Saturday, June 28, 2014

Corn Cakes with Cilantro Lime Cream

Oh the joys of the sweet summer produce!  The stores are full of sweet corn right now..... the ears are fat and juicy and seemingly ready to burst.  That also means that this is when they are inexpensive and abundant - which is fabulous news for consumers looking for a great deal.  My daughter loves helping me pick out the ears of corn and is always up for a new recipe involving one of her favorite vegetables.  I actually found this recipe in a Diabetic Living magazine.  It looked so good I knew I must try it, so I brought the magazine home and adapted it a just bit to suit my tastes.

You gotta love a recipe where you can just dump everything together, pan fry it for a few minutes, and have something this lovely come out of it...right?  I think I need an "amen" here!  And even if I can't hear you over the computer, Lily proclaimed "these are amazing!"  So I'll take that any day of the week.  :)

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Ingredients for corn cakes:
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet bell peppers (mixed colors)
  • canola oil for pan frying
Ingredients for cilantro lime cream:
  • 3/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt 
  • 4 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Step-by-Step:
I will begin by making the cilantro lime cream first.  That way, the flavors will have time to marry together.  Also, when these babies are done... I want to be able to eat them hot... and not have to wait on making the dip.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients and set aside.  That's it.  Adjust the seasoning to your liking if you insist on making it more complicated.  :)

3/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt + 4 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice.  *You could also use sour cream if you don't have Greek yogurt available.

2 tsp milk + 2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion

3/4 cup fresh cilantro + 1/2 tsp black pepper

Here's our dip!  

Okay, lets move on to the corn cakes.  The thing to do here is to get all your ingredients prepped first.  After that, all there is to do is dump it all together.  So chop, dice, measure, and grate before you get going, and this will be a piece of cake.
2 cups fresh corn (about 2 nice ears of corn should do it)
In a large bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, cornmeal, and salt.  Then whisk in the milk, eggs and egg whites until combined.  Not only will all these eggs hold our corn cakes together, but we are upping the protein content tremendously (and the two extra egg whites have zero fat)!

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs + 1/2 cup corn meal

1/2 tsp table salt + 1/4 cup milk

2 whole eggs, lightly beaten + 2 egg whites lightly beaten

Whisk together.
Stir in the grated carrot, sweet peppers, black pepper, and corn niblets that you have cut off of the cob.  If you don't have fresh corn available, perhaps you could try frozen, but I don't think I would recommend the canned version.  If you were feeling a bit adventurous, and were making these just for adults, I think some chopped, fire roasted jalapenos would be a phenomenal additional to this recipe!

1/2 cup grated carrot  + 1/2 cup chopped sweet bell peppers (mixed colors)

 2 cups fresh corn niblets, cut from the cob (obviously, ha ha).
1/2 tsp black pepper


canola oil for pan frying
Let's cook!

Add a tablespoon or so of canola oil in the bottom of a heavy pan.  Today I chose a 14" cast enamel pan.

I think this would work well in a nonstick pan, or a black iron skillet, also. 

Once the oil gets hot, portion out about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan over medium high heat, into individual portions.

Cook about 6 minutes, flipping them only once.  Then repeat with the remaining batter, adding more canola oil as needed.  


You may want to turn the heat down to more of a medium once the pan really heats up.  You know your pan/stove combination best. 
 
Serve with the cilantro lime cream on the side.  But of course, if you don't care for cilantro or something like that, feel free to substitute something else!  It's your dish - knock it out of the park!!  :)

Food Nerd Notes:  A reader has pointed out to me that these are a variation of Indonesian corn cakes called Perkedel Jagung, which just happens to be one of the most popular foods in Indonesia.  How cool is that?!  It's apparently one of those things where every Indonesian family has a slightly different recipe, with various theories on how to make them. Some people add spring onions, while others add kaffir lime leaves. Some add peeled shrimp, while some, like this one, just skip it for the vegetarian version. 

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order your copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook! 
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Homage to Alice Springs Chicken

Sesame Shrimp and Asparagus Stir Fry

Bananas Foster Cake


Easy Beefy Enchiladas

Buffalo Chicken Dip


New Orleans Praline Brownies

 
Written Method:

Begin by making the cilantro lime cream first.  That way, the flavors will have time to marry together.  Also, when the corn cakes are done, you won't have to wait on making the dip.  In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients and set aside.  That's it.  Adjust the seasoning to your liking.  

