Posts Tagged ‘corn’

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

David and I have not, historically speaking, been big fans of polenta. My first experiences with polenta were way back when my mom was doing Weight Watchers in the late 90’s, when someone on the message boards convinced her to try the pre-made kind. It came in a tube, we sliced it and tried to pan fry it with olive oil, or maybe even cooking spray. Yuck. No flavor at all. Weird texture. No thanks.

Then, Alton Brown convinced me to try again. Not really compatible with Weight Watchers this time, since his recipe calls for plenty of cheese, butter, and whole milk.  It was also mildly complicated, as he extolled the virtues of “real” polenta, and asked me to avoid the instant stuff. Trusting Alton, I did. This was better than the first time, but I still remember being disappointed. Handfuls of good-quality cheddar, wasted. I ate my spoonful, but I didn’t really like it at all. It was mildly better sliced and pan-fried, but not great. I was ready to write off polenta altogether.

Except…

Something makes me WANT to like it. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why I’m so determined. I’ve had it at restaurants, and still wasn’t a fan. Cheese couldn’t save it. But for some reason, when I saw this recipe at the Cooking Light site, I was willing to give it another try.

And this time, I was pleasantly surprised. The fresh sweet corn adds additional flavor and texture that the other recipes I tried were lacking. The parmesan added a salty richness, but the flavor wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy. The fresh tomato and basil balanced the flavors. I subbed shallots for onions (I do this often—where onions are too much for me, I’ve learned to like the milder taste of shallots) and even liked the flavor that they added. It was really good. I went back for seconds. I’m pretty sure David did, too. And I even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

I never got around to slicing and frying this batch, but next time I make it, I’d make sure I got to try that with the leftovers. And there will be a next time.

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, June 2008

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 2  cups  chopped onion (2 medium)
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1  cup  instant dry polenta
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped tomato
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, corn, and garlic; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Slowly add polenta, stirring with a whisk until polenta is thick (about 5 minutes). Add cheese, stirring to melt. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat; sprinkle with tomato and basil. Serve immediately.

Note: Bonus points for this recipe—I got to use my dutch oven! A heavy saucepan would work just fine though.

Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

This is a great, simple, summery side dish, even though it takes advantage of frozen corn. It’s not hard, and there aren’t many ingredients. It’s one of those awesome, simple dishes that really is greater than the sum of its parts.

Caramelizing the corn brings out tons of great flavor, and the fresh herbs brightened and deepened the flavors. The original recipe called for mint, but I think any fresh herbs that you have on hand would work just fine. The thyme was very good, and I think basil or cilantro would be equally delicious.


Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef

1 10-ounce package frozen premium corn (choose something extra sweet)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
Salt

1. Defrost the corn in a colander, tossing occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

2. In a wide skillet, melt the butter over high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring often, until golden and browned (kernels may begin to pop), about 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme and sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve while hot.

Note: I didn’t have any frozen corn on hand, so I had to use canned. I made sure to drain it really well. It worked fine. Next time, I’d try it with frozen corn, and I think it could be even better.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Monday, September 14th, 2009

I’ve been playing with the idea of making tamales, but I know how much work they really are. Well, I know how much work they are on paper. I’ve never tried to make them before–and honestly, I imagine they’re even more work than I’ve heard.

That is why the idea of a Chicken Tamale Casserole appealed to me.

It was good, but not great. The good news is, I know what went “wrong” and have some solid ideas of how to fix it. I definitely plan to try this one again sometime.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Chicken Tamale Casserole
Serves 8 – From Cooking Light

1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Note (Or what I would change for next time): First of all, I used Jiffy cornbread mix, which is usually pretty satisfying, as far as corn bread mixes go, but for this recipe, a little too sweet. A less-sweet southern style cornbread mix would have worked better. This recipe came from Cooking Light magazine, but if I wasn’t as concerned about the health aspects of the dish, I probably would have used more cheese. Even trying to keep it light, using reduced fat cheese (there are lots of great 2% blends these days!) would’ve kept the nutritionals the same for a bit more cheese. I think it would’ve made a difference. Finally, I should mention that a handful of crushed corn chips sprinkled over the top was delicious. That one was Cara’s idea.

Sugar Dusted Corn Fritters

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Here’s another one of our 4th of July treats: Sweet and Crunchy Corn Fritters. If you’ve never had a corn fritter, they are hard to describe. It’s like a doughnut but less sweet. Or a hush puppy, but more sweet. Kind of like a doughnut with a sweet cornbread flavor. These had fresh corn on the cob inside, and were seasoned with just a little bit of cayenne pepper for a mild kick. They were super easy, and as long as we were frying things anyway, totally worth while.

IMG_2168

Sugar-Dusted Corn Friters
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 4 generous cups corn kernels: fresh, frozen, or canned
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk, more to thin if necessary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • Sifted powdered sugar to finish

1. Mix flour, sugar, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir together to make a batter.

2. Add corn to batter. Fold together to combine.

3. Heat oil to 365 degrees. When oil is heated, drop spoonfuls of batter and cook, flipping to the other side, until golden brown. The fritters will sink and then float to the top as they finish cooking.

