Archives for posts with tag: Corn

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Sometimes cooking becomes the daily grind.  You have no creativity and don’t feel like cooking very much.  I was in that place for a little while, a funk, if you will.  I think we all go through phases like this.  I was cooking dinner and just getting by and not expanding my culinary repertoire much.  And then one day I just felt upset, upset that I’ve let something go that I’m so passionate about.

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I thought to myself, I used to go to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday and get inspired, I used to think of how I could start something with food.  I felt sad and felt as though I let myself down.  Why must I doubt myself — why must I get into these phases where I am uninspired?  I’m sure this happens to everyone.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  Something that helped me get out of this strange aura I was living in, in regard to cooking was that  my friend Christy asked me to participate in a program/class she is involved with on the first 3 Thursdays of every month called the ELLICSR Kitchen.  This is a remarkable program that works with cancer survivors and patients and introduces them to healing, holistic nutrition.

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When Christy asked me to participate I felt a little apprehensive and scared.  I didn’t know how I could speak ON CAMERA.  When I got there I felt much better – the environment was so warm and friendly and I was a little more at ease (still nervous, though!).  Christy Brissette is a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist who explains nutritional components to dishes and Chef Geremy Capone is a wellness chef who expertly prepares all the dishes.  They chose two dishes from my blog and one new dish I created for the workshop and we prepared them together and I shared a little about myself.  Once I got going I was comfortable and I don’t think I fumbled!  The best part was interacting with the lovely audience.  They were so eager to learn and gave me to positive reinforcement I needed.

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I remember one older lady in particular.  She is living in the hospital and wheelchair bound. She is a regular at the ELLICSR kitchen.  She was the the first to arrive so she could get a prized front-row seat.  She is from India and was excited to talk about the spices we had on display. We made a Potato Radish Salad with a Tarka and she throughly enjoyed it because as she explained to me, she loves raw vegetables over cooked ones.  I’m sure she is over 80 years old and she told me about when she was a child in India.  She would accompany her mother weekly to the fruit and vegetable vendors – she would wait all week for this outing.  She loved all the fresh vegetables and would be in awe of all the activity in the market.  There were other mothers and their children at the market, she told me.  They didn’t seem to enjoy the experience as much as she did.  She plucked fresh peas from the overflowing baskets and ate them raw.  She laughed when she said, “my mother used to call me a goat because I loved to graze on green vegetables like a goat and that I was definitely a goat in my previous life.”  I was amazed at how her memory was so vivid.  She talked about her mother as if she was still a child.  She took my email and told me when she goes home she will get in touch with me.  I hope I hear from her soon.

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Since that day, I decided I wanted to reach out more and hear more stories like this.  We all have something to share and we all have memories that will last for decades and need to passed on.  Just lend an ear and give someone some time and without expectation you can gain invaluable insight.

Back into the kitchen I went.  Cooking more and eating out less.  I recently started to make ricotta cheese at home.  So easy and so good.  I made this pasta because these are flavors I love – sweet corn, fruity red chilies, fresh basil, and creamy ricotta.  It’s summer on a plate and the sunshine colors make it all the more appealing.  Share it with friends or family and learn something new about each other.

Some quickly shot photos from the ELLICSR Kitchen Event:

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Sweet Corn, Red Chili Linguine with Fresh Ricotta and Basil

Serves 4

Ingredients

linguine, or pasta of your choice

olive oil

sea salt

4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly

3 mild red chilies, chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilies (red chili flakes), optional

2 cups fresh shucked corn, or frozen kernels

fresh ricotta, for serving I used this recipe.

fresh basil leaves in a chiffonade

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Method

In a large sauté pan heat about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low heat.  Add in the sliced garlic and the fresh red chilies.  Allow them to caramelize and almost confit for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the linguine according to the package instructions and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Add in the crushed red chilies with the garlic and red chilies, if you are using.

Turn the heat up to medium and add in the corn.  Cook the corn for about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt, to taste and add in the heavy cream and parsley.  Toss in the linguine and add 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid and sauté until it all comes together, about 1-2 minutes.  Add in more pasta cooking liquid, if necessary.  Serve hot and top with a dollop of fresh ricotta and the basil leaves in chiffonade.

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Oh, how I miss Mexican flavors.  I envy people who have access to good authentic Mexican food.  Although, the dish I made here isn’t exactly Mexican, it does include Poblano peppers which do have some affinity with Mexican cuisine.  The day I saw these Poblanos at the farmer’s market, I literally screeched in excitement.  I was instantly reminded of my favorite dish, chilies rellenos.

In Rhode Island, where I grew up, is where I had first taste I had of authentic Mexican food, and no I’m not talking about Taco Bell or some Tex-Mex chain, I am talking about real authentic and fresh food.  The food where you taste the smokiness of fresh cumin, the tartness of lime, the creaminess of avocado, and the smoothness of crema.  It’s where you add radishes for that perfect and slightly piquant bite of fish taco.

Every time I visit my parents, I make sure to make a stop at our old family favorite, Mexico Restaurant.  I know new restaurants have popped up and some claim they are better, I have not found that to be so, maybe I am biased by the many years of dining there.  I have even made my husband a lover of their cuisine.

Again, I come back to the poblanos.  I wanted to make the chilies rellenos, but I feared I could not do them justice.  I will try another time, hopefully yielding delicious results.  With the days of summer gone, I decided to relish the last of its flavors.  Corn and poblanos are a natural paining.  Paired with some quinoa, the dish soared.  I almost forgot about the authentic Mexican food, almost but not quite.  Luckily, I will be visiting my parents soon and there will be poblanos galore waiting for me.

Quinoa with Poblanos, Corn, and Chives

Ingredients

Serves 2-3

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup dry quinoa, soaked in water for 15 minutes and then rinsed

3 Poblano peppers, cut into strips (seeds and ribs removed)

1 cup corn kernels

2 shallots, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

the juice of 2 limes

a bunch of chives (as much as you want really, I like a lot)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin

salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

optional–lime wedges, avocado slices, sour cream, extra chives, for garnish

Method

I like to cook quinoa in the pasta method, if you prefer it the traditional way, go with your own method.  Boil ample water in a medium-sized pot.  Add the quinoa and allow to boil for about 15 minutes, or until cooked.  Drain the excess water in a colander and set aside.

In a sauté pan, on medium heat, cook the shallots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the garlic and allow it to slightly change color, about a minute.  Add in the corn and cumin and allow the corn to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Next, the Poblanos along with the lime juice go in and do not let them get mushy, they should still have a little bite left in them, season with salt and pepper.

The corn and Poblano mixture should cook for about 5 more minutes.  At this point, toss in the quinoa and chives and incorporate the whole mixture together.  Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream, avocado, chives, and lime.