syrup
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest from one orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound or 227g)

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) with a baking sheet on middle rack.

Get yer pie crust into a 10-inch pie plate. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes). Our all-natural walk-in fridge (the little room between the hallway and our apartment) is ideal for this, but only some months of the year.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt. Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk the corn syrup mixture into that.

PC291394Dump the pecans into the pie shell and pour the corn syrup mixture evenly over them. Our pie plate was pretty deep, so we didn’t need to worry about syrupy eggy spill-over, but the original suggests baking on a hot baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely (go with the walk-in fridge again) — overnight is probably best.

Lemon Bars

We’ve never been able to make a really good lemon bar. Maybe that’s not exactly right – we’ve never made a lemon bar that we’ve thought was perfect. Either the lemon mixture wouldn’t gel, or they were impossible to remove from the pan, or there was almost no lemon flavor, and so on. And we were following the directions to the tee, so we couldn’t understand what was wrong.

So I stopped following the directions and started tweaking.

I got this recipe from epicurious, but I’ll post what I did below.

Shortbread Crust Ingredients
3/4 c (164 g) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces
2 c (276 g) flour
1/2 c (105 g) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Put all ingredients in a food processor and run on medium until mixture begins to form small, pea-sized lumps. Pour mixture into 9×13 baking dish and press evenly onto bottom (a metal spatula is good for this – don’t use your hands! It’ll melt the butter and throw off the texture of the shortbread). Bake shortbread on middle rack for 20 minutes and prepare the lemon mixture.

Lemon Curd Topping
4 large eggs
1 c (210 g) sugar
3/4 c (177 ml) lemon juice
1 T lemon zest (2 large lemons)
1/3 c (104 g) flour

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Add lemon juice, zest and flour and stir until just combined. Pour over hot shortbread base and carefully return pan to oven, turning temperature down to 300°F (149°C). Bake for 30 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Allow to cool completely (preferably overnight), then dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Chicken Salad Wraps

I love wrap sandwiches. When we’re anywhere with a Marks & Spencer food hall, I live on the things (mostly because those happen to be in England and it’s hella expensive there). So I wanted to try making my own. Here’s my first iteration – we enjoyed the results!

Salad
1 lb cooled poached chicken, chopped or shredded
2 large heads romaine lettuce, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/3 c)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

Dressing
1/2 c olive oil
1/3 c lime juice (I used red wine vinegar instead)
2 small cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chile powder

Large tortillas or lahvosh bread

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together dressing and toss with salad. Spread desired toppings in a thin layer on a tortilla (sour cream, cheese, sliced avocado, etc.) and top with salad. This should be enough for 6 large wraps.

Oven Fries

I’ve been trying to get these right for a long time. After combining elements from several different recipes, I think I’ve finally hit on a winner. This recipe will probably make enough for four adult portions.

1 1/2 lbs medium potatoes – mealy or waxy, I don’t think it matters. Use what you like.
3 T olive oil
1/2 t coarse salt
1/2 t pepper

1. Preheat oven to 500°F. If your oven doesn’t get up that high, turn it as high as it will go. Seriously, do the preheat, because you want the oven ready as soon as you’re done dealing with the potatoes. Use a baking sheet with low sides (if the sides are too high, the fries with just steam; no sides and you’ll have an oily mess all over your oven). Line the baking sheet with heavy foil, shiny side up, and put it in the oven while preheating.

2. After washing and allowing the potatoes to dry, slice them into fries (peel the potatoes if you want to – I don’t). You want them to be roughly the same length and not much thicker than 1/3 inch. Toss the fries with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Take the baking sheet out of the hot oven and arrange fries, cut side down, in a single layer (they will sizzle upon hitting the pan).

3. Turn the oven down to 450°F and bake the fries for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, take them out and carefully turn them with a pair of tongs (they will probably stick a little), then bake for another 5-10 minutes on the other side.

4. After baking, toss the fries with more salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.

Note from Cliff on 2010-11-07: Use parchment paper instead of foil as the layer separating the taters from the cookie sheet and they won’t stick or otherwise make a mess when it’s time to flip/serve them.

Roasted Red Pepper & Orzo Soup

While between jobs in Detroit, I worked for a few months at a place that served only soup – pretty good soup, too. They had one that, after I had decided it was my favorite, they quickly discontinued. With some help from this recipe, I hit on a pretty good replica.

6 red bell peppers
2 T butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 small can tomato paste
2 t sweet paprika
5 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 c orzo
3 T heavy cream

1. Preheat broiler, position rack about 4 inches under element and line cookie sheet (use one with sides!) with foil. Cut the peppers into quarters and remove seeds and ribs. Place peppers on the cookie sheet skin side up. Roast the peppers for 15-20 minutes, until skins are mostly blackened. Using tongs, place peppers in a large ziploc (also, pour in any juices collected on the foil) to steam and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove peppers, peel blackened skins and chop coarsely.

2. In a deep soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent. Add rosemary, tomato paste and paprika, stirring until tomato paste is well distributed. Add peppers and chicken stock, bring it all to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Remove rosemary from the soup. Using a stick blender, process soup until fairly smooth and no large pieces remain. Add one cup of hot water to soup, stir well and bring back to boil. When boiling, add orzo and cook according to package directions. After orzo is cooked, turn down heat and stir in cream. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Garlic Bread

Our Netto practically across the street from us has closed with very little warning (about a week). This is bad news; it means the only grocery store on the island is the Biomarkt next to the Netto. Not that the Biomarkt itself is inherently bad, but the selection is not terribly good and everything there is expensive. One of the things we won’t be able to just stop in and pick up at Netto anymore is frozen bake-it-yourself garlic bread.

But then I found this recipe — and maybe that’s a silver lining. This is fast, easy, cheap, and most importantly, tasty.

1 baguette
5 T (62g) butter, softened
2 t olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 t oregano
salt and pepper to taste
a little shredded cheese (we like fluffy parmesan)

Cut the baguette in half the long way, splitting it open. Cut the halves into serving-sized pieces. In a small bowl, mix butter, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread slices. On a medium baking sheet, arrange the slices evenly and broil a few minutes, until slightly brown. Check frequently so they do not burn. Remove from broiler. Top with cheese and return to broiler another minute or two, until cheese is slightly brown and melted. Serve at once.

Sausage Gravy

Well, we have a good biscuit recipe. Isn’t this the next logical step? This is not by any stretch of the imagination diet friendly, but it’s absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s enough work that you won’t want to make it that often.

1/2 lb bulk pork sausage, crumbled (or make your own!)
2 T flour
1 1/2 c weak beef broth
1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 t sage
1/2 t black pepper
pinch ground cloves

In a deep skillet over medium heat, brown sausage, breaking up with back of spatula while cooking. Drain off fat except for one tablespoon and stir flour into meat until no lumps remain, then add beef broth, stirring frequently until liquid comes to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and add cream in a slow stream while stirring. Add sage, pepper and cloves and stir constantly until mixture thickens and just begins to boil – gravy should well coat the back of spoon. Remove from heat and serve immediately.