CORN: AN EIGHT COURSE TASTING MENU

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 CORN RECIPES For EVERY COURSE

 

Having just returned from 3 days in Manhattan eating at Michelin starred restaurants and being inspired by the great corn we are eating this summer, I decided to put together a meal entirely based on corn.  I had a blast and what transpired was a very unique and surprisingly great meal.  I’ll offer general guidelines for some of the recipes and for others I’ll give you more details.

 

 The corn maple syrup panna cotta was the most unusual and a real keeper.  The trick for all of these dishes is to find the perfect corn which I am pleased to say can be found in various locations this summer.  I like it, crispy, (not mushy), sweet and packed with corny flavor. 

 

So here we go, experiment as I did.  Look online for similar recipes and then take off with your ideas.  And be prepared to spend time prepping so that last minute you can finish your dishes quickly.    It helps to have guests who enjoy lending a hand.

 

EIGHT COURSE CORNY TASTING MENU

August 24th 2012

Celebrating summer and corn

 

 

 

Creamed corn  filo cups with cheese, caramelized onions and shitake mushrooms

 

Corn vichyssoise with leeks and onions

 

Arugula and grilled  corn salad with pistachios, and heirloom tomatoes

 

Tortilla corn and black bean stack with pulled pork

 

Corn and crab cakes with lemon caper butter sauce (hold the  mayo)

 

Grilled Kielbasa with corn relish

 

Savory corn pudding

 

Corn and maple syrup panna cotta with peaches and strawberries

 

 

 

 

Creamed Corn Fillo Cups

with Shitake Mushrooms and goat Cheese

 

 

5 oz. package sliced shitake mushrooms

1 small sweet onion,  small diced

Olive oil for frying

2 tbs. butter for frying

2 ears of corn cut off the cob

½ cup heavy cream

4 oz. cream cheese

2 oz. goat cheese

1/3 cup shredded swiss cheese

salt and pepper

2 packages mini fillo shells (I like Athens brand that come 15 to a package and is in the freezer section near the pie doughs)

 

1.      Fry onions in a little olive oil and 1 Tbs. butter until slightly brown and set aside.

2.     Fry mushrooms in a little olive oil with remaining butter and set aside.

3.     Fry the corn kernels briefly in same frying pan over high heat so that it begins to release a great corn fragrance, stirring frequently.

4.     After you begin to smell the corn (about3-5 minutes) add the cream and simmer corn and cream together for another 5-6 minutes.

5.     Meanwhile, in a food process, process cream cheese and goat cheese until well missed. 

6.     Mix everything together and season for salt and pepper.  I like alot of pepper in this dish.

7.     You can prepare this ahead of time and refrigerate for a couple of days.  Right before you serve it, heat it up in the microwave and then fill about 1 Tbs in each cup and sprinkle with the grated swiss cheese.  Bake at 350 ? for about 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and beginning to brown.

 

 

CHILLED CORN VICHYSSOISE  

 

3 Tbs. olive oil)

3 medium leeks, trimmed, sliced and washed

2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced

4-6 ears corn, kernels cut from the cob. Put corn from one ear aside.

32 ounces or 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup ½ and ½ (optional)

Salt to taste

Snipped chives for garnish

 

1.  Using heavy casserole, fry the onions in butter until soft and lightly browned.

2.  Adds sliced leeks and cook slowly with onions for another 10 minutes, stirring

     occasionally.

3.  Add chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently, covered for

     20 minutes or until leeks are soft.

4. Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes.

5.  When slightly cooled, pureed the mixture in a blender or food process until very

      smooth.  Add ½ and ½ if desired at this point and mix together.

6. Fry the last ear of corn kernels over high heat with a little oil and some salt until beginning to brown.  Set aside to use for garnish. (This step is optional)
7.  Refrigerate 24-48 hours.

7.  Garnish each bowl with chopped chives and corn kernels.

 

 

 

Arugula and grilled corn salad with pistachios, cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes and a preserved lemon dressing

 

The fusion of lemon, pistacchio and corn creates flavor that is quite extraordinary.

