leek bread pudding

serving of pudding

what is the difference between savory bread pudding and stuffing?

this is not a trick question.  or maybe it is a trick question?

to start with, savory bread pudding is a delightful treat you make in the middle of a regular old week (not thanksgiving) and serve it to some of your BFFs rather than 40 odd relatives.

plus, you don't stuff it in a bird.  which i think is kind of gross. 

don't get me wrong.  i love stuffing.  thanksgiving isn't thanksgiving without stuffing made from grandma renee's amazing tauzin family recipe.  but i make it in a casserole dish the way FDA inspectors, harold mcgee, and god (in that order) intended.

i'm not going to compare this bread pudding with that stuffing though.  bird of a different feather.  both tasty, neither really need a recipe.  stuffing is more crumbly and scoopable, but this bread pudding is more of a sliceable-custard-based dish.  and i think the brioche and the leeks make it a little more fancy pants.

check out those leeks!  fancy!

leeks

more importantly, check out the new saute pan!  i've made the leap, friends, from nonstick to, well, very sticky.  it resulted in this:

not nonstick

and it resulted in me scrubbing at it for quite a bit of time.  did i not add enough butter?  i'm pretty sure that can't be it. should i have "deglazed" the pan with water?  the learning curve of adult cookware.  sigh.

anyway, i'm getting ahead of myself.

the leeks get a cute little parchment hat while they're gumming up my shiny new pan.  this recipe is from our friend thomas keller and he just has this thing for parchment hats. 

i mean, parchment lids. 

that's what grown-ups would call them.

crispy, golden brown brioche croutons give this bread pudding some serious body. 

bread crumbs

the croutons, plus a nice sprinkling of parmesan cheese give this bread pudding a nice crunchy bite on the top and a lovely chewy border – like the crusty corners that make everything from brownies to kugels to baked pastas so yumtastic. 

top of pudding

this is a seriously satisfying dish.  light, but rich, good warm out of the oven or room temperature.  i served it with pork tenderloin (you're SHOCKED) and asparagus (sorry michael pollan), but i think it would have been really lovely just with a green salad, dressed with something light and lemony.

Leek Bread Pudding

Lightly Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home and Smitten Kitchen

I'll be honest, I didn't really measure anything for this recipe.  So I give you approximations as being exact isn't super important here.

  • 2 cups leeks, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut in four pieces
  • 4-6 cups challah or brioche bread, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 3/4 cup (or more!  live large!) grated parmesan or other tangy cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Make your parchment paper hat.  Cut a round of parchment paper the size of your saute pan, then fold it up like you're making a paper snowflake and cut a little hole in the center to let out the steam.  Or, you know, decide that Thomas Keller is too precious for you and skip it.

Warm up your saute pan, and add the leeks.  Saute until they start to soften and throw off some liquid, stirring, for about 5 minutes.  Then add the butter and top with your parchment lid and let it melt down over mediumish heat for about 20 minutes, stirring a few times.

Toast your bread cubes in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring midway so the croutons get more or less evenly toasted. 

Combine the leeks and the croutons.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk, herbs, nutmeg and salt and pepper. 

Grease your pan.  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of cheese on the bottom.  Add about half of the leeks and croutons, then a layer of 1/4 cup of cheese, then the rest of the croutons, then the rest of the cheese. 

Here, Thomas Keller recommends adding about 2 cups of the milk mixture, pressing the croutons to get them good and soaked, and letting it rest for 20 minutes before adding the remainder of the milk mixture and then baking for about an hour or until firm.

I skipped this because it was getting late and I was hungry and had promised to feed people on a school night and thought that they would appreciate dinner slightly before midnight.  It turned out ok.  The top layer of croutons were probably a little drier than they otherwise would have been.  So, if you have the patience and the time, soak your croutons.

