Mexican Corn Salad

If you’re in a jam and need a quick, easy and delicious side dish – this one can be made in less than 10 minutes and is a crowd-pleaser. It’s a spin on elote (Mexican grilled corn), which is the best way to eat corn. The creaminess of the feta and mayo gets cut by the citrusy punch of the lime and sweetness of the corn. And if fresh corn is not in season, frozen corn (and specifically Trader Joe’s fire-roasted frozen corn) is a good substitute.

Ingredients
  • 1 bag frozen corn or ~3 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1 tbl unsalted butter
  • 4 tbl crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbl mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbl sriracha (optional)
Directions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add corn kernels, tossing once or twice. Cook about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Mix together feta cheese, mayo, cilantro, garlic, paprika, lime juice and sriracha.
  3. Combine with corn kernels and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serves 6

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I feel like people either love or hate brussel sprouts. And the ones who are indifferent generally prefer not to eat them. But maybe this year, things will change. It’s Fall again and brussel sprouts are in season. So give it a try, especially this recipe. I love roasting; it makes the kitchen smell wonderfully delicious. This recipe is no different. Use this as a side with our classic roast chicken and it’ll be a great Sunday dinner meal.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Slice brussel sprouts in half.
  3. Toss with grapes, olive oil, and black pepper and salt to taste.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet or glass dish.
  5. Roast for 25 minutes, until the sprouts are tender.
  6. Mix in toasted walnuts and toss all with balsamic vinegar.

Cook’s Notes

After spreading the brussel sprouts onto the baking tray, I arrange them cut side down. This will give a nice caramelization and char to them.

Tomato and Egg Stir Fry

While China is one country, its cuisine wildly diverges depending on the region in which you’re eating. As you travel through the country there are of course changes in climate, geography, history and lifestyle. Thus, there are 8 distinctive regional cuisines: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan and Zhejiang. In the U.S. you see Szechuan restaurants, Hunan restaurants, Cantonese restaurants. They’re proud of their heritage. Regionality. Individualism. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great. But what unifies the country? If I had to choose a dish, as American as apple pie, I’d choose the tomato and egg stir fry. It’s remarkably the same all over China.

It’s hard to resist this quick dish. The sweetness of the tomatoes, the softness of the egg. It can be a meal in itself. It’s reassuring. And it’s quite simple and quick to prepare. Fry up some egg, cook some tomatoes, mix it all together, add in a bit of sugar and seasoning and serve it up with a bowl of fluffy white rice. You actually don’t need a recipe. Make it once, and you can make it from memory.

Directions

  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter and pour in the beaten eggs.
  2. Scramble the eggs, but scramble into medium/medium-large pieces.
  3. Scoop out the eggs and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet on medium heat, heat the oil.
  5. Add in tomatoes and cook until soft and skin starts separating from flesh, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add in sugar and soy sauce.
  7. Return the eggs into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Stir so the eggs mix well with the tomatoes.
  9. Add in scallions and serve with steamed white rice.

Cook’s Notes

When preparing the tomatoes, I like to remove some of the seeds so that the dish doesn’t become too liquidy. I remove about half the seeds from each tomato.

Regarding the size of the chopped tomatoes, I’ve seen the tomatoes prepared in slices (quartered and medium-thinly sliced). I’ve also seen it chopped into pieces. I prefer the latter since the size and shape are roughly similar to that of the scrambled egg. I quarter the tomato and then chop each quarter into another 3-4 pieces.

The tomatoes will cook faster if you place a lid on the skillet because the lid forces the heat and steam to circulate.

My preferred way of eating this dish is using a bowl – so that I can pour a bit of the liquid from the stir fry into the rice and mix it all together.

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Versatile adj. Having varied uses or serving many functions. “One of the most versatile of ingredients is tofu.”

Tofu, made from soybean curd, is a great source of vegetarian protein while being low in calories and fat. Also, depending on the coagulant used to create the curds from soymilk, it can also be a good source of calcium and/or magnesium. But one of the true benefits from cooking with tofu is its versatility. Fresh tofu (sold immersed in water) is available as silken, soft, firm, and extra firm. In addition, sun-dried tofu, sweetened tofu (for desserts), fermented tofu, tofu skins and deep-fried tofu puffs are also commonly available.

There is a blandness to plain tofu. But this characteristic lends itself well to different methods of preparation because the tofu absorbs the flavors of the dish. In the US, tofu is usually seen grilled, in stir-fry, salads and soups or as spreads on bagels and sandwiches. While tofu can be a great addition to any dish, I also enjoy the nutty and earthy flavor of it by itself. To showcase the flavor of tofu, a block of room temperature or slightly warm soft tofu is served with some soy sauce or a variety of dipping sauces. This delicate and light dish is commonly found as an appetizer (banchan) in Korean cuisine.

Directions

  1. Rinse tofu and then cover with cold water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then keep warm, covered, over very low heat.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients for the sauce.
  4. Just before serving, carefully lift tofu from saucepan and drain on paper towels.
  5. Transfer tofu to a plate and spoon some sauce over the tofu.
  6. Serve with some remaining sauce on the side.

Kohlrabi Salad with Radishes and Apples

HOT! It was terribly hot and humid in the city today. On these days, my appetite diminishes. Maybe it’s because I want to feel as light as possible. It’s unbearable even just standing outside. Appetite or not, one must eat.

But what? I stay away from foods that are meaty, hot (temperature) and heavy. A light, cool meal? Salad. Actually, I prefer my salad to have more mix-ins and less leafy greens (or even no leafy greens altogether!). So when I was at the Union Square Greenmarket the other morning and passed by a stand just as they were stocking kohlrabi, the idea sparked. Kohlrabi salad. And at just 75 cents a head, it was a steal! It gets better. Japanese Radishes were $1 a bunch and Winesap apples $1.25 a pound at Migliorelli Farm’s stand. Thus, this recipe was created.

The crunchy sweetness of the kohlrabi mixed with the tangy crisp apples and the spicy bite of the radish cools and awakens you from the funk of the heat. The nutty aromatics of the sesame oil combined with the tartness of vinegar and slight heat from the chili are great fragrant complements to the salad. But to get the best experience with this dish, it must be cooled in the fridge before you eat it. Now all this talk makes me want more. Good thing the farmer’s market is back on Friday.

Directions

  1. To prepare the kohlrabi, with a sharp knife cut off the branches. Peel off the skin either using a vegetable peeler or a knife.
  2. Cut the kohlrabi, radishes and peeled apple either with a knife or a mandolin.
  3. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, which are for the dressing.
  4. Toss all the salad ingredients together and chill in refrigerator before serving.

Cook’s Notes

Preparing the kohlrabi can be tricky since the skin is a bit waxy. You’ll get a better grip on the skin with a serrated knife. I started peeling the skin off with a vegetable peeler and found it difficult. It was much easier shaving the top layer off using a knife – similar to how you’d cut the rind off melons.

It’s much faster to cut the vegetables and apple using a mandoline. Plus, the end result looks nice since all the pieces are uniform. We cut the kohlrabi and apple in half before using it on the mandoline. I use mine (Progressive International HGT-11 Folding Mandoline Slicer, $20 at Amazon) all the time! It saves a lot of time in the prep work.

We opted for Winesap apples since they’re one of our favorites. They’re crisp, sweet and tangy. But baseline, any crisp apple, like Fuji or Empire, works perfectly well! No Red or Golden Delicious – they’re too mealy.