Pearfect!

pears with candied nuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Laura Pensiero, RD

With almost 3,000 varieties of pears to consider, we’re going to stay focused on the most popular and truly homegrown. The most common varieties found at our local farmers’ markets include Aurora, Anjou, Comice, Seckel, Highland, Asian, Bartlett, Red Bartlett, and Bosc.

Montgomery Place Orchards harvests an unimaginable variety of both apples and pears. While you won’t find their fruit at local farmers’ markets, a trip to their own stunning farmstand at the corner of Routes 199 and 9-G in Red Hook will have you leaving with more than a bag of dazzling pears.

Through thousands of years, pears have been grafted, cherished, and celebrated as “gifts from God,” “butter fruit,” and symbols of immortality. Today Washington and Oregon are the leading pear growing states, but the Hudson Valley makes a healthy contribution to establishing the U.S. as the leading pear producer worldwide. The two varieties that best resist insects, mites, and fungus in our area are Bosc and Bartlett.

Pears at their best are crisp, juicy, floral, and seductive. Some fruit tell you exactly when they’re ready to detach from their mother plant. Pears are a perfect example—an easy tug, they’re ripe and ready; a lot of twisting and wrestling, better wait a few more days or even a week.

Once off the tree, look for fruit that is not rock hard but where a gentle squeeze provides a little spring back, especially at the top neck. With so many varieties of different shapes and colors, a good rule of thumb is to look for a slight lightening from its original hue as a sign of ripeness. Imperfections

should not be seen as signaling poor quality. Orchard fruits, especially when organically grown, show dings, dents, and blemishes from weather, bug bites, and other uncontrollable forces. Think of these scars and scrapes as signs of character, and just work around them.

Pears have so many baking and culinary uses. Their sweet flesh is an extraordinary addition to salads with slightly bitter greens like arugula, spinach, and mizuna and salty cheeses such as blue, gorgonzola, feta, goat cheese, or Manchego. Toss in some toasted nuts, and even some tart cranberries or pomegranate seeds, and you’re talking a fall salad. The most popular Skizza™ (thin crusted pizza) at my restaurant is the Bianca – house made fig jam, Coach Farm goat cheese, shaved pears, Sky Farm arugula and a drizzle of house-infused truffle oil. The paper thin pear slices makes the pie, and I’d have plenty of people to reckon with if I ever took the Bianca off the menu.

Aside from salads and the obvious tarts, galettes, quick breads, and cakes, pears can lend seductive elegance to cocktails and especially sauces. A reduction of a deep stock, aged balsamic vinegar, chopped pears, and perhaps a smidge of ginger can make your roasted holiday duck a whole new experience.

Some tips for cooking and interpreting amounts in recipes:

2 medium pears = approximately 1 cup sliced pears.
4 medium pears = approximately 1 cup pureed pear.
3 medium pears = approximately 1 pound of pears

Nutritional notes: With their skin on, which is perfectly edible, pears rank among the highest fiber fruits. It’s also the type of fiber that helps attract water, which slows digestion.  This helps delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, potentially helping control diabetes. Soluble fiber can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Pears, like apples, also contain a whole spectrum of flavonoids, a large grouping of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.

Laura Pensiero, a registered dietician, is founder and creative force behind Gigi Hudson Valley, which operates the award-winning Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck and a catering business. She is author of Hudson Valley Mediterranean cookbook.

Roasted Pears with Candied Spiced Nuts

 This is an easy “in season” dessert for entertaining or for every day. If you don’t have time to candy nuts, they can easily be purchased at most supermarkets, and most certainly at the wonderful Adam’s Marketplace (locations throughout the Hudson Valley).

