Tag Archives: vegetables

Corn and the Grill, Perfect Together

 

It’s something about the grill that brings out the best in the cob.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime and Pepper Sauce

Great sides are a thing of beauty. Most times when I’m planning out a meal, I unintentionally focus on the main course. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because that’s where everyone who is eating will pay the most attention. Maybe because it’s assumed that it should be the centerpiece of the meal. That’s why it’s the main course. Not just a course.

The pressure is on to perform. That is unless there is no main course. A meal where all of the dishes are treated with equal status in the course of the meal. Small plate, tapas, mezze, you can put your own label on it. For me it’s a freeing of the scrutiny that the main course comes under.

Vegan chef/author John Schlimm knows about sides. His great new cookbook, Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ is loaded with amazing ones.

What happens when you put fresh sweet corn, lime and pepper flavored mayo and a BBQ grill together? Answer, a crowd pleasing side dish. And, here’s how to do it.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime and Pepper Sauce

Ingredients
For the corn
2 tbsp. canola oil
¾ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. salt
4 ears fresh sweet corn

For the mayo
⅓ cup mayonnaise (the recipe calls for vegan. I used regular mayo)
3 Tbsp. cilantro or parsley chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
4 tsp. fresh squeezed lime juice

Method
Shuck corn and remove silk. I cut my ears in two pieces. In a small bowl mix together the ingredients for the corn seasoning. Rub seasonings all over corn. I used a brush for this.

Heat your BBQ grill to medium heat. When hot, place corn on grill. Grill 2 minutes per side for a total of 8 minutes or until cooked though and light brown.

In a small bowl mix together mayo ingredients. When corn is cooked remove from grill and slather with mayo mixture. Make sure to coat the corn well. Again, I used a brush for this.

Serve!

Check out this great grilled sweet corn. As you could imagine, it was a pretty big hit. I love elote. And, although this wasn’t the classic Mexican version. It was a pretty great variation on the theme.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime and Pepper Sauce

We reviewed Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ a little while back. You can check that review out right here.

Recipe Adapted. Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ, Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime and Pepper Sauce, John Schlimm. Da Capo Lifelong Books © 2012

Want to Throw A Dazzling Dinner? Help is Here

 

The difference between dull and dazzling can be a pretty fine line.

Table Ready For A Party

I’ve published my own book. It’s hard. There’s a BIG difference between something being “not easy” and something being “hard”. Self publishing is the latter.

The book I published wasn’t a cookbook. It wasn’t a tell all novel or a how to manual. It was 168 pages of restaurant and dining information for Sarasota Florida. It sounds relatively simple. I’m here to tell you it’s not.

Every month I get cookbooks from self publishers delivered to my door to take a look at. Every time I open the shipping envelope I have an appreciation for the hard work, sweat and worry that goes into the process of creating a book on your own.

I’m not here to try and convince you that cookbook authors and writers who have a deal with a publishing house have it easy. They don’t. Anytime you attempt to produce something original the process comes with it’s own unique set of problems. But, I am here to tell you that those challenges are far more difficult to overcome when you’re out there tackling them alone or with a partner and without a clue (as was my case).

I’ll admit it. I have a soft spot for those willing to go it alone to see their vision become a reality. When Billa Reiss Rubenstein contacted me this fall to have a peek at a book she had published with two friends, Luci Paul and Michele Salomon, how could I say no?

I like to entertain. And, their book, Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More looked like a natural party throwing asset. It’s crammed full of menus, recipes and tips each designed around one holiday a month. It’s creative too.

Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Decor and More. Complete Dinner Plans for Parties with WOW!

Some of the “holidays” highlighted here would never be associate with food, April Fool’s Day? I have never been even invited to an April Fool’s Day brunch. Maybe I have the wrong group of friends.

I was a little disappointed to see that July’s menu didn’t revolve around Pandemonium Day (July 14th), but, maybe it will get it’s moment in the spotlight in my proposed sequel, Dazzling Dinners: The Forgotten Celebrations. Or, maybe not.

