Vegan Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

IMG_0247   If you ever enjoyed the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes from The Cheesecake Factory, you might also like these easy, delicious, vegan versions.  I whip up some quick Romesco Sauce to go with them, which really bumps up the protein, but you could use any topping you like.  Even just some vegan sour cream with chopped cilantro would be great.  I only make these when fresh local corn is in season.

VEGAN SWEET CORN TAMALE CAKES

Makes 10

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Cup corn flour
1/2 Cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
and
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil  (I used safflower oil)
1 Cup Lite coconut milk
2 Cups grated zucchini  (about one medium-to-large zucchini, peeled)
2 Cups fresh corn, cut off the cobs  (about 5 ears of corn)
1-2 Tablespoons chopped chives  (or a chopped shallot)

DIRECTIONS
Make your sauce, and set in fridge to chill  (I made this Romesco Sauce).
In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix oil, coconut milk, zucchini, corn and chives.
Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir gently but well with a wooden spoon.
Brush large, non-stick skillet with one teaspoon of oil, and set on almost-medium heat.
Using a 1/3 Cup measure for each cake,  pour out three cakes into skillet.
Cook about 5-6 minutes, until the cakes move when you shake the pan.
Carefully flip,  and cook other side.
Keep warm in 175 degrees Fahrenheit oven.
Serve with Romesco Sauce,  or vegan sour cream and chopped cilantro,  etc.

For reasons of flavor, I do not recommend using canola oil.

Vegan Corn Chowder with Vegan Bacon Bits

Here’s an easy and delicious American chowder to celebrate the last of the summer corn, and the local potatoes that are available now.  Fried bits of Smart Bacon give a meaty flavor, and sherry and smoked paprika add depth.  Half of the soup is whirled in a blender to give a creamy base to this otherwise-chunky chowder.  Buttery and seasonal; perfect for late summer and early Fall.    p.s.  This photo is terrible.  I took it before I thought to add a touch of turmeric, so the end result has a hint of yellow color to it that this photo does not show.  Also, by the time I got the camera, all the fresh corn had sunk to the bottom of the bowl.  This soup is prettier than this photo shows!
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Vegan Corn Chowder with Vegan Bacon Bits

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

6 strips Smart Bacon diced small
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
1 medium onion diced fine
1-2 stalks celery diced fine
1 large russet potato diced fine  (peel if not organic)
6 ears fresh corn, cut off the cobs
1 medium red bell pepper diced fine
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped fine (optional)
2 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tablespoons sherry  (optional)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce  (such as Wizard brand)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 Cup Silk Original Soy Creamer (not flavored)

DIRECTIONS
Set raw corn kernels aside.
In a small stock pot, saute Smart Bacon bits in 1 Tablespoon of the vegan butter until sizzling, and then drain on paper towel.
Add last Tablespoon of vegan butter to stock pot, and sauté the onion, celery and potatoes for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add stock, sherry, Worcestershire, onion powder, smoked paprika and turmeric to pot, and simmer about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender.
Place half of the chowder and half of the raw corn in a blender and blend well to a creamy consistency.
Add the blended/creamed chowder back to the pot.
Add the rest of the raw corn to the pot, along with the diced red bell pepper.
Stir to blend, and simmer gently about 3 more minutes.
Stir in soy creamer and simmer 1 last minute.
Serve in bowls and ladle some bacon bits into each bowl.
Serve with crusty bread.

Notes:   The bacon bits add a lot.  Do not add any red bell pepper into the blender, unless you want a pink soup.  The turmeric won’t impart any flavor, but is very healthy and will add a little yellow tint to the color of the chowder.  A homemade, clear vegetable broth would provide best flavor and color, but this is the quick version.

Corn Tomato Salad with Herbs and Fresh Lime Juice

I got this recipe down on Tilghman Island at an outdoor party some years ago.  I took one bite and began asking around the crowd of strangers, “Who made the corn salad?”  Luckily, the kind woman did remember to mail me the recipe and I now have it to share with you.  I make this every summer.  It’s simple and healthy, and tastes amazing.  The lime juice is essential, and this is a great salad for company or a BBQ or buffet table because it just tastes better as it sits out.  You can also double it easily for a crowd.   This salad does justice to fresh corn in high season, and it’s also a great time to use those little cherry tomatoes and herbs from the garden.  Sauteeing the garlic and thyme mellows them out and the lime juice gives it a hint of acidity,  it’s just balanced.

Corn Tomato Salad with Herbs and Fresh Lime Juice

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus another set aside
1 garlic clove, pressed or crushed and minced
1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
1 bunch green onions, green portion only, thinly
  sliced on the diagonal
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS
In a medium glass bowl, combine 1 Tablespoon of the oil, the lime juice, salt, pepper, sliced tomatoes, and chopped basil.  Set aside at room temperature.