 

Salad

 

Baby arugula or mixed baby greens

2 ears of corn, grilled until beginning to brown and then kernels removed when cool

¼ cup pistachio nuts

1 cucumber

cherry tomatoes

 

Dressing

 

1 preserved lemon without the peel, chopped finely

1 Tbs. chopped chives

Juice of one meyer lemon

pinch of sugar

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

 

1.       For dressing mix everything together, preferably in a small food processor or chopped and add olive oil gradually. Add salt and pepper to taste

2.      Toss with greens

3.      Arrange the lettuce, corn, pistachios, tomatoes and cucumbers attractively on each plate.

 

 

 

Tortilla corn and black bean stack with pulled pork

 

Pulled Pork

 

Corn tortillas

Black beans

2 ears of corn

½ cup heavy cream

 

This is an experiment based on a wonderful dish we had at Café Bolud in NYC during their restaurant week.  This was served with a Southwestern style lamb dish and they were tiny 1 inch squares of layered beans and tortillas.  I thought it would be even better with a layer of corn as well.

 

Bean layer:  I make my own black beans in a pressure cooker without needing to soak ahead of time.  To half a pound of beans that have been cleaned, I add ½ cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup orange juice, and a cup of water.  I then add salt, a couple of garlic cloves and a little cumin.  I pressure cook for 20 minutes and then reduce pressure and check for doneness.  They take between 20-30 minutes.  I then leave them to cool in their liquid and when you make the puree add only enough liquid to give it a smooth spreadable consistency.  You can also buy canned black beans and puree and season them to your liking or you can do this with refried beans.

 

Corn layer:  Take kernels off the cobs and fry this in a sauce pan until beginning to smell aromatic but not brown.  Add heavy cream and cook together for 5-6 minutes until the corn is cooked.  Then put in food process or blender and puree until very smooth.  If it’s too thick add some more milk or cream to think it out but you want it spreadable and not runny.

 

To make the stacks:  Toast the tortillas in a toaster oven until very lightly toasted but not brown.  On a tortilla spread a thin layer of beans, then layer another tortilla and then a layer of corn followed by another layer of tortilla.

Wrap them up and refrigerate them until ready to serve.  Right before serving fry them in a hot frying pan until lightly browned on each side.  

 

For main course serve one or two per person and for an appetizer serve a quarter of the stack alongside the pulled pork.

 

 

Corn and crab cakes with lemon caper butter sauce

 

There are some people who are mayo-phobes.  They hate anything even remotely associated with jarred mayo including any type of aioli.  I am happy to offer this recipe for a mayo-less crabcake and mayo-less sauce.

 

 

You can use you own crab cake recipe and add corn or follow these general instructions:

 

Crab Cake

8 ounces crab meat (good quality, not canned or imitation)

2 green onions (scallions, finely chopped)

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 ears of corn, kernels removed

1 tsp old bay seasoning

cayenne pepper to taste

1 tsp dry mustard

2 egg yolks

bread crumbs

 

1.      Cook the corn in the heavy cream until the corn is cooked through but still crunchy (5-6 minutes) cool

2.     Mix egg yolks into corn and cream mixture

3.     Mix everything except bread crumbs together gently so as to keep the chunks of crabmeat intact.

4.     Gently make small (2 inch) patties and coat them with the bread crumbs. This is difficult since they are very crumbly

5.     Refrigerate until they are firm and easy to handle.

6.     Fry in vegetable oil until brown on each side.

7.     Serve with lemon caper sauce

 

Lemon Caper Sauce (hold the mayo)

 

Juice of one lemon

1 Tbs. capers

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. white wine or vermouth

1/4 heavy cream

 

1.     Boil lemon juice and vermouth until reduced to 1-2 Tbs.

2.  Add cream and reduce until thickened.

3.      Wisk in butter a little at a time while stirring. 

4.     Add capers and season with salt

4.     Refrigerate until ready to use.

5.     Heat gently in microwave

 

 

Grilled Kielbasa with corn relish

 

Kielbasa ( I like the small individual smoked Polish Kielbasa from Hilshire Farms)

 

Corn Relish Recipe

.

INGREDIENTS

·         1 large cucumbers, peeled, finely chopped

·         2 cups of finely chopped onions 

        1 cup chopped green cabbage

 

·         2 stalks celery finely chopped (Size of corn kernels)

·         ½ cup chopped pimento

·         4 cups corn kernels (cut from 4-6 ears, depending on how big the ears are)

·         1/2 cup sugar

·         1 ½  Tbsp Kosher salt

·         1/2 teaspoon black pepper

·         1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

·         1/2 teaspoon turmeric

·         2 teaspoons mustard seeds

·         1 teaspoon celery salt

·         cayenne pepper to taste

METHOD

1        Place everything except corn, celery and cucumber and pimento in a medium-sized (4 to 6-quart), thick-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

2        Add celery and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes.  Then mix in pimento.  Taste for seasoning.