Makes 4 servings

¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
4 firm but ripe pears, halved and cored, skin on
¼ cup packed cup light brown sugar
¼ cup local pure maple syrup (Fitting Creek Farm in Ghent, or Crown Maple in Dover Plains are noteworthy local producers)
4 cinnamon sticks, halved
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup Candied Spiced Nuts (recipe below)
Ice cream (vanilla or hazelnut) or whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, melt the butter then add both the brown sugar and maple syrup. Add the cinnamon sticks and allspice, and stir to blend. Transfer the butter mixture to a roasting pan just large enough to fit pear halves in one layer. Place the pear halves face down in the pan, shaking a bit to coat flesh side with butter/maple/brown sugar/spice mixture.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until pears are tender.  Using tongs, flip pears so that they are cut side up and spoon pan sauce over them.  Return to oven about 5 more minutes, or until they are golden and bubbling.  Remove, let cool slightly, top with candied nuts and a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.

 Candied Spiced Nuts

I love these crunchy, slightly sweet and spicy nuts sprinkled over salads, enlivening cheese plates, and topping sweet orchard fruit desserts. Extras can be enjoyed on antipasti plates or with an evening cocktail.

Makes 4½ cups (18 servings)

1 egg white
½ pound shelled walnut halves
½ pound shelled almonds
½ cup sugar (preferably superfine)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon allspice
Pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 250˚F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white and 1 tablespoon water until frothy. Add nuts and stir to coat them completely. Transfer nuts to a strainer or sieve and allow to drain for about 5 minutes.

Combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt, coriander, and cayenne in a large plastic bag and shake vigorously to blend. Add half the nuts to the bag and shake to coat thoroughly. Remove and place nuts on a large baking pan. Repeat with the remaining nuts and add to pan. Shake pan to distribute nuts evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, then gently stir, smoothing them back into a single layer. Lower oven temperature to 200˚F and bake until nuts are caramelized and crisp, about 45 minutes. Midway through baking, rotate pan to ensure even browning.

Allow nuts to cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from Hudson Valley Mediterranean: The Gigi Good Food Cookbook (HarperCollins/Pensiero 2009)

Kohlrabi Remoulade

About Kohlrabi…
Mentioning Kohlrabi typically doesn’t often light up people’s faces, but this highly underated vegetable is enjoyed in dishes around globe. It also grows exceptionally well here in the Hudson Valley.  The literal translation means “cabbage turnip” in Germany and “ugly root” in Africa. It’s flavor is anything but “ugly” offering a blend of all the wonderful flavor profiles of its cruciferous vegetable family ( broccoli, turnip, cabbage, brussels sprouts, rutagaba), and it has all of the protective phytochemicals and antioxidants they share.

So what to do with this “alien” root?

Immediately get to the tender and delicous flesh under that tough protective exterior. There is a chewy fiberours layer under the hard outer skin, so be sure to peel thoroughly down to the crisp and moist flesh. Use a paring knife to trim ends, and then work down the hard outer body to delious edible portion using a vegetable peeler.

1) Raw: Using a madoline, sharp knife, or cheese grater, slice it very thinly or shred it and eat it raw. Enjoy it on a crudite plate with a dip or use it as you would cabbage by preparing a slaw.

2) Puree: Chop, boil and and puree it then enjoy with some olive oil or butter and seasoning. Pureed kohlrabi also blends with mashed potatoes, mashed root vegetables (kohlrabi and carrots is a personal favorite).

3) Roast: Chop or slice into “fries”, toss with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and peper, and then oven roast until caramelized and tender.

4) Add to soups, stews and braises:  Kohlrabi adds flavor and nutrients to any/all cold weather cooking. Chop it and add it to your favorite bubbling winter meal. Its flavor holds up well to intense seasoning, and it’s particulary good in curries or other full flavored dishes.

5) Gratins and “pies”and quiches: Slice thinly and layer into gratins or grate then saute (with or without other vegetables) to fill pies and quiches.

