Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Simple Corn Chowder with Sage

I made this Saturday night with some of the last fresh corn of the season and sage from my garden. I always think of sage as a seasoning for cooler weather, perhaps in part because it withstands the cold outdoors until early winter. But here it makes for sort of a bridge between the seasons--a warming soup for a cool evening, made with the last of summer's corn.

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup white flour
5 cups corn kernels (from around 6 ears; scrape the cobs to get all the juice)
2 cups whole milk
2-3 Tbsp minced fresh sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. At the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the potatoes. Saute for another few minutes, then add the flour and stir to form a roux. Continue to cook over reduced heat for a couple minutes, stirring frequently, then add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Stir to blend the roux into the liquid, then partially cover and cook over medium-high heat until potatoes are tender (15 minutes or so).

When the potatoes are tender, add the corn cook another few minutes. Add the milk, sage, salt, and pepper and remove from heat.

Serves 4-6.

Tomato Leek Quiche with Tarragon

I've seen lots of big, fat leeks at the farmers market, and I have a good crop of slender ones in my garden. Plus tomatoes, of course! I used tarragon as the seasoning here just for something different from my usual, but I think this would work with a variety of herbs - basil, oregano, sage, thyme, etc.

1 9-inch pastry shell
2 oz. shredded mozzarella (optional)
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup sliced leeks (about 2 fat ones or 4 slender)
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk (1% or 2% okay but not as good)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the pastry shell all over with a fork and pre-bake for about 10 minutes. If using homemade, line with aluminum foil and some pie weights.

Spread the mozzarella in the bottom of the pre-baked pie shell. Spread the tomatoes and leeks on top, and sprinkle with tarragon.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and milk and add salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables in the pie shell.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until eggs are cooked through.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tomato-Ginger Chutney

This was inspired by a big pile of tomatoes from the garden that were starting to go bad. Try it on pork chops, ham, roasted chicken, etc.

10 cups chopped seeded tomatoes (no need to peel)
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
2 fresh hot peppers, seeded and minced OR 3-4 whole dried hot peppers
1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup sugar (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp lemon juice, lime juice, or combination

Combine tomatoes, garlic, hot peppers, ginger, sugar, salt and pepper in a Dutch oven and simmer uncovered over low heat until tomatoes are well broken down and it forms a thick sauce, 2-4 hours. Stir in lemon/lime juice. Simmer a little longer if desired.

Makes about 3 cups.

Roasted Balsamic Peppers and Green Beans

Sweet peppers and green beans (not to mention purple, yellow, and other colored beans) are still showing up plentifully at the farmers market. Enjoy them while they last! (And freeze some for later.) Red peppers combined with green beans make a nice visual effect here, but use whatever color peppers and beans you like.

2 sweet peppers, in long slices
1 lb green beans, stemmed
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the vegetables with the other ingredients in a roasting pan. Roast, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking, until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

Goat Cheese Polenta

The Pioneer Valley is a land of riches where goat cheese is concerned. So many dairies turning out so much amazing cheese. I think I could eat it every day, if I could afford to! (A few years ago, Donovan and I went to Provence, where some type of goat cheese shows up in some form or another at about every other meal...it was heaven.) Anyway, this polenta with goat cheese is fantastic. Serve as a side dish, or top with veggies, chicken, tomato sauce, etc. as desired.

3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup coarse corn meal
4 oz. goat cheese, diced or crumbled

Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt. Whisk in the polenta and stir rapidly to prevent lumps. Lower the heat and cook until nicely thick (you may want to cover it to prevent thick bubbles from burning you when they pop...I speak from experience). When polenta is done, remove from heat and stir in goat cheese, mixing well until goat cheese is thoroughly distributed.

Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Red Lentil, Tomato, and Couscous Soup

This North African-inspired soup is a colorful and appealing use of some of the season's last tomatoes, plus cilantro.

1 cup dried red lentils
6-7 cups water
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 veggie bouillon cube
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp dried coriander
1-2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried couscous
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place the lentils and water in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat while you prepare the rest of the soup, about 12-15 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot.