3         Spoon the corn relish into clean jars and seal. Will last for 4-6 weeks refrigerated.

4        This is better made a few days before you serve it.

 

Yield: Makes 3-4 pints.

 

 

 

Savory corn pudding

 

 

FOOD AND WINE magazine has a wonderful corn pudding recipe . I cut down on the butter; actually I just left it out.  And instead of 6 eggs, I used 4 because I wanted more corn flavor.  The corn is so sweet and tasty now…it’s the perfect time to try this recipe.  The cornmeal settles on the bottom so that it serves as a crust.  I loaded up with sweet Mayan onions. If you want a more elegant presentation try using muffin tins or individual pots as pictured above.  Another idea is to use a small cup as a cookie cutter and carved out single portions.  The picture below shows this single portion presentation using chervil as a garnish.

 

 

 

 

 

Corn and maple syrup panna cotta with seasonal fruit

 

This is an incredibly easy dessert to make and quite elegant.  It isn’t quite as smooth as regular panna cotta but my guests liked the texture.  If you want it really smooth you’ll need to put it through a sieve. 

 

5 ears of corn taken:  kernels taken off the cobs

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 envelope gelatin

2 Tbs maple syrup

 

Mint leaves for garnish (optional)

 

1.      Put the gelatin in a bowl with 2 Tbs water to soften gelatin

2.     Heat the corn kernels up in a heavy skillet for a few minutes so that they become fragrant.  Add the heavy cream and simmer until the corn is cooked: 5-6 minutes.

3.     Add the gelatin and stir together until the gelatin is dissolved

4.     Put gelatin and corn mixture and maple syrup into blender and blend until very smooth. You will need a good blender for this.  I have a Vita Mix which does a good job.  A food processor will not make it smooth enough.  If you want it smoother you will have to put it through a fine sieve after you add the milk. Add milk and pour into individual dishes.  A good amount is about ½ cup per person which will give you  6-7 servings.

5.     Chill in fridge until set.  You can make this the day before.

6.     Garnish with mint and serve with fruit cut into little pieces:  blueberries, nectarines, peaches, kiwis or strawberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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APPLES!

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'Tis apple season and we are lucky enough to have such a great selection in Ithaca.  Over the past few weeks we've had so much fun with apples.  We've had two cider pressing parties.  We started having these parties when the kids were young and we'd invite families of their friends.

 I'd make 4 or 5 different soups and serve them with bread and everyone would bring an appetizer or dessert.  This year was a scaled down version since the kids are grown up and I can't get them all home at the same time.  Here is my son Jeffrey with his friend Seth enjoying themselves.

We usually rent a press from the Cayuga Nature Center.  We go to King Town Orchards to buy bulk second hand apples.  Everyone takes a hand at cranking the apples and everyone leaves with a half gallon of freshly pressed cider.  We get a variety of apples and sometimes throw in some pears and this is guaranteed to be the best cider around.

 

 

 

 

 

Other great things to do with apples:  Dried apples.  I invested in a $20 apple corer, peeler and slicer and we already had a dehydrator.  Making a batch of apples using the Back To Basics apple corer/slicer  takes only a few minutes, once you get the hang of it.  It's an amazingly simple and efficient design and it works.

 Don't add anything to the apples.  They get incredibly sweet once they're dry and it takes about 12 hours.  If you don't want to waste the scraps (peels and ends of the apples) you can make applesauce with them.  I just throw everything (minus the cores) into my crock pot and let them cook down.  After putting them through a food mill I taste for seasoning and may add sugar,honey or cinnamon.  

This last batch of applesauce I used to make my spiced applesauce muffins.

 

 APPLES READY FOR DRYING IN THE DEHYDRATOR

 

 

 

 

 APPLE GARLIC CHUTNEY

 

 

Yesterday I made the apple garlic chutney recipe I posted a while back and we started eating it right away even though it's better after a couple of weeks.  I used dried mango, golden raisins, dried apricots and apples. 