Here’s one of my favorite preparations, a rift on the classic celeriac remoulade, which is a perfect winter salad:

Kohlrabi Remoulade

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 medium, kohlrabi (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to season
3 tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise*
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt preserved capers, rinsed
Pinch cayenne pepper
Finely shredded parsley to garnish

Directions

Working quickly, trim the ends from the kohlrabi and peel. Cut into halves and finely grate using a cheese grater or a food processor fitted with the shredding blade. Transfer to a medium bowl and immediately toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, and garlic; season with salt and cayenne. Fold the mixture into the bowl with the kohlrabi. Serve immediately or allow to sit, refrigerated, in a nonreactive airtight container, for 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Variations:

Add: shredded apples and/or cornichons

 

T.G.I.F. – Autumn Elixir

We continue our autumnal theme with this week’s T.G.I.F. cocktail choice. The Autumn Elixir, as we’re calling it, is just what the cocktail doctor ordered; refreshing, yet made with warming ingredients to help battle those chillier nights. Enjoy!

Autumn Elixir
1 Lime
1/2 oz. of honey
1 1/2 oz. of Hennessy (or other preferred cognac)
Splash of ginger ale

Slice a whole lime into 4 sections and place it in a shaker. Add  the honey and muddle these two ingredients together. Then add the Hennessy and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass over ice and top with ginger ale. Garnish with lime and enjoy!

 

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

*This recipe appeared in the November, 2012 issue of House Beautiful Magazine as part of an article entitled, “The New American Holiday Table.”

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Annandale Atomic Hard Cider

Normally we present you with a cocktail recipe each Friday to celebrate the weekend.  However, in honor of Cider Week (last weekend!), this week we present you with a little bit of info on Gigi’s favorite cider, Annadale Atomic Hard Cider from Montgomery Farms.  This semi-dry cider is served at Gigi Market by the jar or on draft at Gigi Trattoria.  It has 7% alcohol and is unfiltered and unsulfited.

At Montgomery Farms, they use about 60 varieties of antique and commercial apples for Annadale Cider.  All these apples are grown on the land that Jane Livingston Montgomery, the original owner, cultivated apples on over 200 years ago.  Annadale Atomic cider uses about 6 different varieties and is their signature cider.  Unfortunately it is sold out for the season.  Luckily Gigi Trattoria snagged one of the last kegs so you have to stop by to try it!

We are such fans of Montgomery Farms and their Atomic Cider that we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share it with all of you!  But we don’t want to leave you stranded this weekend without a great recipe.  So you will find our TGIF recipe below:

1 part Annadale Atomic Cider
1 part Gigi Trattoria or Gigi Market
1 part delicious food (try it with our Pollo!)
Mix together and enjoy!  🙂

Learn more about Montgomery Farms and their cider here.

And find out more about Cider week here.

 

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Cranberry Cobbler

We finally noticed this week  that all the leaves are turning color. It always seems to sneak up on us. We’re never sure if we weren’t paying attention or it really did happen overnight? All of the great and vibrant oranges and reds we’re seeing around us inspired our delicious cocktail this week, the cranberry cobbler. Perfect for a fall weekend!

Cranberry Cobbler

Place about a dozen cranberries in a shaker and muddle thoroughly with about a teaspoon of cane sugar. Then add:

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (we use Bulleit)
1 oz Carpana Antica sweet vermouth
1 oz blood orange juice

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into martini glass or enjoy on the rocks. Leave the cranberries in the drink for a festive look. Enjoy!

Wine Weekly – Côtes du Gascogne

One of the captivating things about Gigi Trattoria’s wine list is that it is forever changing. Last week we introduced a Primitivo from Italy.This week we take a trip to France to feature a Côtes du Gascogne.

Côtes du Gascogne is a wine growing district in Gascony, the South West region of France.  This region is best known as the Armagnac producing region or the Pays Basque.The climate of the Basque Region of France is influenced by not only the Mediterranean but the Atlantic as well. This results in a wet spring but generally a sunny rest of the year making for alluvial soil with some clay and sand. Mostly white wines, like the Côtes du Gascogne are produced here.

