Tag Archives: corn on the cob

ROASTED CORN AND BACON WAFFLES

Fresh corn on the cob is in season, and we always try to take advantage of the harvest before it’s over. Our favorite way to prepare fresh corn is to boil it for a few minutes, slather it with butter, season it with salt and pepper, and eat it directly off the cob. In our family, there are those who use the circular approach, eating the kernels in orderly fashion as they turn the ear of corn in their hands, and there are those who use “the typewriter” approach, working systematically from one end of the ear to the other before starting over. Either way seems to work.

Very atypically, we had some boiled ears left over after a recent meal, but I didn’t want them to go to waste. My first thought was to make corn soup or chowder. That can be delicious as we found out when Sarah and Evan served it at one of their demonstrations in Shreveport. Then I remembered, I had some leftover bacon (Is there such a thing as leftover bacon?) and that made me think of waffles.

First, I cut the corn kernels off the cob using my special corn cutter. It really doesn’t work all that well, but it is one of those gadgets I am reluctant to throw away. I think a sharp chef’s knife works as well or better. I roasted the corn by popping it in a medium oven for twenty minutes until some of the kernels were lightly caramelized. Then I added the roasted kernels to the cornmeal-based waffle batter and went from there.  Here’s the recipe.

Corn kernel cutting tool

Corn kernel cutting tool

Waffle iron

Waffle iron

 

Roasted corn

Roasted corn

Roasted corn and bacon waffles with butter and maple syrup

Roasted corn and bacon waffles with butter and maple syrup

RECIPE

Roasted Corn and Bacon Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 ears boiled corn
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ cup melted bacon fat
  • 8 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch squares

Method

  1. Cut the kernels of  corn off the cobs with a sharp knife or with a special tool. Place the cut kernels in a rimmed baking sheet and place in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 350° F. Turning every five minutes, roast the corn kernels until they are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Then stir in the buttermilk.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cornmeal, whisking together with a spoon or fork
  4. Combine the dry ingredients with the liquid ingredients until smooth
  5. Stir in the roasted corn kernels.
  6. Add the bacon fat, and stir until incorporated.
  7. Ladle the batter into a heated waffle griddle, making sure the corn is well mixed in.  Then sprinkle 4 to 6 bacon pieces on each waffle segment.
  8. When the waffles are brown, repeat until the batter is used up.
  9. Serve the waffles while still warm with a poached or fried egg on top or with butter and maple syrup.
  10. Makes 8 to 10 4½ inch square waffles.

12 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

BRAISED SWISS CHARD WITH CILANTRO

As summer nears its end with Labor Day, there is a spectacular bounty at our local farmers’ market. Less so in our neighborhood. We have already run out of recipes for zucchini from our neighbors while our little vegetable garden is limited to herbs and chard. The chard, however, is luxuriant with succulent green leaves and bright red stalks.

A few days ago I harvested some of the chard, and then my wife made a recipe out of Deborah Madison’s excellent and encyclopedic Tenth Anniversary Edition of  Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Broadway Books, New York, 2007. The preparation is easy, and the cilantro provides a novel balance to the flavor of the chard. Of course, summer is the perfect time for fresh corn on the cob as well. That plus a slice of ham makes a real East Texas mid-day dinner. The only thing missing is the dinner bell.

My thought about chard is that like many greens, it can be bitter. You can overcome that shortcoming and brighten the flavor with the addition of fresh lemon juice and a little sugar. Whether or not you make these additions, long slow cooking is important, and you should plan to use both the leaves and the stems in any preparation.

 

RECIPE

Braised Chard with Cilantro

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chard leaves
  • 1½ cups chard stems, diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, made into paste with 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a large heavy pot with tight lid, combine all ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and cook over low heat for 45 minutes.
  3. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

5 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

CAJUN CRAWFISH BOIL – IN SILICON VALLEY??

Our children grew up in Louisiana, and now they all live in California.They still love authentic Creole and Cajun cooking, but it is definitely hard to come by in the Golden State. For the last several years, my son and his wife have tried to change that. Every spring – crawfish season – they have a backyard crawfish boil for their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and their families. As is usual with crawfish boils, it has become a bigger and bigger production each year.

