Farmhouse Corn Cakes

We’re smack dab in the middle of corn season, and my CSA won’t stop sending me boxes full of corn. Fortunately, not only

do I adore corn, but it also happens to be one of the few vegetables that everyone seems to agree on (go ahead – name one person that doesn’t like corn). There’s a million ways to eat corn, but one of the fastest, most fun ways to prepare corn is to quickly mix together a batter for all-American, hot griddle corn cakes. Yep – fresh corn kernels bursting with flavor, crunchy cornmeal, a sharp kick of cheese, and the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Best of all, they’re versatile. Using basic kitchen ingredients, you can easily make a little – or a lot. Try making them instead of

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pancakes when corn is in season. Or, top small corn cakes with a little sour cream and chives for a warm appetizer. While you’re at it, remember to make some extra batter for dinner. Yum.

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Sweet Corn Ice Cream

When I used to have television, the only thing my tv was ever set to was the Food Network.

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Most of the shows were pretty lousy, but I would watch rerun after rerun of Iron Chef America. Honestly, it never got old. A secret ingredient would be dramatically revealed in the beginning of the show, and some of the best chefs in the world would meet to battle, masterfully executing plate after plate of overly complex food. But come time for the dessert course, they would usually be stumped. Being short on time, they would usually resort to stuffing the secret ingredient (anything from asparagus to pork) in the infamous ice cream machine, most known for churning out trout ice cream.

Both inspired and

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horrified by the ice cream creations on the show, I went out and bought myself a Cuisinart ice cream maker on Craigslist for twenty bucks. I wanted to experiment with odd flavored ice creams, and although the thought of any other sort of meat or vegetable based ice cream leaves a bad taste in my mouth, when I came across corn ice cream, I thought, “Hey, there might be something there.” The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Corn is comprised mostly of rich, sweet milk, which wouldn’t at all be out of place in ice cream.

So seeing that corn is in season, I picked up three ears of corn at the grocery store and made corn ice cream. And it was surprisingly, really, really good. And best of all, it tastes like summer.

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Gourmet Magazine’s Sweet Corn Ice Cream »

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Edamame Falafel

Edamame? Falafel? Really?

Yes. Edamame is indeed what you call those fuzzy green, lightly salted baby soybeans you order as an appetizer at Japanese restaurants. Falafel are those savory morsels of greasy, crunchy, chickpea goodness that you get from your local middle eastern lunch spot. And yes, these two things have nothing in common other than the combination of the two is the best thing since Falafel v.1.0.

Throw some of these babies in a pita pocket with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and dollop of yogurt sauce for a delicious edamame falafel sandwich. Or, pair it with a side of yogurt sauce, and you have the perfect party snack. Carnivores won’t realize there’s anything missing, vegetarians will rejoice, and vegans will be your new best friend. They’re lighter and creamier than regular falafel, and so, so addictive.

(Photo by: Kevin H on Flickr)

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Food Couture: Edamame Falafel »

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One Egg, Seven Omelettes

My friend Yizhuo sent me a message asking if I was interested in trying the emu egg she got at the farmer’s market, and of course, I jumped at the opportunity! Who wouldn’t want to try eating a dinosaur-looking egg? (Ok, so as it turns out, plenty of people. But I, being QuiteCurious, was pretty excited.)

Since an emu egg is equivalent to 10-12 eggs, I got some gusty, food-loving people together, threw together a menu, and on Saturday morning, we had a fun emu omelette brunch. It was such a great experience, since most of have never seen – or thought about eating – an emu egg before. We marveled at its beauty, poke and prodded it, and devoured it.

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Nooks & Crannies

English muffins just aren’t English muffins if they don’t have the nooks and crannies. The English muffins

I made the first time had the texture of plain dinner rolls. Good, but…boring.

So I did some research and found out why it turned out the way it

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did: I needed really, really wet dough. Like dough so sticky you may need to spoon it out of the bowl. Whoops. So the second time I made English muffins, I used closer to 1 cup of water instead of the 3/4 I used the first time, and I got the results I wanted. Mission accomplished.

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Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice »

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Haiti Bake Sale

Imay not have a lot of money, but I know one thing for sure – I know how to bake. So when the earthquake hit Haiti and left thousands homeless, I knew I had to put my skills to work. The idea hit me last Friday morning, and half an hour later, I had a 5-day menu planned out and an email sent out to my entire office about the upcoming event next week. It was simple. New day, new baked good for $5 a pop.

Mother Teresa said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Anything counts, and a bake sale is a sure way to put love into giving.

