As any visitor to Jorj.com might surmise, summer and its farmer’s markets are a big deal to me. I try to visit one every Saturday – not just for ingredients to use in weekend dinners, but for recipe ideas to take me and my family through the season with full bellies and empty plates. This month, inspiration struck when I passed a vendor making Mexican street corn.
I play with corn in Canvas & Cuisine – fresh, roasted ears get slathered in a savory pesto sauce. I was reminded of those flavors when I tasted corn on a stick at the farmer’s market this weekend. I could isolate all kinds of yummy flavors – from peppers to lime juice. There was the tang of tomato and cojita cheese, and bright notes of cilantro – and like all good things, the undeniable presence of sour cream.
Determined to go home and duplicate that taste, I hit the various veggie stands and came back with everything I needed to make Mexican Street Corn – only thing is, it rains a lot in the summer, and backyard BBQs aren’t always possible. I transformed the dish into a skillet version that went over really well as a side this Father’s Day.
A popular item, there were requests for more. I’d run out of fresh corn on the cob at that point and discovered that frozen kernels work just as well. The results were super savory and the juiciness at the bottom of the bowl so good, it got my mind on corn chowder recipes for fall – just gotta get through this beastly summer first!
So, here’s my lighting fast recipe for a bright summer side dish – you can make it in the time it takes a thunderstorm to roll past your house, and the sun to start shining again!
Mexican Street Corn Skillet Style
15 minute cuisine
4 cups corn kernels (shucked from fresh ears of corn or frozen)
1 large red tomato, diced
1 bunch chives, washed and chopped, about ½ cup
1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped, about ½ cup
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cojita or feta cheese
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sour cream
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for sautéing
In a skillet set on high heat, sauté the corn, herbs, lime juice, cheese, and cayenne in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the sour cream and mix with a spatula, lowering heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
My travels have taken me to the warm climates of Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona. Besides the sites, the shopping, the restaurants, the art and the local taverns, a favorite activity of mine is to wander the streets in search of fresh markets. There I can find new varieties of fresh fruits and veggies, spices, meats and cheese. Often you can find street foods prepared by vendors. My favorites were the Tortilla Espanola (a combination of scalloped potatoes and a frittata), Patatas Bravas, (a variation on French fried potatoes with a spicy sauce over the top) and Churros (a Spanish fried dough doused in sugar and dipped in chocolate). I loved these so much, I created the home cook’s version of these recipes in my new book, Canvas & Cuisine.
In seeking out recipes for Cinco de Mayo, I turned my attention to the street foods of Mexico. They are similar. They have tortas and churros, but there are also different offerings like quesadillas, enchiladas and tacos. I thought I might just try to elevate my Latin American repertoire, beyond what I’ve tasted in Spain. In doing so I looked at the famous street food that Mexico offers… tacos!
Here is an elevated version of a taco that features two sauces, one with dried ancho chilis as a base, and one with an avocado cream. I used marinated skirt steak for the meat, Monterey Jack for the cheese, and thin red onion slices and cilantro for the garnish. The end result was delish and reminded me of the fresh markets featured in my new book.
Oh to travel those streets, portrayed as paintings again…
I could smell the sidewalks with hot sizzling food, cooked right in front of me – when simple ingredients come together over sizzling griddles heated over open flames. It’s the sauces that make the dish. The ones in this steak taco recipe are made from dried chilis and fresh vegetables, harvested from the backyards of local farmers. Chili seasoned meat drizzled with spicy red and creamy green sauce, garnished with fresh herbs make this street food taco an elevated Cinco de Mayo treat. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
with Tomatillo-Ancho Chili Sauce and Avocado Cream
45 minute cuisine (plus marinating)
1 (12 to 16-ounce) skirt steak
2 tablespoons chili powder
Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 6 small (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 to 6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ red onion peeled and thinly sliced
Chopped fresh cilantro
For Chili Sauce:
3 dried ancho chilis, seeded and stems removed
5 medium tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup chopped tomatoes
Juice of ½ lime, about 2 tablespoons
For Avocado Cream:
2 medium avocados, pitted and peeled
Juice of 2 limes, about ¼ cup
1/3 cup half and half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Place the skirt steak into a large baking dish. Season both sides with chili powder and drizzle with lime juice. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and as much as overnight.
