Tag Archives: corn

Late Summer Vegetable Salad with Tomatillo Dressing

Summer Veg Salad with Tomatillo Dressing

It’s worth making this salad for the tomatillo dressing alone. Tomatillos are a rare treat here in the UK – I totally took them for granted when I lived in Austin and Chicago. Now they’re far more tricky to come by (and my attempts to grow them have been literally fruitless).

Tamale Party with Jane, Jimmy and Steve

When the season’s right – late summer, early autumn – they’re available on order from Riverford (my vegbox scheme) and Cool Chile Co (a UK-based supplier of Mexican goodies). So this season I’ve been shelling out some cash on tomatillos so I could experiment a bit with this funky green tomato (which is actually a relative of the cape gooseberry). This tomatillo dressing is my favourite creation thus far.

Tomatillo Salad Dressing

Most of what I know about tomatillos comes from Mexican cheese enchiladas verde, one of my favourite Mexican dishes which consists of corn tortillas wrapped in cheese, smothered with tangy green tomatillo “verde” sauce, topped with more cheese, then baked to perfection. Not exactly heart-healthy, but incredibly delicious. My other favourite tomatillo memory is the spicy tomatillo salsa from Trudy’s Restaurant in Austin, Texas – I have ruined many a dinners overeating corn chips and salsa at this place (not that I’m complaining; their salsa is some of the best I’ve ever had).

With this salad, I wanted to do something to celebrate the tomatillo’s natural aptitude for tart tangy salsas, but without the artery-clogging qualities of excessive cheese and fried corn chip accoutrements. So I turned the tomatillos into this zesty salad dressing that really knocked my socks off and even surpassed some of the verde sauces I’ve had in Texas. The key steps are broiling the tomatillos until they are well-charred, and adding just a bit of olive oil to the blended salsa to give it a nice creaminess and turns this salsa into an excellent salad dressing. Here I used it with the green beans and sweet corn that came in my vegbox, but you could just as well use it to dress a green salad or even grains and beans (black beans and rice come to mind). The tomatillo dressing also goes nicely with fish – I served this salad with sea bream, steamed with lime and cilantro, and I ended up using some of the dressing on the fish after it came out of the oven – superb.

The only downside to all of this is that tomatillos are so rarely available, but that rarity adds to my appreciation of them. And now I know that when I am lucky enough to have tomatillos, I have a reliable and healthy recipe to turn to that does them justice.

Summer Veg Salad with Tomatillo Dressing

Late Summer Vegetable Salad with Tomatillo Dressing

Serves 2-3.

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 lb tomatillos
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
  • 20 cilantro sprigs
  • 1/2 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

For the salad:

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 big handfuls of green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tomato
  • handful of chives
  • salt and pepper
  • feta cheese

Instructions

      1. Pre-heat the grill and put your tomatillos in a roasting tray. Put the tray under the grill and cook until the tomatillos are charred, then flip them over and let them char on the other side.
      2. Combine the tomatillos and any juices in the pan with all of the other dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed.
      3. Steam the corn and green beans for 5 minutes then rinse them under cold water.
      4. Halve the green beans and slice the corn kernels off of the cob.
      5. Combine the beans and corn in a bowl with the tomato, chives and a couple spoonfuls of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
      6. Serve in a bowl, drizzled with a little more dressing and garnished with crumbled feta cheese.

Tomatillo Salad Dressing

For more tomatillo inspiration, check out

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Squash and Sweetcorn Tamales

Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano

Last night I had a little Tamale Party with friends Jane, Jimmy and Steve to celebrate Jane’s and Jimmy’s Month of Anniversary. The event stemmed from a recent walk in Wales, wherein I expressed to Jane and Jimmy my desire to further my tamale practice, and they offered themselves as willing taste testers and sous chefs.

Hot Tamale Party Chalkboard Menu

There was a pretty steep learning curve here, and I admit our tamale rolling efforts weren’t exquisite (that may have been the numerous margaritas, white russians, negronis and long island iced teas talking). So this morning I woke up and had another sober attempt at rolling tamales, and things went pretty well, so I thought I’d share my notes and photos from the process in case it’s helpful to anyone else.

Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano

The recipe I used as a base is Rachel Demuth’s Tamales Rellenos de Calabacin from Demuths Cookery School which uses roast butternut squash and feta for the filling. I’ve written about this recipe before, but this time I made a few tweaks that I think improved matters considerably. I added roasted red pepper and sweetcorn to mine – the corn really made it for me. Instead of feta, I did some tamales with queso fresco, and others with goats cheese. The queso fresco offered a nice melty chewy cheesy hit, but I think I preferred the salty creaminess of the goats cheese tamales.

