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Spread the Love Around – Sweet Corn Succotash with Cumin

I know I have already shared with you a bit about my love of sweet and juicy summer corn. It’s funny because I have not always been a big fan of this great North American staple. Perhaps I was negatively influenced by one too many ears of the severely over boiled and gummy back yard barbecue variety, but in my first year as member of a downtown Philly CSA I left my share of corn in the swap basket on an almost weekly basis. It was not until the end of the season when I arrived one day to collect my share that I came upon the end of the collection line to find the swap basket completely empty. I debated for several moments over leaving the ears for another taker but, as the remainder of the share was a bit sparse, I shoved the 7 ears in my bag and trudged home determined to make my glut of corn into something palatable.

As usual, when I finally battled my way through Saturday morning traffic and out of the city, I arrived home to lay my CSA bootie on the kitchen counter and started to think over possible uses for each ingredient in the trove. Part of that early August share included a block of locally produced farmers cheese, beautiful brown free range eggs, a pint of cherry tomatoes, a loaf of seeded italian bread, a bag of brilliantly verdant green beans, a small slab of thick-cut Amish Country bacon, and, of course, the 7 ears of late season Jersey corn.

As I hold as one of my primary cooking tenets that any vegetable can be made to taste good when sautéed with smokey bacon, I set about searching online for recipes that paired the week’s lancaster county porky delight with the over abundance of bi-color corn that lay in a heap on the counter. I included in my searched other veggies from the week’s share such as greens beans, and tomatoes and what appeared on my screen was recipe after recipe for an old style american classic – succotash. Now, my impression of succotash at that point in time was less than stellar, my prior experiences with the dish had been in college where the vegetable melange was likely poured straight from the freezer bag into a large vat and either boiled or steam to death. This resulted in a seemingly creative and deceptively colorful side dish, which was unfortunately totally devoid of flavor.

I decided to run with the idea anyway and cooked up a recipe for my own rendition of the classic that incorporated the week’s bounty of tomatoes and green beans. The result was very similar to the dish you will find a recipe for below. From time to time I tweak the dish by adding zippy hot peppers like jalapeños or faintly spicy and slightly smokey Poblanos, occasionally, I substitute parsley or cilantro for the basil I initially incorporated but for this meal I selected the simple sweetness of the basil and cumin scented corn mixture as I thought it would nicely complement the spicy and herbaceous steak with salsa verde from my most recent post, which accompanied this dish on the table that evening.

I’m not sure what initially made me reach for cumin when I concocted this recipe but, amazingly, it really works here. Its earthy qualities nicely balance the bright summer vegetables and accentuate the smokiness of the bacon. A strong punch of garlic rounds out the dish and propels the flavors into another dimension. Making this dish reminds me of stir-frying, in fact, I recommend cooking it in a very large cast iron skillet or, alternatively, a wok, which will be large enough to house all of the vegetables while still allowing the cook to stir comfortably.

Although all of the ingredients end up in the same frying pan, they are added at different times and thus, need to remain separate until cooking. The bacon, corn, tomatoes, and green beans can all be prepped ahead of time. The bacon should be thinly sliced and may be rendered in a large pot on the stove several hours before it is needed. If doing this step ahead remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve until needed. The bacon fat should be kept and can be stored in the pan (if you’re planning to cook it relatively soon) or alternatively poured into a small heat resistant dish and chilled until needed.

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At least an hour before cooking you will want to start on trimming the beans and cutting them roughly into thirds. Place these in a small prep bowl. The tomatoes should be cut in half length wise and should occupy their own prep bowl. There are many fancy apparatuses sold on the market that can be used to cut corn from the cob but I think a paring knife works just fine. Try to pick corn that have a little piece of the stalk remaining at the base and keep this on when you shuck the corn. Using the small stem as a handle hold the corn vertically (upside down so to speak, as the narrow end will be at the bottom) and slice down the length of the ear remaining fairly close to the cob. I recommend doing this on a large cutting board as the kernels have a tendency to run amok and fly of the edge of your workspace – setting out a larger space might well be a good idea. As I have mentioned in a previous post I love the frozen garlic that comes frozen in small cubes from Trader Joes but, if using fresh garlic, mince this just before cooking as allowing it to sit in the open for too long will alter the flavor.

I hope your family loves this as much as mine does, leftovers can be stored and reheated or served at room temperature as a side salad of sorts. Enjoy!

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Sweet Corn Succotash with Bacon

2 TSP Cumin Seeds Toasted and Ground
6 Slices of Thick-Cut Bacon Sliced into Segments about as Wide as Your Index Finger
1 Pint of Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lenth-Wise
1 lb. of Green Beans, Trimmed and Cut Roughly into Thirds
5 Ears of Corn, Kernels Sliced from the Cob (see above for my personal method)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
10-15 Large Basil Leaves, Cut into a Chiffonade
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Sauté bacon in a large cast-iron skillet or wok until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Do not wash pan.

