Showing posts with label corn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corn. Show all posts

Monday, July 17, 2017

Calabacitas con Queso

Recently I spotted a recipe for Calabacitas in one of the cooking magazines I receive. It piqued my interest but I soon forgot about it. Fast forward a month, and I found a recipe for Calabacitas con Queso in one of my cookbooks with the note "Pleasant and summery. Snap to make." Hah! Didn't recall ever having made it before.

It's perfect for this time of year because it uses all the wonderful things that are getting ripe in our gardens, like zucchini, tomatoes, and corn. But there was a problem. Our corn is only a foot high and our tomatoes aren't quite there yet. This is one we've been watching carefully, waiting for the right day to pick it.

However, I did have zucchini. As it turns out, calabacita is Spanish for zucchini, however, it can also be made with yellow squash. So I winged it with grape tomatoes and frozen corn. It was delicious. It's not spicy, in fact, it isn't loaded with spices at all. Jack cheese gives it a lovely savory and tangy flavor. You could easily add spices if you like. Add beans or tofu and it would make a great main dish for vegetarians. And it might just convert some hubbies and kids who aren't fans of eating vegetables.

I served it with chicken tenders but it would go great with salmon, or anything off the grill.

Calabacitas con Queso
serves four as a side dish

1/2 large yellow onion
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
15-20 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (or use one regular tomato)
1 small to medium zucchini or yellow squash
1 cup of frozen corn
4 ounces Jack cheese
salt and pepper

Chop the onion. Pour oil into a skillet and cook the onion over medium low until soft. Meanwhile, dice the garlic and half (or chop if large) the tomatoes. Cut the zucchini or squash into 1/2 inch pieces. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and zucchini (or squash), and frozen corn to the pan. Stirring frequently, cook 8 to 10 minutes or until the zucchini is soft.

Grate the Jack cheese. When the vegetables are done, add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover about 15 seconds, just long enough for the cheese to melt.

Half the tomatoes.
Add the veggies and cook.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Different Corn Casserole

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Last week I gave you the classic corn casserole that I’ve been making for (gasp) thirty years or so. But recently I found myself thinking that I wanted to make something like it, but different. Funny how that happens a lot in this household.

For once I was well-stocked with supplies, so I started reconstructing the recipe.

--I wanted to add some protein and I had a handy ham slice, so I put in a half-pound of ham, cubed

--I decided to toss the whole corn, but I wanted to keep the cornmeal in the recipe because it adds a nice texture (if you use fairly coarse meal) and helps bind the whole thing together

--The original recipe calls for Monterey Jack cheese, which is sort of semi-soft. I didn’t have any, but I had a really interesting Italian smoked cheese called Scamorza with the same kind of texture, so I cubed it, because that too makes the texture a bit more varied, and in that went. I figured smoked ham and smoked cheese should work well together.

--Since I’d eliminated the corn kernels, I needed to replace the volume of the dish with something, and I happened to have some colorful small sweet peppers, so I chopped them and they went in too.

--Rather than use the lovely ceramic casserole dish that has always been home to the original recipe, I tried out the new/old Pyrex casserole I bought at a yard sale simply because I like the shape (it cost $1).

I kept the sour cream from the original, as well as the eggs and salt.

A Different Corn Casserole

1/2 lb of ham steak, diced

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheese*, diced
1/2 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
Assorted sweet peppers, diced 
     (enough to make up about 1 cup)
1 tsp salt

*I’m going to guess that you can substitute any number of different cheeses, but I’d recommend sticking to something semi-soft, that will melt easily. Parmesan wouldn’t work, and I think Brie or a really runny cheese would make a mess. But you could try a nice orange chedder and add more color that way. Feel free to experiment!


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Generously butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

Beat together the melted butter (cooled) and eggs in a bowl. 

Mix the remaining ingredients another bowl. Add the pureed mixture and blend well.

Pour into the casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly browned.