Big learning points were: make sure that the batter is pretty soft – you should be able to smear it across the husk with a spoon; also, spread the batter in one corner of the husk – this makes rolling the tamale a no-brainer (this video was very helpful in this regard).

My tamale technique still needs practice and I’d love to experiment with other fillings, so hopefully my amazing sous chefs will return for more tamale rolling and taste testing, and requisite margarita drinking which, let’s face it, makes even the most poorly rolled tamale taste like a dream!

Squash and Sweetcorn Tamales

I recommend serving these with mole poblano sauce, but you could also do any kind of salsa, red or green, or a creamy verde sauce.

Makes about 10 tamales.

Ingredients

  • 20 large fresh or dried sweetcorn husks

For the masa

  • 200g masa harina
  • 50g butter, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50mls milk
  • 100mls vegetable stock

For the filling

  • 100g queso fresco, goats cheese, feta or other cheese of choice
  • 1 small butternut squash (or another variety if available)
  • corn kernels from 1 ear of corn
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 chopped fresh red chilli
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole with the skin on
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • Chopped coriander
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Roast the squash and red peppers in a hot oven (180/gas mark 7) with the garlic, chilli, thyme, and olive oil until it is soft-this should take 30-40 minutes. When cooked remove the garlic from its skin and pound in a pestle and mortar and then stir back through the squash. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir through some chopped coriander and lime juice. Add the corn and crumble in the cheese (or if using a very soft cheese like goats cheese, keep it separate until you are filling the tamales).
    Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano
  2. To prepare the sweet corn husks, if fresh, carefully peel the husks off the cobs and place in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 5minutes, drain and leave to cool. If using dried husks soak them in hot water for 30minutes. When they are soft rinse them under running water as you separate them. Lay them flat on a plate and keep them covered with a damp cloth.
  3. To prepare the masa, combine the masa harina with the salt and baking powder. Add the butter in chunks and crumble it through with your hands until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs (much like making scones).
  4. Add the milk and stock and mix with your hands until combined and you have a soft dough. Add a bit more milk until it becomes easily spreadable (slightly softer than the consistency of scone dough).
  5. To assemble a tamale, take on corn husk and place it on the table. Put a heaped spoonful of batter in one corner of the husk and spread it out into a long rectangle with two sides running along the edge of the husk (see picture below).
    Roast Butternut Tamales with Mole Poblano
  6. Take a spoonful of the filling and spread it out down the middle of the masa. Roll the tamale as you would a burrito, starting with the end where the masa is flush with the side of the corn husk, rolling over so that the edges of the masa meet, folding up the bottom corner of the tamale, and then finishing the roll.
  7. Steam the tamales in a vegetables steamer. Cover the bottom of the steamer with some left over husks, place the tamales standing upright and fill the spaces between them with wads of silver foil. Cover the top with a lid or cover with silver foil. Steam for 45- 60 minutes. You can tell when they are done because the masa will be soft and sponge like.
  8. Serve them as soon as possible, before the masa becomes stodgy.

Ceviche Revelation

Corn and Avocado Ceviche

I think I’ve discovered my new favourite thing to do with pollock: turn it into ceviche.

Pollock is all the rage at the moment as a sustainable alternative to cod. I got into pollock thanks to Rosalind Rathouse at Cookery School who uses it to make beautiful fish cakes and goujons (fish fingers for grown-ups). Her Fish and Shellfish class futher taught me how amazing poached pollack works with black butter sauce (but what wouldn’t be good with black butter sauce?).

Pollock is relatively inexpensive compared to most fish, but also, relatively flavourless. This makes pollock a good candidate for high flavour preparations like curries, fish tacos and, as I discovered this week, ceviche.

Ceviche is interesting – it’s an ancient method of preparing fish originating from South America where the fish gets diced and “cooked” by letting it marinate in citrus juice or other acidic liquid. Although no heat is applied, the fish obtains the colour and texture of cooked fish thanks to the interaction of acid in the citrus and protein in fish. To quote McGee, “the high acidity denatures and coagulates the proteins in the muscle tissue, so that the gel-like translucent tissue becomes opague and firm: but more delicately than it does when heated.”

Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for smoked corn and avocado ceviche using sea bass, one of my most favourite fish but also one I reserve for “special occasions”. Wild sea bass (the good stuff), is expensive, and when I have it, I like to cook it simply so I can really enjoy the flavour of the fish, not hide it in lime juice and spices.

Instead, I made his ceviche recipe with pollock, and I think it’s up there with one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever made. I served the ceviche on a crispy corn tortilla (which I achieved by heating a corn tortilla on an oiled frying pan until it was browned on both sides), with a dollop of fresh wasabi I recently acquired from The Wasabi Company. Total win.

Corn and Avocado Ceviche

Recipe: Smoked corn and avocado ceviche [guardian.co.uk]