Holding each ear of corn by its pointed end and steadying its stalk end in a large bowl, cut down along the ear with a sharp knife to strip off the kernels, turning the ear with each cut.
In a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat, heat the vegan butter and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil until hot.
Add the garlic and saute, stirring constantly, 20 to 30 seconds.
Add corn and saute, stirring occasionally, just until tender, about 2 minutes.  Do not overcook the corn!
Add the thyme and green onions and saute for about 1 minute more. Transfer to a large metal or wooden (non-reactive) bowl.
Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
Add tomato mixture, and stir to combine.
Serve immediately or at room temperature.
 
You can double this if you need to.  Serve at room temperature. Good the next day too, but let it sit out a bit to warm up before serving, or zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds if you’re in a hurry.

Raw Sweet Corn and Cashew Chowder

This delectable cold soup calls for  yellow corn, but all I could find was white.  This is an Ani Phyo recipe I saw on the Food & Wine web site.  It takes 15 minutes to make, and it’s delicious and healthy.  It’s also elegant enough to serve for company.  I did make some changes.  I cut the olive oil by two thirds, because I can’t imagine having that much oil in this amount of soup.  I cut the salt in half for the same reason.  I decreased the garlic by half, and was glad I did.  One clove doesn’t sound like much, but remember this is raw garlic, and it’s a delicate soup.  Even with half of one small clove, we could still really taste the garlic in with the flavor of the fresh, raw corn.  In the end, I should have decreased the water by at least 25%, because the “chowder” is really a thin soup.  So here below, I have cut it down for next time.  I also needed at least 6 ears of corn, not 4 as per the recipe.  Even 7 ears couldn’t hurt, because the kernels of fresh, raw corn are wonderful in this cold soup.  I’m going to try heating this soup up too.  I definitely recommend soaking the cashews overnight if you want a silky, smooth soup, especially if you’re not using a “high-speed blender” like a Vitamix.  Using the Vitamix, I had smooth, silky soup in less than one minute, with absolutely no chunks or pieces, but it could just be because I soaked the nuts, I’m not sure.   In New England (or at least in New Hampshire), very old recipes for corn-on-the-cob start with “Pick the corn and run to the kitchen.”  This means that we like the corn to be as fresh as possible.  If you can find it, always go for the freshest corn, and if at a farmers market, ask when it was picked.  Once the corn is picked, the sugars begin to convert to starch immediately.  Not critical, but something to choose if you can.  And this reminds me that I wanted to re-make Corn Perfumed with Indian Spices once I had some fresh corn available again.  The corn recipe I use the most is Baked Corn on the Cob because it’s so quick and effortless, and comes out perfectly every time.  No grill, no boiling water, no fuss.

Raw Sweet Corn and Cashew Chowder

INGREDIENTS
Fresh corn kernels from 6 ears of corn (or 7)
1.5 Cups of cool water
½ Cup raw cashews that have been soaked overnight
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ of a small garlic clove with center sprout removed
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Place cashews in water and refrigerate overnight.
Drain cashews.
In a blender (preferably a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix), combine 2-1/4 Cups of the corn with the water, cashews, olive oil, garlic and salt, and puree until smooth.
Pour soup into bowls.
Garnish with remaining corn kernels, the cilantro and a sprinkle of pepper.
Serve.

Note:  This soup can be refrigerated overnight.  Garnish just before serving.

Corn Perfumed with Indian Spices

I adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Corn With Aromatic Seasonings.”  This year, the New York Times did a big spread on Vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes, and that’s where I spotted it.  We can’t get fresh corn here right now, so I resorted to a 16 ounce bag of frozen corn.  Jaffrey’s recipe calls for two 10 oz. bags of corn, so I also adjusted amounts of spices.  This came out well enough that I’ll definitely be making it next year when the fresh corn is ready; it would be so succulent with fresh corn.  Even my picky husband liked it.  I thought this dish was perfect to use with Spectrum Organic Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil.  In the cookbook “Skinny Bitch in The Kitch” they call a lot for cooking with coconut oil, and it turns out that the health benefits are many.  Refined coconut oil is a neutral flavor and can be used with medium-high heat.  Unrefined coconut oil does have a coconut flavor, although a very natural one, not like the strong artificial flavoring, and should be used only on medium heat.  One of the big advantages of cooking with coconut oil is that it has a higher smoking point, is less prone to oxidization than say, olive oil at certain temperatures.  It’s just a health thing in that respect but the coconut flavor of the unrefined oil lends a classic exotic taste to the Indian spices.  The start of this dish uses a common method of Indian cooking; where you heat the oil and then add the spices so they pop and release more flavor.  It makes me think of scenes in the Indian novels I like so much; where the women crack the cardamom pods between their teeth before adding them to the hot oil.  You’ll see that it’s a lovely moment; when the spices pop and sizzle and release their aromas into the air.  Now that I’ve made this particular dish, I might also add some lime zest if I had a lime in the fridge, but it’s not necessary.
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Corn Perfumed with Indian Spices 