 

 

The following recipe was passed out a few years ago by Jackie Sherwin of Black Diamond Farm.  I adapted the original recipe which was from the cookbook: An Apple Harvest-Recipes and Orchard Lore, by Frank Browning and Sharon Silva
 
 
 

 

APPLE GARLIC CHUTNEY RECIPE

 

 
4-5 tart apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup dried apricots chopped
1 cup golden raisins
6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
2 tsp. grated and peeled fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider or red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
 
In a non-reactive pot (not aluminum or iron) combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, stirring often.  Add more vinegar if necessary to prevent burning.  Cook for about 30 minutes until the apples are softened and the mixture is thickened.  Taste and add more salt, sugar or vinegar if necessary. To give it a nice kick I add a teaspoon of grated ginger and a clove of pressed garlic after I turn off the heat and stir it in.
 
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Spoon into sterile jars and cover tightly.  Refrigerate for several days and up to two weeks to allow flavors to mellow.  This chutney can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.
 
 

 

 

SPICED APPLESAUCE MUFFINS
 
Makes 16-18 muffins
 
 
  • 1 ¼ cups applesauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½  cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½  teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½  teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup raisins or chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2.  Prepare muffin pans (16-18 muffins) with cupcake foils
  3. In a large bowl, Beat eggs first and then  add the applesauce, sugar, oil, and milk; beat well.
  4.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and mix in cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and salt. Add to the applesauce mixture but don't overstir.
  5. Add vanilla and fold in the pecans and raisins.
  6. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
 
 

 

 

 

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FRESH SEASONAL FRUIT

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SEASONAL FRUIT PLATTER

 

 

 

 

Inspired by Alice Water's (CHEZ PANISSE) interview on Fresh Air last week, I decided to select the most beautiful and sweetest local fruit I could find and offer it to my dinner guests just like this.

 The peaches were from the Ithaca Farmer's Market, the plums were from Black Diamond Farm which has a booth at the IFM, and the little yellow plums in the back, under the grapes were from Indian Creek Orchards.  The green grapes, bursts of total flavor and sweetness and the Chestnut Crab apples were also from Black Diamond Farm. The raspberries were from our garden picked a few hours beforehand at their peak of ripeness.  I couldn't resist adding the perfectly ripe figs even though they were interlopers to the local platter.

Served as is with homemade plum ice-cream and this was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.  The next day I made a peach/raspberry pie with the leftover very ripe fruit.  But it really is a shame to cook fruit when it is so fresh and perfect as were these fruits.


 

Thanks to my friend Doug Hexler who hosted the party and took this beautiful picture.

 

 

 

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LEMON BLUEBERRY UPSIDE CAKE

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 This is a terrific way to serve blueberries.  I tried this recipe back in April of 2006 when I t was first published.  I marked it “fantastic” and have made it several times since then with great success.  I have adapted this recipe from the original in several ways.  It’s  hard to this mess up.  I would also make this recipe using frozen blueberries.

 

It’s not elegant looking but wait until you taste it.  The lemon, almond paste and blueberries are a match made in heaven.

 

 

Lemon  Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Adapted from Bon Appétit  | April 2006

Blueberry topping

·         1/3- 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

·         1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

·         1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


Lemon-almond butter cake

·         3/4 cup cake flour

·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder

·         4 ounces almond paste (scant 1/2 cup), broken into small pieces .  Make sure this is (SOLO) almond PASTE.

·         1/2 cup sugar

·         3 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel

·         1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

·         3 large eggs, room temperature

·         1 tsp. vanilla

 

·         http://www.epicurious.com/rd_images/primaryContent/recipe_detail/rd_buckets_divider.gif

preparation

For blueberry topping:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in microwave and put in 9-inch-square cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (preferably nonstick) and add brown sugar. Place cake pan over low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar melt and mixture is smooth and bubbling. Using pot holders, remove pan from heat; cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over.

For lemon-almond butter cake:
Sift flour and  baking powder into medium bowl. Combine almond paste, sugar, and lemon peel in bowl of food processor. Mix until almond paste is broken into very small pieces, about 1 minute. Add melted mixing until mixture is smooth and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping sides of bowl after each addition then add vanilla. Add flour mixture and pulse a few times just until batter is smooth. Spoon batter in dollops over blueberries in pan; spread evenly with offset spatula to smooth.

Bake cake until deep golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 1 minute. Run small knife around cake to loosen. Place large platter atop pan. Using oven mitts or potholders and using both hands, hold platter and cake pan firmly together and invert; shake gently, allowing cake to settle on platter. Cool at least 20 minutes.