This 50% Colombard and 40% Uni Blanc is rounded out by 10% Gros Manseng. Colombard and Uni Blanc were traditionally used to make Cognac.Colombard had become less popular in France during the 1970’s but when Californians started using it, it came back into fashion. It has an off-dry characteristic that pairs nicely with the floral notes of the Gros Manseng and the high acidity of the Ugni Blanc or Trebbiano. This wine has notes of pineapple and a bit of a grassy undertone that pairs well with salads and lighter greens. We recommend trying it with the Mela salad.  The fruit of the wine brings out the sweetness of the Mead Orchard apples while the acidity compliments the fattiness of the bacon and creaminess of Ewe’s Blue Cheese dressing.

We have a limited supply of this treasure of Gascony so you must stop by Gigi Trattoria and try it soon!  For only $8 a glass or $28 this delicious white blend is sure to please.  If you come by on Wednesday, all our bottles of wine are 30% off!  If you happen to miss the Côtes du Gascogne at Gigi Trattoria you can also try it Gigi Market by the ½ Carafe!  Wherever you sip it, it will surely take you on a trip to France.

Maple Pumpkin Polenta

Yesterday, Gigi Hudson Valley participated in a great event in support of Olana, the historic estate just outside Hudson. The fundraiser was entitled “Eat for Art’s Sake.” Each participating Hudson Valley eatery who volunteered their services, created a dish to be sampled at the gala, inspired by one of Frederick Church’s paintings (the artist who also built Olana in 1870.)

Gigi’s owner, Laura Pensiero,  chose “Clouds Over Olana”.

Inspired by the painting, Gigi Hudson Valley presented a Vegetable Hash over Maple Pumpkin Polenta. While the dish was not a literal interpretation of the painting, it served as inspiration, and it allowed Gigi HV to take advantage of great local and seasonal ingredients! As Laura noted, “It’s a very colorful plate that went with the back drop of the setting and  looked like a fall day. What we were trying to do was grab the season and bring that into the food, which this painting seemed to represent best.  We used Hudson Valley ingredients: New York State maple syrup and polenta from Wild Hive Farm and Store, in Clinton Corners,  with pumpkin from Mead Orchards, in Tivoli, as well as carrots, turnips. squash, and celery.”

We thought we would share the recipe for the Maple Pumpkin Polenta, enjoy!

Maple Pumpkin Polenta

This is among the most popular side dishes during the fall and winter months at Gigi Trattoria. The addition of pumpkin and maple syrup adds a seasonal and a festive hue to polenta. We buy ground cornmeal from Wild Hive Farm in nearby Clinton Corners. Any coarse grain cornmeal can substitute. Enjoy the slightly sweet notes balanced by a little spice from cayenne pepper.

Serves 4

1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
1½ cups pumpkin puree (boiled,drained,and pureed or 100 percent natural canned pumpkin)
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon butter

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt and the olive oil, reduce the heat to simmer, and gradually whisk in the cornmeal, a small amount at a time, to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to low and cook the polenta, stirring often, until tender and it is pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and cayenne and cook another minute or two, then remove from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano and the butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm.

Nutrition: Polenta (cornmeal) is a whole grain. The pumpkin contributes enough beta-carotene to supply about 25 percent of your daily needs of vitamin A.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Gigi’s Apple Cider Margarita

Well it is officially fall, no turning back now. The temps are cooling, the leaves are starting to drop and the shorts are getting packed away ’til next year. But as we all know, fall in the Hudson Valley is a wonderful thing, with beautiful sites and delicious seasonal ingredients. Nothing says fall like apple cider!! Behold the delicious, festive, fall bonanza that is Gigi’s Apple Cider Margarita!

1 3/4 oz. Sauza Gold tequila
1 1/4 oz. Tuaca
1/2 oz. cinnamon apple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. apple cider (We use local cider from Migliorelli Farms)

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into rocks glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar over ice and enjoy.