This book is at it’s best when you’re searching for a new idea. Something fun and out of the ordinary (think Columbus Day). It’s always great to get friends and family together to enjoy some great food and fun. So, why not make a celebration out of it? In my view, that’s the beauty of this book.

Since we’re right at the start of our holiday season, we thought we would share a recipe from the December section. Plus, this recipe uses one of my favorite, old school kitchen toys…

Potato Masher

The much beloved potato masher!

Here’s How To Do It

Box of Gold (Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes)

Ingredients
1 large, sweet potato, diced 1 inch
3 lbs., Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced 1 inch
3 Tbsp., butter, melted
¼ cup, heavy cream
½ cup, sour cream
½ cup, Gruyere cheese, grated
1 Tbsp., orange zest
1 tsp., salt
¼ tsp., white pepper

Method
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 8X12 casserole dish. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper.

Place both the sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. When contents comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer 15-17 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. When cooked, drain and return pot to heat. Cook for an additional minute or so to remove any excess moisture.

Put the cooked potatoes through a ricer or mash (see utensil above). Add butter, cream, sour cream, Gruyere. orange zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to achieve a consistent color. Spread the potatoes into the casserole dish. Cover with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and rest covered for 5 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, divide into eight rectangular pieces. Remove each piece and serve.

Serves 8

Recipe, Box of Gold; Courtesy Dazzling Dinners, Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michelle Salomon, Three Fare Ladies 2011.

Sweet and Yukon Gold Potatoes

Just look at that photo. Cantaloupe and pineapple maybe? It’s amazing how similar some foods look when there is no context to them. It’s a bowl of Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes. I swear.

The Bottom Line.
It’s a unfair to compare Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More to a cookbook that has been released by a major publishing company. The advantage of having a crew of editors, professional photographers and recipe testers is unimaginably huge.

What do you look for when you buy a cookbook? There are so many answers and yours is right for you. If you’re looking for a coffee table cookbook, this isn’t it. If you’re more interested in a book that will help you plan a party and maybe get your creative juices flowing then this is a great choice. I guarantee after you throw a Grandparent’s Day party your friends will look at your entertaining prowess in a whole new light.

Authors: Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michele Salomon
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Dazzling Dinners
ISBN-10: 0615478697

BUY IT!

Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Decor and More. Complete Dinner Plans for Parties with WOW!

Farmers Market Fresh

By mid January you will really appreciate the end of August.

Fresh Berries

If you live in the Midwest or the northeastern part of the U.S. this is peak season. Farmers markets are just bursting with some of the most amazing, fresh and delicious produce you can possibly imagine.

In fact, there is so much great stuff, I couldn’t help sharing a little with you.

Fresh Wax Beans.

Fresh Wax Beans

You can’t have a summer farmers market without sweet corn. This is so sweet, it’s hard to not eat three ears at one sitting. One sack wouldn’t last a week in our house!

Sweet Corn

Summer tomatoes. Juicy, ripe and super fresh.

Fresh Tomatoes

And last (for this market tour), carrots that are too amazing to resist.

Fresh Carrots

A full two thirds of the stuff we buy at our local farmers market never even makes it into a recipe. At this time of year we’re eating it straight off the counter.

It All Starts With A Trunk Full Of Wood

I didn’t anticipate that farming would require carpentry skills.

Building Materials

I don’t have a carpenters union card in my wallet. I can easily identify a claw hammer from a rubber mallet. But, don’t let that fool you. Carpentry is not something that I consider to be among my list of skills. It’s not that I can’t build things, it’s just that the outcome may be a little unpredictable.

Our farm plot at this moment is a work in progress to say the least. The soil, if you can call it that, has lots of clay in it. Weeds seem to like those growing conditions, but, apparently not vegetables. Most of the Spring seedlings have long been washed away by heavy rain. Our tomatoes are growing, but, the peppers are struggling. An intervention is needed.

After checking out what some of my farming neighbors had resorted to, I knew what needed to be done. I had to construct a couple of wooden boxes to grow my plants in. Once built, I could fill them with some nutrient rich, organic growing material and have the perfect environment to reap a giant vegetable harvest in six to eight weeks. That’s the plan anyway.