Okay, lets move on to the corn cakes.  The thing to do here is to get all your ingredients prepped first.  After that, all there is to do is dump it all together.  So chop, dice, measure, and grate before you get going.

In a large bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, cornmeal, and salt.  Then whisk in the milk, eggs and egg whites until combined.  Not only will all these eggs hold our corn cakes together, but we are upping the protein content tremendously (and the two extra egg whites have zero fat)!

Stir in the grated carrot, sweet peppers, black pepper, and corn niblets that you have cut off of the cob. 

Add a tablespoon or so of canola oil in the bottom of a heavy pan.  Once the oil gets hot, portion out about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan over medium high heat, into individual portions.  Cook about 6 minutes, flipping them only once.  Then repeat with the remaining batter, adding more canola oil as needed.  You may want to turn the heat down to more of a medium once the pan really heats up.  You know your pan/stove combination best. 
 
Serve with the cilantro lime cream on the side.  But of course, if you don't care for cilantro or something like that, feel free to substitute something else!  It's your dish - knock it out of the park!!  :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Super Easy Greek Style Homemade Yogurt

Okay, so I'll admit it.  I was one of those kids who used to laugh at Martha Stewart on TV for making her own crackers and such.  Now look at me making my own yogurt.  Can you see me shaking my head at myself?  But really, I'm gonna have to blame this one on my mom.  She's the one who gets the credit for teaching me how to do it when I went to spend the weekend with her some time back.  And when you see how crazy easy and cheap it is to make your own (not to mention not having all those preservatives and things you can't pronounce in there), you are going to flip out!  All you need is a bit of time and patience.

There are electric yogurt makers on the market, and you can get quite elaborate with this; but I purposefully went low-tech with the whole process so it would be accessible to everyone with common kitchen things.


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 (4 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
    • containing Live, Active Cultures
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
Toppings of you choice (not necessary for recipe)
    • such as fresh berries, fruit, granola
Sweeteners of your choice (not necessary for recipe)
    • such as agave, honey, etc.
Step-by-step:
Heat milk to 200 degrees F.  You can either do this in the microwave (probably 12-14 minutes or so), or on the stove top over a makeshift double boiler.   You'll want to have either a digital instant read  thermometer, or a candy thermometer handy for this process.   If you are adding the vanilla bean, you can do it now, while the milk is heating so that the seeds will perfume the milk.  If you happen to forget, you can add them afterwards.  No big deal.  That works, too.  But preferentially, add them before.   *You can use a lower percentage milk (like 2%), but the yogurt will not be as creamy.
half gallon of whole milk
Split the vanilla bean and add the seeds.  Scrape them out with a knife.   Add to the milk.
Checking my temp with my digital thermometer.  Couldn't find the darn candy thermometer anywhere!
Once the milk reaches 200 degrees, cool it down to 110 degrees in an ice bath.  Careful, this doesn't take very long.  You may want to stir it around several times as the milk closest to the edges (in contact with the cold water) will obviously cool down faster than the middle.
I really tried hard to catch that 110 photo for you, but wouldn't you know, the temp jumped from 111 to 109 right before my eyes, then it 107... which proves my point.  It happens FAST!  
As soon as you hit 110, remove the milk from the ice and gently whisk in the yogurt.  Don't over beat it.  Just get it all incorporated and leave it alone.  We want all those little live cultures to do their thing in this nice warm environment, similar to letting yeast rise when you are making bread.
1 (4 oz) container plain Greek yogurt containing active, live cultures.  Make sure it says that.
Now cover the bowl in plastic wrap, then wrap the whole thing up in a couple of big towels.  We need to create a warm little oven for our cultures to turn the whole bowl of milk into one ginormous thing of yogurt.  At this point, DO NOT DISTURB the bowl!!!!  Don't let anyone near it, don't bump it, anything!!!  Set it somewhere on the counter where you can just let it sit for about 5 - 7 hours. 
 
After the 5 - 7 hours, your yogurt will most likely be soft set - like the American style yogurt.  You can stop here if this is the style you prefer.  I prefer the thicker, creamier Greek style yogurt, however.  So I am going to take this another step now and strain the yogurt for several hours.

