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.

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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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Dinner In A Bag (again)

Pot Roast cooked in a plastic bag sounds crazy right? But that was the only kind of pot roast I knew as a child.

Cooking in an oven bag was this 1970’s concept where you place your cut of meat, vegetables and seasoning and a little water into an oven safe bag and place that into a pan/dish and put the whole thing in the oven. After 2 hours or so you have a magically deliciously “bag’o pot roast!”

This isn’t the first time I have done this – I exposed this back in 2011 as well.

There is remarkably little information on the great internet about this ( here , here and here -that’s it!) and I am not really sure when “Gordon Lawry” invented it but I think it was a long time ago considering he was paid 15 cents for his invention!

Anyway don’t knock it until you try it! It’s the original “sheet pan” dinner and it’s delicious! (maybe add some green veggies in the side to “heathy” it up!)

 

READ THE DIRECTIONS AND FOLLOW THEM but here is a couple tips: If you lose the ties supplied, cut a thin strip off the mouth of the bag, and use that to tie it with. ( don’t use some other tie as it might melt!)

Don’t use where there’s a danger of the bag touching any of the heating elements, thereby melting, spilling out its contents and causing a grease fire.

Mystery Meat

I can not emphasis enough the virtues of labeling things when you put them in the freezer.

Not only for the obvious “eat/cook by date” but for the “what actually is this?”

Recently I pulled out some sort of hot-dog/sausage looking package out of my freezer and wished I had labeled it.

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I am sure at the time I was all like “oh I will throw this in and will defiantly remember it because it’s special.”

2 months later… (let’s be honest it could have been 2 weeks later) and I can’t remember what sort of local sourced, handcrafted, all natural, no nitrates “hot dog or sausage” thing this was!

So after defrosting I had to start with the basic question of “is this a raw product or fully cooked?”

Taking no chances, I sliced and cooked one to be sure. After tasting it I still had no clue.

Here is the information for analysis: firm texture, not very salty, mild flavor – possibly an all beef product. It was not as “pink” as it appears in the photo – probably due to lack of Nitrites*. Hubby doesn’t get along with Nitrites so I often avoid them in sausage products anyway. If anybody has any ideas out there, by all means I am taking suggestions as I would like to remember so I can maybe get them again – they were tasty!

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*Nitrates and nitrites are frequently added to processed meats like bacon, ham, sausages and hot dogs. They function as preservatives, helping to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. They also add a salty flavour and improve the appearance of the meat products by giving them a red or pink color.
Info Credit: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful

 

Oliver Twist

Nope this isn’t a book review! It’s actually a twist on a recipe by Jaime Oliver that I saw recently over at the Food52 blog. ( I can’t never resist a word pun – no matter how corny!)

His recipe used chicken legs, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. I used pork, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. I think my twist worked out pretty good!

I used a 3-4 lb center cut roast that I sliced into chops for serving. (bone-in roast – this is where center cut “pork chops” come from) I also used a heavy cast-iron pot, that way I could generously salt and pepper the outside of the meat and sear it over high heat to create a bit of a crust. Then in the style of Jaime oliver I simply threw in a pint of cherry tomatoes, a handful of basil, 6-7 medium size whole cloves of garlic, tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a 1/2 cup of warm water just to make sure I had enough “juice.”

And like Jaime I simply put it in a 350 degree oven and undisturbed for 1 and half hours. But I used a meat thermometer to check and determine when my pork was cooked. (145 degrees for medium-rare and 160 degrees for medium)

Author’s Note:

I often have to reheat portions for my husband and this one worked out pretty good over the mashed potatoes! Just note if you plan to reheat you may want to consider cooking the chop to medium-rare the first time, that way you have a little margin for additional cooking.

 

 

A Tale Of Two Patty Pans

 

…and a tomato and some garlic.veggies

This is not the first time I have written about Patty Pans and in fact I seem to have a habit of buying them in pairs. I guess 1 just doesn’t seem like enough and more than 2 seems like too many.

Just a simple grill job for these little beauties, along with some fresh onions, kebobs and Feta-tomato rice salad. All they needed was a light marinade of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and a few chili flakes. Summer simplicity on a plate!

 

The Santa Fe Experiment

Recently I had opportunity to travel to Albequerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. To me it seems like the entire state smells amazing, and especially the farmer’s market that I visited in Santa Fe. The smells of sage, chili powder, piñons and fry bread wafted through the air like a savory air freshener, as I walked through sampling any and everything I could find!

When I returned it only made sense to try one of the “edible souvenirs” that I brought back with me. (Those also cost me an extra 20mins and an extra bag search at airport security.)

Posole mixes were abundant at the farmer’s market and after looking over all the choices I selected one that looked fool-proof for a gringo like me to make. Posole is a Mexican (or probably more accurately Aztec in origin) pork and hominy stew. The mix contained dried hominy and several over dried beans/seeds/legumes that I really have no idea what they were. It also came with a spice packet and recipe.

I followed the instructions exactly except for 2 things. I decided to use the slow cooker as one change to the recipe and since I have a smaller slow cooker, I only used 2.5 quarts water, figuring I could always add water. I was glad I used the slow cooker since it took longer then 3 hours on high – I actually ended up leaving on it overnight on low after the first 3 hours on high. And I never need to add the extra 1/2 quart of water.

Here is the recipes in pictures with one notation…after trimming the pork meat from the bones I tied up the bones in cheesecloth to add to the stew for flavor. Remove the bundle before serving. (click on the slide show below to enlarge)

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In full disclosure, I added a generous amount of salt and pepper to this as well as a healthy tablespoon of mild New Mexico red chile powder that I also obtained at the farmer’s market and made it through security at the airport. Without that and the fresh toppings, the stew would have been actually kinda bland. I am not experienced to know if the stew is supposed to be just a rich broth with a somewhat mellow flavor to allow the fresh toppings to shine? ( kinda like vietnamese Pho)

Or maybe I was supposed to season/brine the pork first? And perhaps even brown it first? I do know that it is common practice to add green or red chile to the stew and so I felt justified in adding some red chile to mine.

And while my version turned out pretty good – but not amazing – next time I would get even more elaborate on the fresh toppings… sliced radishes, avocado, thin sliced cabbage to name just a few more.

Here is a nice source for seeds if you want to grow your own chile peppers: https://www.sandiaseed.com/pages/about-us

 

 

Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken. That most simple and comforting food. And yet I hardly ever roast a chicken. A whole one that is. I am the only one in a house who appreciates a home-roasted, bone in chicken. Everybody else – (husband)- doesn’t want to deal with the bones.

So my “roast chicken” is usually a boneless cut (thighs, breast etc) and it is usually a “one pan plan.” And this recent one was no exception. Everything on pan, cut to similar size.

 

By adding big rough cut pieces of tomatoes, I knew the chicken would stay moister and there would almost end up being a bit of a “pan sauce” created. Just cook up some rice or pasta or steamed greens and serve in bowls.

Very easy, very comforting.