Monthly Archives: July 2011

CSA Week 9: Sweet Corn, two ways

The sweet corn has arrived. I really only like fresh corn, either on the cob or off, but please don’t make me use frozen or canned corn. Apparently it arrived last week, but I was on vacation. However, while on vacation, menu-planning for a big family dinner I came across a recipe for corn salad from Mark Bittman that got me pretty excited. Mostly because it involved avocado in addition to the sweet corn. I didn’t end up making it for our family dinner but when there was sweet corn in the CSA box this week I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

So salad it was. And it hit the spot in the most perfect way. An amazing balance of sweet and spicy.

Again, while on vacation, I came across an intriguing recipe for sweet corn and blackberry swirl ice cream while I was perusing Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (thank you Scott for bringing me her book back from your trip to Columbus, Ohio). And then upon my return to Minneapolis, my friend Laura also brought up the idea, after reading this New York Times article.

Corn ice cream. Who knew? (Although I highly recommend it with the berry swirl – without it, it’s just too much corn flavor and the berries balance it out nicely.)

Sweet Corn Salad

from Mark Bittman

**********
1 tablespoon oil
3 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 small tomato, diced
1 small avocado, diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
**********

Remove kernels from corn cobs (but save the cobs – you’ll need them for the ice cream!). Dice the red onion and red bell pepper. Set aside.

Heat oil in medium skillet and add corn kernels. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chili powder, red onion and red bell pepper. Transfer to a medium sized bowl. Let cool for a few minutes.

Dice tomato and avocado and add to bowl. Add chopped cilantro. Toss with lime juice and salt and pepper.

Call it a salad or call it a salsa. I ate it with corn chips and was extremely happy with my decision.

Sweet Corn and Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

**********
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
3 hulled corn cobs
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
 
Blackberry Sauce
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
**********

Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch, until dissolved. Set aside. Whisk cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium pot, combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and corn cobs. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour through mesh sieve. Return to pot and whisk in cornstarch slurry, cooking until slightly thickened, about a minute. Remove from heat. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese, whisking constantly until smooth. Pour through mesh sieve to remove any clumps. Chill mixture thoroughly.

While the ice cream base is chilling, make the blackberry sauce. Heat blackberries and sugar in a small pot over high heat until boiling. Cook for 7-8 minutes and remove from heat. Transfer to a blender and puree. Run through mesh sieve to remove seeds. Chill thoroughly.

Freeze ice cream base in ice cream maker, about 25 minutes. Once churned, layer ice cream and blackberry sauce in alternating layers in a storage container – do not mix! End with a spoonful of sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and an airtight lid and store in freezer.

The first bite is shocking – it tastes like corn! And you think “I’m not too sure about this” but as you continue to eat it you start to dread the fact that it is coming to an end.

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Feeding the soul

I just returned home from a much needed trip out West to see my family and to feed my soul. Oh, and there may have been some blackberry pie eaten for breakfast.

First I flew out to Vancouver, British Columbia to crash Scott’s math conference. Okay, really it was just to visit Vancouver – but I did listen to a couple of math talks. Then we drove down to Olympia for a few days to play at the lake and welcome my new baby nephew, Lucas, to the world.

I can only describe Vancouver as cool. Cool, in a we-are-awesome-but-feel-no-need-to-overtly-state-how-awesome-we-are-because-if-we-did-then-we-wouldn’t-be-awesome-anymore kind of way. Perfectly welcoming and charming. An enchanting combination of European and American culture, with a large dose of Pacific Northwest ruggedness thrown in. Equal parts urban, residential and scenic. The buses apologize when they are out of service and the “walking man” seems to be strutting so jauntily. How could you not be utterly delighted by such a place?

I could continue to gush, but instead I’ll just share some photos.

The food.

The beach.

The totem poles.

The skyline.

And the sunset.

Then we were off to Olympia. While gazing out over the sunset last Thursday evening, I received a phone call from my brother letting me know that Amber was in labor.  Sure enough, when Scott and I got to Olympia there was a new baby nephew to fawn over. Perfectly happy and healthy, Amber and Lucas got to go home Saturday morning before we even got into town.

There was family. (You can see that I couldn’t keep my hands off that baby.)

Fun.

And of course food (with lots of “help” from Kailey).

And perhaps most importantly, there was blackberry pie. Wild blackberry pie, the only kind that is really worthwhile to eat. I think that I have finally convinced Scott of the superiority of wild blackberries (small and intensely flavorful) to the things calling themselves “blackberries” in the store (large, seedy and tasteless).

Mom’s Blackberry Pie

one 9-inch pie

**********
Crust
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
16 tablespoons (1 cup) butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons ice-cold water
 
The filling
3 cups wild blackberries
2/3 cup sugar (more or less, depending on the tartness of the berries)
1/4 cup flour
**********

In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Pulse a couple of times to mix together. Add all of the butter and process for about 30 seconds, it should resemble cornmeal. Transfer to a bowl and add water, mixing with your hands until dough comes together. Divide in half and shape into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll out one disk of dough 1/8 inch thick and transfer to pie pan.

