Archive for ‘Sweetcorn’

February 6, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Sweetcorn and chickpea soup with greens and a chilli-soy salsa

Sweetcorn; chickpeas; kale. Should they go together? A chilli-soy salsa? It’s that last piece of description that gives away the some geography to this soup: it’s an Asian, perhaps Thai or Indonesian-influenced concoction and the background note under the combination of leaves, kernels and legumes is a spicy coconut broth. The salsa – well, though the word might shout Mexico and link to the sweetcorn, it’s a thoroughly Asian-influenced topping too. Let’s make it…

For the salsa we finely diced one red pepper, finely sliced two spring onions and a finely chopped red chilli (or two). Combine these together. Next, toast a handful of sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan for 5-10 minutes, tossing them occasionally and taking care not to burn them. When they’ve started to turn golden take them off the heat and splash some soy sauce over them. They’ll become slightly sticky. Leave to cool and then stir into the salsa. Finally roughly chop a handful of coriander leaves and add to the salsa.

The soup is something of a fusion of West and East but the ingredients complement each other perfectly and are often found together in varying combinations around the world. The kale could be Savoy cabbage, cavolo nero, spring greens, spinach or even pak choi. We had some kale left, so that’s what went in the pot – and it’s great with chickpeas.

First, make a ‘curry’ paste: grate a 1-inch piece of ginger, finely slice three cloves of garlic and three medium shallotts. Finely slice two green chillies (strength to your licking) and two sticks of fresh lemongrass. Place all these ingredients in the jug of a food processor/blender. Now add 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and ground turmeric. Add half a cup of water and blend to get a smooth, thick sauce.

Heat a large saucepan, add a dash of sesame oil and add the curry sauce, cooking it for five minutes – you should smell the aromas. Then add a medium-sized tin of sweetcorn kernels, a tin of chickpeas and a tin of coconut milk. Stir. Then add 600ml of vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so then add some handfuls of roughly chopped greens. Cook for 5 minutes more if you’re using soft greens (spinach etc) or 10 minutes if you’re using tougher cabbage or kale etc.

Check the seasoning and serve, topping the bowl with a good spoonful of salsa and a squeeze of lime.

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August 10, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Sweetcorn ‘brunch’ fritters

Sunday 7 August

Sunday brunch is a fine thing. Think of it as a good old-fashioned weekend breakfast that’s been off and travelled the world a bit, tasted different cultures and arrived back with tales of how life could be, if only everyone lived ‘there’, not ‘here’.

Sunday brunch at ETP Towers sometimes nods to New York or or even Asia. I’m not sure where these fritters lie on the map (Mexico?), but they’re easy (if you have a few leisurely minutes to spare) and damn tasty. Corn at breakfast? Hell yeah! Ours came from the lovely huge pile of corn on the cob found at Cansdale Ross & Co, around the corner from us (and as previously mentioned in this blog).

Our serving for each person consists of two fritters. For each serving you’ll need one corn on the cob, two spring onions, a small amount of fresh chopped green chilli, a couple of sprigs of coriander, an egg and around two level dessert spoons of flour (plain white or wholemeal is fine, but I like to use gram flour – the chickpea flour used to make bhajis – and also gluten free).

The recipe below is for one serving, but it will be easier to mix when you double or treble, or quadruple it up, depending on how many people are eating.

First, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the whole corn on the cob (any leaves and stringy bits removed), return to the boil and then simmer for ten minutes. Remove the cob from the water, let it cool slightly and then, standing the corn on its end, slice off the kernels with a sharp, sturdy knife.

Chop the spring onion and add it to a mixing bowl with the chilli, flour and the egg (lightly beaten), season with salt and pepper. Mix for 30 seconds, then add the sweetcorn kernels. Chop and add the coriander and mix all the ingredients well until the kernels are coated with the batter.

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. When hot, drop a large serving spoon-sized scoop of the sweetcorn and batter mixture into the oil. It should sizzle slightly. With a spatula, gently prompt, push and pull the mixture into a vaguely rounded disc shape. After 4 minutes the bottom of the fritter should be set and golden. Turn it over and cook the other side for another 4 minutes. Done.

We served the fritters with a tomato salsa that Ella made: chopped tomato, a tiny bit of finely sliced red onion, chopped fresh chilli, a dash of wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil.

The fritters are light, moreish and, somehow, a perfect start to the day.

A wholely different kind of sweetcorn fritter recipe was published in the Guardian newspaper the day after we made this. You can see it here.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s sweetcorn fritters recipe is here.

But try ours first, and try it for brunch.