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Peach Sweet Corn and Halloumi Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Peach-Sweet-Corn-and-Halloumi-Salad-with-Lemon-Basil-Vinaigrette_best-salad-for-summer_Yes,-more-please!

This salad sums up summer in one plate. It is the kind of salad you eat and feel so happy and satisfied, sunshine on a plate. Fresh sweet corn and juicy peach season is here in Austin and I can have this salad almost every day until the last peach. If you are like me and bought two little baskets of peaches at the market, because one did not seem enough for your peachy desires, well we are in the same boat. The good thing is that extra peaches are not a problem once you get the hang of this salad.And if you still have some peaches left over, bake a pie, make this fantastic mini peaches and cream empanadas you have a good alibi for as long those peach baskets last you….

Peach-Sweet-Corn-and-Halloumi-Salad-with-Lemon-Basil-Vinaigrette_Texas-Peaches_Yes,-more-please!

Let me describe you this salad. Imagine the flavor of fresh sweet corn crispy yellow kernels, in combination with juicy bright sweet tangy floral peach slices, a few pieces of pan seared golden Halloumi cheese salty, crusty outside, and creamy gooey inside, over fresh arugula and greens. All come together with a delicious sweet and tangy Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette. It is ridiculously good. It is. Because yes. All the sweet, juicy tangy, salty briny, herb flavors together, one bite of these salad you are hooked!

Peach-Sweet-Corn-and-Halloumi-Salad-with-Lemon-Basil-Vinaigrette_Texas-sweet-corn_Yes,-more-please!

If you never had Halloumi, it is a firm brined cheese that when pan-fried or grilled holds it’s shape and gets crusty golden. It is a bit salty, and texture-wise along its warm its gooey on the inside, then becomes a bit chewie, a pleasent chewie. I bought it in this fantastic shop called Phoenicia Bakery and Deli here in Austin, Tx. It is a fabulous store. They carry foods from around the world but their emphasis is Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties. Cheeses, olives, pantry items, spices, preserves, teas, coffee, dry fruit, to mention a few. They also make the best freshly baked pitas in town. Not to mention they have a small menu for lunch, with great falafel, Gyros, Kafta and Shawarma. Dessert?… no problem from Pistachio Baklava to delicate pastries filled with pine nuts and rose water. And for me their fresh Feta cheese is the best in town, they have 3 different kinds, Bulgarian, French and sheep’s milk simply delicious. You have to go, it is a must…

Peach-Sweet-Corn-and-Halloumi-Salad-with-Lemon-Basil-Vinaigrette_Halloumi-Cheese_Yes,-more-please!

If you are not in Austin you must try to find a specialty food shop were you can buy this delicious cheese… Explore and try something new! Get your inner peach and make this glorious Peach Sweet Corn and Halloumi Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette fresh salad. Lunch, dinner or both, it travels great for a picnic on the park or to daydream about summery days at the office. All you have to do is to close your eyes and almost feel your feet on the green grass, the sun warming up your eye lids and a warm breeze asking you is it summer time yet?….Run and get peachy now! Enjoy.

For the recipe you will need…

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Hatch Fried Chicken

Hatch-friend-chicken_Yes,-more-please!

With a guiltless dance and a smile on my face I implore you to give this hatch fried chicken a “must try” label. This is my new favorite Hatch recipe.

I used skinless chicken thighs and marinated them in a concoction of yogurt, milk and pureed roasted Hatch peppers until the chicken got tender and flavorful. After a quick drench of well seasoned flour I deep-fried them in peanut oil, making the chicken crunchy crusty, crispy, and tender and juicy on the inside.
Why make fried chicken at home? Because I believe it often tastes better, but also It makes you appreciate what you are about to eat.Nothing tastes more rewarding than making the effort to cook an effortless recipe with awesome results!