Enjoy!

honey bourbon & peach bbq chicken

peach bourbon chicken tableset

what do you do when someone offers to come to your house on a sunday evening and bake you a chocolate pie?

make them this chicken in return.  it's like saying i love you, in tangy, sweet poultry form.

this is not a fancy recipe.

peach bourbon chicken cast

it was created by the pioneer woman.  let me tell you, she knows her comfort food.

want to play with the camera?

check out the peach jam!

peach bourbon chicken preserves

whoa, wait!  there's that honey bourbon!  betcha thought we were done with that bad boy! 

peach bourbon chicken jd

this recipe got us close, but there is still a good inch or so left in the bottle. 

and don't let it's honey sweetness fool you.  this is a gateway drug to more serious whiskey.  it is possible a bottle of makers mark has made it to my place of work.  it is certain that i was not responsible.  but it is possible that i have partaken.

goes great with diet ginger ale.  and a caramel apple lollipop.  as you cry silently at your desk.

wait, too serious?  back to the food!  focus!

this recipe is essentially a braise.  oh man, get ready.  fall is here for reals and i'm going to be braising so much meat you won't be able to keep up.  how else can i be sure my favorite short rib recipe is really my favorite?!?!

but today, we are cooking the bock bock.  that's chicken for those of you who don't speak paige.

peach bourbon chicken chix

chicken thighs are great for braises.  they're virtually indestructible – have you ever had a dry chicken thigh?  just ask spilled milk.  i browned up some bone-in, skin-on for some juicy goodness.  and then boneless skinless because i'm lazy and would like to not gain 10 lbs every weekend.  plus my yogi is uncomfortable with meat-looking meat. 

let it hang out in the oven with all that good bbq sauce, peach jam, and bourbon until it falls apart.  serve with smashed potatoes, and maybe some green beans for good measure. 

this sauce is crazy addictive.  you'll want more than seconds because it just hits every note right – sweet, savory, with just a hit of the bourbon.  just use a bbq sauce that has a bite – you want to balance out the jam.  and if you choose a good jam, it'll be a little chunky.  it's a substantial sauce, let me tell you.

peach bourbon chicken upclose

bonus?  it goes great with chocolate pie.  thanks larkin!

Peach-Whiskey Barbeque Chicken

All I did was swap out the bourbon for honey bourbon, so you should just check out Pioneer Woman's recipe posting.  She'll walk you right through the recipe, but it's easy as pie.  Promise.

 

baby artichokes, i win

baby artichokes

aren’t they cute?  they look so innocent.  you can almost hear them whisper: hello.  i’m small, adorable and green.  take me home and turn me into something yummy!

devious little buggers.

first few times i tried to make some magic with baby artichokes, i just couldn’t get it right.  and to be honest, the problem was me.

a confession – i hate kitchen waste.  i hate, for example, peeling a watermelon and feeling like half the watermelon is still attached to the rind.

i had to do breathing exercises to get through my knife skills class because to make those exquisite, perfect, 2 in by 1/4 in by 1/4 carrot batons or petit brunoise potato dice, you leave most of the vegetable behind.

control issues?  what do you mean control issues?

anyway.  you have to let that go with the baby artichokes.  check this out.

artichoke carnage

i don’t know if you can tell, but the pile of discarded baby artichoke leaves DWARFS the tender, pale green hearts.

but friends, you must be ruthless.  if you don’t, your baby artichokes will end up woody.  inedible.  they will mock you from under their yummy, tangy, lemony glaze.

if you truly can leave no artichoke leaf behind, go find yourself one of those jumbo dudes.  i’ll even share my momma’s top secret artichoke cooking technique.

are you ready? 

wrap in plastic wrap and nuke it until it’s tender.  try not to think about whatever it is that’s leeching into your food fromthe plastic.  melt some butter (also feel free to nuke that).  good to go.  is there anything better? 

did i hear you say aioli?  yeah, that works.  or mayo, on a spoon from the jar.  no biggie.

anyway, back to our petit artichauts.  now that you’ve gone and really stripped them down, you’re ready to introduce them to their friends lemon, garlic, white wine, and thyme. 

they’re going to get along swimmingly.

sauteing artichokes

let me tell you, these were some tasty artichokes.  they were tender and sweet.  the dressing was a wonderful balance of acid and tart and savory herbally goodness. 

but, jeez louise, they just aren’t as adorable as they were at the start, right?

bowl of artichokes

this leads me to lesson number two today.  i didn’t get my artichokes soaking in lemon water quite soon enough, and the artichokes went from green to . . . a, uh, slightly less appetizing tan color.

the irony – and i may need an english teacher here to tell me if this is real irony or alanis morissette irony – it was my endless futzing with them for photographs that kept them from the lemon bath they needed to look good in the photographs. 

the somm feels their pain, let me tell you. 

so, don’t be like me.  strip your artichokes, soak your artichokes, serve them to the ones you love.