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
1 T Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil, such as Spectrum brand
1 tsp whole brown or yellow mustard seeds
2 cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1 one-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced finely  (or one pinch cayenne = 1/16th teaspoon)
4-6 ears of fresh corn, cut off the cobs,  or one 16-ounce bag of frozen corn
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 C  So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer,  Original Flavor  (plain flavor)

DIRECTIONS
Combine mustard seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf in a small cup.
Pour oil into an 8-10 inch frying pan (no larger), and set to medium heat.
When oil is hot, put in all the whole spices.  As soon as mustard seeds pop (a matter of seconds), add the ginger and green chile.
Stir once or twice, then add in corn.  Stir for 2-3 minutes.
Add the salt and cream.
Continue to stir and cook for another minute.
Turn heat to low, and cook a few more minutes, until all cream is absorbed.
Remember to pick out and discard the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaf, before serving.

Notes:  I do not use my largest frying pan for this.  I want to give the oil a bit of depth, so it can heat and pop those spices, in the Indian way, without using more fat.

Baked Corn on the Cob

I got this wonderful recipe recently from a newspaper column called Everyday Cheapskate.  It seemed so incredibly simple and quick, that I cut it out and tried it.  Some things are not too good to be true!   I put a photo here so you can see that the corn in the husk looks a bit sere and withered when it comes out of the oven.  No worries, the corn inside is moist and tender!  With this being the end of summer, grab the corn by the ears (OK, horrible pun) and try this.  You don’t even have to soak it!  No heating the grill, Nada, just delicioso corn in minutes with absolutely no fuss!
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Quick Corn by Jo M., Ohio

Snip dirty silk ends off corn husks with scissors (I added this step)

Place corn in husks on cookie sheet and place in cold oven.
(no soaking is necessary)

Turn oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 30 minutes.

When it’s done, husks and silk will peel off easily.
The recipe writer makes a compound butter by adding chili powder and/or lime zest.  I just use a bit of Earth Balance and a sprinkle of Real Salt, wow.
Really good and super quick!

Santa Fe Wrap Sandwiches

Now that fresh corn is in abundance, it’s time to break out this recipe.  I created it after eating a wrap of the same name at The Lily Pad Cafe, in Denton, MD.   They are not a vegan restaurant, but will work with you, and they’re right near a couple of great antique shops.  Here’s my take on it:

SANTA FE WRAP SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS
Large tortilla wraps (larger than medium size if you can get them)
(or pita pockets are also good)
1 or 2 ripe avocados
Juice of one small lime
1/4 t chili powder
1/8 t cayenne
1/4 t salt
1 14-oz. can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ears of fresh, raw corn, cut off the cobs
approx. 10 or 11 kalamata olives, chopped  (or green olives in a pinch)
vegan mayonnaise such as Vegenaise
optional; shredded lettuceDIRECTIONS
Mix beans, spices, olives, lime juice and corn together in a medium bowl.
Brush tortillas with Vegenaise mayonnaise.
Add slices of avocado (an absolute must).  Here’s a good way to cut an avocado.
Add lettuce if you want it.
Add bean corn mixture.
Fold ends in and then roll up the wrap.
Slice wraps in half on the diagonal and serve immediately.Note:  You can gild the lily by mixing up the mayo beforehand with some extra chili powder and cayenne.   One time I added in some leftover pickled artichoke hearts, and that was good, but don’t get too crazy because the simple combination above is too good to mess with.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

I went on youtube and found this link for how to grill corn in the husk.  However, I should have looked at the youtube link BEFORE i grilled the corn, ha ha.  Although it was just about the best corn we’ve ever made, I would follow this guy’s technique for peeling back the husk next time.  Whereas I was peeling back the husk a leaf at a time, this guy smartly just ripped the husk in half and down the cob, but did not remove it.  Much easier to fold the husk back up his way.  After reading a few recipes, here’s what I did:

Snip off the gritty/dirty end of any silk protruding from the husk.  Grip corn husk with one hand on each side and pull down to end of cob, but do not separate husk totally from cob.  Pull out any silk and discard.  Rinse corn and fold husk back up in its original position.  Tear a long leaf of husk in half the long way, and use as a tie to secure husk back in place (this is optional–the guy in the video doesn’t bother with this step).  Soak these prepared ears of corn in a sink full of water, for about an hour.  Use a heavy pot or something to weight the corn down under the water.  When ready to grill, place ears of corn in the dish drainer for a minute, then place on hot grill.  If your grill has an upper rack, that would be ideal, but it’s not critical.  Close grill lid and let the corn steam for a few minutes.  Turn the corn every five minutes, just until 20 minutes go by.  Then you’re done!  A little Earth Balance vegan butter and a little sea salt, and you’re in heaven.  Grilling in the husk really does give the corn a subtle, unique flavor that just screams mid-summer.  We’re sold.