BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘corn

Oaxacan Chileatole De Elote (Chileatole Of Fresh Corn)

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Diana Kennedy's Oaxacan soup, with sweet corn from Luke Beene's organic Southtown Corvallis urban farm.

For some reason, I thought the local sweet corn season was over. Or that it never really happened, with all the poor weather we’ve had this year. So I was happy to find delicate fresh ears of corn at Luke Beene’s stand at the farmers’ market today. I arrived at closing time (as usual), rushing around in a panic to buy this sweet end-of-season produce (corn and raspberries) before it’s too late.

Had a corn revelation today. Cut the cob into chunks and only then slice off the kernels. That way they don't spray everywhere. Your knife stays closer to the cutting board.

Finding the corn meant I could make Diana Kennedy’s Chileatole De Elote (Chileatole Of Fresh Corn) soup. I knew Mexicans made soups with floating chunks of corn still on the cob, but I’ve hardly tried them. This recipe is from Kennedy’s beautiful-sounding new love letter to Oaxaca cuisine. The recent NPR piece set in her lush vegetable garden and kitchen cast a spell on me. There’s just something about Oaxaca. Of course, it’s the only place in Mexico we’ve been, but we’re not alone in believing the cuisine, with its moles, is among the best in Mexico. That’s where we did the Seasons of My Heart cooking school. And we continue to enjoy Oaxaquena comida here in Corvallis, as a majority of our Mexican immigrant population hails from that state.

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Written by baltimoregon

October 7, 2010 at 1:03 am

Corn, Tomatoes and Melons from a Sacramento Valley Roadside Stand

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Ripe tomatoes for 49-cents a pound. Local, yes, but obviously not organic.

The tedious drive down I-5 from Corvallis to the Bay Area is not one we hope to make again anytime soon, at least not there and back as we did in one weekend. But we had a wedding in Napa, and since our budget and patience have been drained by summer travel, driving seemed preferable to flying.

There were bright spots along the way: a satisfying outdoor lunch at The Cottage in Cottage Grove, spectacular views of Mount Shasta and gourmet tacos and agua fresca in Ashland. But the most memorable stop? A nondescript roadside stand on Highway 20 near Sacramento, just before we exited for I-5 N to Redding, and finally, Oregon. We passed it by, but I made Dan turn back. Summer corn, which isn’t quite yet ripe in cooler Corvallis. Melons. Giant Beefsteak tomatoes. I didn’t care if they weren’t organic. At least they were local, grown (perhaps with copious amounts of synthetic fertilizer and fungicides) in the fields that backed up to the stand. In the hot California sun.

The Charter Family Fruit Stand, on Highway 20 and King Road, just before you exit for I-5 towards Redding.

It was Sunday afternoon and packed with customers. They husked ears of sweet corn, sitting in heaps on ice, five for $1. Green bell peppers were five for $1, too. Tomatoes were 49-cents (marked down from 65-cents) a pound. At the farmer’s market, I think I’ve paid up to $3.50 a pound for organic tomatoes. Here, generic orange-fleshed melons were 2 for $1, as were fragrant cantaloupes; large honeydews and mini watermelons were just $1 each. The produce was local, fresh and cheap, and people couldn’t get enough of it. We grew giddy ourselves, coming home with such bounty for less than $10. I’m still committed to organic agriculture, but I choose local over pesticide-free produce shipped in from China or Latin America. And this farm stand makes affordable, healthy produce available to the masses.

Sweet corn on ice. I'd never seen that before.

As we drove home, I planned to make gazpacho and Mexican-style roasted corn with these treasures. I remembered seeing this melon gazpacho recipe, but tonight, didn’t allow enough time to macerate the ingredients in lemon juice. Instead, I turned to Mark Bittman’s far simpler tomato-melon gazpacho. The quick sautee in olive oil really brought out of the flavor of the still unripe orange-fleshed (with a honeydew-like rind) melon we used. I also finally peeled and seeded tomatoes using the proper technique, though I’m still not sure it’s worth the time.

Unfortunately, the soup lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Dan declared it heresy to make gazpacho without garlic, but wouldn’t that overpower the sweet, delicate melon flavor? Maybe it just needed salt. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar to brighten things up. The bright orange soup presented well, at least, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and basil leaves. Anyone have better melon gazpacho recipes to recommend instead?

The corn, which we oven-roasted in the husk, was delicious. I still prefer my corn roasted on a proper grill, but we’ve never been big grillers. I’m still dreaming of that magical Mexican corn recipe from last summer. But my mother thinks it’s a crime to slather fattening butter and sour cream onto sweet corn. When it’s really good, she prefers hers without condiments.

Oven-roasted corn and tomato-melon gazpacho.

Written by baltimoregon

August 10, 2010 at 1:39 am

Portobello Burgers, Tabbouleh and Mexican-Style Grilled Corn

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The "burgers" and corn.

The "burgers" and corn.

I’m like a child learning to cook for the first time, running into the arms of fresh ingredients after a month away from the kitchen. Time to fire up the grill. Luckily, my father-in-law could help us with that task tonight. I’m a grilling amateur but plan to buy a charcoal chimney starter as soon as I get home and still make use of that $5 used Weber Grill. Lighter fluid scares me.

But on to the meal. A recipe from the NYC-based foodie site Serious Eats inspired the main course. And no, the portobellos and avocado sauce weren’t local. But the bright-red Hanover tomatoes (that meant local tomato growing up) were.

The new Edible Blue Ridge publication caught my eye this week in Charlottesville. It’s Mexican-Style Grilled Corn recipe provided the perfect way to prepare fresh from the farmers’ market silver sweet corn. If you don’t have queso blanco, just use parmesan.

Chances are you’ve run across one of these colorful Edible Communities  magazines, featuring delicious photos, earnest features and recipes that promote local farms and foods. In this network are now more than 30 “Edible” publications in cities and regions across the country. Anyone can start up a publication as a franchise, if you pay them for the name and some editorial support. Edible Cheseapeake emerged during my time in Baltimore. And Edible Portland cheerily covers Oregon’s expansive food scene.

Then tabbouleh provided the perfect side dish to round out the meal. It’s a salad that’s hard to screw up. We threw together soaked bulgur wheat, chopped tomatoes and cukes, chopped parsley and mint from the garden, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Simple. Yet what could be better?

DSC04573

The summery tabbouleh.

Written by baltimoregon

August 6, 2009 at 9:50 pm

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