I’ll admit at the beginning I was a bit worried whether this would result in a texture like the original’s, or if I’d end up with a soggy blob (remember there’s not any leavening in it). But it worked fine. It’s not a sensitive dish, so you can add more peppers, or spicier peppers, or whatever you have in your fridge and it should be fine. I liked it. My husband liked it. I think it’s a keeper!

Still waiting for the next book, A Late Frost, to come out--not until November! But don't worry, because I keep busy with at least three other series, including a brand new one (The Victorian Village series) next year.

And right now I'm in Ireland playing, er, doing research. It's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Easy Corn Casserole

I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe before! (I did search for it in my computer files but came up blank—if you’ve seen it before, I’m the one who’s crazy, not you.) I found it in a magazine sometime in the 1980s, when I was living in California, and it became one of my go-to recipes. It’s a big hit at pot-lucks because it tastes good hot or at room temperature, and it travels well.

Corn Casserole


2 cups fresh corn kernels 

     (or use frozen but let thaw)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup diced Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
1 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350F.

Generously butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

Puree 1 cup of the corn kernels with melted butter and eggs in blender/food processor.

Mix remaining ingredients (including the rest of the corn) in a medium bowl. Add the pureed mixture and blend well. 

Pour into casserole and bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Simple, isn’t it? Which is why I’ve been using it all these years. But! (drumroll, please) I was feeling creative recently, so I came up with a very different variation, which turned out much better than I expected. Stay tuned for next week’s post!

And don't miss out on our giveaway drawings! Yes, drawings with an S, because we're going to pick five winners! For details click on the cheerleaders on the left sidebar!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

SMOKED CORN SALAD #recipe #bookgiveaway from author @abbottmysteries


It’s corn season here in Ontario and we’re picking it up almost every day and loving it.  Here's our neighbor, Anne, at the corn stand on the corner. How's that for friendly convenience?

 We often eat corn on the cob, but we love to change it up with salads.  All you need to do is cook three extra and you’ve got the main ingredient.  This year’s version is grilled on our smoker, but you can get that same smoky taste with a handful of hardwood chips.

Soak your corn for about thirty minutes.  We took out the silk and tied the ends of the husks with tinfoil.  

To cook the corn:  Prepare your barbecue/grill and add about ½ cups of hardwood chips. Follow the directions on your package of hardwood chips.

Remove the corn silk and husks if you want or leave the husks on.  This time we left the husks on, but in the past we have grilled without them.  This gives a smokier taste and a nice charred look. Try it both ways.


All you need is:

3 ears of fresh corn, smoked and shucked
3 green onions, sliced thin, green and white part ( or 1/3 finely chopped red onion)
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can of black beans, well-rinsed
3 – 4 tablespoons, chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons green chillies (about half a small can) or substitute your favorite spicier pepper. Live dangerously, if you dare
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of two limes  (we like it with lots of lime)
1 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste.
All you do is:

Scrape your corn kernels from cob. Place kernels in a bowl with the black beans and red peppers and onions. Should be looking pretty already,

Juice the limes.  We like our new stainless reamer.

Add the rest of your ingredients and toss.  

Don't forget a nice sprinkle of salt.  We like this pink Himalayan salt, a gift from our friend Barbara Fradkin who has been a guest here at MLK>

Refrigerate.  This is better the next day when the flavors have blended.


That shadowy body known as Victoria Abbott is actually us: artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother Mary Jane.  Together we write the book collector mysteries. We are very happy to announce that THE MARSH MADNESS, the fourth in the series, is now available for pre-order by clicking the links below or through your favorite source of books!

Of course, the corn isn’t the only think we’re ready to harvest!  Our fourth book collector mystery is ready to be picked on September 1st.   Today we’ll draw for a review copy.  Simply leave a comment here and your name goes in the hat.  We’ll draw on August 23rd to give you breathing space. 


