I topped three scoops of Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream with several spoonfuls of my dehydrated corn from a few weeks ago. The combination was a delight, with a flavour perhaps best described as ‘beery’ – malty, nutty, caramel-sweet, and grainy with a subtle savoriness. The corn contributed a resounding crunch along with a lovely, mellow, kettle corn-like flavor.
I made today’s affront to Italian cookery canned corn delicacy with two requirements in mind: I wanted something fast, and I wanted something with minimal washing up. Deliciousness wasn’t a priority, although I just about acheived that as well.
I fried chopped bacon in a little oil until it was foxy brown and crunchy. I removed the bacon to drain and then added the corn, which I browned in the bacon fat. When it was golden I removed the corn and drained the fat, and filled up the pan with water. I brought it to the boil and used it to cook spaghetti, with the residual bacon grease stepping in for the usual olive oil in the cooking water. When it was al dente I added lots of pesto from a jar and tossed it through the pasta, along with the bacon bits and corn. I served it with shavings of Parmesan. It was reasonably tasty, but then again, it is hard to go wrong with pesto and bacon.
I fondly recall a dish from when I was growing up called ‘tuna casserole’ and had a craving for it tonight. So I checked for a recipe in Anderson Family Recipes, a compendium of family recipes my mom made for my brother and I back in 2003. It is one of my most used cookbooks, with many indispensible recipes, but alas, it actually doesn’t contain a recipe for tuna casserole. It does contain a recipe for something called ‘tuna stroganoff,’ a dish ‘from the lean years,’ in my mother’s words, but without any sour cream on hand, I decided to just proceed with the casserole based on memory.
I sauteed some onion and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. I then added chopped greens and black olives along with a can each of corn and tuna, including their brines. When the greens were tender, I stirred in a couple spoonfuls of Philadelphia and seasoned everything with low-sodium* Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. I mixed in cooked fusilli, topped everything with panko and a little Parmesan cheese, and baked everything in a very hot oven until the topping was lightly browned and crunchy. I dished up and garnished each serving with a chopped fresh parsley.
The casserole was creamy and comforting, but not too heavy – I didn’t use much cream cheese, and I think the original recipe calls for bechamel-esque condensed cream of mushroom soup, which I omitted. The cheesy breadcrumb topping was delightfully crisp, the corn and black olives provided bursts of salty sweetness, and the tuna provided plenty of meaty umami to make the dish nice and satisfying. It wasn’t exactly just like Mom used to make, but it was close enough, and damn delicious.
* I bought the low-sodium version on my last trip back home because of the unusual alternative seasonings it contains: potassium chloride, monopotassium glutamate, and glutamic acid. The latter two are umami-producing compounds so I wanted to see if the Seasoned Salt was noticeably more umami – and it is. Highly recommended.
Feeling a little under the weather today, so chicken noodle soup was on the cards. But there was a snag: no chicken in the house, and I was too lazy to go get some. Luckily, corn was there to step in and save the day.
I fried some onion, jalapeño, and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, then deglazed the pan with pink Lillet and bergamot juice. I then added the corn and its juice along with some thyme, sanshō, and white pepper. I added water, Chinese chicken stock powder, Old Bay, and a splash of soy sauce to make a light broth. When it came to the boil I added whole wheat penne and cooked it until it was slightly past al dente (which I sort of prefer in soothing comfort foods like this one).
I finished the soup with another squeeze of bergamot juice for a touch of freshness. It was just what the doctor ordered – sweet with onions and corn, warming with jalapeño, slick with olive oil, and hearty with pasta. The bergamot’s lemongrassy, citronella-ish floral tang felt clean and revitalising. Overall, it was most satisfactory. I did not miss the chicken.
Not many people know that I am a big fan of hummus with stuff on top of it, a culinary art form at which the Lebanese in particular excel. So when I saw a tub of hummus in the fridge at home, inspiration struck. I spooned some of the hummus into a shallow dish and formed a well in the centre. I then mixed the corn with diced cucumber, olive oil, and white wine vinegar, and piled this mixture atop the hummus. I garnished it with more olive oil and a few generous shakes of smoked paprika. It was surprisingly lovely; the corn’s sweetness and pop made a great foil for the bland, beany hummus. It was light yet satisfying. However, it felt a little incomplete; next time I’ll add fresh herbs and perhaps pine nuts to really make it sing.
Today’s corn dish is certainly a step up from yesterday’s – which, I must divulge (purely as a warning) made me quite flatulent in the morning. Another day in the kitchen meant something quick and energising using odds and ends from around the kitchen was the aim, and I’m happy to say this succeeded on all fronts.
The corn was cooked with a little of its own juice and gochujang, the fermented Korean chilli paste of which I am a great advocate. When everything was hot I stirred in some cubed smoked tofu to warm through, and I topped it off with some of my own furikake, a rice seasoning in this case made from toasted panko, white and black sesame seeds, nori flakes, sea salt, and a bit of sugar.
The dish was filling and full of big flavors. The gochujang provided a bit hit of heat along with its characteristic miso-esque sweet umami tang. The smoked tofu added a lovely, mellow, soothing note to counteract the chillies, and the furikake brought a nice crunch punctuated with a rich, nutty flavor. It was exactly the kind of fuel I needed, and it was even sort of healthy. A gold star for me.