Archives for posts with tag: corn

Two photography resolutions.

Stop using a camera phone.

i take too many pictures of leeks

Eat dinner at breakfast-time.


This is the second corn chowder I’ve posted here. I can’t help myself. This one is different; I promise. Both are smokey. Oh wow, both of them even have sweet potatoes. I’m sorry. But this one has collards, and even if you’re not a huge fan of collards you’ll like them here, I think.

Also, this one is vegan. Back then I thought that it was possible to whisk tofutti into soup. Ha.

soup and sandwichDSC_0024

Sweet Potato Chowder with Collards and Roasted Corn
serves 4 generously

1 C sliced, washed leeks
2 T vegetable oil
1 t kosher salt
1/4 C AP flour
6 C vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 t liquid smoke
3 C sliced, washed collard leaves
2 C peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 C frozen roasted corn
1/2 C soy creamer or half-and-half

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, saute the leeks in the oil with the salt for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock, raise the heat to high, and vigorously whisk some more (any remaining lumps will disappear as you go).

Add the bay leaf, liquid smoke, collards, and sweet potato. (Regarding the collards: I slice them while they’re dirty, submerge them in a big bowl of water, wash thoroughly, then lift them out of the bowl and directly into the soup–no need to dry them.) Once the mixture comes to a boil, bring the heat to low and cook 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender and the collards are no longer quite so green and pretty.

Raise the heat again to high, and when the soup is boiling add the frozen corn. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat, stir in the cream, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot, with some bread or toast on the side.


As some of you may know, I have a hard time saying no. The UCLA campus seems to be a lightening rod for my spinelessness, particularly the area surrounding the coffee shop by the research library. There was the guy who was stranded on campus with car trouble and needed cash, and I won’t even say what I did when I discovered I had none on hand (let’s just say there’s an ATM in the vicinity). Then there was the guy who sold me magazine subscriptions–two of them!–despite my lack of funds, not to mention my lack of interest in any of the magazines he was selling. I also will not say what I paid for the subscriptions. Wow, just typing this up is making me feel a little ill.

The upside of this story is that I have a subscription to Vegetarian Times. Despite the really embarrassing origin of my subscription, I find it to be an interesting if confused publication, and one that I’ve developed a fondness for. Veggie Times isn’t sure if you’re a honey-eschewing vegan or a dairy hound, a teetotaler or a wino, and so its recommendations run a pretty big gamut, which is entertaining to watch. And like most food magazines, it wants you to buy stuff other than food, which always bums me out a little. Whatever. Who am I to criticize a magazine that runs in print, let alone one that prints a number of great recipes per month.

I was drawn to this Farmers’ Market Chowder immediately because, maybe, I’m from Cape Cod, and maybe because I make a corn chowder that I’m pretty proud of, with chipotle chiles and cilantro. So I stole the base of this recipe (which infuses milk with corn and other aromatics), added my chiles, removed a few extra frypans, and ate soup for breakfast. As a dairy hound myself I’m pretty enamored of the result, which has a fine chile-infused butter slick on top of melty chunks of sweet potato and perfectly cooked green beans, not the least bit squeaky but with a little chew left in them. That said I can’t help wondering how you’d make this vegan…maybe whisk in some tofutti? Blend some of the broth with a block of silken tofu? As I type them, both these options sound wacky. Mom, are you there?

Smoked Corn Chowder
adapted from Vegetarian Times (Sept. 2011)
serves 6 (at least)

4-5 ears fresh corn
the stems from one bunch of cilantro, washed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 1/2 C milk

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
4-5 medium leeks
2 chipotle peppers, chopped finely (or 1 if you’re wary)*
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium cubes
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 C dry cooking sherry
4 C water
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped cilantro, plus a few springs for garnish
lime wedges for serving (optional)

*I get these in a small can at the supermarket, packed in adobo sauce. Then again I live in Southern California.

First, get the corn kernels off the cob. The easiest way to do this is to get a giant bowl and a smaller bowl. Invert the small bowl and nestle it in the bottom of the big bowl. Balance the end of the corn cob on the small bowl and use your sharp knife to slice off the kernels, which get caught in the big bowl. Does this make sense? I learned it from Rachel Ray (who, say what you will, knows how to get that corn off the cob). Next, you want to get all the extra bits of corn off the cob. The Pioneer Woman will show you how, using the dull side of your knife (check out the 8th and 9th photos).