Good luck!  If you win it and you've already pre-ordered, we'll arrange a substitute book.  Be lucky, friends.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Mini Corn Sticks

by Sheila Connolly

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Brimfield Antiques Fair, which I try to do at least once a year, and came back with a set of cast-iron corn stick pans. I’m sure we’ve all see such things, but these were mini-ones (yes, I already have and use the larger size—one was my mother’s), which I’d never seen. I bought three of them.

The new ones and my mother's

 Of course I came home and Googled them, because it’s kind of hard to guess the age of cast-iron stuff. There are quite a few offered on eBay, to my surprise—and even more surprising were the prices people were asking for them. Hey, I paid $4 each for mine, which I thought was reasonable. I think they’re “vintage” rather than “antique.”

I do make corn sticks now and then, particularly to go with a hearty pea soup for dinner.  But these new pans are for little ones—defined as “tea-size” in the eBay ads. I have a favorite recipe, from a Farm Journal bread cookbook that I kind of appropriated from a roommate of mine when we shared our first apartment (I’m sure I’ve used it far more often than she would have).

I was going to use cornmeal ground at a mill in nearby Plymouth, a recreation of the original one built around 1625 to grind the Pilgrims’ corn (wheat doesn’t grow in this part of Massachusetts!). Its first miller was John Jenney—my 10x great grandfather, a fact I learned only recently. I did have some cornmeal from there, but I used it all. I’ll be going back, now that I know it’s a family business!

This is what the Farm Journal calls “Yankee-style” corn bread.

Golden Corn Bread

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Grease your pans very well, and heat them in the oven while you’re mixing the batter.

The ingredients
1 cup sifted flour
¼ cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
Scant 1 tsp salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup soft shortening

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cornmeal.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, then add the milk and shortening (yes, it will be lumpy). Add the liquid mixture all at once to the dry mixture.  Stir with a fork until it is just moistened (do not overmix—ignore the lumps).

The Tupperware thing, loaded
Now I faced a challenge. With regular corn stick pans, you can spoon or pour the batter, but these are baby sized. Then I had a brainstorm! I bought a Tupperware frosting applicator last fall, and it’s just the right size to squish out a thick thread of batter into the pans. (Don’t overfill them!)

Bake the corn sticks in the hot oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they are raised and golden-brown. And serve along with your petit fours and watercress sandwiches for your ladies’ tea!

Note (or maybe I mean Confession): These are kind of a work in progress. When I make them again, I would put even less batter in the pans (and it’s important to clean and grease and reheat the pans between each use, or the sticks, uh, stick), and I’d probably use a finer-grind corn meal, so the pattern from the pans would show up more clearly. And I might experiment with non-corn batters as well.

Oh, yes, there's this book that came out last week. Nell Pratt and FBI agent James Morrison seem to eat a log of scrambled eggs for dinner (they're busy people), but I bet corn sticks would go nicely with the eggs.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lobster and Corn Soup

by Sheila Connolly

This past month, for our 37th (!) anniversary, my husband and I went out to dinner.  Where we live, there are few nearby choices (although plenty if we want to fight traffic for an hour or more), and this place is one of the few that is both close and serves good food.

The first-course special of the evening was Lobster and Corn Chowder.  I though the combination of local lobster and fresh corn was brilliant, although I had my reservations about the "chowder" part, because most often that means a soup heavy with potatoes and cream. But we took the plunge anyway, and were not disappointed by the very tasty soup that appeared before us.  As predicted, the sweetness of the lobster and the corn made them the perfect pairing, with a little edge contributed by grilling the corn first. 

I wanted to recreate it at home.  Simple, right?  Except when I started looking for a recipe, I came up blank.  Nothing on Epicurious.  Nothing in my large and eclectic selection of cookbooks (oh, no, Julia has failed me!).  So I was stuck with improvising.

It wasn't hard. The basics are simple:  boil a lobster (please don't make me explain how to terminate the poor creature—just honor it by enjoying the soup), remove the meat and chill, covered, until you need it.  Since there were only two of us eating this, I used one one and a quarter pound lobster and one ear of corn.  You can easily increase the amounts, and increase the stock (below) proportionately.

