May 22, 2010

Santa Fe Corn Pie (or, it took me long enough)

I found this recipe whilst surfing around the internet, as one does. I had bookmarked it, and then copy-pasted it into a document of Things I Want to Make, where it languished for about a year until I finally, randomly decided that it was about time. As I set about marshalling my shopping list to make sure I had all necessary components, I noticed that the credited author, Diane Clement, is local to me - a fellow Vancouverite, whose Tomato Fresh Food Cafe I have visited in the past, and whose cookbook "At The Tomato" is on my bookshelf, where it has been for a number of years.
When I got home, I cracked open the cookbook and discovered that the very same recipe had been waiting for me, at home, all this time.

It was delicious. And easy! It's a sort of quiche-y affair, and sort of a cornbread-y thing, and not quite a spoonbread. I will be making this again and again - for brunch, for lunch, for dinner, and maybe even for some kind of snack. It was easy, too - no fussing with pastry (which I enjoy, but don't always have the patience for at blink-o'clock in the morning. I suspect it is a useful make-ahead, where you leave it unbaked in the fridge the night before, and then simply pop it into the oven in the morning. In fact, I think I'll try that next.

The only significant addition that I made to this recipe was to sprinkle some smoked paprika over the top as a finisher. It gave a lovely smokey highlight to the dish without taking over the lovely corn-forward flavour. I also omitted the melted butter from the original recipe.

Santa Fe Corn Pie
(adapted from Diane Clement's At The Tomato)

3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup creamed corn
1 1/4 cups frozen corn – thawed by running it under hot water (in a strainer)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup Monterey jack cheese grated
5 canned mild green chiles, chopped
1/4 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
few shots Tabasco sauce
3 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)

Spritz a 10" pie plate with canola spray.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir with a big mixing spoon until thoroughly combined.  Pour into the pie plate and bake, uncovered, at 350 F for about 45 – 50 minutes or until golden and firm in the middle. 

She notes that the pie may be baked ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days. I did take my leftovers to work for lunch the following day, and it warmed up beautifully in the microwave. Alongside a big green salad, it was a light, yet filling work lunch.

May 08, 2010

Yo ho ho, French Toast for breakfast

A while ago, I made some rum syrup, for some recipe or other. And I liked it so much, it stayed on in the kitchen to be incorporated into anything where a traditional maple syrup might have once gone, or really anything that could use some pirate flavours. Such as pancakes ( a frequent flyer, of late) and this time, by special request, French Toast.

I don't make French Toast all that often. It's easy enough, of course, but it seems rather a lot of work for something ultimately fairly ordinary. This time, however, I used a mild sourdough bread, and with the added bananas and rum syrup, well, I can see myself doing this again, and soon. I am always ridiculously thrilled to have fresh fruit at breakfast, a condition which has only worsened since our trip to Mexico last year, and French Toast provides a terrific vehicle - more so even than pancakes, I think.

Since I am almost constitutionally incapable of having an all-sweet breakfast, we added bacon, which is a fine additional to almost any meal.

If you don't have a favourite recipe for French Toast, you might enjoy this one, which is adapted from the Big Book of Breakfast by Maryana Vollstedt.

Basic French Toast

2 large eggs
1/2 cup 1% milk
dash salt
4 large slices of mild bakery sourdough
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a little butter, for frying.

Mix the eggs, milk, salt and vanilla and pour into a shallow bowl. Dip the slices of bread briefly into the egg mixture, turning to coat, and put aside on a holding plate until they are all done.

Heat a large skillet over medium, and add a little butter (or canola oil). When the butter has melted (or oil heated) lay in two of the slices (or as many as will fit in a single, uncrowded layer), and cook for about three minutes per side. Remove to a rack in the oven to keep warm until they are all cooked.

Delicious with any sort of syrup, I'm sure, but extra pirate-y with rum syrup.

May 02, 2010

Feel Good Noodle Bowl

I've been sitting on this pic for a while, as it trickily sneaked under my radar when I was processing a large number of photos.

This is wonderfully comfort-foodish, even if your childhood didn't include Chinese steamed noodles, miso gravy, or tolerable vegetables. If you like any of these things now, this will be a go-to staple of those nights when you really feel like something that is simple, healthy, and tasty.

I can't even call it a recipe. It takes about three minutes to cook up some fresh Chinese steamed (or "steam") noodles (around here, they are sold in the produce dept. of most major grocery stoes), or other fresh noodles, dole them into bowls and top with freshly steamed vegetables of your choice. Drizzle with sauce, and devour.

I like snow peas (mangetouts) here, too, and chunks of steamed or roasted yam. You could try fennel bulb, red bell peppers, cubes of smoked tofu, baby corn, or sake-steamed shiitake mushrooms.

You can also switch things up to suit yourself - this is an eminently customizable dish. You could swap the miso gravy for a nice peanuty sate sauce, or perhaps even a little leftover curry sauce that you might happen to have in your freezer. You could change the noodles to your favourite type of rice, for a potentially (depending on the sauce, of course) gluten-free version. Even the sesame seeds are optional.

Best of all, once you are deliciously full, you can feel confident that you've gotten most of your vegetable needs down the hatch, while feeling like you're getting away with something. A little fresh fruit for dessert, should you be so lucky, and you're done.

May 01, 2010

Bento Greco

Bento, again, or as they might say on Iron Chef, "Bento, Greek Flavour."

The meatballs in the little silicone baking cup are spiced lamb, and the salad is the always fantastic and staple summer potluck salad, Chickpea and Orzo with Dill. I've changed the technique a little over the years, and now I combine everything but the orzo and cold water in a big bowl while the pasta cooks, and then, after running it under cold water to stop the cooking, giving it a half-hearted shake and add it to the rest. Quick toss, and you're done.

The olives tucked in with the meatballs are kalamatas. The cucumber is self-explanatory, but I confess it was going to be a Greek salad, originally - cukes, tomato, red onion, more feta, and green bell pepper. I discovered that the other vegetables were inexplicably not in my crisper, so I just went with sliced cucumbers, which I'm always happy to have with my lunch.

Between the chickpeas and the lamb, it was plenty of food. I removed the meatballs and heated them up in the microwave, but I was using fairly lean lamb, so they could have been eaten cold. They were leftovers from dinner the night before, and as you may know by now, I love taking leftover dinner for lunch.