Artichoke Antipasto

Not at all adapted from David Tanis’ Heart of the Artichoke, unless you count my smart-ass, alcoholic asides.  Original recipe here, buy the book here.

  • 10 to 12 baby artichokes
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cupish white wine
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • Small pinch red pepper flakes
  • Parsley to taste

Open the bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass.  Quality control.

Fill a bowl with water and squeeze in the lemon juice.  Don’t be shy.

Tell the baby artichokes their time has come.  One at a time, chop off about the top third of each artichoke, or maybe a little less.  Pull off the hard green outer leaves until just the tender lighter green leaves are left.  Slice them in half, lengthwise, and add them to the lemon water.  Immediately.

Heat your (non-cast iron) skillet and add olive oil and let it get warm.  Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan with some salt and pepper.  Then add the wine and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender when you test them with a fork, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste!), and cook for a minute or so until the garlic starts to smell and loses that raw garlic bite.

Take the pan off the heat, add the lemon zest and parsley.  I don’t think I added the parsley.  I’m not a huge fan, plus my little plant hasn’t been doing so well, and I honestly just never really remember to garnish.  But, by all means.  Arugula would also probably work here.

David Tanis says you can let them cool to room temperature to serve as a part of an antipasto platter.  They didn’t really last that long for us.  Nom.

end of summer dinner

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when i’m trying to decide what to cook or bake, i don’t usually start with a recipe, i start with an ingredient.

i mean, those peaches were macerating in bourbon in my head (while lurking despondently in my fridge) for WEEKS before i found the recipe (recipes!) to make it happen for reals.

case in point – if there are lima beans at the farmers market, there will be succotash.  you know how i feel about food with fun-sounding names!

however.

i have a three-foot stack of old bon apetits and gourmets (RIP gourmet, RIP) and cooking lights.  which i’m slowly going through, ripping out the dog-eared pages to fill what is likely to be a series of three ring binders.

f1

this binder lives on a shelf.  next to my growing collection of cookbooks.

f2

and i LOVE my cookbooks, and most were gifts.  my godmother sent me off into my first apartment with a set of classics. (barefoot contessa. silver palate. joy of cooking.)

my current cookbook-fairy is also my mother-in-law (ad hoc at home . . . i didn’t post-it every page, but mostly just beacuse i skipped the fish section).

my cookbooks are like my wedding gifts.  they aren’t just objects, they’re the presence of the love of my friends and family.  in my kitchen, where that kind of love always feels strongest.

and even though i’m far from having as many cookbooks one of my favorite food bloggers, i’m trying to follow her advice: stop buying, and start cooking!

so, let’s get on with business.

two recipes today: on-the-fly succotash, and david tanis’ pork scallopine.

poor lima beans are one of the somms favorites even though i think their reputation is on par with anchovies.

to be honest, i’m still working on the anchovies. (ok, well, i’ve purchased a can of anchovies and i’m just getting used to it’s presence in the kitchen.  maybe someday i’ll actually open it and consider cooking with the little fishies.)

but limas, limas are great.

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you don’t really need a recipe for this – melt some butter.  add your corn and limas.  season and saute.  add your tomatoes, if you’re using them.

