Recipe: Fresh Corn Muffins

This is another timeless recipe from the pages of Gourmet Magazine, and I mean timeless because I have been baking these since July of 1972 when the recipe first appeared.  And I couldn’t begin to remember how many luncheons, brunches, dinners, cocktail buffets and weddings that I catered over a twenty-year career where these were always a big hit.  These also freeze beautifully – make them now when the corn is high and enjoy all winter.

Hope they are a hit with your family and friends!

Into a bowl sift together 2 cups flour, ½ cup cornmeal (I have always used stone-ground yellow cornmeal), 2 ½ tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. In another bowl combine 1 cup milk, ½ stick butter, melted, and 2 eggs.  Add one cup uncooked corn kernels and stir the mixture into the flour mixture until it is just combined.  Divide the batter among 12 buttered muffin tins and bake the muffins in a hot oven (425 degrees) for 25 – 30 minutes, or until they are golden.  Makes 12 muffins.

It also makes at least 24 mini muffins.

Recipe: Corn Chowder

(Adapted from Parade Magazine, Simply Delicious by Sheila Lukens)

Serves 8

6 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels cut from the cobs

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised

1 ( or more ) russet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch dice

2 cups milk or half-n-half

1/4 lb slab bacon, rind removed, cut into 1/4 inch dice or I/2 cup chopped country ham

1 medium-sized onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice

4 medium-sized red or yellow ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch dice

1/4 cup slivered fresh basil

Simmer cobs and garlic in broth for about ten minutes; discard cobs and garlic. Stir in the potato and half of the reserved corn kernels and simmer partially covered until potatoes are tender, 10 – 12 minutes. Puree mixture carefully, transfer to a bowl and add milk.

Cook the bacon or country ham over low heat to render fat, about 6 minutes. ( With country ham, you may need to use a little oil) Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes; add the reserved soup and the remaining corn and simmer for eight minutes. Season with salt to taste and lots of pepper. After ladling into bowls, top with some tomato cubes and basil.

Recipe: Composed Beef Salad

 This is a salad much like a Salade Niçoise which can be altered throughout the season to include the freshest market ingredients.

 I am going to suggest a few combinations for you but feel free to use your imagination.

 First we grill an extra steak for future use when we grill good local rib eyes, sirloin or porterhouse steaks.  We then have steak waiting in the refrigerator later in the week for this salad.  You can slice or dice the cold steak and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

 I always include hard-boiled country eggs and freshly dug potatoes, peeled and boiled until slightly fork-resistant.  Let the potatoes cool slightly and cut into large chunks.

 Then you can steam or roast beets, turnips or kohlrabi and cut them into large chunks.  Or cook yellow wax or green beans briefly in salted, boiling water for three – five minutes and chill quickly in an ice water bath or under cold running water in a colander.

 If you are not using beets, you can then cut a nice tomato into wedges – we are looking for some color contrast here – this is also a good place to use those beautiful heirloom tomatoes or the colorful cherry tomatoes.

 Now you need a dressing – I usually just use a simple lemon juice vinaigrette made with good olive oil and a little Dijon mustard but you may use any dressing you like.  It doesn’t take much to enliven an already lively combination.

 Group the vegetables around the plate on a bed of shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce – make a colorful pinwheel and place the meat in the center of it all.  Drizzle some dressing over the salad and make it available at the table for those who want more.

 Take a picture – I forgot to do that – and send it to the Facebook page for the market of your choice.   And Enjoy!

Recipe: Brown Rice, Yellow Squash and Carrot Casserole

 Ingredients:                                               Serves 4 – 6

 1 cup uncooked brown rice, cooked in chicken or vegetable stock to equal 3 cups cooked rice

 3 Tablespoons butter

 2 small onions or one large, chopped

 1 and ½ lbs yellow squash, chopped or sliced if small

 2 big carrots, sliced thin

 8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated

 Sauté onions in butter until soft, add carrots and squash and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender.  Layer rice, vegetables and cheese twice in 9-inch casserole.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350-degrees or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Recipe: Real Country Sausage Balls

From Ellen Smith of Real Country Sausage

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 lbs. of Real Country Sausage, mild or hot, your preference. It’s the Secret ingredient!!!

  • 1 lb. Bisquick mix (I use Original)

  • 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese (I grate my own, seems to taste better as well as cook better, but my daughter uses pre-shredded cheese)

  • 0.5 cup milk

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven 375F. I use the middle rack.

Grate cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add Bisquick and mix well. Pull apart the sausage into small pieces, adding into the mixture as you work. Then “work” the mixture together. Drizzle the milk over mixture and lightly mix together.

Make balls to your liking. Big for breakfast and small for entertaining.

I use a Silpat pad on my baking sheet to cook. Cook sausage balls for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of ball. If you are going to reheat, they can be a little less done. ALSO, huge tip, use non-stick aluminum foil when reheating. If you don’t, they will stick to the foil.

When ready, they will be lightly browned on top, and you will be able to “hear” them sizzle when you open the oven door.

Makes 75 medium size balls and 50 larger balls – they freeze very well.

Recipe: Grilled Chicken & Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

A delicious lunch or dinner salad with chicken, strawberries, greens and a simple poppy seed dressing that’s ready in 10 minutes!

