Monday, July 22, 2013

Fresh Corn Griddle-Cakes

A simple salad to accompany the corn cakes

Returning from a night away, I wanted a simple meal, so I threw a pork shoulder in the oven with some roughly chopped veggies and a can of beer and let it cook away for the rest of the day. Then, I complicated things by not just cooking up the fresh ears of corn but deciding to make corn cakes instead - the good news: they were tasty. 

To make corn cakes: Shuck and shave off the kernels of 3 ears of corn. Saute half of an onion, diced, in a little bit of butter until translucent and then add in the corn. Cook for a few minutes until just barely tender. Set aside. Combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, 1 tbsp honey, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder and a crack of pepper.  In a separate bowl whisk together 1 1/4 cup of buttermilk and two eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined. Fold in the corn mixture and one fairly finely chopped jalapeno. Batter done! Drop the batter by the teaspoonful into a hot pan coated with a smidge of butter. Fry until crisped and golden. Goes well with pork, avocado, salad and a beer. 
Included are a few shots of the lovely beach cottage we stayed in in Santa Barbara.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Berry Pickin at Swanton Berry Farm

We spent a luxuriously long weekend for the 4th doing all sorts of pleasant things - eating and drinking with friends, soaking in thermal pools, walking on foggy beaches and picking berries, among other things. Halfway between Santa Cruz and San Francisco we stumbled upon Swanton Berry Farm, which I am familiar with from the local farmer's markets up here but have never had the fortune of actually visiting. We had a great afternoon with only a few tense moments (upon arriving we found a quiet little patch and set to picking, only to realize later that we were in the "no picking" zone - we stealthily tiptoed away to find a sanctioned area to resume picking). We picked 3 pounds of tayberries, olallieberries and blackberries and probably ate our way through a solid amount as we worked. In spite of getting home fairly late - I decided to throw together a quick little berry buckle, enjoying some nice wine and cheese as I baked. I based my recipe on Smitten Kitchen's Brown Butter Nectarine Buckle Recipe and tweaked it here and there. See below for what I did.

For a nice article from Saveur about Swanton farmer Jim Cochran and his delicious berries you can click here

Brown Butter Berry Buckle: To begin, melt one stick of butter in a pan and let brown (keep a close eye on it as it doesn't take much to go from browned to burnt). Once browned, set aside to let cool. In a medium bowl combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Then in a large bowl whisk together the browned butter and 1 cup sugar. Whisk in two eggs, one at a time. Stir in 2/3 cup buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine. In a separate bowl combine the juice of half a lemon, about 1/3-1/2 cup sugar and about 2 cups of berries. Grease a cast-iron skillet, line with parchment and pour the batter on in. Pour the sweetened berries on top of the batter and finally top with streusel. (I made the streusel by combining 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup each of brown and white sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 cup chilled butter. Cut until the mixture resembles coarse meal and then mix in about a cup of oats.) Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

As an aside - we got to enjoy an afternoon at Refuge Spa in Carmel Valley and I definitely recommend it if you are nearby. You can read about it here courtesy of Sunset Magazine

One last thing, in case you have never heard of a tayberry here is a little information from YumSugar

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Excursion - Sonoma and Little Apricot Cakes

I have been away from my blog for too long - trips to LA, Santa Barbara, Big Sur and Sonoma and visits from friends and family combined with work and life have kept me busy. But here is a little snippet of our visit with our friends Gil and Gibbo and a wonderful day spent together in Sonoma. Scribe Winery is my new favorite, the setting was idyllic, the people friendly, the vibe laid back and the wine scrumptious. 
I've been cooking, that wonderful simple casual kind of meal that seems to come so easily in the summer with the onset of warmth and the first crops of peaches and tomatoes, I just haven't been very good about photographing it. Here is a simple summer dessert that I found in Bon Appetit - Little Apricot Cakes. The texture was nice but I think my batch needed a little more sugar - in spite of this critique, they readily disappeared.

Combine 1 cup flour, 1.5 tsp baking powder and a quarter tsp salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat together 3/4 stick butter and 1/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 large egg, the zest of one lemon and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Then in 3 additions beginning and ending with the dry mixture, add in the flour mix and 1/3 cup whole milk. I stirred in a dollop of sour cream. Pour the batter in a greased muffin tin and top with thinly sliced pieces of apricot. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.