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cook till tender!  squeeze in a little lemon juice to tart it up.  top with goat cheese and basil.  delish.  and you really don’t need any more of a recipe than that.

succotash is so simple, i paired it with pork from an actual recipe.  from an actual cookbook.  this one:

heart-of-the-artichoke1

this was a christmas gift from my mom that had a good run over the winter (braises!  blood orange granita!) and i’ve now made at least three recipes from the summer menus.  his recipes range from a whole suckling pig (seriously people?!?) to simple, good food.  green beans with red onions.  this pork with lemon and capers.

the recipe was supposed to be for scaloppine – which is a fancy italian way of saying thinly sliced meat often lightly dredged in flour, and if you were wondering, wondra flour is the best for that cause it’s super fine so you can actually lightly bread stuff before sauteeing it.  this is how the pros get that nice brown crust on meats.

i had pork chops.  so i just wondra-ed them up and got to work.

while the pork rests, you saute parsley, lemon zest, capers and garlic in olive oil and those wondra-fied porky leavings until it sizzles.

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spoon over the pork.  serve with lemon wedges, and a scoop of late summer succotash.

let’s go in for a close up.

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The irony of course, is that you don’t really need the recipe for the pork any more than you do for the succotash.  but it was a great idea, and for that i’d like to thank both david tanis and my mom.

My Version of David Tanis’ Pork Scaloppine

Adapted from Heart of the Artichoke and here 

  • Wondra flour
  • 4 pork chops
  • 2 Tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. thinly sliced lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. capers , rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • Lemon slices

Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Sprinkly both sides of your chops with salt, pepper and a light dusting of Wondra.  Brown chops on both sides for a few minutes until 135 or 140 degrees in the center.  Or until desired level of done-ness.

Remove pork from skillet, add another splash of olive oil.  Add parsley, lemon zest, capers and garlic.  Saute until it sizzles.  Spoon over pork chops and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.

 

romesco sauce

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we can do this the easy way or the hard way.

no, seriously.

there are a lot of steps here.

there are lots of ingredients to toast or roast and peel.  soak and chop.  saute and puree.  here are some of them.  the photogenic ones!  also the ones i didn’t forget to pose.

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note to self: do not become a wedding photographer.  although, who ever looks at those lined up photos anyway???   sigh.  two years later, i still have post-traumatic bridal stress disorder.

back to the romesco.  it makes everything better.  we even served it at the wedding.  at the meats on sticks station!  yum.

and don’t worry.  about the wedding or all the steps to the romesco sauce.  they’re worth it.  and they’re (generally) a great way to spend a saturday afternoon. and i’ll tell you when you can cheat – in the sauce, not the marriage.

are we done with that metaphor?  i hope so.

romesco is a spanish sauce that is mostly peppers, tomatoes, nuts and bread.  sounds weird but it is deeply satisfying.  it’s smoky, with a nice balance of sweet and bitter peppers, a touch of acid, a little chunky.  it’s a substantial sauce.  there are lots of ingredient and lots of steps, but don’t  be intimidated.  that just means lots of ways to make romesco the way YOU want it to be.

here’s how i make romesco.  i roast something.

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i take a break and go sweep the cat litter in the bathroom.  i wash my hands.  thoroughly.  gross.  i come back and toast something.  something like hazelnuts.

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then i go wipe down a counter or water a plant.  i have house cleaning ADHD.

back to the kitchen!  we’re going to take the skins off stuff!

roasted red pepper.  after you thoroughly blacken the skin – either on the stove or under the broiler, turning constantly! – let it hang out in a ziploc and get steamy.  then the blackened skin slips right off.  super easy.  but you know what?  the stuff that comes in a jar works too! and looks slightly less creepy than this denuded red pepper.

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the secret to taking those skins of the hazelnuts is rubbing them in a dishtowel.  a nubbier towel would have worked better than this, but isn’t it pretty?!  thanks mom.

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hazelnuts are a traditional ingredient for romesco.  toasting them offers deeper flavor – and taking the skins off will make a prettier sauce.  i mixed them with marcona almonds (fancy pants spanish almonds that are super salty and a little oily but in a good-put-more-in-my-mouth-right-now kind of way) but you could just use marcona almonds.  or just regular almonds.  whatever floats your boat.

also going on during my toasting/roasting/prep/cleaning time is soaking some ancho chiles.  nora chiles are traditionally the central ingredient in a romesco.

my whole foods doesn’t carry them, and grocery stores are limited here in the urban metropolis that is NW DC. i’m pretty sure i couldn’t pick a nora pepper out in a line up.  ancho chiles, according to my “extensive” research, are a common substitute in romesco.

but, here’s the “secret” to my romesco.

it really is more of a glorified red pepper sauce.  i like the sweetness.  i add the ancho for a little bit of that smoky bitterness.  but whenever i try to go old school and use mostly dried peppers, i am just disappointed.

and, there are way too many steps here to not luuuuuurve the results.  because once you’ve roasted and toasted and soaked and chopped, you need to saute the ingredients together.  let them meet and mingle.  cocktail hour style.

