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Posts Tagged ‘corn’

I’ve got friends in high places where the cognac drowns and the wine chases my blues away…

If I re-wrote Garth Brooks’ little diddy, that’s how the song would go.  See, I’ve got these friends.  They’re lovely.  They’re classy.  They’re superb cooks.  And they’ve got a place in France where guests go to absorb the beauty of the country and take part in cooking lessons whereby they shop at the local markets, prepare meals together and then enjoy the bounty of their efforts in the garden, sipping wine which has been specifically paired for the meal.  Sounds like heaven huh?  Yeah, I agree.

Well, Katie makes a lovely summer squash gratin that manages to grace the table when the season is ripe for zucchini, crook-neck, patty pan, and all manner of summer squashes.  It’s simple as can be, and absolutely delicious down to the last creamy, cheesy, nutmeg-infused bite.

So last week, after finding myself to have been a leeeeeetle overzealous buying summer squash at the Farmer’s Market, I begged for her recipe and she happily obliged.  I added corn to my gratin in an effort to use up another surplus from my overzealous market trip, and threw a few torn basil leaves in there too.

So this is my take on Katie’s specialty…

Katie’s super-dee, duper-dee lovely summer squash gratin (with corn and basil)

This recipe is adaptable to any size dish, from individual ramekins, to a huge gratin-dish.  Plan to layer the squash (and corn, if you’re using it) a couple inches deep.  So here, I’ll provide you with a method and leave the quantities up to you!

If you’re preparing one large dish, Katie recommends baking the gratin at 325º.  For the individual ramekins like I made, bake at 350º.  Also, this gratin is simply divine made with just squash– so don’t feel the need to add the corn and basil if you don’t have them on hand.  Also, Katie adds a sprinkling of Emmenthaler cheese to the top.

  • a variety of summer squash, washed and stems removed
  • heavy cream
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • corn, scraped from the cobb
  • unsalted butter
  • torn basil
  • kosher salt

Slice the squash about 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin.  Layer the squash in a large bowl, lightly salting each layer as you go.  Allow the salted squash to sit for 30-60 minutes so that it releases it’s liquid.

Preheat the oven to the desired temperature (see note).

Gently cook the corn in butter, salting to taste.  Allow to cool.

Pour off the excess squash liquid, giving the squash a gentle push and squeeze to help extract any liquid that remains.

Begin by placing a layer or two of squash in the bottom of the dish.  Then layer in some corn.  Scatter in some torn basil.  Pour in a little cream, but don’t submerge the vegetables.  Sprinkle in some Parmesan.  Lightly dust with nutmeg (a little goes a long way).  Be sure to keep the layers densely packed, all the way to the edges of the dish.  Keep layering in this manner until all the vegetables are used up.  Then pour in a little more cream so that it almost reaches the top of the vegetables.  Lightly press down on the top of the vegetables to help douse them in the cream.  Sprinkle another healthy dose of Parmesan and Ementhaler (if using) over the top.

Place the gratin dish (or dishes) into the preheated oven, and bake until the cream bubbles around the edges, and the top is golden-brown.   Allow to cool slightly before serving- it’s gonna be hot!

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And oh, the polenta!

Do you know Anson Mills?  Well, I’m smitten.  I peruse their website regularly dreaming of grains and flour, and the old world.  They’re based in South Carolina and they produce all manner of organic, heirloom varieties of polenta, farro, buckwheat, rice, oats, and more.  Go look around- you’ll love it.  Well I love it, anyway!  And while you’re there, take a look at all the recipes they’ve created to be used with their products.  They’re really well-written recipes, filled with detail and even back-story information.  I’m tellin’ ya- I just love it!

I have two types of their polenta in my freezer, along with two types of their farro.  (The freezer is best for these guys to preserve their freshness.)  And the flavor is really lovely.  I cooked up some of their Fine Yellow Polenta the other day, for my take on Scotty Food.  And I’m itchin’ to cook some of the Rustic Course Polenta Integrale next…

How to Cook Polenta

Polenta is about the easiest thing to make.  I usually use about 1 part polenta to 5 parts water.  (In this case, I used a 1/2 cup dry polenta and 2-1/2 cups water).

In a 2 quart saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Grab a whisk and pour the polenta into the boiling water, whisking constantly.  Turn the water down to a simmer.   (If you just pour in the polenta without whisking constantly, it will fall to the bottom of the pot in a big, gummy lump-yuk!).  Continue whisking until you can see that the polenta is absorbing the water and has suspended itself in water.  At this point, you can turn the heat down almost as low as possible, and give it a healty pinch of salt.  It will need to cook for 30-45 minutes.  Remember to give it a stir, especially around the corners, every few minutes.  You may need to give it a little more water near the end of cooking, depending upon what you’re going to do with it.  I usually stir in a couple pats of butter too.  If you want to eat it soft, then you’re done.  If you want to eat it hard, pour the polenta into a flat-bottomed dish or pan.  (I used an 8×8 pyrex baking dish.)  Refrigerate to cool completely.

In this particular batch, I added corn.  To do this, I scraped the corn off of one cobb, and gently sauteed it in butter and thyme until tender.  Then I stirred it in to the soft polenta before pouring it into the dish to chill. It’s best to pre-cook the corn so that it won’t weep moisture into the finished polenta..

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My apologies to those of you who opted out of this BBQ’d din-din ’cause it turned out pretty darn good! (But happy-last-day-of-work, nonetheless!)

Marinated Flank Steak with Tomatillo-Corn Relish

For the steak

One day ahead, I salted the 1-3/4 pound flank steak with 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt .  The next day I marinated it in:

  • 6 sprigs greek oregano
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons worchestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 dried chili pod
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, lightly mortared

Let it sit for 6-8 hours in the marinade.  When you’re ready to grill, brush off the herbs and let the excess liquid drip off.  Then grill in a hot spot to the desired doneness.

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For the salsa

I just grilled the corn, the tomatillos (remove their husks first), and the scallions until they were all cooked through and slightly charred.  Then I removed the corn kernals and chopped the tomatillos and scallions.  The tomatillos become gooey and act as a binder for the relish.  Stir it all together with salt, black pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper, chopped cilantro,  a little sherry vinegar,  and a bit of virgin olive oil.  If the tomatillos are a little bitter, I find that adding a little more vinegar or lime juice often helps.  Let the relish sit for about 15 minutes to let the flavors marry.

Oh yeah!  We also sliced two fat slices of a ripe, red tomato, seasoned it with salt and threw it on the grill for just a minute to barely soften it.

I set the grilled tomato on the bottom of the plate, and the sliced flank steak on top of it so that their juices would mingle…then I topped it all with the relish and a piece of grilled bread, rubbed with garlic.  Lawdy, lawdy.

…And what are those golden-orange orbs, you ask?  Those are peaches.  Dessert.  With homemade frozen yogurt

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