Category Archives: Farm Stands

World’s Best Corn on the Cob

Every summer, when the amazing fields in the area produce the most amazing vegetables, I imagine all sorts of delicious ways to devour them.  The recipes are in all of the popular magazines and newspaper food sections.  But then, year after year, I find that simply grilling the veggies and not adding anything beyond the occasional splash of balsamic is really the best.  No need to add cheese of this or that sort.  No desire to try the lovelies in casseroles.  Just grill the veggies lightly and let the natural flavors speak for themselves.  Mmmmm.

Until now.   This recipe may sound odd.    Ok, it does sound odd.  Mayo on corn?  But trust me on this one.  Your mouth will do the happy dance when you eat the world’s best corn on the cob concoction ever!

World’s Best Corn on the Cob

serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 6 TBS mayonnaise
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 8 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 limes, quartered

Directions:

Short version: mix first 4 ingredients, grill corn, schmear corn with mayo mix, roll in cotija cheese, serve with lime for squeezing on the corn.

Explicit version:

  1. Stir together mayonnaise, garic, salt and cayenne until well combined.  Crumble cheese onto a dinner plate.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium heat.  Carefully pull back the husks of the corn, remove the silks. and pull the husks back up.  Put the corn on the grill, turning every 10 minutes and moving the cobs on the grill so they each cook evenly.  When the corn is cooked, about 30 minutes, remove from the grill and set aside until just cool enough to handle.
  3. Pull back the husks so they create a handle for the corn cob, using a brush or your hands, cover each cob with a light coat of the mayonnaise mixture then roll in the crumbled cheese.
  4. Serve with lime to squeeze onto the cobs.
Notes:
  • If you can get your hands on some Brentwood Sweet Corn, use that!
  • For this photo, the corn was grilled straight on the grill.  I do that whenever I need to cook quite a bit.
  • Photo taken at Farmers’ Daughter in Brentwood, California,  after delivering enough of this corn for their amazing staff.

Lemon Pound Cake

Springtime.  Sun, longer days, dreams of Summer bliss.  All such happy, happy  thoughts.

See, the gods and goddesses got the lemon season totally right.  Sunny yellow?  Check.  Tart but ready for a bit of sweet sugar?  Check.  A perfect transition between seasons.

Yet, the gods and goddesses did manage to get a few things wrong.  Limes and avocados ripe in the winter to spring months, but the tomatoes for guac in August.  What in the world does that do to margarita season? Another gripe is the whole root vegetable thing in October.  Here along the Pacific coast, October is sunny and warm and inviting and begs for leisurely walks to soak in the sun’s rays.  Do root vegetables go with this vibe?  I think not.

For now, let’s get back to Springtime, and lemons, and strawberries and make a lemon pound cake and smother a thick slice with strawberries fresh from the field.  We can all get on board with that plan.

Lemon Pound Cake

recipe inspired by Cooking Light , strawberries from Chan’s strawberry stand

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 TBS dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 TBS grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 8 oz low-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

For the topping:

  • 2 baskets fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced into thirds
  • 1 TBS sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray, and dust with the breadcrumbs.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Beat the butter in a large bowl at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and lemon extract, beating until well-blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add grated lemon rind and 2 tablespoons lemon juice; beat 30 seconds. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beating at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over top of cake.
  5. Prepare strawberries by combining strawberries and sugar in a bowl and allowing to sit for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Slice lemon pound cake and top with strawberries.

Notes:

  1. Simply delicious!
  2. This is a perfect dessert for a meal you are hosting because the cake can be made a day before.
  3. Sneaking a thin slice of the pound cake for breakfast is totally acceptable.

Fig Pizza with Pomegranate Cumin Dressing

Have you ever discovered something for the first time, only to realize it was right in front of your nose all along?  This summer I discovered the Tachella Family farm stand.  I’ve driven by it for years, but rarely stopped in.  They have a wide variety of fruits and veggies and ample parking.  They even note on each bin whether the contents are from their own farm or another farm, and usually even name the other farms.  This seems like a “duh” concept, but it is not always practiced in the area.  I certainly appreciate them for this.  Parking sounds like such a pathetic topic to even bring up, but believe you me, it can get crazy out there!

