Lemony Grilled Corn

With summer winding down, this really is a bittersweet time of year. Vacations are over, it is time to head back to work or school and jumpstart the routine. It is also a time when the fresh picked corn stands start sprouting along country roads, and magically appearing in my weekly CSA basket. For the freshest corn, all you need is a pot of boiling water to quickly blanch the corn, some perfectly creamy organic butter and sea salt (fleur de sel for a fun crunch is my favorite).

I still remember spending a weekend at a friend’s farm years ago (I think I was still a teenager then), a bunch of us peeling away the corn husks in the late afternoon sun, feeling a certain crispness developing in the air. Standing around the boiling pot sitting atop the campfire, we were just waiting for the first corn on the cobs to be lathered in butter for us to dig our teeth into the hot sweet kernels, butter running down ours chins. Now that is how you eat your first corn on the cob of the season!

And other times you try different things; that is how I came up with this simple recipe.

Lemony Grilled Corn Salad 

Simple flavours and ingredients can be the best of surprises sometimes. Take fresh sweet corn, fragrant lemon and olive oil, earthy parsley, a touch of salt and pepper – a combination that is not to be missed! 

  • 3 ears of corn
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil (or 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Bring up your grill to medium-high and cook the husked ears of corn until you get some colour on all sides, about 15 minutes on the grill. Finely chop your parsley, zest the lemon, and combine in a mixing bowl. 

Once the corn is grilled, coloured and cooked, remove the kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife and cutting along the base of the grains. Mix the kernels with the parsley and lemon zest. Add the juice of half the lemon, the olive oil (and butter is using), a pinch of salt and pepper. Combine well and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Makes 4-6 portions, great as a topping for soups, tacos, chilies, curries – such fresh flavours like these can be paired with almost anything.

How do you eat your fresh sweet summer corn?

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Got Nut Milk?

For many of us, milk is reminiscent of our childhood. A glass of milk is what was served with meals and warmed up when the sandman is nowhere to be found. Then we grow up, move on to coffee and lattés instead, but it still remains a household staple. Over recent years, I have tried other kinds of non-dairy milk but overall found that their taste lacked some kind of richness comparable to that of the cow’s milk I grew up on.

I recently starting making my own nut milks and I will never go back to the processed kind. Homemade nut milks taste just the way you want them because you can tweak as you please. The best part is that you have a non-dairy milk beverage, that is also free of preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients.

Here are the nut milk making basics:

  • 1 cup raw nuts
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ tbsp. spices of choice
  • 1-2 dates soaked and/or 1 tbsp of sweetener of choice

The first step is to soak your nuts for about 8 hours. Put them in a contained filled with enough filtered water to allow the nuts to expand (some may double in size!!). You can do this before going to bed or before heading out for your workday, and by the time you wake up or come home, you are ready to start milking! This is an easy way to fit it into a routine if you want to have fresh nut milk readily available.

Why soak nuts you ask? I wondered the same thing for a long time, but the difference in taste between an unsoaked nut and one that is plumped up is quite surprising. With brown nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts…) you do not get that bitterness you usually taste. Aside from taste, soaking nuts helps remove the enzyme inhibitors and bring the nuts back to life. What this essentially means is that the nuts become more easily digestible and the nutrients more readily available to your body. (Reference: Uncooking101, a great raw food ressource!)

So now that your nuts have been soaking for about 8 hours, rinse them thoroughly and place in a blender with 3 cups of water, pinch of salt, spices of choice, soaked dates and/or sweetener if desired. Blend until smooth and strain with a sieve, cheese cloth, or a nut milk bag (can be found in health food stores, are reusable and are fairly inexpensive). Some nuts milks don’t need to be strained, such as cashews and macadamia.

Now here is how you can play around with this basic recipe: For a creamier texture, use less water. Try different spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg or even cacao powder to make some chocolate milk. For a little sweetness, try different types and amounts of sweeteners to find the right balance that works with your palate –  honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.

Making your own nut milks at home is so simple and taste better than anything that comes in a carton that it is definitely worth incorporating into your routine.  The leftover nut meal can be reused for a variety of recipes: You can mix it with chopped dried nuts and make some raw energy rolls. You can also use it to make a raw pie crust… but more on that later.

Kristel’s Kitchen First Foodie Giveaway!