Happiness and bliss have been achieved when these Hatch Fried Chicken thighs come out of the pan and onto your plate beside the greenest green green coleslaw. It’s a balancing the act of rich and a tangy. You will be dancing from the beginning of the recipe to end of your meal. Its richness is a combination of the dry seasonings and the Hatch peppers’ distinctive mild chili note.
I used chicken thighs, they have great flavor and they are so moist that you can use them skinless, But imagine the possibilities!, chicken breast, legs, wings!… quail. Ok… I just got myself in trouble now… I want quail!…

Any way, If you make this recipe, I would love to know how it went and if you enjoyed as much as we did! Juicy, crispy, spicy fried chicken is gonna make you a fried chicken believer.
Have fun!

Hatch-friend-chicken_ingredients

Hatch Fried Chicken

Makes 6 chicken thighs and one little happy dance.

1.5 lbs. of organic skinless chicken thighs

For the marinade:

3/4 cup plain Bulgarian or Greek yogurt style.
2-3 roasted hatch peppers (remove skins and seeds)* check notes for substitutions at the end of the post.
good 4-5 cranks of freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt

For the flour drench:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn meal
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

For frying:

3 -4 cups – Peanut oil (grape seed oil or corn oil will work too.)
A 10″-12″ heavy bottom enamel pan or a cast iron pan for best results.
1 pair of metal tongs

Preparation method:

1. Puree all the marinade ingredients.

2. Pat dry and trim some of the excess fat on the chicken thighs, if any.
3. In a ceramic or glass dish place the chicken thighs and poor the marinade over them, massage them a little bit, place them in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, over night is best.
4. Next day, Pull the chicken out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking.
5. In a ceramic or glass dish combine all the ingredients for the dredging flour.
6. Start heating the oil. I like to start heating the oil at a low temperature, and slowly turn up the heat. This will ensure your oil will not taste burn and is evenly heated.
***Take care to monitor your oil and your kitchen carefully while deep-frying, never take your attention away from hot cooking oil. No distractions!!***
7. While the oil is slowly heating up, with the help of a fork take one piece of the chicken and tap it a little to remove any excess marinade, dredge into the flour, and with a spoon start covering each piece of chicken really well. Set the dredged flour pieces on a clean dry plate. Proceed with the rest of them one at the time.

Hatch-fried-chicken_drenching-sequence
8. Check on your oil. Place a frying thermometer on the edge of the pan, and check for 350F-360F sprinkle a little flour on the oil, you want big bubbles.
9.When the oil reaches 360, start frying your chicken 2 pieces at a time, to avoid lowering down the temperature of the oil. Check the temperature on your thermometer at all times, you want big bubbles around each piece of chicken, and thermometer reads at least 350/360F  to make sure your chicken is not absorbing extra oil, making it soggy and greasy. iaks!

Hatch-friend-chicken_frying

Hatch-Fried-Chicken_salt-and-cooling-rack
10. Depending on the size of the thighs it will take about 5-6 minutes per side. You want to turn the chicken until you have a rich golden mahogany color on the bottom and the size on the bubbles around the chicken are smaller. This is the right time to gently flip.  Always flip away from you to avoid splatter.
11. Once you flip, lower the temperature a bit to 320F, it might take less time, about 3-4 minutes. Chicken should look golden brown and the bubbles around the chicken are really small. Take the pieces out to drain and check for doneness, the internal temperature of the chicken should read minimum 165F.
12. Drain the chicken on a cooling rack lined on top of a baking sheet and immediately, sprinkle some salt. Placing the chicken on a cooling rack will make sure you the chicken will stay crispy.
13. Adjust the temperature for the next batch and go ahead and fry the rest of the chicken.

14. Ready to eat! Serve the chicken with a great side of coleslaw like this green green coleslaw, check it out is from a previous post, it is tangy crunchy, fresh and so mighty green that I believe it’s the best complement for this spicy hatch fried chicken. Also some lemon wedges, if your brave , maybe some extra dashes of tabasco sauce, or any other vinegary hot sauce. Enjoy!