Finally, I just realized why even with all of these pluses, they don’t do a booming business.  Inside versus outside.  Most farm stands have tables outside, piled high with fresh foods that clearly call your name as you meander by.  Look at my lovely nectarines!  Yes, this watermelon wants to go home with you today!  We tomatoes are finally here and can’t wait to get reacquainted with you! But at the Tachella stand, everything is inside.  You just have to trust that its there and the foods will be delicious, which they always are.  I’m glad that I tucked inside last weekend, their last for the year, and found these adorable figs.  Time to cook!

Based on the recipe Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza with Goat Cheese from Epicurious

Ingredients

Pomegranate Cumin Dressing

6  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4  tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sliced fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons minced shallots
Fig Pizza
1 pound purchased fresh pizza dough
5 tablespoons Pomegranate-Cumin Dressing, divided
1 cup coarsely grated Fontina cheese
Fresh arugula
2 thin red onion slices, rings separated
6 fresh figs, quartered

Directions:

1.  Prepare dressing by whisking the ingredients together.  (The pomegranate molasses can be made by simmering 1 cup of pomegranate juice for 15 minutes.)

2.  Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Halve dough; roll to 10-inch rounds. Brush tops with some of dressing.

3. Grill pizzas, seasoned side down, until golden on bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn pizzas over. Top with Fontina, arugula,  figs, and onions. Drizzle with more dressing. Cover; grill until Fontina melts and pizza is cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Whisk first 5 ingredients in bowl. Mix in shallots; season with salt and pepper.

Notes:

  • I used prepared pizza dough from Trader Joe’s.  While the shape of the pizzas was, um, unique, the dough was certainly easy to work with and grill.
  • The original recipe called for sliced sausages.  I made the first pizza with the sausages and felt they just didn’t add anything to the dish.  The top photo has sausages just because it was the money shot.
  • This dressing is crazy delicious!!!
  • The original recipe added some goat cheese crumbles at the end of the cooking.  I didn’t want anything to compete with the figs and Fontina, so just omitted it.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Creamed Corn and Basil

Back in the recess of my mind, when conjuring up the basics for this blog, I figured that summer would take the cake.  You know, the endless visits to farm stands, the delicious dishes made from local foods, the interesting farmers to chat with.  And I do make endless trips to the farm stands and secretly feel sorry for those not as fortunate.  And I do make delicious dishes, but most tend to be slicing the veggies, adding perhaps some good salt and pepper, maybe cooking them quickly on the grill.  And the farmers are great, but they are in the midst of a crazy selling season and are just trying to keep their wits about them.   My mantra, especially in the summer, is “start with the best and don’t mess it up.”  While I don’t have full time foragers like Alice Waters, I do live just down the road from several of her favorite purveyors.  Living large while living local is so possible in my humble abode.

And then I saw this recipe that combined creamed corn with fresh tomatoes.  Perhaps Dante had a special level of hell for that.  But I read, I considered, I adapted, and I was convinced.  Consider this a substantial side dish, or a perfect main a bit of bread.

Corn and heirloom tomatoes from Smith Family Farms

Adapted from a recipe printed in The Week

Creamed Corn with Brie, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

Ingredients:

2 ears corn shucked, kernels removed

1/3 cup heavy cream

3 TBS brie, rind removed

freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced

fresh basil, sliced

Directions:

1.  Combine corn kernels and cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cover and cook 5 minutes.  Uncover, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes.  Stir in brie cheese and pepper and cook until sauce thickens, about 5 more minutes.

2.  For each serving, start with a tomato slice, top with 2 TBS creamed corn, top with another tomato slice and more creamed corn.  Garnish with pine nuts and basil.

Notes:

  • Be sure to get a bit of basil in each bite!
  • The original recipe called for Gorgonzola for a “funky flavor that worked well” but I didn’t want anything that would complete with the corn and tomato, hence the brie.
  • Now I’m looking for a savory main to dress with this creamed corn.

Jalapeno Hot Sauce

You know it is a cool summer when the peppers at the farm stands call out your name while those tomatoes take their sweet little time ripening.  Cool weather plus slowly ripening crops leads to crazy foodie behavior, such as making hot sauce in the summer.

This was my first go at making hot sauce, and it is certainly something I’ll do again.  It was crazy simple to do and the fresh flavors are perfect for adding a bit of kick to eggs, quesadillas, and an endless array of finger foods.

Jalapeno Hot Sauce

adapted from the totally amazing Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison

Peppers and onion from Smith Family Farm

Ingredients:

8 fresh jalapenos, stemmed and cut into fourths

1 Anaheim chile, stemmed and cut into fourths

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup water

2 TBS pepitas, toasted

1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted

2 TBS diced onion

6 garlic cloves

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

Directions:

1.  Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree for two minutes, until the sauce is smooth but still a little grainy.  Refrigerate the sauce for at least 8 hours.

