Easiest Ever Creamed Corn (cream of corn)

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Tastes just like it came out of a can!

Contains no cream!

Takes less than 5 minutes to prepare!

If you live in Italy, it is nigh next to impossible to make many iconic American classics without getting a little creative in the kitchen.  They simply don’t have the base ingredients available at the grocery store.

One of those ingredients is creamed corn, or as some people call it, cream of corn.  To make it from fresh sweet corn, right off the cob, you take off the corn kernels, and then scrape the cob to get out all the milky residue.  You add some water and corn starch to the mixture, and heat it in a pan to thicken. The process to get out the milky liquid is why it’s called “creamed” corn, even though it has no actual milk products in it.

You can also make it with a can of sweet corn.  Simple, easy, delicious, and quick.

This recipe uses a can of sweet corn bought at the spesa (grocery store).  It was the largest can they had available when I was there, and the contents are, of course, in grams, not ounces.  But it is just a little over 1 Cup of corn, and about 1/4 Cup of water, and makes 2 small servings.

Easiest Ever Creamed Corn

1 300 g can of corn

1/4 C water

1/2 T corn starch (amido di maize) + 1/2 T cold water to make a slurry

Put 1/2 the can of corn, including water, in a small food processor.  Grind just until it looks like a yellow corn batter.  Add the remaining corn, and pulse a few times until it’s the consistency you want, leaving some kernels whole.

Pour into pan, and add about 1/4 cup water.  Put the heat on medium low, stir in your slurry, and bring up just to a boil.  Make sure to stir so nothing sticks.

Walah!  No sugar, no butter, no added salt, no nothing.  If you DO happen to get a can of corn that is not that sweet naturally, then by all means add a pinch of sugar if you would like – and next time buy a different brand to see if it’s sweeter.

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Farinata (Chickpea flour flatbread)

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Farinata or Italian chickpea cake is a simple and easy to make dish that originated in the region of Liguria along the western Italian coast.  Legend has it, that sailors returning to the maritime city of Genoa after a battle with the city of Pisa (yes, I know…Pisa is part of Italy.  Italian history is full of big battles between cities) had bags of chickpea flour tip over, the flour mixed with sea water, then they baked it into a cake to celebrate their victory.

Today it is a popular street food, and although not as well known outside of Italy as the infinitely more famous pesto, it is definitely worth a try in any kitchen.

Did you see how fancy I made mine?

This is not typical.  I just did that because it was fun, and it looks amazing.  The typical dish uses only black pepper cracked over the top.

Regardless of how you make it – plain or dressed up, this naturally gluten free and vegan dish is high in soluble fiber which aids in digestion as well as keeping your arteries clean and clog free.  It’s crispy exterior and slightly creamy interior hold up well for mopping up sauces, and it’s the perfect foil for a little bit of artistic flair to keep the supper interesting!

I served it alongside chicken breast stuffed with artichoke and sundried tomato in a garlic cream sauce.  Fresh green beans, just lightly steamed provided a bit of crunch and the play on textures meant that we pretty much ate everything.  Only a small bit was saved for lunch tomorrow.

And although farinata is most tasty when just pulled out of the screaming hot oven, that is not by any means the only way that Italians eat it.  Most buy it from the store, and eat it at room temperature.

If you can’t find the flour in your regular flour aisle at the grocery store, try the gluten free section or head to the nearest natural foods store to find it.  Add the flour to your regular pancake recipe or bread recipe to increase the nutrition and lower the blood sugar spikes from regular wheat flour, or even add it to your cake mix to do the same thing.

*note – you have to soak the chickpea flour for at least 2 hours so it cooks evenly.  Don’t have 2 hours to wait?  Mix it in the morning and let it sit all day until supper time.  The soaking is important 🙂

Farinata (Italian chickpea flatbread)

You will need: a cast iron pan, and a bowel and whisk for mixing

1 1/2 cups chickpea flour

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons olive oil plus more for the pan

Whisk flour and lukewarm water together in a bowl, cover, and let sit for at least 2 hours.  It can become foamy, and legend has it, that those bubbles can also cause bubbles in the digestive system (if you catch my drift.  haha, get it? ), so just use a spoon or ladle to skim off the foam after it soaks.

Preheat oven to about 500 F, and place the rack on the second level down from the top.  Heat the cast iron pan on stovetop over medium heat.

Once the pan is hot, pour in enough olive oil to fully coat the bottom, don’t be stingy.  Swirl the oil around.  It should start to smoke immediately.  Pour in the batter, take off the heat and place in the oven.

Because I put topping on mine, I set the timer for 15 minutes, take it out, and then arrange the toppings.  The pan is so hot that it will continue to cook the bottom even when the cake is out of the oven.  Brush the veggies with oil, and put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are done and the cake is nicely brown.

USE GOOD OVEN MITTS – IT’S REALLY HOT!

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Warm Beet and Tomato Salad

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Cold and flu season have arrived once again…and I’m craving beets.  Not chicken soup, but beets.

This recipe is a simple adaption from an old time home remedy for flu.  Instead of juicing and steeping the raw ingredients into a tonic that is drunk several times a day, they are assembled into a very tasty salad that can be eaten hot, at room temperature, as a main dish or as a side salad.

It cookes up in only 15 minutes, and preparation time is quick and easy if you purchase pre-cooked organic beets from the natural foods section.

Warm Beet and Tomato Salad

Preheat oven to 375 F

2 large pre-cooked beets cut in 1 inch cubes

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/2 lb small tomatoes, cut in 1/2 or thick sliced

1/2 t pink salt

1/2 t sugar

1/4 t ground black pepper

1/2 t dried mint

sunflower oil

fresh squeezed lemon juice for finishing

 

Combine all ingredients except lemon juice, and cook in a glass dish for 12-15 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to break down.  Remove from heat, squeeze the lemon over the top and stir.  Top with a little more dried mint and serve!

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Honey Scented Rosemary Mint Carrots

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Just a bit of seasoning for this side dish.  The barest hint of flavor, and the quiet scent of honey (miele) and herbs on a breeze.

Some side dishes shine as a main meal.  This delicate carrot recipe sounds like a supporting actor.  In my opinion, it’s no peas and carrots.  If you’ve never had a supper of peas and carrots by themselves, then it’s possible you’ve never had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

I’m just saying, and it’s all I have to say about that.

The first time we ate these carrots, they were served with roasted potatoes (sprinkled with Reishi mushroom powder and Maldon salt when they emerged from the oven).  The pic is here.  That’s a phenomenal, melt in your mouth halibut on top.  That is not allegory, the fish actually melted in your mouth.

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We couldn’t eat everything, so a day later we had potatoes and these carrots, with a little bit of the fish. By little bit, I mean, like hardly any fish. Completely different meal.

Without further adieu, here is the recipe (ricetta).

Honey Scented Rosemary Mint Carrots

4 cups thin sliced carrots

1 C water

4 inches fresh rosemary stalk with leaves

6-8 fresh mint leaves

1 t honey

Put all ingredients (except honey) in a tall narrow pot, cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.  Stir during this time, so the carrots are basically steamed in their own juices.

Remove from heat and stir in honey.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Grapes and Pine Nuts

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Antioxidants, fiber (or should I spell it “fibre” just to shake things up a bit), vitamins and minerals galore, toasty, crunchy, and pops of sweet.

Top with crumbled bacon if you would like, or better yet, serve with sausage.  It’s especially good with Italian style sausage, and if you’ve never had sausages and grapes for supper, then you’re missing out.

The only thing this picture is missing is the sprouts and the pine nuts!

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Brussels Sprouts are a variety of cabbage that grows on a stalk, and the sprout itself is actually a “bud”, like a flower bud.  They’re not “baby cabbages” like I once thought, but an actual type that originally came from the Mediterranean region and then moved north through Europe.

One cup of these sprouts has 120% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.  And you know what my favorite dessert is to have after this meal?

A couple of mandarin oranges.  More Vitamin C.  And the other part of a good dessert?  The almost forgotten and lesser known Vitamin C – Conversation.  

This entire meal can be on the table in about 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time to enjoy each others company.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Grapes and Pine Nuts

1/2 pound Brussels Sprouts, sliced in 1/2 lengthwise through the core

olive oil

salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes

1/2 C red grapes, sliced in 1/2

2 t pine nuts

Iron skillet

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a small mixing bowl, drizzle some olive oil over the sprouts and add in the seasonings.  I don’t measure.  Mix to make sure everything is coated and then put into your skillet.  Don’t crowd them too much or they’ll steam instead of roast.  Set timer for 15 minutes.

Take out pan and flip the sprouts.  Add the grapes and nuts to the pan.  Return to oven for 5 minutes.

Transfer to plate immediately so those little nuts don’t get too brown!  Top with bacon, or some additional salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil.

 

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