As an aside, there is a strict Louisiana terminology for the crustaceans: crayfish are what you dissect in high school biology classes; crawdads are what you catch for fishing expeditions; crawfish are what you eat. Often the experience of the boil participants becomes evident depending upon what they call the main dish. In Louisiana, mudbug is a perfectly acceptable alternative term, but in other places, the name causes a bit of squeamishness.

In preparation for the party, my son has consulted  one of friends from Louisiana known for his crawfish cooking skills. Peter has read lots of recipes in cookbooks and online. Most importantly, he has identified a reputable and reliable source for authentic Louisiana mudbugs. Then, there is the ordering process to make certain that the crawfish are shipped at the right time and arrive as scheduled so that they are still lively. Crawfish season starts during the winter months. Then, the critters are small but with soft shells. By now, almost the end of the season, the crawfish are much bigger, but their shells are often hard enough that novice eaters have problems getting to the succulent tail meat.

When the date of the party is set, my son places his order with Louisiana Crawfish Company in Natchitoches, LA.  The crawfish cost from $3.50 to $6.00 a pound depending upon size and quality and how many you order.  (Crawfish cost 89 cents a pound for our first crawfish boil 40 years ago.)  At this point, the key question is always how many should you order? For a novice crowd, allow 1 pound per person. For crawfish fans, allow 2 pounds per person. For aficionados (just about everyone in Louisiana) allow 5 pounds per person. Remember, if there are leftovers – unlikely – you can harvest the tail meat and freeze it for crawfish étoufée at some later time.  Of course, there are overnight shipment expenses, so the cost for crawfish for an average-sized party will run to close to $300.

The next step is to plan the rest of the menu. There are some absolutely necessary items: ice-cold beer, corn on the cob, new potatoes, onions, ice-cold beer, and ice-cold beer. Then there are optionals: something to eat while you wait for the crawfish to cook, bread or corn bread, coleslaw, watermelon, and desserts. Guests usually volunteer to bring a dessert. By all means, take them up on their offer.

There are certain equipment requirements for  a successful boil. You will need a large plastic or galvanized tub to purge the crawfish before you cook them. A high temperature propane burner will get the water boiling as quickly as possible. You also need to have a very sturdy stand that will hold a very heavy pot of water. The largest cooking pot and lid that you can find – 50 gallons is common – will let you cook a good-sized batch at one time. Find a canoe paddle for stirring the pot. You will need a large strainer with handle in order to scoop out the crawfish and vegetables when they are cooked.  A table covered with newspapers  will hold a batch of food for guests to get to. With a genteel group, paper plates should be in abundance. For serious crawfish eaters, cardboard flats of the sort you get with cases of beer work better.

 

STARTING THE BOIL

Remember, it takes a lot of heat and a long time to bring 30-40 gallons of water to the boil, so start this step several hours before you plan on eating. If the water boils too soon, you can always turn the temperature down for a time. Light the fire on the burner and adjust it to a hot flame. Be sure to have enough propane. There is nothing worse than running out of propane in the midst of a boil.  Fill the cooking pot with water from your garden hose. You will probably need two people to lift the pot; one gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds. Season the water with enough salt to taste briny – a cup or two should be enough. Add two lemons cut in half. Drop in two bags of Zatarain’s Crawfish and Crab Boil. If you can’t find the bags, a bottle of the liquid variety should be enough. If you want, you can add some paprika and chile powder.  With most orders, Louisiana Crawfish Company will include a container of their Creole seasoning. It is really not necessary to add any more seasoning to the water, because you’ll be sprinkling on the cooked crawfish.

PURGING THE CRAWFISH

The crawfish will arrive in large sacks with lots of ice packed around them. Since they are cold-blooded, the crawfish will be alive but not very lively. You need to wake them up in a tub of water to which you have added a goodly amount of salt – half a box should be enough. The salt will cause the crawfish to empty their alimentary tract, so the water will become very dirty looking. You can drain the water and do a second treatment until the water clears, but be sure to drain the water as the crawfish will die if left in the water. Pick out any crawfish that float to the surface of the water, as they have most likely died in transit. Alton Brown declares that there are better ways to accomplish this step, but hey, he’s from Georgia and not a real Cajun.