I am very excited to present my first ever giveaway!!! One Dishcrawl Montreal ticket up for grabs!!!

So what is a Dishcrawl? Imagine this: a crowd of foodies getting together for an evening of food and passionate conversation revolving around new flavours, their creators, the chefs and establishments. Dishcrawl brings all of these elements together. You get to discover new restaurants, meet new people and share an experience.

To read up about other Dishcrawls I have attended, click here, here and here!

Now, let’s get down to business – the giveaway. I have one ticket to give to one lucky person to attend the next Dishcrawl on August 23rd, which will be hosted by me and will feature restaurants in and around Crecent Street here in Montreal, Québec, Canada.

Who is eligible? Anyone who lives in and around Montreal, who can attend the Dishcrawl on August 23rd. The ticket is not eligible for another event.

How can you get it? By commenting on this blog post and only on this blog post.  Comments from Twitter and Facebook will not be accepted as valid entries to this contest. Additionally, to be eligible the comment must to be a funny story that happened on Crescent Street here in Montreal. Something that happened to you, an odd incident you witnessed or your friend did something really embarrassing that you promised to never tell is even better! 😉

Share your story and by 10 am on Thursday, August 18th, 2011, I will annouce the winner. The winner will be the one who will merit the loudest, capitalized and bolded Laugh.Out.Loud. (a.k.a. LOL)

So… ready, set, type!  The contest starts now!

AND THE DISHCRAWL TICKET WINNER IS….

I decided to remove any bias from this contest and a winner was selected at random from a third party.

Congrats to Elizabeth Ranger from elizabethranger.wordpress.com who commented below and has won a ticket to the Crescent Dishcrawl happening here in Montreal on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011.

To Élizabeth: I am looking forward to meeting you next week and you will get an email from me today!

To everyone else: a HUGE thank you for taking the time to participate!! Keep reading, keep commenting, and stay tuned for more contests!!!

A Guest Post on Ici et Here

When I was asked by Jackson (click here to like his new Facebook page) to write a post for his blog Ici et Here, which features 52 authors over the course of 52 weeks writing about food and life in Montreal, I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of such an interesting project.

Shortly after my initial excitement, two thoughts came into my head: Montreal? and why me? There is so much so say about Montreal, its food, its diversity, its community, and its lifestyle. What exactly is it that connected me to this city? Why is it that I have chosen to stay, though debating for many years to move to another city?

So, before moving on, I want to say thank you to Ici et Here and FAIT ICI for inviting me to write my story about food and Montreal. I am very excited to share this personal story with you. Like all my other stories, this one also comes with a tasty recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

To read my guest post on Ici et Here, click here: http://www.iciethere.com/kristels-kitchen/

Eat Your Turnips…Raw!

Sorry folks, this week is a hectic one and therefore this post (and recipe) is a quick one. I am getting ready head up to Tremblant for my Half-Marathon and amidst the countless other things I have going on im my life, I still choose to make time to cook (or uncook in this case).

One week to go before the race, I decided that I would be very diligent about my nutrition and try to stick to 90% rawfood, see how I feel and evaluate how my training goes. Honestly though, I haven’t been very good lately. With lots of social events it is easy to get off track and indulge a little too much when eating out in all the fabulous restaurants Montreal has to offer… Icehouse, Kazu, Arepera and Qing Hua just to name a few…

Monday rolled around – 7 days until game day- and a plentiful CSA delivery that remained almost untouched. In that basket came a few turnips that I had no idea what to do with. I usually toss them into stews and soups, but this summer has been way too hot to even contemplate making soup.

Raw turnip? As if! but I had to try it. Out came the peeler. Out came the grater and I started shredding. I stuffed a little bunch of grated turnip in my mouth and discovered a surprisingly fresh, crisp peppery-ness that goes right up your nose the same way wasabi or some strong mustards do. Lots of character but in a good way – who would have thought that a humble turnip would have so much character! Attitude aside, dinner was served in no time flat .

Here’s the recipe for shredded turnip. I served it on top of a simple green salad with quinoa, but would be so nice on top of burgers or hot dogs for something different to try during these last BBQs of the summer.

Shredded Raw Turnip Salad

  • 1 raw turnip
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and honey until smooth. For these ingredients to be raw they need to be unpasterized and cold pressed in the case of the oil. These are fairly common to find, just make sure you read the labels carefully.

Peel the turnip and grate it. Thinly slice the red onion. Toss these ingredients with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve! You can aslo toss in some herbs to add some greenery to your salad, such as parsley or cilantro would work nicely. One turnip makes enough as a main ingredient to serve 4 people, or more if using it as a side or condiment.

Signature BBQ Sauce 101

A couple weeks ago I blogged about a watermelon gazpacho and I mentioned that my family recently got together for a summer party.

This year – true to my family’s slightly competitive nature – a rib challenge was thrown into the mix. Four “nuclear” families, four kinds of ribs and time for me to perfect my signature BBQ sauce.  Each style of ribs was very different from one to another, which made for a nice variety to taste and none that outdid the next. We had: boar ribs cooked sous-vide, maple lacquered ribs, classis southern BBQ ribs and my Mexican mole inspired ribs.

Today’s topic though is not on how to cook ribs, it is much greater than that. In this post I will unlock the mystery on how you can put together a signature BBQ sauce with your name on it, one you can be proud to call your own!

The main reason I wanted to develop my own BBQ sauce (aside from the obvious…) is because I wanted to avoid the added sodium, preservatives or any other unpronounceable ingredient you can imagine. I’ve read many recipes that call for lots of refined sugars, ketchup and soy sauce. I wanted to make my sauce from scratch from fresh/dried/unprocessed ingredients. That is exactly what I will share with you today, the unprocessed basics of BBQ sauce making!

Let me break this down: you need (1) a tomato base, (2) a vinegar, (3) a sugar, (4) some aromatics including onion and garlic, or perhaps other veggies – it is your sauce afterall, and finally (5) a spice blend. The flavour of your BBQ sauce depends on what you choose for each of those items, especially the spice blend. Play around with each of these until you find something that truly represents your palate.

 

 

BBQ Sauce 101

  • 2 cups tomato base, you can use fresh tomatoes pureed whole in a blender
  • ½ cup vinegar, play around with cider, red wine, or even balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ to ½ cup sugar, quantity varies on how sweet you like your sauce, but think of combining different types of sugars like brown sugar, molasses, honey, etc.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Crushed garlic cloves, I opted for 6 cloves but choose as few or as many as you like
  • ¼ to ½ cup of aromatics, this is your signature spice blend
  • ¼ cup oil of your choice, or a combination of fats perhaps
  • 1 to 2 cups water

Begin by putting together your secret spice blend: think of combining some hot chillies, fine herbs, nuts or seeds, and don’t forget some salt, even if it just a couple pinches just to balance out the flavours. It doesn’t matter if your spices are whole or ground. After mixing and combining, put all your spices in a food processor to ground it all together. Take the time to play around and taste as you go. Even after you’ve blended your spices you can always add more but remember you cannot remove it once it’s been added – tread carefully.

Bring a large pot to medium heat, pour in the oil, add the onions and garlic, and sauté until soft. Add your spice blend and cook for a couple of minutes. Don’t worry if it sticks a little at the bottom of the pot, because the next step is deglazing. To deglaze, simply pour in the vinegar and stir. You will find that your ingredients and the brown bits begin to unstick from the bottom of the pot; at this point add your tomato base, sugar and one cup of water. Stir well, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about an hour until the sauce is reduced down to two thirds of the quantity you originally had.

Allow your sauce to cool, pour into a blender and process until smooth. If the sauce is too thick to blend smoothly then gradually add some water until it reaches the desired consistence. Return to the pot, taste and adjust any seasonings as needed. If you are adding seasonings to your sauce then bring it to a simmer for another 15 minutes to an hour to ensure the flavours are well combine. Just remember that the longer you cook your sauce, the thicker it gets. It will also thicken when it cools. On the other hand, if your sauce is too bland or too liquid, then cooking and reducing it for another hour will thicken and help concentrate the flavours.

Now you are ready to store it in the fridge, freezer or in jars (for preserving, make sure you follow proper instructions and this is a great place to get started). Makes a great gift and is also fantastic when cooking for a crowd. Not only can you use it on all sorts of grilled meats and vegetables, as a topping for burgers, but it is something personal you can bring to any party. Save a little extra in a mason jar to give as a gift to the host or hostess.

Now, get some people together for a BBQ and get ready to brag about your own signature BBQ sauce!