Over medium heat add the garlic to the bacon fat and sauté until fragrant. Add the green beans and cumin and sauté until just slightly tender.

Add the corn and stir, followed almost immediately by the tomatoes. Sauté until just warmed.

Remove the pan from the heat and add basil. Stir in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and serve warm.

A New Endeavor and The Most Delicious Way to Eat Cabbage – EVER!

I’m making an effort to do the things I have been hoping for and planning for and somehow putting off. Who better to make my dreams reality than, well, me.

In approximately one month my boyfriend, Dustin, and I are packing our belongings into a moving truck and traveling down to Nashville, TN to begin a new chapter of our lives there. The two of us share a number of common passions, we are both hopelessly addicted to the amazing high of rock climbing. We both appreciate the arts (Dustin is, in fact, a photographer by degree) and are lovers of good music. But above all we are both passionate about good food – and get really excited about top notch locally grown produce, and sustainably caught/humanely raised meats and seafood.

I have been inspired by so many fantastic food blogs out on the web, Smitten Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks, Sprouted Kitchen, the Sassy Radish, and the Home Sick Texan are among some of my favorite online reads. I also own a somewhat embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks. My cooking is certainly influenced by global cuisine but I find myself consistently drawn to new British cuisine, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have both deeply influenced my cooking style. I have also drawn influence from my own upbringing in an oddly mish-mashed multicultural (Indian-Irish-Italian) household. And all of this, couples with an irrepressible urge to create dishes that will bring together and nourish my loved ones has brought me here, to my first, (and hopefully most awkward) blog posting on this new site. This is a new sort of experiment for me and I greatly appreciate feedback and comments from readers!

As my blog title alludes to I have somewhat of a penchant for good produce and not just the pretty summer tomatoes and ruby red strawberries I love all fruits and veggies and hope to showcase them all in this blog. I will start with one of my all time favorites – Cabbage! Cabbage is such a wonderfully versatile veggie, it can be eaten raw as part of a creamy slaw or zingy salad, steamed or boiled with butter, fermented as Kim chi, or salted as Sauerkraut. However, versatile tho the cabbage may be I will admit I have a soft spot for one preparation which is so delectable it is sure to turn heads (haha)! In this recipe the cabbage is sauteed in carefully rendered bacon fat and dressed with a zingy herb and mustard vinaigrette. So without further ado, I present to you “The Most Delicious Way to Eat Cabbage – EVER!”

The Most Delicious Way to Eat Cabbage – EVER!

Don’t be afraid by the amount of cabbage in this recipe! It will cook down considerably. Also – don’t skimp on the quality of the bacon and mustard on this recipe – these are the make or break factors that bring the wow factor to this simple recipe. I typically use either a grainy Grey Poupon or Maille brand mustard. For bacon I look for a thick cut bacon, uncured if possible. Trader Joes makes a great version of this.

Special thanks to Julie Zlogar for teaching me this recipe in a teeny tiny kitchen on a camping trip to Kentucky last summer!

For the Cabbage

6 Rashers Smokey Thick Cut Bacon Cut into ½ inch Strips

2 Heads of Cabbage

For the Dressing

3 Cloves Garlic Minced

1 TBSP Good Grainy Dijon Mustard

1 TBSP Dill Chopped

1 TSP Honey

1 TSP Thyme Chopped

¼ Cup Olive Oil (less if bacon renders a lot of oil)

1 TBSP Cider Vinegar

Salt and Pepper

In a large broad based pot cook Bacon over medium heat until fat has rendered and bacon is just crisp. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Remove pot from heat – set aside – do not wash

Core cabbage and cut into ½ inch wide strips (I usually cut length wise into long strips and cut the long strips roughly in half) Wash and dry in salad spinner.

Sautee Cabbage in oil rendered from bacon until just cooked. You may need to add the cabbage in batches depending on the size of the pot. It is ok if some cabbage cooks longer than the rest.

Remove Cabbage from heat. Remove from pot with slotted spoon.

Combine vinaigrette ingredients in separate bowl. Taste! It should be fairly balanced vinaigrette with a strong punch of mustard. Herb amounts can be adjusted according to taste. Parsley would work well in place of the dill. Add salt and pepper to taste using more pepper that you would normally in vinaigrette.

Mix reserved bacon into cabbage. Add vinaigrette, a little at a time, tasting as you go. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with any remaining mustard dressing on the side.

Categories: Cabbage Tags: , ,
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