I haven’t done a bake sale since middle school but getting back into it felt good. Really good. Yes, I could go home after work and feel helpless while I observe the misery in Haiti on TV. Or, I can take the time to do something about it. It was exhausting at times, but it’s the kind of hard work that you don’t mind doing because the process itself is so gratifying. Bringing in two dozen freshly baked cinnamon buns on that dreary, rainy Monday morning at work (when other companies

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were off work for MLK holiday) really brought in that little bit of needed sunshine into the workplace.

For those of you who think , think again. It was a complete success. I intentionally asked for a bit much for each baked good, but I was clear that I would volunteer my own time and money, so that 100% of the profits would go towards the cause. Not only was I selling out of $5 baked goods, but I was getting $10, even $20 for a cupcake. To let others know how the progress was going, I posted how much was earned each day. Writing a check for $50 may not be much, but using that to get ingredients for a bake sale and generating $571.04 for

UNICEF to help children in Haiti is better.

Thanks for the support, and happy baking.

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Best Biscotti Ever

Jap Chae (Korean Glass Noodles)

Whenever I go with a group to a Korean BBQ joint, it seems that I’m

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stuck eating Banchan, or the array of appetizers that traditionally come before the meaty main dishes (I’m not big on meat). But I’m not complaining – Korean appetizers are simple and delicious. Most are spicy, pickled vegetables, such as kimchi, but one of my favorites in the standard appetizer set is Jap Chae, which are Korean glass noodles. For me, a bowl of Jap Chae is a standalone meal. Sweet potato noodles tossed with fresh, stir fried veggies and dressed fragrant sesame oil? Yes, please.

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Recipe from Steamy Kitchen (also at end of post)

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Pain de Mie

Sandwich bread, as we all know, is readily available and dirt cheap at any store. So why bother to go through the

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trouble of making it at home? Well, first of all, if you’re big on soups, salads, and sandwiches as I am, you know that often times it’s the bread that makes a great meal. And no doubt is the taste and texture of homemade sandwich bread better – the crust is so good you’ll want to cut it all of and eat it by itself. Finally, there’s the sense of accomplishment. How often do you get to slice your own, freshly baked bread? Everyone has their opinion on what sandwich bread should be like, but what I was looking for was a soft, tender, light sandwich bread, one where you can make a sandwich and not feel full after three bites. I finally found it, after experimenting with several other recipes. What I noticed was that sandwich breads that had the airy, light, almost melt-in-your-mouth quality I was looking for are richer in ingredients than your average sandwich loaf. As in, more fat – more butter, milk, or eggs. This recipe has all of that, including potato flour, which helps create a tender crumb. It’s called the Pain de Mie, which also goes by the name Pullmans Loaf. see all photos » Recipe from King Arthur Flour (also at end of post) Continue Reading →

Baked Chestnuts and Purple Yams

Chestnuts and purple yams are some of those things that look and sound unappealing until you actually try it. I had nothing planned this cold weekend so I thought I would stay inside and bake to warm the house up. The thing I like about chestnuts and yams is that they’re so delicious by themselves, and don’t require any preparation other than washing and turning on the oven.

You’re probably wondering what on earth a purple yam is. Yams are – well, that sweet mushy stuff you have next to the turkey on Thanksgiving. Purple yams are the same thing, but with a slightly different taste and entirely different color. I can’t actually tell you the difference in taste between the two because I don’t remember the last time I had a regular yam – I’ve been eating purple yams since my mom introduced me to them.

Purple yams aren’t as popular here as they are in Asian countries. “In the Philippines it is known as ube (or ubi) and is used as an ingredient in many sweet desserts. In Vietnam, it is called khoai m? and is used mainly as an ingredient for soup. In India, it is known as ratalu or violet yam. In Hawaii it is known as uhi.” (Wikipedia). Wikipedia doesn’t list it, but it’s also popular in Japanese sweets, which is what I’m most familiar with. It’s called “Beni-imo” in Japan. My mom makes tempura with it, which is simply incredible.

Purple yams in some countries is what strawberry is to us. It’s a common flavor used in cakes, pastries, shakes, cookies, ice cream and anything else with sugar in it. But what’s great about it is that it’s high in nutritional value, tastes rich but is low in fat, AND the bright purple color can be used as natural food coloring.

The photo on the left is a Filipino version of the French “Mont Blanc” pastry. (Source: Flickr) Ah, inspiration. But baked by themselves, they’re sweet and creamy on the inside – but the best part is the caramelized crunchy skin on the outside. YUM.

As for chestnuts, this is my first time making them in the oven. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a convenient open fire.) They didn’t turn out so well. Some were good, but most came out crumbly – and that woodsy peel refuses to come off! I’ve boiled them in the past and that turned out better. If anyone has any suggestions – please leave a comment below.

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