Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Corn Fritters with sriracha dipping sauce

I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons I like our local Asian-fusion restaurant, PM, is their heavy use of the spicy Thai chile sauce, sriracha and their tendency to prepare many foods tempura style. I do not deep fry, ever. It is less of a health conscious decision and more of a I am clumsy and copious amounts of hot oil is a bad bad bad idea for me. So today, I had some corn to use up before my next CSA delivery, and as I've noted previously, I don't love corn on the cob. Cooked by me, it is generally alright, nothing special. Cooked by other people, I find it inedible because it seems like most folks are trying to create creamed corn on the cob and way way way over cook the stuff.

Anyway, I was thinking corn and I was thinking sriracha. A few google searches later, thanks to this guy, I decided on corn fritters. I pulled up a basic corn fritter recipe from Allrecipes.com and used a dipping sauce similar to engineering dude, but with some honey added in. Let me tell you, the sweet / spicy / savory combo never ever fails. Usage of sriracha is not for the faint of heart, but I like my food spicy. So if you can take the heat, I recommend you start dipping everything and your mother in this sauce.

Ingredients Fritters
6 ears fresh corn
4 eggs
0.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 teaspoon salt
canola oil for frying

Dipping sauce
equal parts low sodium soy sauce and sriracha
honey to taste

1. Cut corn kernels from cobs
2. Mix corn, beaten eggs, flour, and salt
3. Drop batter into pre-heated oil (about 1 inch deep in cast iron skillet)
4. Cook to brown on each side

Dipping sauce

Note: the chicken in this pic was quite unremarkable. I was trying to go for something akin to this recipe by Michael Simon. But, duh, of course it didn't because there was no frying and no butter. But the spice "marinade" which I used as a rub was decent. The star of dinner, though were the fritters. B said "I could eat a million of these things". Poor poor fried-food deprived man.

Update: Note to all, this dipping sauce was even a little too spicy for me. I recommend starting with soy sauce and adding the sriracha to taste.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Zucchini / mushroom tacos with our without chorizo

Source: Rick Bayless

This recipe goes out to all of you ladies (or men...I shouldn't be presumptuous) who might enjoy some sausage in your tacos. Or, for those of you who do not enjoy sausage in your tacos, you may omit and it'll still be delish. Who am I to judge? Spanish and Mexican chorizo differ significantly. Spanish sausage is firm (eh hem) and pre-cooked. Mexican sausage is more similar to Italian sausage and is not pre-cooked. This is a nice way to use late summer squashes in an unexpected way.

4-6 oz. chorizo
1 medium white onion, sliced
4 oz. mushrooms of your choice
1 canned chipotle in adobo (not 1 whole can...one individual pepper)
1 T adobo sauce
1 15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2-3 medium zucchini or late summer squash (I used zephyr because I had it)
salt to taste
fresh corn tortillas
queso fresco

1. Remove casings from sausage, brown over medium-high heat
2. If necessary, drain fat from pain leaving sausage
3. Add onions, saute until translucent
4. Add mushrooms, saute until almost cooked through
5. While mushrooms cook, blend together tomatoes (drained) with chipotles and adobo
6. Add to pan, stir, cook 3 or 4 minutes
7. Add zucchini, cook until just tender
8. Salt to taste

Serve atop warm fresh tortillas with crumbled queso fresco

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I haven't uploaded pics of dinner from last night, but it was a southern produce feast. I was raised a Yankee, so the world of Southern produce is still new to me. One of the items on the menu last night, Okra. I like okra. I like it fried, in gumbo, and pickled however I was not prepared or in the mood for any of those preparations. So after a bit of internet searching, I discovered that many folks really like it roasted. Who knew, roasted okra? Roasting is just about my favorite way to prepare most veggies, so I thought this was right up my ally. And, since there is no cutting involved you can avoid the gross okra slime, which somehow disappears during roasting. AND, since the veg has a nice built-in handle, they make a great finger food.

Olive oil
course salt (kosher or sea)
Any other seasoning you like (curry powder, cayenne, etc)

Preheat oven to 350
Wash and pat dry whole fresh okra
Toss to coat in olive oil
Sprinkle generously with salt and seasoning
Roast 20-25 minutes

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Corn Soup

Source: Bon Appetit August 2008
Here's a confession; I don't really love corn on the cob. I like it if it is REALLY excellent corn, but only one delivery of my super awesome CSA met my straight up corn standards. I think it is years of braces that did it for me. That said, I love the flavor of fresh corn and this recipe captures it in a soup. Unfortunately, I made it as a main course, and it is really more of an appetizer. After straining it, it is really smooth and velvety but not hearty enough to stand alone. But the lightness of the texture with the sweet corn flavors makes it an EXCELLENT summer appetizer. OR, it would be a nice side to a good salad. Make this with the last of your summer corn.