Make a hearty fish/lobster stock:

Lobster carcasses and shells

1 quart water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Sea salt

Place the lobster carcasses (minus meat) in a large pot and add the water (it should cover the lobster bits). Add the wine, onions, carrot, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns, and let simmer, uncovered, and reduce for about an hour. (Keep the lobster shells covered with liquid.)

Season with a bit of salt and taste.  If the flavor seems light, simmer for another 10-20 minutes.  Strain (if you're not going to use it immediately, cover it after it has cooled and keep refrigerated, no more than three days; you may also freeze it).  Makes about two cups.

When you are ready to make the soup:

Husk the corn and remove as much silk as you can.  Grill it briefly so that some of the kernels are a bit charred.  When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs. You should have about one cup (for two servings).

Now comes the fun part.  Place your stock in a clean pan and bring to a simmer.  Taste!  Stir in 2 Tblsp unsalted butter and 3/4 cup heavy cream.  Add some paprika (sweet) and a dash of any herbs or spices that strike your fancy (I used turmeric, for a bit of an earthy taste; you could also add a pinch of cayenne if you want some bite).  Taste again.  Add some more sea salt and freshly ground pepper if you like.

When you're happy with the flavor, you can plate your soup:

In a wide shallow bowl, scatter the corn kernels.  Take your lobster meat (at room temperature) and make a nice nest of it in the middle of the bowl, so that some rises above the surface. Ladle the soup around the lobster island. 

And enjoy!  We found this goes well with a crispy flatbread toasted with some Parmesan cheese—it's a nice contrast.

Note:  this is a relatively thin soup, nice for a summer meal.  If you want to thicken it, you can mix some cornstarch in water, then add to the strained soup, stirring well.  Simmer for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spoonbread Recipes for Thanksgiving: Sweet Corn and Candied Yam by Cleo Coyle

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If you have roots in the South or enjoy soul food, I don’t have to describe spoonbread to you. For everyone else, I’m happy to explain.

I didn’t discover spoonbread until I moved to New York City. An acquaintance who grew up in Louisiana first mentioned the dish to me. 

"What is spoonbread?" I asked her. 

"It's a kind of cornmeal casserole that’s baked," she replied. "I know it sounds odd." 

I laughed and told her it didn't sound odd at all because I’d grown up on the Italian version: polenta.

Now I realize polenta is not a traditional Thanksgiving food, was at our house, along with gnocchi, wedding soup, and other favorite dishes that were served each year by my Italian-born mom and aunt, right alongside the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. And so the US melting pot continues with new immigrants serving their own culture’s favorites along with those enjoyed by us native Americans. Hmm...sounds suspiciously like the first Thanksgiving...

Cleo Coyle, cornmeal eater,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
And that leads me right back to spoonbread because its roots are in a native American dish called subpawn, a type of cornmeal porridge. Apparently, English colonists were the ones who added eggs and milk, making the dish richer. 

Basic spoonbread, however, is pretty bland. Like grits or mashed potatoes, plain old cornmeal spoonbread gets its flavor boost from a generous pour of gravy or maple syrup (depending on whether you'd like it savory or sweet). 

Taking more liberties than the English colonists, I adapted the basic recipe even further, layering flavors into the spoonbread itself so it can be eaten as a delicious dish without adding gravy or syrup. 

For example, the Sweet Corn & Cheddar Spoonbread is a tasty side dish for a roasted meat dinner. And the Candied Yam (Sweet Potato) Spoonbread gives a sweet spin to the traditional turkey day casserole. Let's start with...

Cleo's Sweet Corn
& Cheddar Spoonbread

(A Tasty Corn Casserole)

This recipe is perfect for a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. In a pinch, however, you can use an 8-inch square pan. Whatever you use, be sure it is well greased with butter or cooking spray to prevent sticking. For a larger batch, double the amount of ingredients and use a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cooking time may be a bit longer for a larger casserole, check for doneness as indicated in the recipe.


