Mr. Irish… Meet Mexican Corn

When you have been married to someone for 15 years, you think you know that person fairly well.

That is a bad assumption. There is something new to learn at any given moment. Like say when you are on a little vacation and he orders something that seems so unlikely for him to order and he LOVES it.

By now you are guessing that my Irish plain-eating husband tried and loved Mexican street corn! We ordered it in a fun little Mexican place in Florida and sure enough he loved it. He asked me if I could make this at home and of course I was all like…”does a duck like to swim?” OF COURSE I can make this!

So one night after our return from Florida I whipped up a batch.

mexican-corn.jpg

I thought they turned out pretty well and he thought so too. But there are a few things I would fine tune for the next batch.

  • Use fresh not frozen ( Don’t judge – it’s spring in New England – there’s no fresh local corn for like another 2 months!)
  • Chop the Cojita cheese MUCH smaller as I realized it will coat better and more evenly.
  • Season the Mexican crema a little less aggressively and so the ancho chili powder that I forgot to sprinkle on top can stand out better.

As for a recipe…

It’s pretty simple and there are a thousand versions out there but here is mine.

Ingredients:

Mexican crema – you can you usually find this in the Mexican foods section of the grocery store but if you can’t find it, just use mayonnaise thinned with a little water.

Cojita Cheese – this is like a Mexican version of feta. Salty and crumbly. If you are worried about salt levels try the Queso Fresca instead – it’s still crumbly but less salty.

Ancho Chili powder – worth the investment if you don’t have this on hand. But you could probably use a little regular chili powder instead.

Fresh limes – cut for squeezing over corn.

Fresh Cilantro – final chopped is best here.

Fresh corn cobs, par-cooked – (steam them or boil them or roast or microwave or whatever first so they are just past being raw. Don’t over cook)

Method:

Mix up some crema with salt, pepper and pinch of the ancho chili powder. Grill the corn, roll it/brush it with the crema. Now sprinkle the cheese on it. Sprinkle it with some ancho chili powder and finish it with cilantro and a squirt of lime juice.

 

 

 

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Good & Strange

On a recent visit to my favorite 5000 square foot Italian market/restaurant empire I picked up a few new things to try. Some were good, some were strange, and one was actually strangely good.

just strange So these were just strange. I had high hopes for them but no. They literally are just corn flour dried into these long shapes. A snack to to crunch on or use to dip into things. They were scarily crisp (as in break your teeth crisp) and really didn’t taste like anything. I think you could find a better vehicle to get that onion dip into your mouth.

 

 

 

 

always good

 

This was just good. Afterall I was just following directions. “Winemaker notes: best enjoyed with fruit and cheese.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

strangly good

This one was strangley good. These crunchy little nuggets promote themselves as a snack to “sharpen the appetite.” They have 2 kinds of wine in them – red and white! To me they have a flavor that completely reminds me of stuffing. (Like thanksgiving stuffing!)  Strangley addictive too.  According to the manufactuer I should be sipping a glass of “Agricola del Sole Jazzorosso” wine while I snack on these. Maybe next time.

 

Dilly Good – Re-Mix

I may be a bit of infrequent blogger these days but I am predictable. (At least when it comes to quiche!)

As is often the case, I found myself once again with too much fresh dill in the fridge. And of course I always have Feta cheese on hands. So naturally I made a quiche. Much like my “Dilly Good” quiche from July 2016, I used potatoes in the base instead of a crust, making it more like a Tortilla Espanola” or a Spanish style potato omelet. (and gluten free) Which means I took my time slowly precooking the thin slices of potatoes in oil, over not too high a heat so they soften but not brown too much. And the same for the onions. Short of that I basically whisk up some eggs and dairy of choice (I like whole milk or half/half) and layer it all into a pie dish. Cook as you would any quiche – 40-45 mins at 400 degrees. Best served after it has cooled a bit or even room temperature.

Take a look at my process in pictures:

 

Pear Inheritance

The year after my father passed away his beloved pear tree had a banner year. Tons of big beautiful pears were produced and we were able to harvest them before the local raccoons could. We said at the time “all those years, hardly producing a decent pear, and NOW it decides to be amazing!” Wish he could have seen it. For the next 5 years it went back to its rather anemic performance – producing small, pitted pears- in small amounts.

This year my mother passed away and of course the tree put on a show stopping performance – huge, blemish free pears and TONS of them. Wish she could have seen it.

If that isn’t the universe speaking in some way I don’t know what is.

So of course I felt the need to harvest the pears  – making some baked goods right away and cooking some down to pear sauce and freezing for another use well into the winter. So much like my blueberry inheritance I could enjoy a little of my pear inheritance for a while longer.