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in this stage, you’re adding the bread, tomatoes, and garlic.

they’ll really get to know each other in the food processor.

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in a nod to the somm, i don’t add oil to make it saucy.  i used some chicken stock and some spanish white wine . . . this time a viura-chardonnay blend.  viura.  the somm and i spent our whole trip to rioja making people say it for us and failing to replicate the sound.  the v . . . not a v.  some weird v/f hybrid.  the inflection . . . much more nuanced than the american tongue is prepared to take on.  who would have thought txakolina would be easier to say!  sigh.

luckily, romesco is SUPER easy to pronounce.  and super easy to make, if you can stick through the roasting-toasting-soaking-chopping.

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and good on so much stuff.  burgers.  roasted potatoes.  crudites.  a spoon.  dig in!

Roasted Red Pepper Romesco

Super loosely adapted from the New York TImesRead the article about the awesomeness of romesco!

Smitten Kitchen has a good recipe too.

  • 2 red peppers
  • 3-4 peppadew peppers (or just use more red pepper or piquillo, like the NY Times)
  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 medium to largish tomato
  • 6 cloves garlic (I am garlic CRAZY.  use as much as seems reasonable to you)
  • Handful hazelnuts (NY Times called for 15.  Hilarious.  Please, do not bother counting out your hazelnuts)
  • Larger handful marcona almonds (or, you know, 25)
  • 1 cup cubed baguette, stale or slightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 healthy sqeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (This is Spanish paprika.  I bought mine in Spain.  You don’t need to, they sell it here, but don’t use regular paprika, it won’t get the job done.)
  • Chopped fresh thyme

Soak ancho chile in hot water for about half an hour until soft.  Remove seeds.  Roughly chop.

Blacken the red peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler.  Place in a ziploc bag for 5 to 10 minutes, then slip off skins. Coarsely chop.

Toast hazelnuts until dark brown but not black.  Fold into dish towel and rub to remove skins.

Slice slight X in bottom of tomato – just enough to break the skin.  Blanche in boiling water for a minute, then peel.  Or skip this because you just can’t handle peeling ONE MORE THING.  Use canned tomatoes.  Or just leave the skin on.  It’ll add some fiber, that’s good, right?

Saute bread, nuts, garlic for a few minutes, until you can start to smell the garlic.  Add the tomatos.  Then the peppers.

Throw the mixture into the food processor.  Start the processor.  As it runs, add the liquids.  Season to taste with paprika, salt and pepper.  Garnish the with fresh thyme.  The sauce will have texture.  Delicious texture.

spicy corn saute

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there’s a lot of corn in the world right now.  it keeps following me home.  there are going to be a LOT of corn recipes coming up, folks.  bear with me.

today’s corn recipe comes courtesy of the spilled milk podcast.  do you know spilled milk?  you should.  and if you don’t you’re in for a treat.  i just discovered it about a month ago which means i have several years of past episodes to catch up on.

this is one of my favorite things – playing catch-up on books or tv shows.  i’m impatient, so it works out not having to wait for new content, but also means i’m usually about two years behind the world, culture wise.  highlights of the year: working my way through five seasons of friday night lights and discovering the bazillion pages of the first four game of thrones books.  the two weeks i had to wait until the next book was released this summer?  let’s just say, good thing i was mostly in spain.  lots of lovely temperanillo and worrying about the somm avoiding the bulls in pamplona to distract me.

anyway, this is a food blog, and spilled milk is a food podcast.  a hilarious food podcast.   and about a year ago, they did a great episode on cord off the cob . . . or corn on the spoon as we prefer to call it around here.

you should always start with super fresh corn.  this kind of fresh:

tell you what: they weren’t lying.  farmer’s market produce, not for the faint of heart.

this corn is spicy.  no kidding spicy.  it calls for a whole jalepeno to four ears of corn, but man.  i used about two thirds of a pepper (and no seeds) and it still killed me.