Garnish cake with lemon slices and lemon peel curls, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature with additional blueberries and whipped cream or ice-cream.

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GOAT CHEESE PANNA COTTA WITH RHUBARB SOUP

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We have a great crop of rhubarb and I started thinking of the perfect dessert using rhubarb. Strawberry Rhubarb pie is the default dessert, of course.  But I wanted to try something different.

This panna cotta is my invention since I found nothing close to what I had in mind.  The creaminess and slightly sweet and tangy flavor of the panna cotta works perfectly with the sourness of the rhubarb.  Play around with the amount of sugar and spices you want with the rhubarb.

 I used Goya Guava juice because we always have it around.  It’s great for smoothies!  But you can try this with another juice as well.  Or just use more wine..  Keep an eye on the rhubarb so it isn’t overcooked.  It should keep some of it’s texture.

 

This is an elegant and refreshing summer dessert.  It has met with rave reviews every time I’ve served it.

 

 

 

 

 

GOAT CHEESE PANNA COTTA WITH RHUBARB SOUP

 

 

 

Rhubarb soup

 

1 pound rhubarb cut into ½  inch pieces

½ cup sugar

1 cup white wine

1 2 inch cinnamon stick

1 cup guava juice

1 star anise (optional)

Strawberries washed and cut into small dice for garnish

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

 

In a pot, combine rhubarb and sugar.  Bake, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until softened but still holding its shape.  

 

Meanwhile, boil wine, juice, cinnamon stick and star anise for 5 minutes and then let it sit.  Pour over the baked rhubarb and chill in refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

PANNA COTTA

 

 

1 cup heavy cream (or if you want to cut down on the cream, use 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1  1/2 cups of buttermilk.)

1 cup buttermilk cup 

1/3 sugar

8 ounces  creamy goat cheese such as Chevrie

1 packet gelatin

1 vanilla bean or 1  tsp. vanilla extract

 

1.       Bring heavy cream, ½ cup buttermilk and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Split bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the simmering cream mixture.

2.      Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over two tablespoons water in a medium sized bowl and leave for 10 minutes.

3.      When the cream has just started to simmer add to the gelatin and mix until the gelatin has dissolved. 

4.      Add remaining buttermilk and goat cheese and mix until creamy.

5.      Divide the panna cotta into 6-6 ounce custard cups and chill for several hours or overnight until set.

 

 

TO ASSEMBLE:

 

 

When ready to serve discard the cinnamon and star anise and divide the soup into 6 bowls.   Run a thin knife around the edge of the ramekins and release them gently unto the soup. 

 

Garnish with the diced strawberry.

 

The black specks in the panna cotta are from the vanilla bean.

 

 

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TOMATOES

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 TOMATOES IN ABUNDANCE:

WAYS  TO ENJOY TOMATOES WITHOUT A RECIPE

 

 

 

This year we have the greatest crop of tomatoes:  cherries and heirloom.  This is what I believe about homegrown tomatoes: the less done with them, the better since their flavor and texture is just perfect right now. 

 

Some of the ways I enjoy tomatoes right now….and  no recipes are necessary!

 

·         BLTs:  don’t get better than right now!  Everyone knows how to make a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. 

·         Tomato sauce:  Cook down all your tomatoes:  they don’t have to be plum tomatoes,  but only use the nice ripe ones and cut off blemishes.  Then put them through a food mill.  If you don’t have one,  I suggest you invest in one.  I use mine for applesauce, tomato sauce, and raspberry sauce.  After you’ve put them through the mill, cook the sauce down some more until it is the consistency that you like. Be careful not to burn your sauce! Watch and stir.

         At this point you have three choices: 1) freeze as is, 2) add fried peppers and onions and cook together a while longer and eat right away or 3) freeze the version with peppers and onions.  You also need to add crushed garlic at the last minute so the taste of garlic stands out, and you add salt and pepper.  But I advise not using other spices if you really want the tomato taste to shine through.  Tonight we had a perfect meal with fresh pasta (linguini) served with the sauce I described above  and some fresh parmesan. 

·         Tomato soup.  Same as above, without the peppers, blended in a blender and with cream added if you’d like.   A pinch of allspice is a little secret that enhances the flavor without overpowering the tomato flavor.

 

Tomato salad done several ways:

 

·         Cherry tomatoes  halved with fried pine nuts, basil, olive oil and salt to taste.