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Hatch-fried-Chicken-crispy-and-moist-Yes,-more-please!

Hatch-fried-Chicken-crispy-and-moist-ready-to-serve

Enjoy!

*Note:

I used fresh Hatch peppers and roasted them. Here in Texas you can find them very easily when in season. If you are wondering if you can use canned Hatch peppers, yes you can. Our dear friend and follower Ed who is from El Paso, Texas and he and his family have cooked with hatch peppers for many generations, suggested me two good brands: Victoria and Santa Fé ‘Ole brand (bottled)-Double Fire-Roasted . He assures this brands are first-rate to get when hatch is not in season. Thank you so much Ed, for this great information!…

Remember that freezing the chiles is also a good option. Once you roast, peel and de-seeded them, you can purée, dice them or keep them whole, pack them on freezer bags and freeze them for future recipes. You can even make hatch chile purée ice cubes and add them to soups or stews on the winter season…delish!

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Have fun!!!

Music Pairing: Ella & Louis – Cheek to Cheek

 

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Pizza Azteca

Pizza-Azteca_Yes,-more-please!

It’s a pizza!…no!
It’s a casserole!….no! It’s a tamale?!…..no!
It’s a Corn Masa Pizza Pie!….Yes!
As silly as it sounds, it is ridiculously delicious!
Call it what you like: Mexican pizza, Corn Masa pizza; Pizza Azteca-its the ultimate summer one pan wonder. This is a great quick meal solution too! To get pizza on board it takes no more than 35 minutes since the masa does not rely on yeast or waiting time to rise.
Let me describe this pizza for you… Imagine a hot cast iron pan filled with corn masa crust, when baked the bottom gets crusty with soft delicious nutty corn masa. Fresh corn kernels add texture, enhance the corn flavor and add moisture to the crust. The top layer load with summer vegetables like zucchini, fresh corn, tomatoes, red onions, hatch peppers, and loads of melty cheese layered on top. The summer vegetables pair great with the flavor of the corn masa, the oregano on the fresh quick base sauce adds the perfect herb note. I made the pizza sauce by grating some fresh tomatoes which adds extra freshness to the pizza. I baked everything on the king of pans, “the cast iron pan”.

When this pizza comes out of the oven you will be fill with warmth and happiness as you experience the comforting smell of cooked corn masa and fresh vegetables. Pizza Azteca is best served with a fresh green salad on the side and will be a sure crowd pleaser.

This Pizza Azteca is what I would offer Moctezuma on a summer afternoon… Pizza Azteca is a meal fit for kings!

Enjoy!

Pizza-Azteca_Yes,-more-please!_ingredients

Pizza Azteca

Makes 1 round 12” pizza, yields 8-10 slices.

For the crust:

2 cups corn masa- Maseca is the brand I like, if you can get fresh masa, use it! you will be in heaven.
2 to 2-1/2 cups warm water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup fresh corn kernels (white or yellow corn is ok)

For the sauce:

3 medium roma tomatoes grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 garlic clove grated
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

For the toppings:

1 large or 2 medium zucchini thinly sliced.
1 ear of corn worth of kernels
1 hatch pepper or substitute for 1 good pinch of red pepper flakes.
Use roasted red peppers if you do not care for spicy.
1 cup cherry, sun golds or grape tomatoes sliced in half.
2 cups of grated cheese like Adobera, Oaxaca, Gouda, Mozzarella or Monterrey jack.
Use the cheese you like the most, as long it melts and has a mild flavor so you can taste the rest of the ingredients.
Salt and pepper to taste a little extra virgin olive oil for drizzle.