4. Drain on a towel-lined plate. Serve  sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar.

Note: This made a huge batch of fritters. I only cooked about a fourth of it, and it was enough for the 5 of us eating dinner. I’ll probably halve it next time I make this. But there will be a next time.

Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I do a good amount of travel for work. It’s not out of control, but during this time of year, I take a trip every 2-3 weeks at least, sometimes more often. And I enjoy it. I like to see different places, get a feel for different areas of the country. Through my work travels, I definitely have. Another thing that I enjoy is having the chance to try regional foods. Sometimes, it’s hard to get outside of the chain restaurants or airport food courts, but when I’m lucky, I get to try some real local treats.

On my last visit to Nebraska (I know, exotic, right?) we had lunch in a small-town diner. From the outside, it was nothing special. And the menu was, for the most part, exactly what you’d expect. Even so, the food was tasty and the service was good. My main dish was a baked macaroni and cheese that was quite good, but the highlight for me was the corn chowder. I had never in my life eaten corn chowder before, and I could tell by their curious glances and raised eyebrows that neither had my two coworkers. But when the person we were meeting with suggested it, we were convinced, and all three of us ordered the corn chowder.

And were rewarded.

The soup was creamy, with chunks of potato, chicken, and of course, sweet corn. We’ve joked about having that soup again, even around the office (some 500 miles away from the diner where we shared lunch) ever since. Finally, tired of thinking about a soup that I may never have the chance to eat again, I decided to make my own. Last Friday was a cool, rainy day, and sweet corn was on sale for the first time all season. It seemed like a sign. So for dinner Friday night, I threw together my version of this awesome Nebraskan soup. And it was delicious. If I was trying to convince my sister or mother, I’d tell them it was just like clam chowder. When I was trying to convince my husband, I told him it was just like potato soup. And while both of those statements were true, it tastes more like corn than either of those. If you like corn, you owe it to yourself to try this soup.

corn-chowder

Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

  • 3 ounces pancetta (You can substitute bacon, if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups prepared chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 5-6 ears sweet corn (do not substitute cans or frozen corn–fresh off the cob is important!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until crisped. Next, add the onion, garlic, and thyme and continue cooking until softened, about 8 or 9 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, stirring to coat everything evenly. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the cream and the potatoes, bring to a boil for 7 minutes, until the potatoes begin to break down. The potatoes should be soft, but not completely broken down.

3. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Note: If you’ve never cut corn off of the cob, here’s a good tip. Take a small bowl (like a cereal bowl) and stand it upside down in a large mixing bowl. Shuck the corn and remove any additional silk. Stand the ear of corn straight up on the small bowl (inside the larger bowl) and use a sharp knife to cut straight down once side. Turn the ear of corn, and cut straight down the next side, working your way around the corn. This will give you a steady platform for cutting the corn off the cob, while catching all of the loose corn kernels in the larger bowl without making a mess.

As far as the soup goes, I think it was a hit. It was flavorful, sweet and fresh, just like corn on the cob. I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as good if I had tried to use canned or frozen corn. The pancetta added a nice layer of salty flavor to the soup base, and the potatoes were good, but the corn was really the star of this soup. I’m sure we’ll be making this again. It would have been good with leftover chicken, regular bacon, or a smoky ham also.

Corniest Corn Muffins with Honey Butter

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

This recipe came to me by way of my friends Jordan and Roxy, who brought these as the dinner rolls for our annual Fake Thanksgiving. Everyone ooh’d and aah’d and begged for the recipe, including myself, and Jordan was happy to oblige: he found the recipe for these corn muffins over at Smitten Kitchen, who in turn, borrowed the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours.

So, now that that’s settled…Corn muffins. These turned out to be the perfect cornbread, in my opinion. Just a little bit sweet (but not too sweet), and with the perfect crumb (that is, crumbly, but not dry). They were also pretty easy to make, and had me wondering why I ever needed a Jiffy mix. Even David, who doesn’t like cornbread was almost converted here. I don’t think he’ll be craving them anytime soon, but he ate some, which is an achievement in and of itself.

I upped the ante a little bit by mixing up some honey butter, which was super simple and totally worthwhile. If the corn muffins were good without the honey butter, they were heaven with it. So good!

Corniest Corn Muffins
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 regular-sized muffins or 48 miniature ones

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil (I used olive oil, because that’s what I keep around)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup corn kernels – fresh, frozen or canned (in which case they should be drained and patted dry; I used frozen.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and  salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. The batter will be lumpy, but don’t worry about it. The lumps will work themselves out as the muffins bake. Stir in the corn. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (12 minutes for mini muffins), or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from the pan.

Honey Butter

  • 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Pour the honey over the butter and mash together with a spoon. Slather on warm cornbread muffins. Devour. :)

I used salted butter, because I like the salty sweet combination, but you certainly don’t have to.