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saute it up.  this recipe is based around not just the jalepeno, but the yummy layer of brown gunky stuff that gums up the bottom of the pan when you saute corn.  all the sugar and flavor of the corn.  gunk.  molly & matthew on spilled milk have assured me, it’s a technical term!

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admission: i have been known to scrape that gunk up and eat it off the spatula.  salty, sweet, like corn msg.  this recipe is better, and less likely to disgust your friends and loved ones.  deglaze the pan with a little water (or maybe even wine?  live large!) and the corn kernals soak all that flavor back up.

i couldn’t tell if manchego approved or not.

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he doesn’t particularly enjoy corn and can’t quite understand why if i’m going to cook rather than play laser tag with him i don’t cook something with protein.  now, roasted chicken.  there’s something he can get behind.

sorry dude.  this corn was good.  better in a quesadilla, where the cheese helped cut the burning fire in my mouth.  hello jalepeno!

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For this recipe: Corn off the Cob by Spilled Milk

My changes: less jalepeno, a mix of scallions and red onion cause that was what i had, and sprinkle of pepitas on top.

corn, tomato & zucchini pie

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isn’t corn just wonderful?  it really is one of my favorite foods.  i love that corn can go either sweet or savory – or both, hitting that salty-sweet combo that just sings to me.  like peanut butter or kettle corn or flaky sea salt on brownies.

last year, we went to san francisco for my (and a friends!) birthday and had dinner one night at a swanky restaurant with corn-themed dessert.  it was a crazy landscape of a dessert.  literally. it had “soil” and little plants and all kinds of amazing corn-based delights and i think i just planted my face into it and hoped the somm and friend were enjoying some other dessert menu item.

i’m not a good sharer.

at least when it comes to dessert.  i’m totally happy to share this recipe – which is savory despite that long corn-dessert aside.  homemade corn ice cream is sooooo on my summer wish list.

this corn “pie” delivers the essence of corn in all it’s summer glory.  it’s rich but light, and the sweet corn is perfectly complemented by the crispy, cheesey topping and herbal notes from the basil and thyme.

plus it couldn’t be easier.

cut the kernels off your corn.  i like to do it in a bowl.  it keeps the kernels from going everywhere.

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use your knife skills to matchstick some zucchini.  this is not my best effort.  but, to be honest, i put this bad boy together post happy hour on a friday.  anything more advanced than take out or a bowl of cereal was winning.

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throw it together in a pie dish with herbs, salt & pepper and some melted butter.

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pretty.

layer on some tomatoes.

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red and yellow.  gorgeous.

finish it off with bread crumbs and parmesan.

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bake until brown and crispy.  nom nom.

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Corn, Tomato & Zucchini Pie

Adapted from Epicurious 

  • 3 ears of corn worth of corn kernels
  • 1-2 medium zucchini, cut into matchstick pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil and/or thyme
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs, Panko-type are best
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – I used basil-flavored, yum

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a 9-inch pie dish, combine the corn, zucchini, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the herbs, and the melted butter, tossing to coat the vegetables. Cover the vegetables with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the cheese and the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. Remove it from the oven, and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

roasted tomatillo & corn salsa

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this salsa is a major victory.  i mean, it tastes great – smoky and tangy and sweet and spicy – but the victory comes from the fact that it was produced and consumed without harm to myself or the kitchen.

the last time i made this salsa, i felt like i was starring in my very own adam sandler movie.  jalepeno in my eye, me futily splashing it with water while the sommelier frantically googles for antedotes, then milk everywhere – especially crusted around my red, swollen face.  add in a huge, bleeding cut in my fingertip to distract me, and to top it off, we inaugurated the kitchen fire extinguisher when the broiler got the best of the homemade tortilla chips.

not my finest hour.

at multiple points during this experience, the sommelier suggested perhaps some takeout from the lovely chicken place down the street might be a good idea. this is why he was better in economics . . . he knows a sunk cost when he sees one and is ready to move on. 

but i'm a crazy cook, so i persisted.  and was rewarded with yummy tomatillo salsa! 

this time, having only slightly learned from past mishaps, i decided to step it up and char both the corn and the tomatillos.  which i mananged without burning ANYTHING.  so, let's get started.

have you met the tomatillo?