Preparation:

Preparing the masa:

1. Start by preparing the masa dough. Dissolve the salt into the 2 cups of warm water.
2. In a large bowl place your dry corn masa flour, make a well in the center add half of the water, and start incorporating the flour from the sides. Add corn kernels and the rest of the water. Knead for 2-3 minutes until water is well absorbed by the masa.
3. The masa should feel moist a bit sticky to the touch. You should be able to shape it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap, set aside let it rest while you prepare the rest of your vegetables.
4. Preheat Oven at 450F/ 230F

Pizza-Azteca_how-to-make-the-crust
5. Prepare and slice all your vegetables, grate your cheese and prepare your tomato sauce by grating the tomatoes and adding the oregano, salt, garlic, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.

Pizza-azteca_ingredients

Pizza-azteca_Sauce
6. At this point your masa should be well hydrated and ready to shape into the cast iron pan. Using a 11-12” Cast Iron Pan place your masa dough in the center and with wet hands start by evenly shaping the masa into the pan. Create a  higher rim on the edge of the pan. see photo.

Note: If your cast iron pan is well seasoned do not worry about the crust it will not stick to the pan, if not just apply some neutral oil on a napkin and grease the pan before shaping your crust.

7. Once you have an even layer with a bit of a rim on the outside edges, Place skillet with the crust in the oven, on the bottom rack. Bake for 15 minutes lowering the oven temperature to 425F as soon the crust is in the oven.

Pizza-Azteca_Pizza-crust

Pizza-Azteca,pre-bake-crust
8. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, place it on top of the stove or a metal trivet and start layering your pizza ingredients. Note: leave the pot holders into the cast iron pan handles at all times!, this will prevent you to try to grab the hot pan by mistake!…believe me I’ve been there…ouch!
9. Layer the ingredients same way you do like on a pizza, starting with tomato sauce on the bottom, half of the cheese, zucchini, corn, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and the rest of the cheese. A pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper.
10. Place the cast iron pan into the oven for another 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and the pizza has some gratin golden brown blisters.

Pizza-Azteca_layers
11. Remove from oven, place the pan on a trivet and wait 5 minutes to cool off a bit before cutting. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro for garnish.
12. Serve and Enjoy!

 

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Pizza-Azteca,-Yes,-more-please!_slice

Enjoy!

Silly, silly music pairing: Brak’s Pizza Song with the Space ghost…

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Carrot Corn dogs

Carrot-Corn-dogs-ingredients
So many carrots too little time… Its carrot bonanza season, rabbits everywhere, and have you started to turn orange yet?… Well I hope not, because this recipe is gonna drive you insane. As you know, despite all the wholesomeness I believe in, I have a weakness for a certain processed food… hot dogs…I know,  its terrible isn’t it? I know every fact of how the industry introduced us into this strange tubular meat, but yet I’m still hooked.
So in the search for a less processed option, a friend told me about this place in L.A where they serve sous-vided carrots and make vegetarian hot dogs, how crazy good does that sound?
That’s when I had a revelation: How about creating a corn dog, with carrots? Kaz-zam! Done deal. I made them. No, I do not own a sous-vide machine and nor the rest of the mortal cooking souls on earth but if you do , call me we can hang out!; So I oven roasted the carrots, to give some extra flavor and also to pre-cook the carrot. I made the most basic recipe for the batter. But they needed a little extra luv. I wanted a contrast in textures, that thing you crave in a fried object, the crusty salty outside and soft inside.
To that end I added 1 part of rice flour, peas, green onions and corn kernels into the batter.
The result is crazy good!… when you deep fry these babies, they get crusty outside, soft inside, and the peas and corn kernels pop in your mouth with a burst of extra flavor. The carrot center is stellar.
Don’t be nervous about deep-frying,  using the proper technique will ensure you  great success. I do not deep fry food very often, so I do not own a deep fryer and I do just fine.
You can easily get great results with the following tips:
Get a thermometer for crying out loud!
They cost around $9-14  no need to break the bank and it is one of the best kitchen investments.
Buy Peanut Oil:
It is the best oil to deep fry, no saturated fats, no smells, no greasy food.
Now a days you can buy small amounts of peanut oil at the super market.
Use a heavy bottom,  6″-8″ diameter deep enamel or aluminum pot. Straight sides for easy thermometer attachment.
And remember safety always come first when dealing with hot oil.*

This carrot corn dogs are great for kiddos and vegetarian adults in need of a little indulgence, Enjoy!

