Grilled Corn Salad

Grilled Corn Salad
Last week J. and I realized that we had yet to have sweet corn this summer. Considering July is nearly gone, we agreed this needed to be remedied ASAP. Even though cobs simply slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt would have satisfied our craving, I felt like I needed to concoct something a bit more involved to celebrate the first bites of the season.

I started with 6 shucked ears of corn on the grill. Once they were cooked with a few signature grill marks, I sliced off the kernels and tossed them into a bowl along with black beans, red onions, Sun Gold tomatoes, cilantro and serrano chiles for heat. This crisp, refreshing mix became a grilled corn salad that I finished with a zippy cumin lime dressing.

Grilled Corn Salad
Grilled Corn Salad

Serves 4-6

For salad
6 ears corn, shucked
Canola oil for corn
1-14.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For dressing
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat a gas or charcoal to medium high heat. Brush the corn with oil. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 15 minutes. Let the corn cool before cutting the kernels from the cobs.

While the corn is cooling, make the dressing. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, cumin, salt, black pepper and honey. Slowly whisk in the oil.

In a large bowl, combine the corn, black beans, onions, cherry tomatoes, serrano chiles, cilantro, salt and pepper. Stir in the dressing.

Almond Plum Buckle

Almond Plum Buckle
My quest has begun to make W. an adventurous eater, something that I was not during my childhood years. At 7 months old, he is now sampling solids, and that has me seeking out a variety of organic fruits and veggies to puree for his meals. I have realized that there is lots of different produce I want W. to try that I actually don’t eat myself, so I decided that these first foods for him will be reintroductions for me.

I can’t remember when I tried a plum, but it didn’t have much of an impact on me because I don’t think I have had one since. I whipped up a batch of plums for Will, and they turned out a vibrant deep fuchsia. Inspired, I baked an almond plum buckle. Plum slices were pressed into the top of the nutty cake. It would have been perfect with any stone fruit, but I will definitely make it with plums again. 

Almond Plum Buckle
Almond Plum Buckle

Adapted from Bon Appetit July 2006

Serves 8

Non-stick cooking spray
3/4 cup almond flour
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3-4 medium plums, halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch diameter cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and spread into an even layer. Arrange the plums skin side up in a radial pattern in the batter.

Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes. Run a pairing knife along the edge and remove from the pan. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta Salad
I haven’t eaten enough tomatoes this summer, and time is ticking away at an alarming rate. Canned tomatoes are my go-to until that precious window when fresh tomatoes are ripe with flavor. The Sun Golds and Sweet 100s growing steadily in containers on our back deck aren’t quite ready to be picked. Feeling impatient, I resorted to buying a couple pounds of grape tomatoes at the grocery.

With my tomato purchase, I whipped up a roasted tomato and garlic pasta salad. This would have been just as good served hot, but given the season, it seemed far more appropriate at room temperature or chilled. Roasting the garlic mellowed its taste. Spiral-shaped cavatappi noodles allowed for a balanced distribution of tomatoes along with chopped basil, fresh mozzarella and toasted pine nuts. 

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta Salad
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta Salad
Serves 4

1/4 cup pine nuts
2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus more for seasoning
1 pound cavatappi pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spread the pine nuts on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until they turn golden brown, about 7-10 minutes.

In a rectangular baking dish, combine the tomatoes and garlic. Stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes until the tomatoes have deepened in color and have slightly wrinkled.

While the tomatoes and garlic are roasting, cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and rinse in cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.

Once the tomatoes have cooled, use a slotted spoon to move them to the bowl with the pasta. Slip the garlic cloves out of their skins and whisk the garlic into the remaining liquid in the baking dish. Pour over the pasta and stir in the basil, mozzarella and pine nuts. Season to taste.

Chocolate Sable Cookies

Chocolate Sable Cookies
I don’t know why, but I always crave dessert after a meal. No matter if it’s lunch, dinner or even breakfast, I am guaranteed to have a hankering for something sweet. Usually I bake a treat that will last throughout a week of home-cooked meals. Self-control can be a challenge, but I do my best to limit my confectionary intake to only after dinner. Any more than once a day, and I am filled with guilt for my over-indulgence.

After a few days, whatever I have baked doesn’t taste as good as it did straight out of the oven. These buttery and crumbly chocolate sable cookies were a fancy, French version of slice-and-bake cookies. I made the dough in a food processor, formed it into logs and rolled them in granulated sugar. Instead of baking all the cookies at once, I cut a few rounds at a time. Nothing could beat fresh cookies on demand. 

Chocolate Sable Cookies
Chocolate Sable Cookies
Adapted from Food & Wine December 2008

Makes about 40 cookies
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Pulse the flour, cocoa powder and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and process until combined. Then add the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough has a crumbly texture. Shape the dough into two logs about 1-1/2” diameter by 7 inches long and cover in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 4 hours until firm or overnight.

Arrange the oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment.

Sprinkle the granulated sugar in a 7-inch-long line on a sheet of waxed paper. Brush the logs with egg white and roll into the sugar pressing to coat. Cut the logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place 1/2-inch apart on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake for 20 minutes switching and turning the cookie sheets halfway though baking. The cookies should feel firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container.

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