A trip to the local hardware store and I had all of the necessary components for my project. Eight, four foot pieces of lumber, a box of deck nails and an assortment of filler. I was ready to build.

In order to not reinvent the wheel, I modeled my boxes after my neighbors. Easy construction and perfect for the intended use. I picked the hottest day of the summer to date and set about my work. After about an hour of hammering, straightening and sweating, things looked pretty damn good (my assessment). Have a look.

Planter Boxes

I just needed to pull the weeds inside the boxes and fill them up. I think those bags of dirt weighed in at about seven hundred pounds total.

Planter Boxes

Now we’re talking! Those are a couple of sweet looking boxes. All ready to plant. Since our peppers were really having a tough time growing where they were, I figured I would transplant them to a new home.

Pepper Plants

Don’t they look happy? I also planted some sweet peas and bush beans. One box for each. You can see the tomatoes in the back left corner of the image. They’re hanging in there. They need to be staked though.

Just in case you were wondering, here’s my next door neighbors box.

Planter Box

I guess there’s always next year for me…

Weeds And Other Annoyances

Growing things is an art form. And, I’m not generally considered an artist.

Bird House

We go to our local farmers market. Or, we hit up the produce section of our favorite grocery store. There it is. All nicely arranged, displayed like it was just dropped in from above, no effort at all. Ready for us to enjoy. The reality is nothing like that. Farming is hard.

Here’s a quick update from the “farm”. Weeds 10, Edible Stuff 1. That’s not a good score. Not by any measure. One thing I’ve learned from my first few weeks of farming, I’m great at growing things that aren’t supposed to be there (aka weeds). Let’s take a look at my progress.

My Weeds

These are my weeds. They’re plentiful. I wish they were a cash crop. They’re not. It’s amazing how fast those buggers grow. Even unassisted. There are some tomato plants in the back row, but, mostly weeds.

Here’s the ONLY piece of uplifting news on the weed scene…

My Neighbors Weeds

These are my next neighbors weeds. He has outdone even me in the weed growing department. You can see my plot in the upper left corner of the picture. He has me beat. Here’s the only thing that bothers me. I think his plot is totally UNATTENDED, whereas mine, I’m actually farming. That’s deflating.

Let’s look at another example of my farming prowess.

My Lettuce

Here’s my lettuce. Bibb to be exact. This is three weeks after planting.

My Neighbors Lettuce

Here’s my neighbors lettuce. No, the other neighbor, not the one with the weeds. Yikes! I thought I was doing great just getting my seeds to sprout. On the other hand, my neighbor can actually make a salad. A little discouraging.

All is not terrible out at the plot.

My Tomotoes

Here is one of my tomato plants. It’s really growing! Doing great as a matter of fact. Little flowers and everything. There may still be hope for something edible springing from my dirt this year.

The tomatoes have me hopeful. I don’t want to scrap the rest of the growing season. I’m not calling it quits on everything else just yet. I have a plan. And, it involves eight pieces of lumber and sixteen cubic feet of top soil, compost and other organic growing material.

Details to follow…

Onions Make Life Sweeter

Is it possible for an onion to be more than just delicious?

Florida Sweet Onions

Behold the humble onion. Over the years a lot has been written and said about this sometimes sweet, sometimes pungent veggie. They are thought to possess powers over and above being a delicious addition to any dish.

How about as a cure for the flu? That’s right. Back in the early 1900’s, during the big flu epidemic, it was thought that leaving a cut onion on a dish, in a room would absorb the flu bacteria thus leaving the room germ free. What?? As crazy as that sounds lots of people bought into the notion that the onion was a germ sponge.

Could you just imagine going to see your doctor, paying the $25 co-pay then having him or her hand you an onion and send you out the door. I wonder if Medicare would cover that?

These Florida Sweet Onions may not turn your house into a sterile environment, but, they will make a tasty addition to lots of great recipes.

Looking for something to do with your purchase of fresh onions? Here’s a are a few cookbooks with some ideas for you.

The Onion Book
Onions, Onions, Onions: Delicious Recipes for the World’s Favorite Secret Ingredient
The Onion Harvest Cookbook