2 cups sweet corn kernels (I use frozen, no need to thaw)
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon white, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon regular table salt or finely ground sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (white will look better, but you
      may substitute ground black pepper)
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
1-1/2 cups milk whole or low fat (1% or 2%, not skim)
½ cup water
¾ cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
2 eggs
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, yellow or white (*See my end note on reheating)
2 teaspoons baking powder

(Optional flavor additions: ¼ cup crumbled bacon; ¼ cup chopped roasted red and/or green peppers; ¼ cup finely chopped, lightly grilled sweet onions**)

Directions: First preheat your oven to 350° F. Into a medium size saucepan, place the corn kernels (still frozen is fine) and butter, warm over medium heat, stirring while butter melts. Add the sugar, salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper and stir to blend the flavors. Add the milk, water, and 3/4 cup of cornmeal. Cook and stir this mixture over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture thickens and resembles porridge. 

IMPORTANT: Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool off for at least ten minutes before whisking in the eggs, cheese, and baking powder. Transfer immediately to a well-greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes (depending on oven). When spoonbread is set on top (no longer liquid and jiggling) and slightly browned, it’s finished cooking. As the name implies, spoon the bread pudding onto plates right from the baking dish and…eat with joy!

*NOTE: When I reheat this casserole, I sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese over the top. It's delicious!

**If you’d like to add more vegetable flavors, such as chopped sweet onions and/or peppers, begin by sautéing them in the saucepan. Once they’ve cooked up, use the same pan to begin building the recipe, adding the corn, butter, milk, and so on.

* * * * * *

Next up is...

Cleo's Sweet Potato 
(Candied Yam) Spoonbread

This is absolutely delicious, like a cross between a pumpkin pie and a brown sugar coffee cake. I can't rave enough. If you like sweet potatoes, I think you'll flip for this.

If you don’t care for sweet potatoes, however, try substituting pumpkin puree or cooked and mashed winter squash (acorn or butternut). Although this recipe is perfect for a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish (or 8-inch square pan), you can easily double the amount of ingredients and use a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cooking time may be a bit longer for a larger casserole, check for doneness as indicated in the recipe and be sure to grease your pans well to prevent sticking.


2 packed cups of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, directions are given for cooking
   (You'll need 1-1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes, about 2 large or 3 small.)
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups milk whole or low fat (1% or 2%, not skim)
½ cup apple juice (or apple cider)
¾ cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions: Peel your sweet potatoes, cut into quarters, place in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain, mash, and measure out 2 cups. (*Or see Thanksgiving Day baked potato option at the end of this recipe.)

Preheat your oven to 350° F. 
Into a medium size saucepan, 
place the 2 cups of your cooked, mashed sweet potatoes and the butter. Warm both over medium heat, stirring while butter melts. Add the dark brown sugar and salt and stir to blend the flavors. Add the milk, apple juice, and 3/4 cup of cornmeal. Cook and stir this mixture over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture thickens and resembles porridge.

IMPORTANT: Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool off for at least ten minutes before whisking in the eggs, vanilla, and baking powder. Transfer immediately to a well-greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes (depending on oven). When spoonbread is set on top (no longer liquid and jiggling) and slightly browned, it’s finished cooking. As the name implies, spoon the bread pudding onto plates right from the baking dish and…eat with joy!

*Thanksgiving Day option: While your turkey is roasting, prick sweet potatoes with fork and wrap in aluminum foil. If potatoes are extremely large, cut in two before wrapping. Bake about 90 minutes on a rack below or above the turkey. Remove potatoes from oven, scoop out and mash up the cooked potato flesh, and continue with the recipe. You can always slip the casserole into the oven on a rack above or below the turkey to cook along with it.

Cook with
Thanksgiving joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
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