Heat the butter in a large skillet, then sauté the garlic and onion until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add to the lentils and tomatoes.

Add the bouillon cube, cayenne, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to the soup and stir well. If the lentils are not yet tender, continue to simmer the soup until they are.

Add the couscous. It should cook in 3-5 minutes.

When the couscous is tender, add the lemon juice and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wine Cap and Fennel Risotto

Last weekend I bought some wine cap mushrooms from New England Wild Edibles at the farmers market. I had never tried them before. They look a little like portobellos, but have more flavor. A little poking around on the Internet found that they pair well with flavors like fennel, citrus, and wine. So I pulled some fennel out of my garden and concocted this risotto, which was delicious. The end result has a rather earthy color from the mushrooms; if you want a little more bright green, chop up some of the fennel leaves and stir them in at the last minute.

1 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 cups diced wine cap mushrooms
1-2 cups diced fresh fennel (bulb plus stalks if tender)
1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Several cups veggie broth (or water if you like)
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in Dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed pot. Add the mushrooms and fennel and saute until they just become tender. Add the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes, until it turns translucent. Add the wine and cook over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice, then add the veggie broth 1/2 cup at a time, each time simmering and stirring until the liquid is almost totally absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue this process for 20-30 minutes, until the rice is extremely tender and the risotto takes on a somewhat creamy texture. At that point, lightly sprinkle the nutmeg over the risotto, then stir in the salt and pepper.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving

We just reserved a heritage turkey for Thanksgiving. If you're interested in doing likewise, it's definitely not too early to do so. A number of farms in Western Mass grow small numbers of heritage breed birds for just this purpose. We reserved ours from Wells Tavern Farm, which is just off route 2 in Shelburne. You can check CISA's database for others--just type "turkey" into the "Find it locally..." search box.

I have never had heritage turkey before, but I have heard that it is a gustatory experience worth having, juicy and supremely flavorful. Here's one good reason to look forward to November!

Apple Galette

A galette is sort of a rustic tart. You roll pastry dough out thin, cover it with your topping, then fold up the edges to hold it all in. The result is a lighter dessert than pie. Also fewer servings, which is nice when you are only cooking for a few people. I like to make the dough (and any pastry dough) in the food processor, which is quick and easy.

Pastry Dough
1 1/4 cups white flour
1 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), very cold
3 Tbsp ice water, plus more if needed

Topping
2 medium apples, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick
3 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, in pea-sized chunks
1/4 tsp cinnamon

To prepare the pastry dough by hand:
1. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Sprinkle chunks of butter over it, then cut the butter in using a pastry cutter or two knives.

2. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour and butter mixture. Using the blade side of a rubber scraper, cut dough until it starts to form balls. If necessary, add additional ice water one teaspoon at a time to help the dough cohere. Be careful not to add so much water that the dough becomes sticky.

3. Press the dough with your hands to form it into a ball. The texture of the dough should be a bit rough, not smooth. Press it into a round disk, wrap it tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and not more than 2 days).

To prepare the pastry dough with a food processor:
1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt into the food processor and process for 10 seconds to mix.

2. Add the butter in small chunks, scattered over the flour mixture. Pulse for 1-2 second intervals until nearly all the butter is pea-sized or smaller. You may need to scrape the sides once or twice.

3. Drizzle the ice water over the flour and butter mixture. Pulse for 1-2 second intervals until there are no more dry patches in the dough and it starts to form small balls. Do not allow the dough to form a single mass in the food processor. Press the dough together with your fingers. If it does not cohere, sprinkle in an additional teaspoon of ice water and pulse several more times. Repeat if necessary. Be careful not to add so much water that the dough becomes sticky.

4. Remove the dough from the food processor and follow step 3 above.

To prepare the galette:
1. Preheat the oven to 425°.

2. Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator. If it has been left for longer than 30 minutes, allow it to thaw briefly until it becomes more pliable.

3. Lay out a piece of waxed paper about 14 inches long on a flat surface and sprinkle it with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out in a circle or oblong shape to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet and peel off the waxed paper.

4. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of sugar over the crust, leaving about 2 inches bare around the outside. Arrange the sliced apples densely over the crust, again leaving about 2 inches bar around the outside. Sprinkle the butter over the fruit, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar and the cinnamon.

5. Fold the outside edges of the crust up over the fruit. Pinch the corners together to prevent the juices from leaking while the galette bakes.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

7. Allow the galette to cool for at least a few minutes before serving.

Serves about 4.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quick and Easy Delicata Squash

Fall is most definitely here. There was a frost advisory last night, which had us out covering up the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and harvesting whatever was close to ready. Among the harvest: all our delicata squash, which was definitely ripe.

There are loads of ways to cook winter squash--you can roast it, steam it, saute it, or pressure cook it, among other things. But the easiest and fastest way I have found yet is to do it in the microwave. It feels a little like heresy, but the results are great and the mess is minimal. This works best with smaller squash and relatively small quantities (to do more servings, you just have to do it in batches). Delicatas are great candidates for this. Here's the method:

Cut the squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves in a covered microwaveable container (e.g. glass casserole dish). Microwave on high for five minutes, then to check for doneness (the squash should be soft when it's ready). The amount of time needed will vary with the size of the squash and the power of your microwave. If it's not done after five minutes, add another minute or two and check again. Repeat as needed.

Serve squash halves as they are, and provide optional toppings at the table: butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar are all classics, though delicata squash is so sweet and delicious that you can eat it straight if you like. For something a little less traditional, try salt and pepper with a little sprinkle of garam masala or curry powder.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blueberry Scones

Another excellent use for frozen blueberries. I especially like the low-bush variety because they are small. But you can use high-bush as well, or other types of small frozen fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or cherries, if you have them.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 cup white sugar, plus more for the top if desired
3/4 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in blueberries so they get coated with flour. Add cream and yogurt and stir until just combined. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet (I use a baking stone). If desired, lightly sprinkle the top of each scone with a little sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Makes about 8-10 scones.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

This is what I had for breakfast this morning--a good cool weather start to the day. I like to use steel cut oats, but this works with rolled oats as well. Just don't use the instant kind, because you need the apples to cook for a couple minutes. I like it with the apples just softened a bit, not turned to mush. If you like them softer, add them earlier in the process.

Prepare oatmeal of your choice. A few minutes before it is done, stir in about half an apple per person, diced (peel or not as desired) and a sprinkle of cinnamon. If using particularly tart apples, add a teaspoon or so of brown sugar.

I also like ripe pears on my oatmeal in the fall, but these are better raw.

Scrambled Eggs with Parsley and Cheese

Now that the basil is starting to fade (darned unseasonable cold weather), I have found myself using larger amounts of parsley. If you think of parsley as a boring and somewhat flavorless dried herb, you should definitely try it fresh. It has a lovely and pungent flavor all its own that goes especially well with Parmesan, but also goat cheese and feta.

For scrambled eggs, use 1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley per egg. Add cheese of your choice plus salt and pepper to taste. Heat a little butter in a skillet and scramble eggs until done.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pizza with Shiitakes, Leeks, Red Pepper, and Parsley

When in doubt, put it on pizza, that's my motto. Last night I made this with the shiitakes from New England Wild Edibles and leeks, peppers, and parsley from my garden. Yum!

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2 cups sliced shiitakes
3-4 slender leeks or 1-2 large ones, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup tomato sauce
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil.

Heat a little more olive oil in a large skillet, then add the shiitakes and leeks. Saute until just tender, then add the peppers and saute an addition 2-3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper, and remove from heat.

Spread the tomato sauce over the crust--you just want a very light coating. Spread the veggie mixture over the sauce, then top with mozzarella.

Bake 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Local Mushrooms

My happiest find at the farmers market on Saturday was a booth for New England Wild Edibles, a mushroom grower located in Colrain. I have seen their mushrooms at Green Fields Market on occasion but not reliably. I was told that they are regulars at the Shelburne Falls and Ashfield farmers market but had only just begun selling at the Greenfield market. I do hope they continue! I bought shiitakes, but they also had hen of the woods and oyster mushrooms.