Place the chilis in a skillet over medium heat. Turn often and toast until the skin begins to puff (but not char), about 2 to 3 minutes. Place the toasted chilis, tomatillos and garlic cloves in a pot. Cover the veggies with water (about 1 ½ cup). Cover the pot and simmer until the tomatillos are soft and pale green, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer the veggies to a blender or food processor. Add the tomatoes and lime juice. Add about 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the pot. Pulse to combine. Season with salt. You can add more cooking liquid to reach the consistency of a drizzling sauce.
Place the avocados into a blender or bowl of a food processor. Add the lime juice, half and half and cilantro. Season with salt. Pulse to combine. Add enough water to reach a thin, drizzling consistency.
Remove the skirt steak from the fridge and cut into very small cubes (about ¼ -inch squares). Season with salt. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil on a griddle in large sauté pan over medium heat. Place the steak into the hot oil and cook until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Add additional oil to the pan to coat the bottom.
Lay 4 to 6 (depending on the size of your griddle) tortillas into the hot oil. Once the bottom begins to brown and the tortilla begins to puff, turn and flip over. (This happens quickly.) Top the tortilla with some of the cheese. Top the cheese with seasoned steak. Cook until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Drizzle the tacos with chili sauce and then with avocado cream. Garnish with thin slices of red onion and fresh cilantro. Serve with a fork as an open faced taco or fold over and eat with your hands!
There are so many savory breakfast classics that seem better suited to dinner, am I right? Steak and eggs, Quiche Lorraine, a mound of white grits that could be your April Fool’s Day mashed potatoes in the right light….
I wasn’t sure how to usher in the first Monday of this month. To help me brain storm, I got out my bullet journal. Bullet journals are trending lately. It differs from keeping a regular old diary, in that you just make lists and outline your goals in fun colors, adding little drawings in the margins.
Ideal bullet journal entries are grocery lists and recipes. When I embarked on note taking for Jorj.com’s Monday offering, I drew a Spanish sun first. Light was streaming through my kitchen window, warming my skin. I thought of the chapters in my new cookbook that were inspired by mine and my co-author, Sue Fazio’s trips to Spain.
I then decided that a perfect, savory dinner for breakfast is the Tortilla Espanola. In Spain, it’s just a tapa, but on April Fool’s Day in my house, it’s dinner!
You can make it in a cast iron skillet – any skillet – but be warned. It’s HOT!!! There are a lot of fiery bites on tapas plates. I guess the thought is the more blazing your taste buds, the more you require a swallow of chilled aperitif to put out the flames.
SANGRIA, anyone? Oh, and April Fool’s Day Tip – maybe make one side of the tortilla extra spicy and tell people to take their chances, wink, wink…
And remember – all days of the year, not just 4/1/19, this is a terrific dish for a pot luck. It’s good old-fashioned comfort food!
serves a crowd
40 minute cuisine
5 to 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 large yellow onions, diced, about 3 cups
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 3 tablespoons
6 large eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Chopped, fresh parsley
Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into thin rounds. Place the potatoes into a colander and toss with salt. Pour enough oil to come halfway up the side of a deep skillet. Heat the oil over medium high heat. You will know that the oil is ready when you place the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and you see bubbles. Fry the potatoes in the oil until they are tender in the middle and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 5 to 8 minutes. You can do this in batches so that you don’t crowd too many slices into the pan. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer the potatoes onto a paper lined baking sheet.
Carefully add the onions and garlic to the oil. Lower the temperature to medium low and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer to the baking sheet holding the potatoes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil into heat resistant bowl. (When cooled, you can strain and re-use the oil for another recipe.)
Place the eggs into a large bowl using a fork to blend. Gently slide the potatoes, onions and garlic into the bowl. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and gently blend trying not to break the potato slices.
Heat the oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Pour in the potato and eggs using a spatula to spread evenly in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to brown the (soon to be top) of the torte. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the center is set, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use the spatula to gently loosen the edges from the pan as it cooks. Shake the skillet to make sure the center is setting. Turn off the heat. Take a plate, that is large than the skillet and place it upside down over the skillet. With one hand on the plate and the other on the skillet handle, invert the pan so that the torte comes out and onto the plate. There might be a little loose egg around the edges. Use your spatula to scrape any bits back into the torte. Gently slide the inverted torte back into the pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook until a tester inserted into the center of the torte comes out clean, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Transfer the torte to a clean platter and keep warm. The torte can be served warm or at room temperature.