Combine berries, sugar and flour in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved and the berries start to pop. Pour into pie shell.

Roll out remaining pie dough and cover berries with it. Fold over edges and pinch together both crusts. Cut slits into top crust and bake at 350º for about 45 minutes. It’s a good idea to bake pie on top of a cookie sheet to prevent any spillover mess. Let cool before cutting into.

Serve with vanilla ice cream. Nothing else will suffice. And feel the happiness spread through you.

 

 

The Pacific Northwest

I have a hard time describing my feelings for the Pacific Northwest. It’s kind of like asking me why I love my best friend. You can say things like – she’s friendly, generous and has a fantastic sense of humor. Warm and inviting and ever appreciative. Smart and clever with a twinkle in her eye. But that could describe a lot of people. It’s hard to articulate exactly what it is that makes her so special.

All I can say is there exists a chemistry, an affinity, a synergy, if you will, between a person and a place. It’s not only the place but my reaction to it. And there is something about the Pacific Northwest that always makes me want to cry. Big, beautiful tears that are filled with love and admiration. The tears you cry at a wedding or graduation or the birth of a new person. Just being able to exist with such a place and to be able to call it home is a huge part of what makes me, me. And I love that.

So to come home to this beauty, to the majesty of the Pacific Northwest, where water surrounds the land and the mountains rise above fills my heart with joy in such a way that my heart is simultaneously lightened and unbelievably full. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since your last visit, like an old friend, it welcomes you with open arms and gives you a much-needed hug. No questions asked, no awkward small talk – just straight to the heart. I have no words to adequately describe it.

It’s good to be back in this corner of the world.

Roasted Rhu-Berry Crunch Ice-Cream

This is perhaps the ultimate culmination of all of my current obsessions.

Ice cream. Rhubarb. Rasbperries.

What more could you ask for?

Maybe some crunchy brown sugar-butter laced oatmeal.

It’s like the ice cream version of my raspberry rhubarb crisp.

It turns out that this particular crisp gets a lot of attention on my blog – so I must not be the only one who thinks that raspberries and rhubarb are a match made in heaven. And well, given my current craze, it’s not surprising that I made an ice cream out of it. I decided to first roast the rhubarb with some lemon and a vanilla bean to really intensify the flavors. Then there was a last minute decision to add oatmeal clusters…

I am so glad that I followed my instincts.

It’s maybe my favorite ice cream yet.

Roasted Rhu-berry Crunch Ice Cream

makes about 1 quart
**********
2/3 lb rhubarb, chopped in 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
juice from one lemon
one vanilla bean
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon vodka
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk1 cup oats and honey granola
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon butter

**********

In a small baking dish, place cut rhubarb in a single layer. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. Split vanilla bean, extract the seeds and place seeds and bean in baking dish. Bake at 375º for about 25 minutes. Add raspberries and bake for 5 minutes more.

Transfer to a blender, add vodka and puree until smooth. Run mixture through a mesh strainer to collect raspberry seeds.

Stir in the cream and the milk. Chill thoroughly.

Freeze in your ice cream maker.

While the ice cream is churning, mix granola, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Spread out on shallow pan and bake at 300º for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix into the churned ice cream before storing in the freezer.

I repeat:

Favorite ice cream yet.

Lemon Raspberry Pancakes

After surviving the past couple of weeks of teaching, I am ready to start thinking about food again.

One of the things that I love about my apartment is the seriously large raspberry patch in the backyard. And the berries are ripe right now. I love raspberries. They are my favorites of all of the berries. Something about that whole sweet-tart thing, gets me every time. So I picked as many as I possibly could. It was a pretty serious haul.

Then I treated myself to a surprisingly awesome weekend breakfast: Lemon Raspberry Pancakes. They are a riff of these Blueberry Brown Sugar Pancakes. Bright, fresh, buttery amazing-ness. I normally think of myself as more of a french toast girl, but these pancakes might turn me to the dark side. It’s crazy to think they are sanctioned as a breakfast food – they could easily work as dessert.

Lemon Raspberry Pancakes

makes 6 large pancakes

**********
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Zest and juice from 1 small lemon
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raspberries
**********

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, brown sugar, melted butter, lemon zest and juice.

In a separate, larger bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

Mix wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients.

Fold in raspberries.

In a frying pan, heat a tablespoon of butter. Add about 1/3 cup of the pancake batter and cook until bubbles start to form on top. Don’t try to flip it too soon! (I always am to impatient to wait, but it’s totally worth the patience). Flip and cook for about 2 minutes more.

Garnish with extra berries and just a smidge of maple syrup.

Holy cow.