Happy fall!

Gigi-Pure Mountain Fig Vinaigarette

If you haven’t stopped in to Rhinebeck’s hottest new store, check out Pure Mountain. They sell the most amazing naturally flavored 12-year old balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, made in the traditional style that makes them rich, subtle syrupy and delicious. We’re using them in our cocktails (yes!), sauces, soups and you’ll be seeing this lovely vinaigrette on some of our fall salad specials.

I developed this Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette as part of the tasty and healthy seasonal fall menu for Just Salad. It is light and delicious with a great depth of flavor.

Gigi-Pure Mountain Fig Vinaigrette

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoon Pure Mountain Dark Fig Balsamic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup canola, safflower oil blended oil oil (extra-virgin, while delicious, takes over the subtle fig flavor notes)
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard, lemon juice and salt. While whisking, slowly add the oil. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and add black pepper.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Watermelon Ginger Margarita

Well, it’s September; the kids are back in school, nights are cooler and the days have been more mild here in the Hudson Valley. But, it is still summer! We’re not quite ready to let it go, and scored some beautiful watermelons from Mead Orchards this week. In celebration of the last weeks of summer and the coming of fall, we’ve put together an absolutely delicious cocktail that celebrates both. The fresh watermelon juice is great even on it’s own, but we’ve added some warmth with a house made ginger simple syrup and assembled an unconventional margarita that won rave reviews at the Trattoria over the week. In fact, the term “luscious” was used. 🙂 People loved it so much, we will have it available for you again this weekend, so stop in and enjoy one!

Watermelon Ginger Margarita
2 oz. Fresh Watermelon Juice (we made ours with a centrifugal juicer, but you can also use a muddle and strain method)
1 oz. Ginger Simple Syrup*
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
2 oz. Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
While we made our Ginger Simple Syrup with Sugar in the Raw to add extra depth, you can opt to use regular granular sugar or the following:
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Cups Granular Sugar
3 Cups Water
2 Cups peeled, sliced fresh ginger
Add all ingredients to pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a low boil and let cook for 25-30 minutes. The syrup should be sweet and spicy. This will make more than you will need for one drink, but it can be used in many more recipes. If you would like to keep this in the fridge to use over a few weeks, in order to avoid spoilage, once the syrup has cooled add 1/4 cup clear alcohol (vodka works well as it is a neutral spirit.)

Watermelon-Fennel Salad

This is a great end of summer salad. It provides a refreshing contrast of flavors and textures – crunchy sweet watermelon and fennel; salty, creamy feta; and ever so slightly bitter greens. It is perfect with grilled or seared fish or chicken, or simply on its own as simple first course. Don’t be afraid to add or substitute. Experiment!

Makes 4 servings

2 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
¼  red onion,very thinly sliced
¼ fennel bulb,thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon diced jalapeno pepper
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to season
1 cup crumbled Farm feta
4 cups baby greens

In a mixing bowl, combine the watermelon, onion, fennel, mint, jalapeno, lime juice and zest and grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper and gently stir. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. When ready to serve, mound about 1 cup of baby greens on each plate; divide the watermelon-fennel salad over the greens. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the salad.

Serving suggestions: Serve the watermelon-feta mixture chilled on its own or over baby greens.

Variations:

* Mix it up using a combination of yellow and red watermelon.
* Substitute any young soft cheese, such as goat cheese, for the feta.

