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Monday, June 30, 2014

Grill Friends

As we head into the peak summer grilling months, let's talk sides. So there's potato salad, of course.   Cole slaw...natch.  Baked beans, for sure.  And then, maybe corn-on-the-cob or a green-salad-that's-sure-to-be-ignored.

Sure there's all, or some of the above, and you could go all traditional and do the corn-on-the-cob thing, but that's because you don't yet know about corn pudding.  Yes, pudding.  Now, I never met a pudding I didn't like...sweet, paraphrase Cookie Monster, me LOVE pudding!

I became obsessed with corn pudding in particular after having it at regularly at our favorite rib joint, Redbones, in Somerville, Massachusetts.  I had never known of corn pudding, or, savory puddings in general, I guess, and their corn pudding was a revelation.   Beautifully souffle-like, yet wonderfully cheesy, with a kick of jalapeño.  Corn pudding perfection.  So, I searched high and low for a way to replicate it, as a Thanksgiving side dish actually, but the recipes I tried never made the cut.  Then, last summer, my beloved Food52 delivered the goods, with a pudding that is pitch perfect.  Airy and light, and packed with flavor, it's a winner.

So, with the Fourth coming up and summer corn at its peak...I'm thinking it's the perfect time to bust some new moves on the same old bbq sides.  Corn pudding.  Who knew? Now, you do.

My only adjustment to Lizthechef's recipe is the addition of minced jalapeño, or a couple shakes of it an homage to the good old Redbones version I adored.

Spicy Corn Pudding
adapted from Lizthechef via Food52  
(serves 4)

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
4 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar + 2 tablespoons for topping
couple fat pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large fresh basil leaves

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the corn, scallions, and jalapeño and sauté for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly; add flour, honey, milk, salt and pepper.

4.  Add corn-scallion-jalapeno mixture to the bowl + 1/3 cup of the grated cheese.  Mix well.

5.  Roll basil leaves into a cigar shape and slice into thin chiffonade.  Add to the corn mixture and stir.

6.  Pour mixture into a buttered glass or ceramic pie plate or a square baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of cheddar.

7.  Bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Pudding must rest for 15 minutes after coming out of the oven.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Taste of Spring

Enough already.  
That's the steady refrain from all my friends and relations who live on the East Coast or in the Midwest and can't stand the thought of any more snow.  Everyone is very done with winter.

And I've heard more than one person tell me they just can't make any more soup.

There's a desperation in the air, so I will refrain from commenting on the genius of choosing to live in California and simply pass along this little taste of spring.  An asparagus recipe that's a harbinger of springtime, yet still hearty enough to eat on those remaining chilly days as winter takes its own sweet time heading out.

Apologies for the sad state of and lack of photographs.  We have a furry, little distraction that's arrived on the scene.

On to the asparagus.  This comes from the Food52 cookbook and it is called Absurdly Addictive Asparagus.  I can't quite say whether it is truly Absurdly Addictive, but I will say it's damned good.

I love asparagus, but prefer it roasted, grilled or in this case sautéed.   Pancetta and leeks give you that heartiness and the addition of toasted pine nuts is genius--just the right amount of crunch.  The fresh zing of lemon and orange zest will make you think of daffodils and sunshine.   It's the perfect thing for dinner, maybe even topped with a poached egg, whether your spring is a lion, or a lamb.

Absurdly Addictive Asparagus
Adapted from The Food52 Cookbook (by kaykay)

4 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice (I stacked some pre-sliced La Quercia pancetta)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed, sliced into 2-inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
sprinkling of chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1.  In a large nonstick pan, saute the pancetta over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fat renders and pancetta is crisp and lightly golden.

2.  Add the butter to the pan, followed by the asparagus and leeks and saute utnil the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.

3.  Add the garlic, lemon and orange zests, pine nuts and parsley and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.   Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serves 4, but it halved nicely for two of us.