Quick Summer Side Dish: Spicy Corn with Mustard Seeds

Fresh corn sauteed with chiles and mustard seeds
When did weekends become all about running around and less about sitting around? A few months ago, almost ten years after our first baby arrived and we’d parted ways with leisurely weekend mornings, we resubscribed to the Sunday New York Times. I like seeing the blue plastic bundle waiting for me on the front stoop – it gives the impression that I am a person who has time to read the newspaper.

I can’t say I’ve ever managed to read the whole paper; a half hour spent with the Book Review and the Arts and Leisure section on Sunday mornings seems to be my limit before I’m off and on with the day.

This past Sunday, my promise to grill ribs for dinner had to be postponed at the last minute, as I found myself at Home Depot shopping for home improvement projects right around dinner time. Time for Plan B! I made a quick dash to the store to buy some chicken to throw on the grill and fresh corn for 25 cents an ear.

I was inspired by this recipe which appears in the July issue of Sunset magazine. It’s from a new cookbook by Ruta Kahate called 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices.

It was delicious! I used just one chile pepper, and found it gently spicy. I also added some lime juice for a little extra flavor. This is a 5-minute recipe, especially if you use frozen corn.

Slicing the kernels off the cob can get a little messy, though. I managed to splatter corn juice all over T and his Times crossword puzzle.

Spicy Corn with Mustard Seeds
makes 4 servings
6 to 8 ears corn (or use 4 cups thawed frozen corn)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 or 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1 -2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, to taste1. Slice kernels off corn, if using fresh.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds, and cover. When seeds stop popping, lower heat to medium and add chiles; stir 30 seconds.

3. Stir in turmeric. Add corn and salt to taste. Toss, turn heat to low, cover, and cook until corn is tender, about 5 minutes (cook frozen corn about 1 minute). Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Serve warm.

Ruta Kahate, Sunset, JULY 2007 5 Spices, 50 Dishees

Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

Roasted Asparagus with Arugula and Shallot Vinaigrette

Asparagus: It’s What’s for Dinner

Last week, I had the great opportunity to meet the celebrated food writer Patricia Wells at a private event sponsored by the St. Louis Culinary Society. She was in town promoting her new cookbook, Vegetable Harvest. She talked about her experience writing, testing and photographing all the recipes for the book and her absolute reverence for pure, fresh food came through bright and clear. How many people notice the “beautiful purple striations” in a shallot? I like her even more.

I’ve always been a fan of her simple, rustic cooking. I wore out my copy of Bistro Cooking when I was first teaching myself to cook, and still make a variation of her Sautéed Chicken with Shallots. My other favorites are the five flavored (chocolate, honey, lemon, pistachio and hazelnut) madeleine recipes in her book, Simply French. Luckily, these were two titles I didn’t lose in the flood.

And who could help envying her lifestyle? She lives in Provence in an old restored farmhouse, surrounded by olive trees, vineyards and lush vegetable gardens. No wonder this book inspires me! The recipes are all uncomplicated and full of the Mediterranean flavors I crave.

I went straight home and made this recipe from the book – just add a serving of grilled chicken or salmon and some crusty bread. Call it dinner.

Roasted Asparagus with Arugula and Shallot Vinaigrette

Adapted from Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells
Four servings

1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed
Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Coarse sea salt
6 cups prewashed baby arugula
2 finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (use a vegetable peeler)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss asparagus on a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the shallot vinaigrette and season with salt. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons water over asparagus.
Roast asparagus until slightly brown at the tips and slightly firm, about 12 minutes.
Toss arugula and green onions in a large bowl with remaining vinaigrette. Arrange on a serving platter and top with asparagus. Scatter the cheese over the top.

Shallot Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Pinch salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Cover and shake until creamy and emulsified.
Can be refrigerated up to one day ahead.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food