Elotes Corn Salad – lazy way

I know, I never post anything anymore. See what having a kid will do to you? But I wanted to get this written down because I keep making it!

Based heavily on Elotes Corn Salad by fiveandspice.com, but with some lazy person’s changes. Mainly, buying “fire roasted” corn, which is apparently a thing, and is SO good. (I have seen it at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.) It is like you grilled corn on the cob, cut it off, and then froze it. Which maybe someone did, but that someone wasn’t me.

Elotes Salad (serves 4)

  • One bag of “fire roasted” frozen corn
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (make sure it’s not parsley… not that this has ever happened to me…)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into chunks
  1. Microwave the corn per bag instructions.
  2. Add salt, pepper, mayo, lime juice, chili, and cayenne.
  3. Fold in cheese and cilantro.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.
    (If you’re preparing ahead of time, like, say, for your coworker’s babyshower the next day, pause here. If not, march onward.)
  5. Stir in the avocado chunks.

Serve warm, cold, over tortillas, over the bowl with a spoon after your kid is asleep… I love this stuff.

My lunch was delicious and so can you.

Last night I decided that I wanted something delicious for dinner and then lunch today. And my friends, I succeeded.

Mediterranean Veggie Bowl with Quinoa (a soul-satisfying lunch!)

(If you want chicken, either start cooking the chicken first or buy some pre-cooked chicken.)

1. SET UP QUINOA: Measure out one cup of quinoa. Rinse under water in a strainer, then add to a pot with a glug of olive oil. Cook for a couple minutes until the water evaporates and the quinoa starts toasting. Then add two cups of veggie broth, or water if you are lame. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cover. Set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes.

2. MAKE HOUSE SMELL TASTY: Chop an onion. Add to a pan with a glug of olive oil. Add salt & pepper. Add some dried oregano that you once bought to put on pizza but otherwise forget to use. Add some red chili pepper flakes because, like cheese (more on that in a minute), they make everything better.

3. ACTUALLY MAKE THE FOOD: Saute your onions periodically while you chop up one zucchini. (Even though zucchini is boring and gets excessive in the summertime, I had a weird craving for it last night.) Once the onions are glassy, add the zucchini. Saute periodically while you also chop up a small container of pitted kalamata olives (a small container by which I mean when you go to the deli they have two sizes, small and large — you want the small). Add the kalamata olives to the pan. Keep sauteeing while you also chop up a bunch of feta cheese. (If you are more lazy, the pre-crumbled stuff works well.) I got about a fist-sized block and used about half. Each to their own.

4. PUT THE FOOD IN TOGETHERNESS: Once the zucchinis are soft, the dish should be done. Make sure your quinoa has no more water, and then mix it all together in tastiness. Show it off to your wife when she gets home. Eat it for lunch the next day and revel in your culinary success.

What to do with your leftover keg of beer

Look, obviously if you have a keg at a party and the party ends and there’s still beer left — OBVIOUSLY you are going to try and drink it. This is reasonable. But there is a limit to one’s individual beer consumption, even if you invite all your neighbors and friends over. So the natural question is: Now that the keg’s no longer ice cold, what do you do with the beer?

Enter: Beer chicken!

Beer Chicken: Take however many filets of chicken you want. (I took three out of the freezer, but fresh would work as well. You could also use drumsticks, wings, whatever.) Marinate the chicken in beer. The meat should be fully covered. I just threw the frozen fillets into the beer and stuck it all in the fridge. Let sit at least overnight. Then, preheat the oven to 375. Coat all sides of the chicken with spices (I used a Cajun seasoning mix.) Pour some of the beer marinade into the roasting dish to keep it all moist. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.

Then eat, and delight in not having let that delicious beer go to waste.

Energy Balls (Vegan Hiking Snack)

I have been reading the blog Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon for a while now. She showcases vegan recipes that are tasty, nutritious, and show that vegan food does not consist solely of salads. I’m always fascinated by her recipes—I’m not vegan, but I like thinking about cooking vegan.

To me, any food/dietary restriction is like a challenge, whether it is being kosher, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc (and it’s especially challenging if it is more than one of those!). When I was in college, I lived in an 18-person co-op that had several vegans, many vegetarians, and many meat lovers. We all took turns cooking meals, and while we could make almost anything we wanted, the rules were that it had to be food everyone could eat. So we became experts at making side-by-side foods, like spaghetti with meat sauce and a vegan sauce. Or easily convertible foods, like mashed potatoes (vegan margarine instead of butter/milk—it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference).

I also like that vegan foods often challenge me to eat healthier, by focusing a lot on fruits/veggies/grains. (Don’t get me wrong, though, there are a lot of unhealthy vegan recipes out there! Chocolate chip cookies are still dessert, even if you make them with Earth Balance instead of butter.) So periodically I try out a vegan recipe to see if it will work in my life. Today I tried a great one!

This morning, in preparation for a hike in the Blue Hills, I whipped up a modified version of Angela’s recipe for dark chocolate energy bites. It took around ten minutes total, used ingredients I had on hand, and involved no baking or cooking. The combination of fruit and nuts and chocolate was perfect for the midpoint of our hike—there was sugar to jump start our engines, and protein to keep us going until our late, very non-vegan lunch at Miami Restaurant.