Nutrition: Watermelon gets its vibrant color from lycopene, the same potent antioxidant found in tomatoes. It is also a good source of vitamins A and C and potassium.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Strawberry Lemonade

As we near the end of August, we embrace the most classic of summer refreshers, fresh squeezed lemonade. Though it sounds so simple, very few take the time to make it the right way with the perfect proportions of lemon juice, cane sugar and spring water. To those celebrating the close of the summer, we will have fresh squeezed lemonade cocktails available all weekend long at Gigi Trattoria. You won’t believe how delicious they are! Here is one of the cocktails we are featuring, strawberry lemonade, though we’ve got a few other suggestions for you; fresh blueberry lemonade, pink lemonade, or the regular old fashioned kind. Be creative! 🙂

Strawberry Lemonade

1 1/2 ounces House Infused Strawberry Vodka
1 Ounce Strawberry Puree
1 Ounce Lemon Juice 
1/2 Ounce Simple Syrup

Comine all ingredients in shaker and fill with ice. Shake very vigorously (you need some of that water from the ice to make the “lemonade” part!) Pour into a sugar rimmed martini glass and enjoy. Delicious!

Gigi Tomato Jam

Tis the season for making full use tomatoes! It seems to go from drought to flood overnight when they start turning red in the garden. This simple recipe helps you enjoy their sunny flavor throughout the fall and long winter. Try it on crostini with a shaving of Parmesan or a small dollop of goat cheese, smear on your favorite toasted bread or use as condiment for slow roasted braised dish – many of you have enjoyed it complementing our succulent lamb shanks during the fall and winter at Gigi Trattoria.

Photo by Evan Sung for NYT

 Makes approximately 1 ½ -2 cups

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ Vidalia onion, diced
1.5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
.5 cup sugar
1 pinch of saffron
1cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it softens and becomes fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then pour into hot, sterilized 8 ounce jam jars, screw the lids on and turn the jars upside down to cool completely.

Farm Fresh Hudson Red Creamed Corn

I had the honor and priviledge last week of participating in House Beautiful’s 2012 Kitchen of the Year event in New York City, where I was invited to do a cooking demo. Wanting to focus on local ingredients, I decided to make a farm fresh Hudson Red Creamed Corn.

At Gigi Hudson Valley, we buy as much of the local corn harvest that Chuck Mead and Ken Migliorelli will sell to make this creamy Italian take on an American favorite. At Gigi Trattoria, it’s served in individual cast-iron crocks, arriving to the table bubbly brown and deliciously fragrant.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

6 ears fresh corn (about 4 to 5 cups kernels)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium Poblano pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
2 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar (optional—taste a kernel of corn to see if it’s needed)
1 tablespoon flour blended with 2 tablespoons water
1 1/3 cups Ronnybrook Farm milk or half-and-half
4 ounces Hudson Red cheese, in small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Laura at the House Beautiful 2012 Kitchen of the Year event

Cut the kernels from the corncobs, then scrape the cobs with a sharp knife to get all the milk and pulp; reserve the kernels separately from the milk and pulp. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 3 or 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, stir in the kernels, parsley, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing or stirring often, until the kernels are cooked and lightly brown, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved pulp, the milk, and the white wine and sugar (if using) and cook until liquid has almost completely evaporated. Stir in the flour-water mixture, then whisk in the milk or half-and-half. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and stir in the herbs. Remove from the heat and stir in the Hudson Red cheese and chives. Serve immediately, or transfer to oven-safe crocks or ramekins, sprinkle the tops with the Parmesan, and broil under high heat until top is bubbly and browned.

Variations:

  • Substitute your favorite cheese (goat, grated manchego, taleggio or even cheddar) for the Hudson Red.
  • Spice it up with some diced jalapeno instead of smoky Poblano pepper. Add them when you sauté the corn kernels.
  • Cream it up: by pureeing 1/3 of the corn mixture in a food processor or blender and adding it back to the mix.

Leftovers: Before adding the breadcrumb topping, this dish reheats well.

Nutrition: Use milk instead of half-and-half to lower the fat. You can replace the Hudson Red cheese with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan to lend big flavor with fewer calories. Corn is rich in vitamins A and C and lutein, a potent antioxidant.

Enjoy!

-Laura

*This dish has been adapted from Hudson Valley Mediterranean.