Carrot-Corndog-bite~Yes,-more-please!

Carrot Corn dogs

Makes 12-16 / 3” mini carrot corn dogs.

6-8 Long, medium thick carrots.
You will need about 12-16 of  3’” long pieces.

For the batter:

½ cup yellow corn flour
(I used Larry’s Corn Meal, from organic/non-gmo Coyote Creek Mill corn)
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup stone ground rice flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk or unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 scallion finely chopped
½ cup  fresh corn kernels
¼ cup fresh peas or frozen if you must.

16 oz Peanut Oil for deep-frying.
16 wooden or bamboo sticks.

Utensils:

Long tongs, deep fryer, or candy thermometer, 6”-8”diameter pot  with straight walls for deep-frying, cooling rack.

Preparation Method:

1. Cut carrots into 3”- 4” long. Place them on a roasting pan, season them salt and pepper do not drizzle oil. Roast them at 400F for about 12-15 minutes.
Carrots should not be soft, al dente centers is best, since they gonna keep cooking when frying.

2. When ready, set the carrots aside let them cool completely, then proceed to insert the bamboo sticks.

3. Meantime in a medium size bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, then add all the wet ingredients, mix until well incorporated , small lumps are ok. Fold into the batter corn kernels and peas. Refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes

Carrot-Corndog

4. Place your chilled batter into a tall glass or jar, this will allow you to easily submerge the carrots into the batter.

5. Prepare your utensils and have everything ready, tongs, cooling rack, batter in a glass, see picture below.

Carrot-Corn-dogs_set-up

6.  Start  heating the oil. Check the oil temperature 360-375 degrees / 185-190 Celsius.
7. Dip the carrots into the batter, one at a time, holding the carrots from the stick with tongs, carefully and slowly drop it into the hot oil.
8. Monitor the temperature, it should not drop more than 15 degrees, when placing the corn dogs.
9. Do not crowd the pan. Fry 3-4 corn dogs at the time. This will ensure you evenly  golden brown  and well cooked batter.
10. How to know when they are cooked and ready to come out of the oil?  Corn dogs are floating, look evenly golden brown color, the bubbles around them are smaller.
11. Use tongs to take them out. Place them onto a cooling rack. Keep them warm in the oven.
12. Serve warm, with the dipping sauces, or simple ketchup and mustard. Enjoy!.

Carrot-Corn-dogs_1,2,3,4-stepsCarrot-Corndog-cooling-rack

Dipping Sauces:

Curry Ketchup:

¼ cup Ketchup + 1/4 teaspoon yellow curry + ¼ teaspoon rice vinegar = Mix.

Honey Mustard:

2 Tablespoons Honey + 2 Tablespoons Whole grain mustard + 1 teaspoon yellow mustard = Mix.

Dill Yogurt:

¼ teaspoon dry dill + plain greek yogurt + ¼ teaspoon celery salt = Mix.

Carrot-Corndog-dipping-saucesCarrot-Corndog~Yes,-more-please!

Watch out wacky wabbits!

*Be aware, hot oil at this temperature can inflict a lot of pain and injury so use a back burner on your stove if possible and keep the cooking pot (and its handle) away from children. In fact, I think its best to keep younger children away from the whole process and never let the frying pot leave your attention so you can monitor the oil’s temperature and keep the food from over cooking. Deep frying this batter, or anything else, some oil is bound to spatter so use long tongs or a spider to handle the food. This will prevent you from getting burns too. Focus and be on a Zen frying mode. The reward is  scrumptiously good.

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