Line a colander with a large piece of old nylon or a man's old cotton t-shirt (the old ones that have undergone many washes seem to be thinner).
Oh come on... don't you have an old slip that you don't use any more?   ;)


Place the colander over a large bowl to collect the whey and strain the yogurt in the refrigerator for several hours until thick and creamy.  I've even left it up to 8 hours overnight.  If it gets too thick, you can always add a bit of the whey back in.    So you have a fail-safe.  :)
What we are staining out is the whey, leaving a yogurt that is thicker, creamier, and with a higher protein yield per equivalent volume.  But feel free to save the whey and add back to your smoothies if you wish, as it is high in vitamin and amino acid content!  
This is the whey collected after a night in the refrigerator. About 2 cups worth in my case!
Now, after straining overnight..... we have what you may recognize!  Creamy and beautiful with all those specks of vanilla beans in there.  Remember, that was completely optional. 
Also remember, we have added no additional sweeteners to this yogurt (although you may notice that there is a slight sweetness if you have added the vanilla bean seeds).  So you may choose to top them with any number of things..... granola, fruit, berries, honey, agave syrup, etc.....!  The beauty is that it is all natural and YOU get to choose!
Another option?  You could also use the plain yogurt as a savory application (like you do with sour cream on a baked potato with the addition of chopped dill, parsley, etc).  Of course for those, you may not want the vanilla.  Ha!

I recommend storing them in 4-6 oz jars or serving containers so your family can top their own. My personal favorite combination was blueberry/granola/agave.  But so hard to choose!  :)

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order a signed copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook! 
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Muffin Tin Drop Biscuits

One Pot Skillet Lasagna

BLT Buffalo Chicken Wrap

Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake

Mongolian Beef

Creole Red Snapper
Written Method:
Heat milk to 200 degrees F.  You can either do this in the microwave (probably 12-14 minutes or so), or on the stove top over a makeshift double boiler.   You'll want to have either a digital instant read  thermometer, or a candy thermometer handy for this process.   If you are adding the vanilla bean, you can do it now, while the milk is heating so that the seeds will perfume the milk.  I'm sorry, but I sort of forgot.  So I added mine after.  Oops....  That works, too.  But preferentially, add them before.

Once the milk reaches 200 degrees, cool it down to 110 degrees in an ice bath. 
Careful, this doesn't take very long.  You may want to stir it around several times as the milk closest to the edges (in contact with the cold water) will obviously cool down faster than the middle.

As soon as you hit 110, remove the milk from the ice and gently whisk in the yogurt.  Don't over beat it.  Just get it all incorporated and leave it alone.  We want all those little live cultures to do their thing in this nice warm environment, similar to letting yeast rise when you are making bread.

Now cover the bowl in plastic wrap, then wrap the whole thing up in a couple of big towels.  We need to create a warm little oven for our cultures to turn the whole bowl of milk into one ginormous thing of yogurt.  At this point, DO NOT DISTURB the bowl!!!!  Don't let anyone near it, don't bump it, anything!!!  Set it somewhere on the counter where you can just let it sit for about 5 - 7 hours. 

After the 5 - 7 hours, your yogurt will most likely be very soft set - like the American style yogurt.  You can stop here if this is the style you prefer.  I prefer the thicker, creamier Greek style yogurt, however.  So I am going to take this another step now and strain the yogurt for several hours.  

What we are staining out is the whey, leaving a yogurt that is thicker, creamier, and with a higher protein yield per equivalent volume.  But feel free to save the whey and add back to your smoothies if you wish, as it is high in vitamin and amino acid content!  

Line a colander with a large piece of old nylon or a man's old cotton t-shirt (the old ones that have undergone many washes seem to be thinner). Place the colander over a large bowl to collect the whey and strain the yogurt in the refrigerator for several hours until thick and creamy.  I've even left it up to 8 hours overnight.  If it gets too thick, you can always add a bit of the whey back in. 

Now remember, we have added no additional sweeteners to this yogurt (although you may notice that there is a slight sweetness if you have added the vanilla bean seeds).  So you may choose to top them with any number of things..... granola, fruit, berries, honey, agave syrup, etc.....!  The beauty is that it is all natural and YOU get to choose! 

I recommend storing them in 4-6 oz jars or serving containers so your family can top their own. 

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