Now that I have a nice bag of fresh shiitakes in the fridge, I am pondering the possibilities of what to do with them. A stir fry or other Asian dish is always a good possibility, but shiitakes go well with other things, too, and can lend a nice meaty flair to vegetarian dishes.

Weekends Putting Up Food

It's that time of year. Eating locally all year in New England means putting up food for the winter. And if you work all day during the week, putting up food for the winter means spending a chunk of every weekend in August and September doing so. But mostly I enjoy it, thank goodness. This weekend we froze another 20 pounds of tomatoes along with several pounds of zucchini and red peppers.

We also took our first crack at drying apples--Macs from Clarkdale--with great success. We gave them no pretreatment, so the final product was a bit brown, but that doesn't bother me. The flavor is stupendous, way better than dried apples from the store. And the texture is perfect--soft and chewy. To prepare them, we used our apple peeler/slicer/corer to make rings, then dried them in the dehydrator for about 8 hours. Fortunately, we'll be able to get apples all through the winter, so we can make additional dried ones as desired; no need to go crazy stocking up right now when everything else is begging to be dealt with. I am looking forward to trying different varieties and seeing how the dried flavor varies.

Red, Gold, and Green Cornmeal Pancakes

This weekend we found ourselves overflowing with zucchini. I shredded and froze a bunch of it, but I also made zucchini basil pancakes with several of them (though I substituted parsley for some of the basil as my basil has not fared well with this long string of nights in the 40s). Thinking of savory pancakes reminded me of this recipe, which is full of things now finally in season (like red peppers!).

This is great for brunch or dinner, but I'd think twice about serving it first crack in the morning. Despite the number of jalapeños it's not that spicy--but still.

2 cups fresh corn kernels
3-4 large green jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
4-5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (or a red onion)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
For topping: Good salsa, sour cream

In a large bowl, mix together the corn, jalapenos, red pepper, scallions, and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and milk, then stir in the cornmeal and whole-wheat pastry flour.

Pour the batter mixture over the vegetables and mix well. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

Fry pancakes in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through the middle. Keep finished pancakes hot on a covered plate or in a warm oven.

Serve hot, topped with salsa and sour cream.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Slow Cooked Green Beans and Tomatoes with Chicken

I made this in my crockpot, using beans and tomatoes from the garden. But you could also do it on the stove. In that case, I would roast the chicken separately. Use paste tomatoes so the end product is not too watery. If using the crockpot, you can put frozen chicken directly in at the beginning of the day.

Olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 lb green beans, stemmed
4-5 cups chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp marsala
3-4 cloves garlic, skins still on, partially crushed
1-2 large sprigs rosemary
6 chicken thighs (or equivalent)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a small skillet and saute the shallot until translucent.

To make this in the crockpot, place beans in the bottom of the pot, then add tomatoes, shallots, marsala, garlic, and rosemary. Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on Low for 7-8 hours. Remove garlic and rosemary before serving. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

To make on the stove top, use a large skillet or dutch oven for the vegetables. After sauteing the shallot, add the beans, tomatoes, marsala, garlic, and rosemary and simmer gently until the beans are very tender and the tomatoes are sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. While making the beans, roast the chicken in the oven.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

And while I'm on the subject of blueberry muffins...this is another favorite recipe. Again, you can use fresh or frozen berries, but frozen actually work a bit better.

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease muffin tins to make 12 muffins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the white flour, whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the lemon juice, vegetable oil, and yogurt to the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Stir in the blueberries. Do not overmix. The batter will be fairly thick and slightly spongy.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. You can fill them fairly full.

Bake for about 14 minutes, until the muffins turn golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Blueberry season will be ending before long, but if you're like me, you have stockpiled berries in the freezer to use through the long winter. I find that frozen berries actually often work better than fresh in muffins and other baked goods, which is a happy coincidence since summer is not prime baking season. I love the blueberry cinnamon combination in these muffins, which also give you a good dose of whole grains. If you have fresh buttermilk available, you can use it in place of some or all of the milk.