·         Tomato and Cucumber salad: tomatoes peeled and cubed, and added to cucumbers peeled and cubed about the same size.  Dress with good olive oil and salt.  And if you’d like, add some balsamic vinegar.

·         Dried cherry tomatoes.  If you have a dehydrator you can cut the tomatoes in half and dry them as is…or add some salt. You can just pop them in your mouth.  They're like candy.

·         Tomato omelet;   Peel the tomato, dice and fry in olive oil until just beginning to brown.  Set aside,  Then chop up some sweet onion and fry slowly until caramelized.  Mix together, set aside and use as a filling for an omelet.  If you want to make it “over the top” you can add some gruyere cheese to the omelet. 

·         Tomatoes on a platter with  mozzarella, basil, and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

·         A wonderful “sub” using fresh tomatoes, goat cheese and pesto.  I used to make these for picnics with the kids.  I would take a baguette and half it lengthwise.  I’d then spread the goat cheese on one side and the pesto on the other and the tomatoes went in the middle. I’d wrap it up and when we got to the picnic, I’d slice it into portions.  If it was going to be a while before we ate, I’d add the tomatoes at the last minute.

·      Oven dried plum tomatoes Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each cherry or grape tomato crosswise or Roma tomato lengthwise and arrange on a silipat or  parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper, though go easily on these.Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes. Check them often.  You can eat them as is or served on toasted slices of baguette with goat cheese.

·         And of course:  gazpacho.  If you have some extra tomatoes from one of the tomato or tomato and cucumber salads this is the start of your gazpacho.  All you do is peel tomatoes, add some cucumber and only peel them if you need to.  Add a little onion,( not too much) and some garlic:  not too much of this either.  I you like bell peppers, add some as well.  Cut up some stale (or not stale) bread into cubes.  Blend together in food process and add some red wine vinegar and some good olive oil.  Add some salt and taste.  You may need to balance with some more vinegar.  When it tastes right, refrigerate overnight until it’s well chilled.  Before serving taste again and adjust the for taste.  Gazpacho can be served in shot glasses for an elegant presentation.

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BAKED RATATOUILLE

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NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE RATATOUILLE WITH ALL LOCALLY GROWN  INGREDIENTS!!

 

 

 

Ingredients for the RATATOUILLE

 

The bell peppers were from our garden, the zucchini and onions were grown by Full Plate CSA and the plum tomatoes and baby eggplant were bought from Mandville Farm at the Farmer’s Market.

 

I decided to do something new with the ratatouille that would allow people to pick and choose their vegetables.  I sliced and fried the onions in olive oil until they were well cooked, brown and caramelized.  The onions were then evenly spread in an ovenproof 8X12 or so dish.

I then cut the peppers into 4 or 5 strips lengthwise and cooked them also until they were slighly charred and well cooked.  They were then spread over the onions in a neat row. 

Next I cut the eggplant in half lengthwise(no need to peel or salt or anything fussy) and fried them also until they were almost cooked and slightly brown. They were also attractively laid over the onions in a neat row.

 I cut the zucchini into think slices widthwise and made nice rows of with my two medium sized eggplants.  I didn’t precook them since I like them to be a little crunchy.

Finally, I skinned the tomatoes by putting them briefly in boiling water and then removing them and skinning them.  I cut them in half lenthwise and arranged them attractively on or around the vegetables.  Make sure all the vegetables are properly salted.

I used dry bread to make breadcrumbs and mixed about 1/2 cup with 1 TBS of dijon mustard, 1 or 2 crushed large garlic  clove and 2-3 TBS olive oil.  I did this in my mini food processor but you can also do it by hand.  Spread this over the vegetables and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until beginning to brown. 

This is best made the day before, refrigerated and reheated.  You can serve this room temperature or bring it to room temperature and then warm it up briefly under a broiler. 

The beauty of this presentation is that the eggplant haters or those of us that can’t eat peppers can partake only of their favored parts of the ratatouille. 

 

 

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ONE OF ITHACA’S GREATEST CROPS

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APPLES
U-PICKS (and also grapes and raspberries)
 
 
     Ithaca is apple heaven.   We do have the greatest apples here. My favorite apple source is BLACK DIAMOND FARM. They sell their apples at the Ithaca Farmers market.  And have a great web site showcasing each variety.  Every year I look forward to September and October when this farm sells their rare and heirloom varieties. The tiny treasures called Chestnut Crab are a perfect blend of crisp, flavorful and sweet. They also have other favorites with names you’ve never heard of like Engremont Russet. They have samples at the Farmers Market and if you haven’t yet visited their booth I would recommend you go and check them out. Nowhere else on earth can some of these varieties be found (at least nowhere that I know of) and these are apples that have a short shelf life so they can’t easily be transported and sold elsewhere. You need to get these babies locally!!!
 
