Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: What to Do with an Ear of Corn

This is an approximation of a salad I’ve just eaten for lunch. (I’m currently in California, for work, since you wondered.) My salad was served with GREEN chickpeas, something I’d never encountered hitherto.
The corn in the California salad was roasted; if you are able to do this it will add depth to the flavour. See the instructions below.

The Border Grill’s Mexican Chopped Salad
Serves 4

Dressing Ingredients
4 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin (ideally, roast your cumin seeds in a dry pan and then grind them)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped roughly, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Salad Ingredients
2 ears of corn (or use 1 cup frozen corn, thawed)
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 romaine or 2 little gem lettuces, shredded
1 crisp apple, diced
½ cup cooked chickpeas or black beans
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Guacamole, to serve (optional)
Tortilla or plantain chips, to serve (optional)

Make the dressing: combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously. Taste and see if you’d like more lemon, etc. Adjust as necessary.

IF you are able to roast the corn, follow the instructions below. Otherwise, shuck the corn and remove the stringy silk. Cut off the kernels: hold the ear vertically on its end and use a knife to cut the kernels off each cob. (Of course, if you’re using frozen corn this is unnecessary.) Place the kernels in a medium bowl with the diced red onion and cover with the dressing. Leave for 10 minutes, or longer.

When you’re ready to serve combine the corn and onion mixture with the other ingredients, toss well and serve, garnished, if you wish, with a dollop of guacamole and tortilla or plantain chips.

To Roast the Corn: Carefully peel back the husks from the corn, and remove the corn silks, leaving the husks attached. Wrap the husks back around each ear of corn. Soak the corn in a large bowl or sink of cold water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat your grill to high.

Drain the corn well and place each husk-enclosed ear on the hot grill. Cook for about 12 minutes, turning frequently. Remove each cob from the grill and set aside to cool slightly. Then follow the instructions above to remove the kernels.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: The Best Chicken Soup

Colombian ajiaco is a miracle of soups.  It’s luxurious, convivial and fresh.  The basic idea is this: a bowl of rich chicken broth with lots of potatoes and chunks of sweetcorn, personalised with sliced avocado, capers, a tomato-coriander salsa and cream, followed by another bowl, or two.  Do try it.

A Sort of Ajiaco
Proper aijaco requires some ingredients we lack, so this is a Leamington approximation.  I think it’s delicious but apologies to all Colombians.

the stock
1 whole chicken, or chicken pieces, of about 1.6 kilos in weight, but you needn’t be precise.
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 litres of water
1 tablespoon salt
6 whole peppercorns

the additional soup ingredients
4 potatoes, cut into chunks — the Canalside potatoes we’re currently getting are ideal as they are the mealy variety that disintigrate when you boil them. That’s what you want here.
3 potatoes, cut into thinnish slices—ideally, use waxy  potatoes of the sort that will not disintegrate when you boil them.  Real ajiaco uses different varieties of potato but even if you use only one the result will be delicious.
200g runner beans, sliced in to 1-inch chunks
2-3 ears sweetcorn, shucked (i.e. husk and silk removed) and cut into 3 chunks

the delightful extras
2 avocados, cut into slices
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup double cream (I suppose you could use single cream)

tomato-coriander salsa
4 tomatoes, chopped into small cubes
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped fine
1 green or red chilli
salt to taste

Put the soup ingredients into a large pot for which you have a lid.  Cover and bring to the boil. Once it begins boiling turn the heat down so that it simmers gently. Cook for 75 minutes.Meanwhile prepare the other components.  Put the avocadoes and capers in two attractive little dishes and place the cream in a jug. Then prepare the salsa: put the tomato, onion and coriander into a little serving bowl and mix.  Cut off the end of the chilli and the slice it in half.  If you don’t want the salsa to be too hot remove the seeds, and then mince the chilli into tiny bits.  Mix it into the salsa and add salt to taste.  Let it mellow while you finish the soup.

After the soup has been cooking for about an hour and a quarter the chicken should be tender and the broth rich and flavourful.  If for any reason the chicken still seems a bit rubbery or under-cooked, let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Fish out the chicken and let it cool a little.  Once you’re able to handle it, remove the meat from the bones, and, if you like, shred it a bit into bite-sized pieces.  Return the meat to the pot and bring the soup back to the boil.

Add the chunks of potato and cook for 20 minutes. The potato should disintegrate.  If chunks still remain give the whole thing a little mash with a potato masher to encourage them to break apart.

Add the sliced potatoes and runner beans nd cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are tender.

Add the chunks of corn and cook for 5 final minutes.  Check to see if it needs more salt or pepper.

To serve: bring the soup to the table and give each diner a bowl brimming with chicken, sliced potatoes and runner beans, topped by a piece of corn on the cob.  Pass around the little bowls of avocado, capers, and the salsa, and the jug of cream.  Each diner can adorn their bowl with whatever they fancy.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Black Noodles with (or without) Prawns

This, like all the Thomasina Miers recipes I’ve tried, is easy and, as she’d say, utterly yum. I’ve never used the prawns but since the original recipe calls for them I thought I’d include them. You choose. You can get black rice noodles at Gaia. This makes a fresh, quick, mid-week dinner.

Black Noodles with (or without) Prawns
Serves four

2 ears of corn
1-2 dried chillies
200g French beans, topped, tailed and cut in half
250g black rice noodles
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 handful peanuts (if you’re not using the prawns increase this to a very big handful)
450g prawns (optional)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

‘Shuck’ the corn: peel off the leaves and remove the corn silk—the delicate threads that surround the cob. By the way, it’s best not to shuck corn until you’re ready to use it. The kernels dry out quickly. Cut the kernels off each cob. Do this by standing the cob upright, on its end, on a board or in a wide bowl and slicing down along the length of the cob.

Chop the chillies. Remove the seeds unless you’d like the dish to be very hot.

Steam the beans for four minutes, until tender but still with a little crunch. Lift them out, set them aside, and then use the steaming water, topped up if needed, to cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain them, rinse in cold water, toss with 1 teaspoon of oil so they don’t stick to themselves, and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a wide pan over high heat, and stir-fry the onions, kernels of corn and chilli for a few minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper, add the garlic and peanuts, and stir-fry until the garlic starts to go translucent. Add the prawns (if using) and stir-fry for a few more minutes, until they turn pink and look a little caramelised around the edges. The corn should by now have also taken on some colour. Taste, add more chilli if you want more spice, and then add the fish sauce, lime juice, beans and noodles, and toss to heat through. Add more lime or fish sauce to taste, scatter over the mint and serve in deep, warmed bowls.

(Recipe adapted from Thomasina Miers, The Weekend Cook.)

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