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when you pull off the papery skins, they kind of look like little, unripe tomatoes.  they're a little sticky, so you have to give them a good rinse.

to make salsa, you can blend them up raw, or roast them under the broiler.

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kind of looks like a marimekko print, don't you think?

i went for roasted, because i also wanted to add some charred corn.  i'd never done this before.  now i've done it twice without burning anything that wasn't meant to be burned!  progress!

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the corn does pop a little, and the inevitable corn silk stuck between the kernels does flare up and burn off a bit.  it kind of freaked the sommelier out, cause he knew i was up to no good.  but i stood back at a safe distance.  had the fire extinguisher out and ready (this particular kitchen safety measure, like the knife skills lesson, was totally the somm's idea).  we worked through it, and it was worth it.

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fact: add this stuff to roasted cherry tomatoes with some lime, cilantro, salt & pepper and the barest splash of balsamic and you'll have yourself a lovely summer salad.  or, enjoy while standing at your cutting board and trying not to drop any on the floor.  mmm.

but we're focusing on the tomatillo today.

blend up your roasted tomatillo with some onion, jalepeno, and lime juice.  stir in the corn, chopped cilantro and salt to taste.

total victory.  and yes, this time we skipped the homemade tortilla chips.

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Roasted Tomatillo & Corn Salsa

adapted from Simply Recipes, via Kuhn Orchards at my local farmers market 

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 to 1 lime, jucied, to taste
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • Salt to taste

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.  Slice in half and roast, cut side down, under the broiler until almost black.

Husk corn and char – carefully – over a gas burner.  Slice kernals from cob.

In food processor, blend tomatillos with onion, lime and jalepeno.  Place in bowl, and stir in cilantro and corn.  Season and enjoy!

easy summer pork tenderloin with peaches

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reader, brace yourself. this recipe is super easy, but it is going to require you to get up close and personal with a big hunk of raw meat.

if you are like most of my friends, you look at raw meat and start slowly backing away.  do not be afraid.  it will be worth it.

the challenge is the rub.  here it is, in my adorable morter & pestle (one of the lovely wedding gifts i kept – thank you cousins!):

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this is about 4 cloves of garlic, and powdered curry, cinnamon, & ginger.  and maybe some salt and pepper.  all mashed up. with a little olive oil, but i had a super hard time getting the oil to come together with the spices in the mortar.  try a bowl and a fork.

now, apply to your pork!  you have to work it in there.  use some elbow grease.  get to know your tenderloin.  think about how tasty it's going to be.

 

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you're going to want to sear this bad boy in a pan that you can then just pop into your oven to finish it off until the center of the thickest part of the meat is 145 degrees. 

do you have a meat thermometer?  you should get one.  mine is digital and fancy-pants and ridiculously expenseive (and purple!) but super worth it.  you don't have to spend that much.  but a thermometer is really the only way to know your meat is cooked properly.  don't blame me, blame harold mcgee.

see how nice and browned it got from the searing?  yum.

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you want to let your pork rest while you make the peach compote. if you slice into the meat too soon, it'll look raw in the middle, cooked on the outside, and dry, dry, dry because all the juices'll just be a puddle on your plate.  not yummy.  resting lets all the juices redistribute throughout the meat.  evens out the cookedness (yes i know that's not a word) of the meat.

and you have other things to deal with: tomatoes, corn and peaches!

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well, first you want to soften some onions in your pan – leave all the good porky bits in the bottom to help flavor them up.  but careful not to grab the handle while you're sauteing.  it's hot, people – it was in the oven.  and if you grab it, it'll leave you trying to finish dinner while holding an ice pack and that's just no fun.  not that i would know from experience or anything. 

next, add the good stuff shown above and a healthy amount of fresh herbs – i went with thyme.  i heart thyme.

this isn't a 30 minute meal.  but it's pretty close.  and it's pretty good.