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The first thing that came to mind to make with these amazing pears was of course coffee cake! Wouldn’t that be your “go to” baked goodie too?

I’m no baker so I just bought a quality box mix for coffee cake (complete with streusel mix) and added sliced pears, brown sugar and melted butter to the bottom of the glass baking dish before mixing up and adding my coffee cake mix according to package instructions. Just be sure to slice the fruit fairly thin so it will definitely get soft in the baking process.

 

 

 

 

 

Now THAT’s Ricotta!

I recently picked up some fresh ricotta at my local 50,000 sq. foot “Italian food emporium” in Boston and it changed me forever. I realized up until now, I had really never tasted ricotta – just poor imitations!

ricotta

“Ricotta Calabro” produced right here in New England – Connecticut to be exact – was amazing!

Don’t just take my word for it – look at the awards the producer has received! link here.

I know something as fresh and amazing as this should be eaten in its original state, but the weather had been unseasonably cool and I had my heart set on some comfort food.

Pasta, cheese and tomato sauce = comfort. Throw in a little Italian sausage and even the husband will find this dish comforting!

I basically just added crumbled, cooked sausage, to some cooked pasta in a oiled casserole dish, coated it with tomato sauce and strategically set up “clouds” of ricotta. I topped it with shredded Parmesan cheese and baked it for 30 mins at 350 degrees until it was just crispy on the edges and bubbling in the middle. Comfort food at its best!

 

 

Leftovers

I found myself with an assortment of leftovers the other day – artisan bread that was a couple days old, cherry tomatoes that were starting to get a little wrinkly, some bits of steak, a nub of sweet onion, some fresh parsley just coming to its last days.

Of course my first thought was “Panzanella!”  That famous Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes tossed with olive oil and vinager.

For seasoning, I keep it simple. I like the flavors of the good olive oil and red wine vinegar to shine through. In addition to that I use plenty of salt, pepper and some granulated garlic. I like the granulated garlic here because its far less aggressive then using raw garlic and it distributes evenly throughout. No one is going to bit into a piece of raw garlic when when you use the granulated garlic.

I usually mix all the ingredients except the bread and let it sit for a while. This time also allows the natural juices of the tomatoes to help with this dressing. By tossing the bread in last you can judge how much bread cubes you want to add, keeping the ratio of wet ingredients (dressing, tomatoes, herbs etc) to around 1-2. (1 part wet ingredients to 2 parts bread) I usually don’t toss in the bread till about 10-15 mins before serving. That way the bread gets moistened but not soggy. The dressing should just just barely coat everything in the bowl.

The beauty of this salad is that it is perfect served room temperature. Of course if you are adding meat like I did – keep the wet ingredients (including the meat) refrigerated till about 30 mins before serving time. You want to get the chill off before serving, and toss in the toasted, cubed bread about 15 mins before serving.

final

The simplicity of leftovers!

Author’s notes:

Basil is often used in a panzanella salad but really any fresh, soft herb you have on hand is great in this.

When it comes to the olive oil in this, make sure you break out the good stuff because it is gives a lot of flavor and richness.

Onions – I happen to have some sweet onion on hand. I wouldn’t use a red onion unless you dice it fine and keep the amount low. A red onion can sometimes over-power a dish. Shallots are natural excellent choice for this dish.

 

 

Steaming Meat

Steamed meat doesn’t sound appealing at first. But when you add cheese everything suddenly seems ok.

Steamed Cheeseburgers. Made famous by Ted’s in Meriden Connecticut are worth the trek if you find yourself anywhere in New England. If you are not then get yourself a “Burg’r Tende’r” and get busy steaming at home!

My first reaction when I was invited to a “steamed cheeseburger” event was “huh?” My host explained the backstory about Ted’s in Meriden (which happens to be her hometown) and how she purchased one of these contraptions a while back so she could have a little taste of home here in Boston.

burgr tendr

I feel like everyone needs a “Steam Cheeseburger Chest!”

It was MUCH smaller than I imagined – think “easy bake oven” size! The tiny part at the bottom holds the water to create the steam. The door opens to reveal shelves that hold trays of meat and cheese.

trays of cheese and burger

That’s cheese in the top 3 trays (with room for 2 more trays on the top shelf) and ground beef in the rest.

The ground beef trays get a head start by about 5 minutes and the cheese goes in after that for about another 5 mins. So 10-12 mins total.

The amount of cheese that goes in the trays is somewhat excessive but the idea is that once it melts it really “pours” over the burger and really almost envelops the burger!

cheese trays

can there ever be too much cheese?

melted cheese

Add other toppings as you wish!

The steamed burger is the juiciest – most delicious – burger and the amount of cheese is just perfect!!

Now off to the world wide web to see about getting one of these contraptions for myself!