Saturday, August 29, 2009

Corn! Part 2

Here's a really fabulous recipe for these last few weeks of summer. It combines seafood, corn and a little spice, is easy to put together, and pretty much constitutes a full meal on its own, though you could make a tomato or green salad alongside it. And then you're set: a summery, (reasonably) healthy, easy, seasonal dish that--bonus!--looks pretty on the plate, too. (And you don't need a grill to make it; I used a cast-iron grill pan and it worked marvelously.)

To make Grilled Scallops with Mexican Corn Salad, you start by grilling ears of corn, letting the kernels get charred in places and a little blistery in others. Once they're done and cool enough to handle, you cut the kernels off the cob, and mix them with a light dressing of garlic, red onion, lime juice, mayonnaise (I said this dish was reasonably healthy) and chile powder. You can add cotija or ricotta salata cheese, though I skipped it, since I thought the mayo would lend the dish enough creaminess (which it did--for our taste, anyway).

Corn salad done, you grill sea scallops, which takes all of six or so minutes, and lay them atop the corn. Squirt a little lime juice on top, and voila! The corn salad has a fantastic kick (I did add a touch of hot sauce in addition to the chile powder), and a little heft from the mayo. The kernels of corn are the perfect springy contrast to the tender scallops. Fork and I ate every last bite of this terrific meal on a recent weeknight, alongside a green salad, and then enjoyed some watermelon sorbet for dessert. Ah, summer!--S

Grilled Scallops with Mexican Corn Salad

serves 4

1 garlic clove, minced
1 T minced red onion
2 T fresh lime juice
8 small ears of corn, husked
Vegetable oil, for brushing
1/3 c mayonnaise
1 t pure ancho chile powder
4 oz cotija or ricotta salata cheese, crumbled (1 1/4 c)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Hot sauce
12 large sea scallops
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the garlic and onion with the lime juice and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Brush the corn with oil and grill over moderate heat until charred and just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and cut the kernels off the cobs.
3. Whisk the mayonnaise and chile powder into the garlic, onion and lime juice. Add the cheese and corn to the bowl and toss. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
4. Brush the scallops with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until nicely browned and barely cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Spoon the corn salad onto 4 plates and top with the scallops. Serve with lime wedges.

Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


'Tis the season. For corn, that is. I know corn gets such a bad rap these days, but I am still in love with fresh summer corn on the cob. Boil it, broil it, grill it, whatever. I love it. But here's a new take on fresh summer corn: baked with cream, cheese and herbs, bubbling and brown in its own little crock. I couldn't resist.

The recipe for Farm-Fresh Taleggio Creamed Corn, from Hudson Valley Mediterranean, is pretty simple and allows for lots of variation. You slice corn kernels off the cob and saute them with shallots, garlic and herbs (in this case, thyme and parsley). Add wine or sugar if desired, then some sort of milk/cream (I used whole milk). A little thickener in the form of a flour/water paste, and then stir in cheese and more herbs (chives). A this point you've got a really nice vegetable side. But if you really want to do it right, you portion the corn into ramekins, top them with grated parmesan, and put them under the broiler for a few minutes.

The result is a sort of summer mac 'n cheese, obviously a little more toothsome than pasta, but just as comforting and rich. Like I said, I couldn't resist.--S

Farm-Fresh Taleggio Creamed Corn

Makes 6 to 8 servings

6 ears fresh corn
3 T olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 T chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 t fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c dry white wine (optional)
2 t sugar (optional—taste a kernel of corn to see if it’s needed)
1 T all-purpose flour
1 1/3 c milk or half-and-half
3 oz Taleggio cheese, cut into small pieces
2 T fresh chives
1/4 c grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Slice the kernels from the corncobs; you should have 4 to 5 cups of kernels. Then scrape the cobs with a sharp knife to get all the milk and pulp. Reserve the kernels separately from the milk and pulp.

Add the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until the shallots soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, and stir in the corn kernels, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and the thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, tossing or stirring often, until the kernels are cooked and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved corn milk and pulp. Stir in the white wine and the sugar, if using, and cook until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes.

Blend the flour with 2 tablespoons water, and stir the mixture into the corn. Then whisk in the milk or half-and-half. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, and stir in the remaining parsley. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Taleggio and chives.

Serve immediately, or transfer the mixture to ovenproof crocks or ramekins, sprinkle the tops with the Grana Padano, and broil under high heat until the tops are bubbly and browned.

Recipe courtesy of Hudson Valley Mediterranean

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Lovely Rita

In my devotion to Rita's Water Ice and keen interest in making homemade ice creams and sorbets, I've always wished I could find a way to make a frozen dessert that had the vibrant fruit flavor and perfectly slushy texture of Rita's at home. I never had much success. Until now.

I'd torn a recipe for Watermelon Sorbet from Patricia Wells out of Runner's World earlier this summer, impressed by its simplicity. All you needed to make it was watermelon, simple syrup and lemon or lime juice. Wells said you didn't even need to an ice cream maker. I knew that with such a straightforward ingredient list, and watermelons being so tasty right now, that the sorbet would be good. I just didn't know it would taste just like Rita's.

The freezers at a typical Rita's store keep the water ice at the perfect firmness, between frozen and slushy. This watermelon sorbet somehow manages to achieve that same consistency, both fresh out of the ice cream maker and after having been in the freezer for a day. Maybe the simple syrup lends it a cohesiveness, rather than icing up into a frozen mass like sugar would. Or maybe it's the watermelon, the texture of which is kind of fibrous compared to other fruits. Whatever it is, it's delicious.--S

Watermelon Sorbet

Cube eight to 10 cups of watermelon (discard seeds). Puree in a blender until you have four cups. Mix with two tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice and one cup simple syrup (boil equal parts water and sugar until sugar dissolves; then let syrup cool). Chill in an ice-cream maker, or leave in your freezer until slushy.

Recipe courtesy of Runner's World