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Easy Summer Pork Tenderloin with Peach, Corn & Tomato Compote

Adapted from Epicurious

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 (3/4-pound) pork tenderloin
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 pound tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 peach, chopped
  • 1 ear corn kernels
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Mash garlic, spices, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a paste using mortar and pestle. Rub all over pork.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown pork on one side, about 5 minutes, then turn over and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 145 to 150°F for juicy meat, 10 to 12 minutes. Let pork rest, uncovered, on a cutting board while making compote.

Add onion to skillet (handle will be very hot) and sautéover medium-high heat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, peach and corn and sauté until just softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in thyme.

Slice pork and serve with compote.

life-changing zucchini soup

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perhaps you are asking yourself, why on god's green earth would anyone be making soup – and we are talking hot soup here, not chilled refreshing gazpacho – not only in the middle of summer, but in the middle of the worst heat wave this country has seen in a long, long time?

well, i didn't leave the house yesterday.  the somm and i cranked up the ac, lowered the blinds, settled our tushes into the couch and took shelter. 

i didn't even go to the gym.  its getting serious.

but back to the soup.  a friend sent me the recipe.  i thanked her.  i was close to moving on. i'm not a soup person.  my mom – she is all about the soup. soup just doesn't always get it done for me.

then my friend sent a one sentence email: the zucchini soup will change your life.

talk about getting serious.  i'm in!

we're going to start with some onions.

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diced onion is going to get up close and personal with more butter and olive oil than i usually use (sorry honey!) and some thyme and bay.  i took a picture, frankly it didn't look as appetizing as it smelled.  butter.  mmm.

add your chunked zucchini and chicken stock.  i used some homemade stock from the freezer.  the sommelier came that much closer to finding the ice cream sandwiches. 

once it's all cooked up together, you blend it up.  you know, in your blender.  or use one of those fancy immersion blender wands.  i don't have one, although some kind person did buy me one for my wedding.  i had registered for it and everything.  i thought it might inspire me to make soup.  i had visions of sharing soup recipes with my mother.  then it arrived and i looked at it and realized that, really, i'm not a soup person.  i returned it and put the money towards filling out my pots and pans set.  my sincere apologies.  but seriously, i'm using the hell out of those pots and pans.

soup therapy session over!  time for the croutons!  you're going to need lots of basil.

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i keep mine in a vase.  with my flowers.

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god, i love the woman who sells the flowers at my farmers market.  she puts basil IN THE ARRANGEMENTS sometimes.  purple basil – do you see it back there?  love. it.  so does manchego.  check him out surveying his domain.

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moments after this photo was taken, he started gnawing on the flower arrangements. 

anyway.  i saved the basil from the gatito.  and let me pass along this advice: do not skip the croutons.  they are buttery, basily cubes of goodness.

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let them get all brown and toasty.

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so good.  i am that much closer to being a soup person.

and mom – you should try this soup.  here's the recipe!

Zucchini Soup with Basil Croutons

from Food & Wine Magazine

SOUP

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 celery ribs, peeled and diced (I didn't have celery.  I didn't miss it.)
  • 1 medium onion, minced (I may have subbed extra onion for the missing celery.  But I can never tell what a "medium" onion is supposed to be.)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 lb zucchini (F&W said to use little guys, I used two big dudes. Eh.)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt & Pepper
  • More basil

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the celery, onion, bay leaf and thyme and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to moderate. Stir in the zucchini and stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer the soup until the zucchini is soft, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

CROUTONS

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups-ish country bread, cut into 1/2 ince dice
  • Salt & Pepper

In a large skillet, melt the butter over moderately high heat. Stir in the chopped basil, then add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season the bread cubes with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, or until the bread cubes are lightly toasted and crispy. Transfer to a plate.

ALL TOGETHER NOW

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. This is important – soup expand when it gets hot and blended.  Leave a little air hole at the top of your blender.  Enough for steam, not enough to splatter soup everywhere.  You'll be sad.

Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat gently. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with the croutons and basil leaves and serve.