Recipe: The real beauty of this recipe is that you can vary the basic ingredients based on what you have on hand. The essential elements are sticky dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate. If you don’t get the consistency right, just add more of whatever you need until you do! I put one cup of almonds into a hand-held food processor and finely ground them. Setting aside 1/4th of a cup of the almonds, I put the rest in a bowl. Then I blended a generous handful of apricots with about a third of a cup of dried cranberries and a quarter of a bar of dark chocolate. Once that was all finely chopped, I threw it into the bowl with the almonds and stirred until it was well-mixed. It was a little dry (probably because my apricots weren’t as moist as they could’ve been), so I added some non-vegan moisture with a bit of honey. You could also use agave syrup or maple syrup. Then I picked up about a tablespoon or so of the mix in my hand and squeezed and rolled it into a ball. My balls were about the size of Lindt truffle balls. (This is a well-known comparative measurement in my life!) I rolled each one in the reserved ground almonds, and then set aside.

You can freeze or refrigerate the balls if you’re not going to eat them right away. I found that after a few hours in the freezer, they became much more like a solid mass rather than a bunch of ingredients stuck together. But either way they were delicious! This batch made about 14 balls—two per person on the hike was a great little snack. (Honestly, I would’ve had a third if I’d brought more!) I will definitely be making them again.

No-fry Latkes (Oven-Baked Latkes)

Thanks for the responses to the previous post about no-fry latkes. I wound up going with a recipe that my friend Michelle recommended from Kveller, by Zoe Singer. I liked the taste of the latkes, but her method of using aluminum foil had me cursing in front of the stove whenever I tried to flip the latkes.

So I definitely recommend her proportions of onion/egg/potato, etc. But next year, here’s what I’ll be doing to make it easier on myself:

  • Ensure that you have clean oven mitts on hand that cover your entire hand. Because you will be going in and out of the oven a lot, and this will increase the probability that you get burned.
  • Don’t use aluminum foil. Sturdy cookie sheets with rims worked great. (Just make sure they aren’t warped, because otherwise the oil will collect on one side of the pan.)
  • Use the recommended half-cup of oil per cookie sheet. It seems disgusting, but these are latkes, they really do need oil. Hey, it’s Channukah!
  • Make each latke smaller than you think. Each one should be about 1/4 cup of batter.
  • Turn the oven up to 450. I swear that my oven is pretty decent, but the batches I was doing took forever until I turned the oven up a bit.
  • If you’re making more than one batch of the recipe, designate a second in command to help you with checking the latkes. Because you will get sick of it.

German Ragout for Pastetchen

I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up knowing most of my grandparents. By the time I was old enough to remember, there was only my father’s mother, my Oma. And unlike other kids whose grandparents were a car ride away, mine was a plane ride away — all the way across the Atlantic Ocean in Germany. My memories of her are limited; as I got older, so did she, and it wasn’t long before our relationship was limited to what remained in her long-term memory.

One of the memories I wish I’d gotten to have was cooking beside her. She was a solid German cook, making simple, hearty food that had little fuss. On the day we flew in, there was always a tasty broth-based soup waiting for us as lunch. (I still crave broth-based soups after a long plane ride). She also made delicious Christmas cookies, inventing recipes that my cousin Tina has passed down to me.

The other Christmas tradition that she did was make Pastetchen — pastry shells filled with a meat stew. It looks fancy, but it’s really peasant food. Tasty and very filling, my family still has it every year on Christmas Eve. Her recipe, written out in German, is above, written with her signature blue fountain pen. Below is my translation.

Quality Ragout for Pastry Shells.

Good-quality veal! (and neck when it’s not fatty) Let the butcher cut it into small pieces (smaller than for goulash). Brown it in half butter and half margarine with chopped onions. Dust with flour and lightly roast. Deglaze with white wine (cooking wine). Salt and some pepper, lemon juice, Worchester sauce [she means Worchestershire sauce]. Season to taste, and if it isn’t done yet, let it cook lightly a bit more.

Separately, prepare mushrooms in butter with onions (cut small), some parsley (chopped) as well and either mix it with the ragout and pour into the hot pastry shells, or serve on the plate next to the pastry shells (with the ragout). I find the latter better, as it looks better arranged on the plate. (A raw salad is good with this.)

——————

We make a few changes (beef instead of veal, and adding in peas and carrots), but for the most part, that’s the recipe we still use. And we do serve it with a big green salad!

Merry Christmas!

No-fry latkes

It wouldn’t be Channukah (or Hannukkah*, or Chanuka, or, perhaps most correctly, חֲנֻכָּה), without latkes. That delicious concoction of potatoes and grease which the non-enlightened folk (see that, I made a Channukah joke!) simply call hash browns.

However, this year, I want to make latkes without frying them. Not that I don’t love my fried potato products (although I am in the small minority of humans who doesn’t think french fries are the greatest thing in the world), I just can’t stand the house smelling like grease.

Does anyone know any good no-fry latke recipes?

*For a good time, google Hanukkah! (Let it snow is also another fun one.)