 APPLES is one of the truly great wonders of Ithaca. We have Indian Creek and Little Tree Orchards where small trees are perfect for harvesting. It’s a great family activity. You can also harvest the “drops” and use them to make cider. The cider in Ithaca is also terrific. Cornell Orchards has the best in my opinion.  
 
New York State is the second largest producer of Apples in the United States: Washington State being number one. Cornell University has been a leading research institution in the development of new apple varieties. The Cortland apple was named at Cornell in 1915, The Macoun was named in 1923. The Empire apple, a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh was developed in 1966. Libertywas developed in 1978 and Jonagold, a hybrid between Jonathans and Golden Delicious was named at Cornell in 1968.
 
 

U-PICKS Available NOW
 
345 Shaffer Rd.
Newfield, NY 14867
607-564-9246
Apples, pears, raspberries
 
1408 Trumansburg Rd. (Rt. 96)
Ithaca, NY 14850
607-273-9544
Apples, tomatoes
 
Silver Queen Farm
5386 Stillwell Rd.
Trumansburg, NY14886
607-387-6502
Raspberries
 
1104 Auburn Rd.
Groton, NY 13073
607-533-9110
20 varieties of apples
 
1347 Goose St.
Locke, NY
315-497-1347
Apples (many varieties)
 
Davis Farms
5260 Peach Orchard Point
Hector, NY 14841
607-546-6022
Apples, grapes
(U-pick is on State Rt. 414 near the intersection of Peach Orchard Pt.)
 
 
Glendale Farm
4590 State Route 414
Burdett, NY 14818
607-546-8479
Organic Concord and Catawba grapes
 
 
Hoffmire Farms
6515 State Route 227
Trumansburg, NY 14886
607-387-8400
NO APPLES THIS YEAR DUE TO LATE FROST!!!
 
Reisinger’s Apple Country
2750 Apple La.
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
607-535-7493
Apples, raspberries
 
 
Twin Oaks Farms
5557 State Route 414
Hector, NY 14841
607-546-5511
Apples, Concord grapes (last weekend 10/3-4),
 
Wagner Farms
1678 County Road 137
Valois, NY 14841
607-582-6464
Concord and Niagra grapes,
 
2673 Sand Hill Rd.
Penn Yan, NY 14527
315-536-2744
Apples,grapes
 
 
5876 State Route 14
Dundee, NY 14837
607-243-7883
Apples, grapes (table and juice)
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
The following recipe was passed out a few years ago by Jackie Sherwin of Black Diamond Farm.  I adapted the original recipe which was from the cookbook: An Apple Harvest-Recipes and Orchard Lore, by Frank Browning and Sharon Silva
 
 
APPLE GARLIC CHUTNEY
 
4-5 tart apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup dried apricots chopped
1 cup golden raisins
6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
2 tsp. grated and peeled fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider or red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
 
In a non-reactive pot (not aluminum or iron) combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, stirring often.  Add more vinegar if necessary to prevent burning.  Cook for about 30 minutes until the apples are softened and the mixture is thickened.  Taste and add more salt, sugar or vinegar if necessary. 
 
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Spoon into sterile jars and cover tightly.  Refrigerate for several days and up to two weeks to allow flavors to mellow.  This chutney can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.
 
 
VERY EASY HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE
 
 We have several trees of tasty apples that don’t look that great since they haven’t been sprayed.  They are perfect for making applesauce and this is one of the easiest ways to turn lots of apples into a delicious dessert. 
 
Core your apples (I use about 4 pounds in a 12 cup slow cooker) and cut them into large chunks.  Quartering them works for smallish apples.  Add add 1/2 cup water or apple cider and some honey and cinnamon.  Thats all.  Just turn it on to high and wait about 3 hours.  Check and see if the apples are soft and cooked down.  If not, keep cooking them and check again.  Taste for flavor and add more sugar or cinnamon as needed.  Then let cool and put the apples through a food mill. 
 