Yield: 2-4 servings, Prep: 10 min

Salad Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach, kale or mixed greens
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced (optional)
  • 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola, blue cheese or feta
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
  • half a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 chicken thighs

Poppy seed Dressing Ingredients:

  • ½ cup avocado oil (or any nut oil, olive oil works too)
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • pinch of ground dry mustard (optional)
  • Celtic Sea Salt and pepper

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together until combined or pour into a Mason jar and shake!

To make the salad, season chicken with salt & pepper and toss on the grill or sauté till cooked through (approx. 10 min). Then bone and skin if necessary and dice. Toss all ingredients together with your desired amount of dressing until combined. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Fennel, Citrus and Roasted Beet Salad

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap 2 small-to-medium golden beets and 2 small-to-medium red beets in foil and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, 40 minutes to one hour. Cool about 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle and trim, peel, and cut into wedges. If you cannot find golden beets, use all red ones.

While beets are roasting, make salad dressing: combine 1 tablespoon champagne or cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and whisk in ¼ cup good olive oil added in a slow stream. Though I made the dressing this way, I might use the juice of one orange, grapefruit, or lemon next time I make this in lieu of vinegar. It may be a better match for the salad.

With a sharp knife, remove the peel and white pith of one red grapefruit and one navel orange and, working around the core, cut each segment of the fruits from the surrounding membrane. Do this over a bowl to catch the juices. Thinly slice one small fennel bulb and combine with fruit in bowl. Add prepared beets to fruit and fennel and add dressing to taste. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving, but not much longer, as everything will turn pink.

Garnish with chopped pistachios if desired and/or chopped fennel fronds.

Serves 4.

Recipe: Cream of Vidalia Onion Soup

This is another of my adaptations of a recipe from my favorite cooks, Ben and Karen Barker, and their cookbook, Not Afraid of Flavor by Ben and Karen Barker. I have made it slightly more manageable for the home cook. Serves 6.

  • 4 ounces smoked bacon or 2 ounces country ham bits and pieces
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups good-quality chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 cups homemade herbed croutons (see below)

Cook bacon in large pot slowly until crisp and reserve; add butter to bacon drippings or sauté finely chopped country ham slowly in the melted butter for 3-5 minutes. Add onions to pan with butter; cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and lightly caramelized. This may take 40 minutes or longer. Add wine and boil for 5 minutes, then stock, bay leaf, and thyme, and bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove bay leaf. If you want to serve soup family-style, puree about one cup of the onions and broth and return to pan. Or you can puree all of the soup if you wish to serve restaurant-style. Return to low heat and add cream and season to taste. Serve with reserved bacon, crumbled, if you used it, and herbed croutons.

You can easily make your own croutons with cubed bread tossed in olive oil with herbs of your own choice. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes or until slightly browned. This is quicker if you dry out cubed bread in a turned-off oven overnight.

Recipe: Caesar Salad with Winter Greens, Croutons and Crispy Chicken

  • 6-8 cups young winter greens such as kale, mustard greens, and arugula, rinsed and cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups croutons (recipe below)
  • 1 cup Parmesan (finely grated)
  • 1 t ground pepper
  • Crispy chicken (recipe below)
  • Caesar dressing (recipe below)

Caesar Dressing

  • 1 cup Duke’s mayo
  • ½ cup virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 T mustard
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 T anchovies or miso paste for vegetarians

Put all ingredients in blender. Salt to taste after blending.

Crispy Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breasts (cut into 1″ pieces)
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 t Salt
  • ¼ t pepper
  • ½ t paprika
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • ½ t dry dill
  • ½ t rosemary

Put all ingredients in a Ziploc bag and add chicken, shake and set aside on plate. Heat ¼ cup canola oil on medium-high heat and cook chicken in batches, 3-4 mins on each side. Drain on a paper towel.

Croutons

  • ½ lb day-old bread cut into ½” cubes
  • ½ t salt
  • Dash pepper
  • ½ t dry basil
  • ½ t oregano
  • 1 t garlic powder

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put croutons in a bowl and add enough olive oil to fully cover them. Add remaining ingredients and toss the bread until covered in olive oil and herbs. Bake in a sheet pan until toasted to a golden brown color on each side (approx 10-15 mins).

To assemble salad, put winter greens in a large salad bowl, add pepper and Parmesan and toss. Add Caesar dressing and toss. Place salad on individual plates and add a few croutons and chicken. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Beet, Kale and Pecan Salad

Based on a recipe in Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

Salad:

  • 4 large beets or an equivalent number of smaller beets
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 medium carrot
  • ¼ cup pecans or hazelnuts, lightly toasted

Wash beets and bring to a boil in a large pot or steam over simmering water and cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until a knife pierces the beets easily. Let cool, peel, and cut into ¾-inch pieces.

Blanch kale in boiling water for 30 seconds, cool under cool water. Strain well and pat dry and cut or tear into bite-size pieces. Finely dice the green onions and grate the carrot. Mix nuts and vegetables lightly in a medium bowl.

Dressing:

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ Teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ Teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh marjoram, chopped or 1 Teaspoon dried

Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.