Figs with Blue Cheese and Honey

Okay, it seems kind of stupid to call this a recipe, because this delectable treat is what it says it is – figs with blue cheese and honey. These three ingredients are fabulous on their own, but put them together and add heat, and you have some seriously sexy food.10641296_1458594031075830_4908217655261371049_n

Ingredients:

  • figs – two or maybe three per person, depending on the size of the figs. You don’t want enormous ones, but don’t get little tiny ones either. We used Mission figs because they inexplicably had some local organic ones at Raley’s that looked great.
  • blue cheese – maybe a half teaspoon per fig, again, depends on the figs.
  • honey – just a little for drizzling on top. Don’t use crappy honey. We were lucky to have been gifted some amazing gallberry honey from Georgia. Use whatever you have that is best.

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Wash and dry the figs. With a sharp knife, trim off the stem and cut an X across the top of the fig, about halfway down the fig.cut fig
  3. Give the fig a little squeeze and stuff a generous pinch of blue cheese into the cavity.
  4. Place the figs into a baking dish (we used a pie pan) and drizzle a little bit of honey on top.
  5. Put the dish in the oven and cook the figs until the cheese is all melty and the figs are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Take the dish out and LET THE FIGS COOL for a few minutes, then gobble them up. There will be a lot of oohing and aahing and ecstatic eye-rolling. It’s kind of a R-rated experience, so don’t invite any children.

Corn Pudding

Corn Pudding

Corn Pudding

Continuing the summer corn theme, today’s recipe is corn pudding made with the extra corn and jalapeños that I bought when I was shopping for the corn chowder the other day. I made this last night as a side dish to go with grilled sirloin tip steaks and pan fried shishito peppers. I shouldn’t really call it a side dish, though, because corn pudding is always the star of the meal when we make it.

Kate and I discovered corn pudding years ago at Doña Tomás in Oakland where it’s served as a regular summer specialty. It was definitely love at first bite for both of us, though we didn’t try making it at home until earlier this summer. At Doña Tomás, they make it with corn and diced zucchini, which is delicious, but, after experimenting with a number of variations, I really like the combination of corn and fire-roasted jalapeño and tend to make it that way at home. By all means, feel free to experiment with the ingredients. Last night, I crumbled a couple of strips of crispy bacon in which the vegetables, but I strongly suspect that I’ll keep coming back to the vegetarian version that I’ve written up in the recipe below. It’s just that good.

This recipe makes about six side dish servings or four main course servings. Once again, you wouldn’t go wrong with a glass of cold sauvignon blanc with this, or maybe a cold bottle of Negra Modelo to celebrate the Mexican inspiration for the dish. If serving as a main course, a crisp green salad is just the thing to round out your plate.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears fresh corn
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1½ cups whipping cream or half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
  3. IMG_0257Shuck the corn, removing the silk as well as you can, and cut the kernels off of the cobs into a bowl with a knife (you should end up with approximately 1½ to 2 cups of kernels).
  4. IMG_0256Roast the jalapeño. I usually just turn on one of the burners of my gas stove, hold the pepper with a pair of metal tongs and fire roast it in the gas flame until it’s blistered all over. If you don’t have a gas stove, or want to be more cautious, roast the pepper in a small skillet over medium heat, turning it with tongs every so often, until it’s blistered all over. Either way, let the pepper cool a bit then peel off the blistered skin, which should come away easily. Split the pepper in half, scrape out the seeds and dice the flesh of the pepper.
  5. Add the diced roasted jalapeño and ¼ cup of all-purpose flour to the bowl with the corn and mix with a fork, or your fingers like I do, until the vegetables are evenly coated with flour. Spread the corn and jalapeño evenly in the buttered baking pan.
  6. In another bowl, or large glass measuring cup, beat the two whole eggs and additional yolk briefly then whisk in the whipping cream or half-and-half and salt until the mixture is smooth. The pudding will be richer if you use whipping cream, but it’s still delicious with half-and-half (and we usually have a quart of that in the house).
  7. Pour the cream and egg mixture over the vegetables and bake, uncovered, on the IMG_3359middle rack of the preheated oven for about an hour, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 30 minutes. When it’s done, the pudding will be golden brown on top and slightly resilient to the touch. Let the pudding cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
  8. Leftover corn pudding, if there is any, is delicious either reheated or at room temperature. This recipe also doubles well for a crowd. Just use a 13x9x2 baking dish instead of the square one and double all of the ingredients, though I recommend using three whole eggs and three yolks instead of four whole eggs and two yolks and ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour is probably enough to coat the vegetables.

Corn Chowder with Bacon and Jalapeño

chowdah

Corn Chowder

One of the things that I most look forward to each summer is fresh local corn. Kate and I have really taken advantage of the corn season this year and have been gorging ourselves on grilled corn on the cob and corn pudding, both of which warrant future posts. When it cooled off a bit earlier this week, though, what I really wanted was a big bowl of corn chowder.

With that in mind, I walked down to the farmer’s market to pick up several ears of corn and was flummoxed to find that none of the stands had any. I remedied that with a quick side trip to one of the great nearby Mexican grocery stores where I found some lovely corn and was inspired to pick up some jalapenos, as well. On the walk home, I came up with this recipe.

One of the key ingredients that give this chowder a rich corny flavor is corn stock made from the corncobs left over after cutting off the kernels. We already had a couple of quarts of corn stock in the refrigerator that we had made a few days earlier from corncobs we’d been collecting in the freezer from the corn we’d eaten so far this summer. If you’re not already doing this, I strongly recommend throwing your leftover corncobs into a Ziploc bag and collecting them in your freezer until you have a dozen or so. When you’ve reached critical mass, put the corncobs into a stockpot or Dutch oven, cover them with water, add a few teaspoons of salt and bring the pot just to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 or 40 minutes until the stock tastes nice and corny. In addition to corn chowder, corn stock is a great thing to have a few quarts of in your freezer as a summery alternative vegetable stock. If you don’t already have corn stock made up, though, you can do a quick small batch just for this recipe as you’re prepping the other ingredients.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as Kate and I did. It makes about four servings, but it took some willpower not to eat the whole batch the first night. We had warm corn tortillas to dunk in ours, but I’m sure that corn muffins or some crusty sourdough bread would be equally delightful. Nothing fancy in a way of a beverage is required, but you certainly wouldn’t go wrong with a couple of glasses of a nice cold Sauvignon Blanc.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears fresh corn
  • Salt
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
  • 3 strips thick cut bacon cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (if necessary)
  • ¼ cup all‐purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups reserved corn stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Continue reading