2.  Re-blend the sauce and strain it into bottles.

Notes:

  • I used almonds because I forgot to get pepitas at my regular grocery store, and my local store still doesn’t carry them.  Grrrr.  The almonds gave it a nice texture, even after the straining.
  • Do you like those cute bottles?  About two years ago, I got the great idea to make cranberry infused vodka for a little gift for coworkers.  It didn’t turn out well at all.  Guess I need to go back and work on my vodka infusions.  Oh, what a rough life!
  • If you’re ever needing a totally reliable cookbook on Tex-Mex or border style barbecue, you just cannot go wrong with anything by the Jamisons.

Pickled Corn Relish

We’ve got corn coming out of our ears, and  no one is complaining.  Grilled corn, boiled corn, corn in casseroles and soups, corn on the cob and corn off the cob are all welcome when Brentwood Sweet Corn is in season.  Everyday we see corn fields that have been harvested and plowed, waiting for next year.  This local treat will run its course soon so we’re enjoying it as often as possible.

Corn tends to be a side dish, so when I spotted a recipe for corn relish in the San Francisco Chronicle, I was ready to give it a go.  There is a pickling process here, but do note that the resulting relish is still pretty sweet.  While not thrilled with this on some grilled chicken, the relish was quite tasty with a simple fish fillet and it was simply fantastic on a sheboygan sausage in a hoagie roll.   And while I’m generally not a relish type of person, this was nice on hand in the summer when simple grilled foods are the common theme at dinner time.  Oh, and don’t tell anyone, but a quarter cup of this stuff makes a nice little snack when no one is looking.  But let’s just keep that between us.

Corn and red bell pepper from The Farmer’s Daughter farm stand.

Pickled Corn Relish

adapted from the Pickled Pepper and Corn Relish recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle

Ingredients:

1 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large red peppers, seeded and diced
Kernels from 4 ears of corn
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.  Bring the vinegar, sugar, water, oregano, and cumin to a low boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
2.  Heat the oil in a skillet, add the peppers, season with salt cook for 4 minutes or until the peppers just start to soften.  Add garlic and corn to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.  Transfer corn mixture to a non reactive bowl, pour in the liquid and mix gently.  Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  Will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator.

Notes:

  • I cut back on the sugar in the original recipe, yet it was still sweeter than the term “pickled” implies.
  • This makes a ton of relish!  Next time I’ll cut the recipe in half.
  • While cooking the corn for just a bit is needed, I want to try this without cooking the red bell peppers, just to cut back on the sweetness.

Grilled Corn with Marinated Tomatoes

With the opening of Lon’s Organic farm stand, summer is officially here!  The cool Spring made for a late crop of tomatoes but they are finally gracing us with their presence.  Living amidst endless plots of Brentwood Sweet Corn and tomatoes, we eat them daily while in season then go cold turkey during the off season.  Even living in the land of plenty, it is easy to depend on just a few go to recipes.  Truly, I am a master of the corn with black bean and tomato salads.  Yes, it makes for a delicious mixture and provides a healthy snack for the nibblers in the family.  (ok, that would be each of us!)  And yes, I do have a few variations, but I was ready for a new version to come into my life.  Thank you Gourmet for offering that subtle spark and rejuvenating my standard side dish.  And thank you t0 Gourmet Unbound for nudging me towards this delish variation.

Grilled Corn with Marinated Tomatoes

Corn from Farmer’s Daughter, tomatoes from Lon’s

inspired by Corn and Tomato Scramble

Gourmet  July 2009

Ingredients:

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

2 TBS rice vinegar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces

4 green onions

6 ears corn, shucked

Directions:

1. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes, mix gently, and set aside.

2.  Heat grill to medium high.  Grill green onions and corn until each are slightly charred.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.  Cut kernels from corn cobs and slice green onions into 1/4 inch pieces.  Add to marinated tomatoes and mix gently.  Serve cooled or at room temperature.

Notes:

  • With seasonal ingredients, this is simply delicious!
  • I tend to go heavy on the black pepper with tomatoes, so hold back if that is not your personal bent.
  • The original recipe actually required you to dirty a pan.  Obviously that needed to be changed.
  • Yes, those are people fishing in our back yard.  Life on the lake is not for those requiring their home to be a sanctuary of privacy.