1 generous cup rolled oats
1 generous cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 large eggs, well-beaten
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp powdered buttermilk (optional)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Grease muffins tins to make 12 large or 18 medium muffins.

Mix the rolled oats and milk together in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Stir the eggs, vanilla (if using), vegetable oil, and brown sugar into the oatmeal and milk mixture.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, powdered buttermilk (if using), cinnamon, and salt. Add to the oatmeal mixture and mix until well blended. If using fresh or frozen blueberries, stir them into the batter.

Spoon the batter into muffin tins, filling them about three-quarters of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

Makes about 12 large or 18 medium muffins.

Filling the Freezer

In the last week or two, culinary creativity has been taking a back seat to getting the harvest bounty into the freezer (and to a lesser extent the dehydrator). We have frozen and dried 24 quarts of peaches from Clarkdale and 40 pounds of tomatoes--with 20 more in a box on the dining room table, where they are ripening up a little more before processing, probably this weekend. I have frozen quarts of green beans and the first several bell peppers, as well as whole paste tomatoes from the garden. Now the freezer is filling up, and I think from here we need to be more strategic about what else goes in. We are expecting 20 pounds or so of beef later this month, from a share in a cow that we bought last spring, so we had better save room for that. And we definitely need more peppers. A few other odds and ends will find room--a bit more shredded zucchini, a couple bags of kale, some more pesto--but I think we are going to reach capacity. It will be the first time we have done so since acquiring the freezer late last October, too late for many crops we would have wanted. I am very curious to see how the winter goes with our more extensive stocks, and of course I will be posting recipes here based on frozen ingredients as well as updates on what we've run out of and what we can freeze less of next year (if anything!). Please feel free to post comments with your own experiences and tips!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pizza with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil

Another simple recipe to use what's abundantly in season right now... Use plum tomatoes if you can because they are not as juicy as other varieties. If you want to use very juicy tomatoes, try to drain them a bit first or your pizza will be soggy.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear, 2 if small)
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil (loosely packed)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust with olive oil, then pre-bake for about 7 minutes.

After pre-baking the crust, remove it from the oven and spread the tomatoes, corn, and basil on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then top with mozzarella. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Double (or Triple) Corn Cornbread

This is adapted from a recipe in Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook--I love the texture of cornbread made with yogurt. Fresh corn kernels are a marvelous addition at this time of year. I made this as triple corn cornbread by using ground dried sweet corn for the cornmeal in addition to standard cornmeal. I got the dried sweet corn from Crabapple Farm at the Greenfield Farmers Market earlier this season. Not something all that easy to come by, but if you do happen on it at some point, try some. (You can also cook it as you would dried beans--perhaps with dried beans, something I have done with tasty results.)

1 cup cornmeal (sweet, standard, or combination)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar or honey
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine the yogurt, vinegar, sugar or honey, and canola oil in a small bowl.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be thick and sticky. Stir in the corn kernels.

Spread the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until done in the center and lightly golden on top.

Serves about 4.

Variations: You can add other things along with the fresh corn if you like. Try chopped scallions, a minced chipotle pepper, or a chopped fresh jalapeno.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spicy Corn Chowder with Cilantro

I adore corn chowder and at this time of year, the only question is which variation to make each time. The bolting cilantro in the garden inspired this one.

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 lbs new potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup white flour
4 cups corn kernels (from around 5 ears; scrape the cobs to get all the juice)
1-2 hot peppers, seeded and minced
2 cups whole milk
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. At the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the potatoes. Saute for another few minutes, then add the flour and stir to form a roux. Continue to cook over reduced heat for a couple minutes, stirring frequently, then add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Stir to blend the roux into the liquid, then partially cover and cook over medium-high heat until potatoes are tender (15 minutes or so).

When the potatoes are tender, add the corn and hot pepper and cook another few minutes. Add the milk, cilantro, salt, and pepper and remove from heat.

Serves 4-6.