Now you have a big bowl with corn and another bowl in it, and 4-5 denuded corn cobs. Break these in half and toss them in a small saucepan with the milk, cilantro stems, and smashed garlic cloves. Maybe all your corn cobs won’t fit. That’s fine. Bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from the heat and cover. Let the milk steep while you do the rest of the soup.

Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, clean your leeks. This woman cleans them the way I do–they are dirty critters and need loving attention (even better than running them under the tap is swishing them in a bowl of water). Slice them up and add them to the butter and oil along with two big pinches of kosher salt. I do this in stages–slice a couple leeks, add them to the pot, slice a couple more leeks, add them. Stir them up well. Next, chop up your chipotle peppers and add them to the leeks. Stir. Then the carrots. Stir.

Now, crank up the heat to medium-high and deal with your sweet potato. Once it’s peeled and chunked and the pot is hot, add it and stir well. Saute the mixture for 5 minutes or so, until you start seeing a little caramelization on the bottom of the pan and the potatoes are just starting to soften. Deglaze with the sherry, stir, and add the quart of water. Now’s a good time to add another two pinches of kosher salt and some pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for 5 minutes or so while you prepare the green beans. Add them to the pot and simmer 6-8 minutes, until the green beans are a little squeakier than you like them (the sweet potatoes will be done by now). Add the corn kernels and simmer for one minute. Turn off the heat and strain the milk mixture into the pot, discarding the corn cobs, cilantro stems, and garlic cloves. Taste the broth and add more salt if you need it. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve with extra springs of cilantro and a wedge of lime on the side, if you like.

Acceptable alternate spellings for “oaten” include “oat ‘n’…” (that’s for my dad).

I’ve mentioned my obsession with oat cakes before. So nourishing. So imaginary. As I sat in a focus group today, earning cash as I dreamed away about things to eat when I was released, I fell upon these pancakes, which I respect so well that I can offer no emendations to the recipe. Really, they’re perfect.

But if, in the middle of summer, you find yourself with an extra cob of corn (or some frozen kernels in the freezer, which is pretty much a perpetual state with me), you should make these. I feel strongly about these pancakes because they are based on a a masterful pancake recipe–the thinner, chewy kind rather than the dense cakey ones–and include corn. We loves corn. But I feel even more strongly about the scented honey. This is the first day it occurred to me to throw stuff into warm honey.

The result is this totally sophisticated syrup that you made by zapping some honey in the microwave and dumping in a few pinches of sweet aromatics. And it turns humble corn cakes into the neatest thing you could possible make for brunch. Or, if you’re me, dinner. Maybe you can imagine making them without sugar, a chopped scallion thrown in and a quarter cup of grated cheddar, some smoked salmon draped on top once the cakes are fried and crispy. I don’t know how to make blinis so this seems like a pretty sweet deal.

Oaten Corn Cakes with Vanilla-Ginger Scented Honey
adapted from Bon Appetit
makes 20 3-inch pancakes

For reference, I just ate 8. Plan accordingly. The original recipe is twice as big, and you should double my recipe if you’re cooking for more than 1 or 2 people.

Also note: the batter needs to stand a bit (even overnight if you’ve got it) before you can make the cakes!

1 C rolled oats
1/4 C AP flour
3/4 C corn kernels (frozen or fresh), divided
1 T sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 C plain yogurt
1 C water
1 egg
2 T melted butter, plus more for brushing the skillet
1/2 t vanilla extract

Scented Honey (may make a little extra–please, just put it in your tea and report back)
1 C delicious honey
1/4 t fresh grated ginger
the scrapings of 1 vanilla pod

For the pancakes, whisk together the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Puree together the 1 C water with 1/4 C of the corn. In a small bowl, whisk together the corn water with the yogurt, egg, butter, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir together with a big spoon. Let batter stand an hour to thicken a bit (the oats absorb liquid in a very pleasing way).

In a small saucepan, heat up the honey over low heat. Add the ginger and vanilla goo and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Stick a plate into an oven preheated to 250. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and brush with melted butter. (I like a medium skillet because it heats evenly on my stove and forces me to make cute small pancakes.) With a big serving spoon, ladle batter into the skillet (each pancake will require about 2T or so and you’ll make 4 per batch). Cook until the bottoms are golden and bubbles form on top, around 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or two. Transfer the pancakes to the plate in the oven and keep going until you have no batter left, brushing the skillet with butter between batches.

Reheat the honey if it’s gotten too sticky for drizzling. Serve the pancakes with a nice spoonful or two of honey (they need less sweetener than other pancakes, and I say this as a honey/maple syrup guzzler).