Saturday, August 24, 2013

i want you, but i don't need you

I'm a sucker for shellfish. All of it. The only shellfish I didn't like was when I once had clam sushi at an omakase dinner, and thought I was going to die. That was just a little too much ocean than I care to taste.

But cooked, clams might be my favorite shellfish of them all. Unless, of course, we're talking about deep-frying oysters, but I mean, at that point, even the clam isn't putting up a fight. There's nothing to compete with that.

But for all of my love of the clams, I actually would not have minded this pasta without it. That's not a knock on the bivalves, but rather, a testament to what delicious summer corn (I know, I'm obsessed) and a wee bit of heavy cream can do for perfectly al dente pappardelle (my favorite of all the pastas, if you must know).

I really don't have much else to say except make this immediately. With or without the clams.

Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta with Clams
slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
serves 4

12 oz. pappardelle
2 c. corn kernels, divided (about 2 ears of corn)
1 T. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. dry vermouth
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. Manila clams, rinsed

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and cook until the shallot is translucent. Pour in 1 c. of the corn kernels, heavy cream and vermouth. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the sauce to a blender. Process for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the sauce is completely smooth.

4. Transfer the sauce back to the saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the clams, and cover the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the clams have opened, discarding any clam that don't open. Add the pasta and the remaining corn, and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

shuck some corn

The epitome of summer is this dish of Fesh Corn Cakes with Crab + Tomato Salad. Don't ruin that summer like I almost did by using sub-par crab. Splurge a little here - you're not using that much.

And that little bit goes a long with with still-warm-from-the-sun tomatoes off the vine that's only been dressed with the tiniest bit of olive oil and lemon juice. That lightness and sweetness and acidity combine with the bright, but still substantial corn cakes to make for a fabulous dinner.

The corn cakes are the love child of cornbread and pancakes. The time it takes to slice all those kernels off of the cob is absolutely worth it. The pureed corn and cornmeal make a fine batter, and the whole kernels drive the point home. And if you have leftover batter, cover it in the fridge, and treat yourself to eggs benedict the next morning, switching out English muffins for corn cakes, with or without the crab.

Fresh Corn Cakes with Crab + Tomato Salad
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4

4 c. fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
2 eggs
1/4 c. Greek yogurt
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 c. chopped green onions, white and light green parts only
1/2 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. olive oil
8 oz. cooked crab
1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved

1. In the bowl of a blender, combine 2 c. corn kernels, eggs, yogurt, salt and pepper. Blend for 2 minutes or until smooth. Stir in the remaining corn kernels, green onions, cornmeal and flour, and stir until combined.

2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Spoon 1/3-cupfuls of batter into the skillet, and pat to flatten into small cakes. Cook, flipping once, until golden on both sides, about 6 minutes total.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the crab, tomatoes, 1 T. olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Serve over top of the corn cakes.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

time to reset this thang

After a week of eating everything in sight, and not working it off, I meant to reset myself a bit this weekend. Unfortunately, I just discovered my favorite new Chinese food place in my neighborhood, and I can't not eat Trader Joe's chocolate-covered cherries if they're in front of me, so Saturday through lunch was a total loss.

I intended to redeem myself with a salad for dinner - one of home-grown kale and cherry tomatoes, perhaps pumped up slightly with some smoked trout, another new obsession. But Matty ended up having to destroy some crumbling masonry in the front yard in advance of the new landscaping going in this week, and he wasn't going to be filled up with just a little salad.

I happened upon this recipe as part of my blog crawl today. It looked way more gooey and delicious with tons of mozzarella, but I couldn't quite bear to go that cheesy considering my caloric intake already this week, and I can't go grocery shopping until our fridge stops leaking (Did I mention that? Because Matty had to fix that today, too). But I did have some mascarpone I had to get rid of anyway, so that became the base for this creamy casserole. It will also be the base for many a pasta recipe to come, especially for last-minute company - it's so fast, but still so rich and elegant.

And now I'm having it for lunch in an attempt to save even more calories for a pie party and steakhouse dinner with friends tonight. Guess that reset is going to have to wait another day.

Creamy Quinoa Bake
adapted from Half Baked Harvest
serves 4

1 c. jarred pasta sauce
1 T. tomato paste
8 oz. mascarpone
2 c. cooked quinoa
8 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
4 oz. shredded kale
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the pasta sauce, tomato paste, mascarpone and red pepper flakes. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mascarpone is incorporated into the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

3. Remove the saucepan from heat, and add the quinoa, tomatoes and kale. Once combined, pour the mixture into a 9x9 pan, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the kale is slightly wilted. Remove from the oven, and let sit for five minutes before serving.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

i'm going bananas

Don't worry. I haven't jumped the shark and turned this into a banana bread blog, even if my last post (way back on July 22nd) was another banana bread recipe.

I've actually made some delightful items in the interim - a grilled, marinated pork with cilantro sauce; a salad of home-grown kale, eggplant, tomatoes topped with an abundance of burrata; and the most delicious crab cakes on top of a mushroom-fennel salad. But work calls and time slips away, and I can't bear to post a recipe with some tangentially-related life story to go with it, so I save those recipes for a rainy day and a repeat make before telling you about them.

But this morning's stress-eating of Trader Joe's finest product, dark chocolate-covered cherries (so good they're on eBay), fueled a bit of a baking binge that helped me get rid of over-ripe bananas and ginger that's sprouting in my veggie bowl.

I'd go even more gingery next time, and maybe a touch of honey or more brown sugar. And make the whole thing all-purpose flour instead of adding whole-wheat. It's that nubby texture that doesn't interest me when I'm just looking for a bad-for-me sort of breakfast.

The recipe makes 12 muffins + extra, so my actual breakfast consisted of sharing a mini-loaf that had been slathered with cream cheese. Yes, just straight-up cream cheese. I'm entirely too stressed out to deal with cleaning another bowl and spoon just to beat in some powdered sugar and actually calling it frosting. Besides, not having frosting involved legitimizes it further as a breakfast food.

Brown Butter Banana Muffins with Fresh Ginger
adapted slightly from Brooklyn Supper via Babble
makes about 14 muffins

6 T. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. white whole wheat flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
2 over-ripe bananas
1/4 c. 2% Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, and continue cooking, monitoring constantly, until the butter starts foaming and turning a light brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon and ginger.

5. In another medium bowl, mash the bananas with whisk, then beat in the eggs, yogurt, fresh ginger and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and fold to combine. Add the browned butter, and fold to incorporate thoroughly.

6. Line a muffin tin with paper liners, and fill almost to the top. You'll have extra - I suggest a small loaf pan for the remainder.

7. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean, and the top will be golden brown. Cool and serve.