3 cups whole milk
3 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs broken in half and reserved
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 cups water
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 bay leaf
Ground white pepper

2 thick bacon slices, diced
1/3 cup fresh corn kernels cut from about 1/2 ear of corn
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of cayenne pepper Crème fraîche,* stirred to loosen


1. Cut kernels off cob, set kernels aside. Bring milk to a boil with cobs, remove from heat, cover, and let steep while you cook veggies.

2. Sweat onion in butter until translucent, add corn kernels, carrot, celery, garlic and cook until soft. Salt veggies.

3. Add 2 cups water, herb sprigs, bay leaf, and
milk with corncobs. Increase heat and bringto boil. Cover partially, reduce heat to low,and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

Discard corncobs, herb sprigs, and bay

leaf. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches,puree soup in blender until very smooth.Strain into large bowl, pressing on solids toextract as much liquid as possible. Seasonsoup to taste with salt and white pepper.DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead.Cover and chill.

For garnish:

Cook bacon in small skilletover medium heat until crisp. Using slottedspoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.Transfer to small bowl. Mix in corn, greenonion, and pinch of cayenne. DO AHEAD:Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Rewarm soup over medium heat.

Divide among bowls. Sprinkle garnish over,drizzle with crème fraîche, and serve.

* Sold at some supermarkets and at specialty

foods stores.
milk with corncobs. Increase heat and bringto boil. Cover partially, reduce heat to low,and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

4. Discard corncobs, herb sprigs, and bayleaf. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches,puree soup in blender until very smooth. I used a hand immersion blender. Strain into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. It would help if you had one of those cone shaped sauce strainers, which I do not.

5. Season soup (liberally) to taste with salt and white pepper

For garnish:

Cook bacon and drain. Mix in corn, greenonion, and pinch of cayenne. Divide among bowls. Sprinkle garnish over,drizzle with crème fraîche, and serve.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake

Source: My friend Betsy....don't know where she got it

My former coworker, Betsy is wonderful in many many ways. I think of her as wise in most of the ways of life and I forsee in my future that I will be emailing her with all child-care related questions. She is also a very good baker and would make all of the birthday cakes. This made frequent appearances as it was often requested. It is an incredibly rich, delicious cheesecake. It will spoil you and you will never be able to eat restaurant cheesecake again.

1-2 C chocolate crumbs
1/4 C melted butter
1/2 t cinnamon
Mix and press into 9-10 inch springform pan

3 - 8oz packages of cream cheese softened
1 C sugar
1 - 8oz of sour cream
8 oz semisweet choc chips melted
3 eggs
1/3-1/2 C Baileys Irish Cream
2 t vanilla

Cream the cream cheese and sugar and then add eggs. Beat well then
add sour cream, choc chips, Bailey's and vanilla. Pour over crust.

Bake 325 for 50-60 minutes

Neglect officially over and Carrabbas

July and the first part of August was a whirlwind. Between traveling for work, deadlines for work, and a beach vacation, I just had to let this site slide a bit. But I'm back and will be posting recipes regularly again now.

I took our busy schedules + a defunct kitchen due to new counter top installations to use a gift certificate we had lying around. Like my fellow Nashville food blogger, Lannae, Carrabba's offered me a $50 gift card to go, try their restaurant, and write about it. When I got their email, I was rather hesitant, because I felt like maybe I was "selling out" but B knocked some sense into me reminding me that we are poor scientists and who were we to pass up free food. Touche.

So off we went deep into suburbia (Cool Springs location) to Carrabbas. What I knew about Carrabbas previously was that it was a chain Italian restaurant and that they sponsor a 10K in Raleigh every year, to which I say yeah to them. Funny thing is, I am REALLY anti-chain, so I thought it was sort of funny that they sent me, of all people, this gift card. We arrived late-ish (for me) around 7:30, and had about a 10-15 minute wait. I was surprised that it was so crowded on a Tuesday night, especially considering the place is huge.

So onto the food, we started with calamari, which was actually solid. It wasn't chewy, and it wasn't greasy, so kudos to them on their frying skills. I thought it was under-seasoned, B thought it was over-seasoned, so we came to the conclusion that the seasoning was unequally distributed. And, the portion was kind of ridiculous...not an appetizer for two people, probably intended for more like 4-6 people. We each had a salad. I had a house salad, which was a major disappointment: not very good romain lettuce, canned black olives, some under-ripe tomatoes, some dried cheese sprinkles, and bottled dressing. Bleh. B had a Ceasar salad, which was unremarkable. Then onto main courses. Due to the size of the appetizer, we feared the size of our entres, which proved to be more reasonable. I had manicotti, which was decent, but not spectacular. But then again, it's cheese, it's noodles, it's tomato sauce. How can you go wrong. B had a baked pasta florentine, which was similar to manicotti, but stuffed with chicken, spinach, and cheese. He preferred my dish.

In conclusion, Carrabbas was pretty much what I expected. It was decent, but unspectacular food that was not extraordinarily expensive, but not a bargain either. The service was good and the ambiance contrived, but fun for little ones. B and I would not spend our own money there. BUT, the restaurant was decent, and seems like it would be kid friendly, so if that is your stage in life, then it wouldn't be a bad choice.