 

 

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CUCUMBER ABUNDANCE

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I  love home grown cucumbers.  There is absolutely no relation to the tasteless varieties you find most of the year in the supermarkets.  These are a Chinese variety called Suyo Long. They are crunchy, flavorful and sweet  with tiny seeds. We bought the seeds from Johnny's Seed Catalogue.  

  This is the first year our cucumbers plants  haven't been gobbled up by the rabbits and woodchucks or blighted by one of the many diseases that attack cucumbers.  So now we are in cucumber heaven.  The best thing to do with these is to eat them sliced with a little salt.   Here are some of the simple and great things I do with cucumbers when I want to do something a little more exotic.

 

CUCUMBERS WITH DILL AND FETA

Stay simple with cucumbers and don't salt them until the last minute.  This Greek preparation combines small cubes of cucumber and the same size cubes of good quality Feta cheese and chopped dill.  Right before serving add the salt and toss with a really good olive oil.

Tomato and cucumber salad

This preparation is Middle Eastern.  This is the salad eaten in Arab and Israeli families because where you can eat amazing cucumbers and tomatoes most of the year. This salad is great stuffed into a pita with hummus and tahini. I  make this salad with small cubes of tomato and cucumber, salt and finished with olive oil again.  But in the Middle East you'll see this salad with lots of parsley and scallion and lemon juice.  When you have perfect tomatoes and cucumbers for only a couple months around here, I want to enjoy them unadorned.

Cucumbers and Carrots with Miso Dip

 Remember Kayuga Japanese Restaurant on Eddy Street?  We were frequent flyers there and I liked their miso dip so much that I asked for the recipe.  I was rewarded with a little piece of paper on which was written the ingredients but not the quantities.  In the true spirit of intuitive  cooking I'll also pass along the basic ingredients and method and then leave it up to the reader to concoct their own version.  Start with 1/2 cup of Sake and 1/4 cup of mirin.  Boil together until reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Turn off the heat and add miso a little at a time starting with a heaping tablespoon.  The trick to miso is not to boil it.  I use white miso in this recipe, but you can experiment with different types of miso.  You'll want the consistency to be like ketchup.  It will thicken once cooled.  Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a few shakes of roasted sesame seeds.  Then taste.  If you want it sweeter, add a pinch of sugar.  This lasts for several days in the fridge. 

Miso can be found in many grocery stores.  Greenstar has it in bulk in the back of their store so you can buy small quantities  and  experiment with different types of miso.  Wegmans has tubs of miso in the cooler section which also containes seitan and tofu.

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JULIA CHILD’S BIRTHDAY

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CELEBRATING JULIA CHILD’S BIRTHDAY
 
August 15th was Julia Child’s Birthday. On the eve of her birthday I enjoyed the movie Julie and Julia based on her life in Paris and the beginning of her cooking career. Meryl Streep was phenomenal as Julia Child. It didn’t take me long to allow Meryl to be Julia…she did such a convincing job. I went to the movie to be inspired to cook some of Julia’s recipes in honor of her birthday. 
 
Like many of us die-hard foodies who are in our 50s or older, Julia was a major inspiration. I have most of her cookbooks and found two recipes to make yesterday for our Julia birthday celebration. The cake was from her “The French Chef Cookbook”, based on the 119 programs in her first television series. It is called Le Marquis au Chocolat. I used a different glaze and filled it with raspberry jam and it was quite delicious. I also substituted bittersweet for the semi-sweet chocolate.  And I recommend checking after 25 minutes, because 30 minutes of baking time was a little too long in my oven.
 
 
 
The other recipe was from her “Julia Child and More Company” cookbook. Normally I don’t give recipes another look when they require more than ¼ cup or so of heavy cream. But in order to do justice to our Julia I knew that I needed to set aside my prejudices and my health for a day in order to make her Mousse of Scallops and Flounder layered with watercress and salmon which I must honestly confide requires two cups of heavy cream. 
 
I didn’t skimp on the cream but I made a couple minor changes. I used 1 ½ pounds of scallops and ½ pound of flounder instead of the reverse. I also used regular salmon rather than smoked salmon because I didn’t want the fresh fish flavor to be overshadowed by the smoky flavor of the salmon. The very ingredient in this recipe is bread crumbs.  They soak up the liquid coming from the fish and keep all the flavor in the terrine. 
 
 I served it cold because yesterday was really hot. And I made a sorrel cream sauce with a little dry white vermouth, lemon and some yellow beets to give it some sweetness. I garnished the plate with a few watercress leaves.

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