PREPARING VEGETABLES

While the water is heating and crawfish are purging, prepare the vegetables that will cook with the crawfish. Remove the husks  and silks of fresh ears of corn. Break each ear in half. Allow 1 to 2 ears per guest. If necessary, scrub baseball-sized red potatoes. If you can only find larger potatoes, cut them in half. Allow 1 to 3 potatoes for each guest. Remove the outer husk from golf ball to baseball sized onions.  Allow 1 to 2 onions for each guest.

COOKING

The water must be at a full boil when you are ready to cook. Add the onions and potatoes first, as they will take the longest to cook. After about 15 minutes, add crawfish and corn. Add enough that the guests already in line can get several. From time to time, stir the pot with your paddle. When you think the crawfish are done, around 15 minutes (just to be sure, the cook usually samples from time to time), snag one and test for doneness. When everything is cooked, use your strainer to retrieve everything and dup  it out on the newspaper-covered table. Sprinkle with chile powder or Creole seasoning. Then encourage folks to help themselves while you get ready for your next batch. If you want, you can increase the spiciness of subsequent batches by adding  chile powder or Creole seasoning as you start each batch. This is often a good idea if not everyone likes spicy crawfish, so by this technique, the first batches are not as spicy, and they get spicier as time goes on, to go with the ice-cold beer.

HOW TO EAT A CRAWFISH

Eating your first crawfish is a little intimidating, especially if you have never had instruction. It’s actually very easy: just pull the crawfish apart at the joint between the body and the tail; then pry open the first ring of the tail shell with your thumbnail, squeeze  the tail fan firmly between the thumb and index finger of your other hand; and the tail meat will slide into your waiting mouth. The process is not always that easy and smooth, but with a little practice you will be eating crawfish as fast as you can pull them apart,

More advanced eaters relish the little morsel of fat that stays in the thorax shell and will “suck the head” to extract the tasty treat.

CLEANING UP

In preparing a crawfish boil, you will wind up using a lot of heavily salted water. Never empty the leftover water on the lawn or in your flower beds or you will wind up with a yellow spot in the grass or dead peonies.

As to the shells, it is a good idea to station plastic-lined garbage cans around the yard.  Then, when the party is over, you can just tie up the bags and dispose of them. Be aware that there is nothing that smells as bad as day-old crawfish bodies, so dispose of them as quickly as you can. They do not make good compost.

11 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

SHRIMP, CORN, AND BLACK BEAN SALAD WITH CHILE-LIME VINAIGRETTE

I’m still working on emptying the freezer. I found more shrimp. I also had some leftover corn on the cob from a cookout the day before. With a can of black beans from the pantry, all of that seemed like the makings of a spring salad. For this recipe, you need to boil the shrimp in their shells, along with some crab boil. My choice is Zatarain’s liquid boil, because it is easy to use, but any brand will work.  Don’t cook the shrimp too long or they will become tough. Chill them in ice water before you peel them, and then refrigerate  until you are ready to use them.  Prepare the corn by cutting the kernels off the cobs. A sharp knife is just fine for the job, but if you are a gadgeteer, you might have fun using a special device for removing the kernels while leaving a beautiful, symmetric cob.

Dress the salad with the accompanying chili-lime vinaigrette to complete the Southwestern slant of the salad. This should serve two to four.

 

RECIPES

Shrimp, Corn, and Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 10  16-20/pound frozen shrimp with shells, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons liquid Zatarain’s crab boil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 cooked ears of corn
  • 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 ribs, celery, diced
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup pecan halves, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup sliced black olives
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Add the thawed shrimp to 4 quarts of boiling water to which has been added the salt and crab boil. Return to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and chill the shrimp in water and ice. When cool, peel the shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. With a sharp knife or circular corn cutter, cut the kernels off the corn cobs. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, black beans, bell pepper, celery, onion, pecan pieces, and olives. Add the feta cheese crumbles and toss lightly.
  4. Dress with the chile-lime vinaigrette, toss lightly, and top with shrimp and tomato halves.
  5. Serve. Makes 2 to 4 servings

Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 large lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground red chiles (your choice of heat)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon  turbinado sugar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice and mustard together untill well combined.
  2. Whisk in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
  3. Slowly, one tablespoon at a time, whisk in the olive oil. Make sure that each tablespoonful is completely incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Then use the entire recipe to dress the shrimp and vegetable salad. Serve immediately.

3 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes