Tag Archives: creamed corn

How do I love thee?

Hi everyone.

 

Valentine’s Day was a good success at the hacienda, as my sweet baby and I did some great cooking at home.  Now, she still won’t let me cook the salmon in the dishwasher (its a thing…..Google it!). But we did a great job broiling it. Not sure what was in the marinade beyond the top couple of ingredients, but I will say it was sweet, with some smoky heat. It was a sweet Thai chili sauce with loads of grated ginger and some soy sauce. Beyond that, I don’t know what voodoo my GF used to make it. I CAN tell you it was outstanding with the salmon.

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It was as delicious as it looks. We recycled my homemade creamed corn from an earlier post and added the very top of about a pound of broccoli florets, for a little contrast on the plate. I didn’t want to make the plate too bland in color. The little flecks of green in the corn also liven it up and is an easy ‘cheat’ for parents trying to sneak in some green veggies into their children’s plates.

The salmon fillet is sitting on top of a round presentation of Basmati rice. Again, we used a simple biscuit cutter to make that happen. Then we added a bit of extra marinade to the plate for color contrast, and to dip the salmon into. Throw in a touch of parsley for garnish, and I think this plate stands up pretty nicely to what you’ll find in restaurants on most nights.

“Well that’s great, Mario, but it isn’t necessarily ‘Valentine-ish.” Then feast your eyes on these variations:

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First, its a basic chocolate lava cake. Nothing too fancy there. Its a perfect dessert for a man because its simple to assemble, quick to bake, and leaves you with loads of options to plate effectively. I threw in a few examples that my GF and I tinkered with after dinner.

The top photo is a quick effort at total symmetry.  We took one of her cookie cutters, covered the top in tin foil, put a sheet of paper at one point on the plate to create a sharp line, and dusted some cocoa on the cutter which left that cool highlight on the plate. I rotated the plate 180 degrees and did the same thing. I took some really thick caramel and ‘loosened’ it with some heavy cream until it got to a consistency I liked. Then I just ‘swooshed’ it on the plate using a spoon.  Topped it off with a quenelle of ice cream and a hint of the cocoa.  

Second version was the GF’s favorite. She’s a big fan of fruit overall, and certainly in her desserts. I think I’m going to buy her a couple of mint plants to keep around. We never seem to have fresh mint for garnish, and these desserts are absolutely screaming for it. Lesson learned!

For the second version, we added some thinly sliced strawberries on one end and used the cocoa dusting technique on the spoon you see highlighted on the plate. Finished off the spoon with a little bit of the thinned caramel. After I plated the second version, I began having second thoughts on adding the caramel sauce to the spoon. I’d welcome feedback on that one.

Finally, we used raspberries, took out the cocoa, and added just a light dusting of powered sugar. I think we also took a picture of a similar dessert we plated, but on a round plate. I’ll look for that, just for reference.

The key here is to see how many different variations of a great dessert you can plate using the following tools:  Spoon, sifter, cookie cutter, biscuit cutter. We had more fun imagining the options for plating than it took to actually plate. I’m telling you guys & gals, excellent plating doesn’t take long! 

Have fun this weekend, see if you can find a way to incorporate some of these techniques, and most importantly, have a GREAT time doing so!

 

Peace.

 

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fingers

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

The first cold blast of the season hit this week, and it’s time for some comfort food.  For today’s recipe, I’m throwing in a winner that my girlfriend found about 6 weeks ago.  A little fried chicken fingers with my first attempt at a homemade creamed corn, served with a broccoli/cheese rice casserole.  The girlfriend and I started trying to do one homemade meal per week. With our work/hobby schedules, it’s a bit of a challenge, but one well worth taking, as you can see from the results.

The recipe here is only for the chicken. Click the title of this post, and it will take you to the recipe we used.  I’ll be sure to post the recipe for the broccoli/cheese rice casserole and the homemade creamed corn another time.  The honey-mustard sauce is homemade, and pretty easy to make.  It’s a 50/50 split of honey and mustard.  That’s really it.  Once it reaches a nice consistency, you can add a little milk or cream (your choice) to thin it out just a bit.  If you have thinned it out TOO much, put it over low heat with a smidge of corn starch to thicken it.

When finished, just spread on the plate using a spoon.  (No glopping! – Yes, WordPress, “glopping” is a word I made up…stop trying to correct it))  Guys, if you want to get REALLY fancy, throw that honey-mustard sauce into a squeeze bottle, and lay out some small dots on the plate in a random pattern, or a straight line.  Just keep it simple, and don’t over-complicate the plate with enough dots to make it look like someone with lots of freckles. 🙂

Quick lesson (mostly for the guys):  other than the cooking utensils, the only thing I used to get that plate looking half-way decent was a biscuit cutter.

“But Mario, I don’t have one of those…anything else I can use?”

I’m glad you asked! While not as elegant, you definitely CAN use an empty soup can or an inverted ramekin.

NOTE:  My microbiologist girlfriend wants me to remind you here, that you should remove the label, wash the can thoroughly (dish washing cycle preferable) before using a soup can for plating purposes.

Now, back to the previous paragraph which I interrupted for your safety announcement.  Use an empty soup can, a ramekin, or a biscuit cutter to form the corn into an attractive round shape.  You can also use a wide biscuit cutter to form pasta.  I’ll show you an example of that on another day.  In my case, the creamed corn wasn’t sturdy enough to hold the chicken fingers and retain its shape.

If you try this recipe and want to show off similar plating, I’d suggest maybe using the rice casserole as the item formed by the cutter on the plate.  If that doesn’t work because the mutant-sized chicken fingers are too large and heavy, just plate the fingers around the object like my example above.  No big deal!

You’ll notice this is a very ‘yellow’ plate. You could use some chopped parsley on the formed object for a little dash of extra color contrast for more visual appeal.  If you use a round plate, try to find a square object to plate a smaller amount so you don’t have circles on circles.  That’s not a ‘win’ for plating, typically.

For kids, you could actually use a cookie cutter for the right amount of creamed corn or rice casserole.  Since kids eat less, you don’t have to worry as much about plating a large amount of either the corn or casserole, and you could have fun with different cookie shapes.  I’d get a good laugh at a ginger-bread cookie cutter forming some creamed corn for their plate.  It helps kids ‘eat’ with their eyes, and is an interesting trick to help, you as a parent, cut into the picky eating syndrome.

Now get out there, and enjoy some good food!

Peace