Three Sisters Salad

A few weeks ago I added a cocktail to my blog called the Four Sisters.  It was a cocktail that we “four sisters by choice” concocted and decided Four Sisters was a perfect name.  We enjoyed a couple pitchers that day and have enjoyed several since.  This is a salad called “Three Sisters Salad” that has nothing to do with our cocktail, although it would pair nicely.  The three sisters in this recipe refers to the combination of corn, beans, and winter squash, key crops of indigenous Americans.  The recipe is from the June/July 2020 issue of fine Cooking.  I improvised a bit, mostly out of necessity.  Since this pandemic started there are certain grocery items that are nearly impossible to find.  For instance, dried beans.  Who knew that a pandemic would cause people to hoard dried beans, but it must be a thing.  This recipe called for dried black eyed peas and gave instructions for cooking them with onion and garlic and some herbs.  Actually, even canned black eyed peas are hard to find.  I had always looked for them in the section of the grocery with the other dried and canned beans.  Even though they are called a pea they are actually a bean.  On a recent grocery run I found them in the canned vegetable section.  Right next to canned green peas, which are truly a disgusting thing.  These particular canned beans had a very pleasant smoky taste, if you like that sort of thing, and they were a really good, I thought, addition to the salad.

Also, although one of the three sisters is winter squash, this recipe called for zucchini.  And there is plenty of that available this time of year.

Dressing Ingredients:

3 T white wine vinegar

1 T Dijon mustard

I T maple syrup

1/4 cup olive oil

1 T finely minced jalapeño (I took the seeds out of mine)

Salt and pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:

3 ears of corn, kernels removed

3 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced and separated

2 slender zucchini cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices and halved

1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Make the dressing and set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, syrup, and mustard.  Continue whisking while adding the oil in a slow, steady stream.  Stir in the jalapeño and a little salt and pepper.

Slice the zucchini and green onions and tear the basil leaves.

Remove the corn from the cob.  Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and add the corn.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the scallion whites, stir, and cook for another minute.  Transfer the corn and onions to a large bowl.

 

Drain and rinse the black eyed peas.

Add the black eyed peas to the bowl with the corn.

Add the zucchini and dressing and stir to combine.  Stir in the basil and oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the scallion greens.

We enjoyed our Three Sisters Salad with cod poached in white wine, tomatoes and capers and fresh green beans.

NOTE:  Obviously, if you prefer, and if you can find them, you could cook the dried black eyed peas and add them to the salad.  The recipe calls for 8 oz. of dried beans (about 1cup).  Or, if you can find traditional vs the southern style black eyed peas, that would work as well.  Although, I must say, the smoky taste worked for me.  If you prefer you could use different beans altogether…lima, canary, navy, pinto.

The recipe called for a little less white wine vinegar (2 T) and less maple syrup (1 1/2 tsp).  I increased both a bit based on my taste.

This salad was great at room temperature or chilled.  I ate the leftovers the next day.

Corn and Shrimp Soup

One of my favorite cooking magazines is Cuisine At Home.  My friend Jane subscribes and I got a gift subscription for my daughter.  There was a recipe in the August 2018 issue for Corn and Shrimp Soup and all three of us gravitated to page 40 and made that soup within a weeks time.  We each interpreted the recipe a little differently which really is what I think cooking is all about.  I consider recipes guides.  Sometimes you have all the ingredients on hand and sometimes you have to punt.  Sometimes there is an herb or spice recommended that you don’t care for (or don’t have) so you substitute. My daughter didn’t have shrimp in the shell so she used chicken broth and omitted the dairy.  My friend also omitted the dairy.  None of us used the husks to make the broth.  I added parsley and green onion.   All three of us got an amazing pot of soup.

Ingredients:

4 ears of corn (shucked and kernels cut from the cobs)

Save the cobs for sure, the husks if you like

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (peeled, deveined, and diced)

Save the shells

7 cups of water

3 fresh or dried bay leaves

3 sprigs of thyme (I used dried)

1 T black peppercorns

3 T butter

1 1/2 cups diced onion

3/4 cup diced celery

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 T AP flour

1 cup half and half

1 T white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme (I used parsley and green onion)

Peel, devein and dice the shrimp.  (This is the worst part!)

Put the shells in a large dutch oven.  Shuck the corn and cut it off the cob.

Add the cobs to the dutch oven along with the shrimp peels.

Add 7 cups of water, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes or more.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.  Pour the stock back into the dutch oven and, over high heat, reduce to 3 cups.

While the stock is reducing purée about half of the corn kernels in a food processsor until as smooth as possible.

Dice the onion  and celery.  Set the broth aside and melt 3 T of butter in the dutch oven over medium heat until foamy.  Sweat the onions and celery and cayenne covered until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.  Stir in stock and puréed corn.  Bring to a simmer.

Stir in half and half just until heated through.  Then stir in shrimp and remaining corn kernels and cook until shrimp is cooked an opaque, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in vinegar and minced thyme.  (I substituted parsley and green onion).

Add some croutons and a little shredded cheese of your choosing if you’d like.  Enjoy!  I will definately be making this again.

NOTE: Like I mentioned earlier, if your shrimp has already been peeled and deveined you can substitute chicken broth or Better than Boullion has a seafood base that would work.  I can’t speak to the flavor that would be brought out of simmering the corn husks as directed in the original recipe because I did not do that.  And I probably will not do that in the future.  The cobs do, however, add flavor to the broth.

If you’d like you could also add some small diced potato or carrots to the soup.  I would add those when sweating the celery and onion making sure they are a small dice so the vegetables cook evenly.

This soup, like many others, tastes best the second day.  The flavors seem to marry and intensify.

A couple years ago I made a pot of potato soup that I thought was blah.  I am blessed to have a professionally trained chef in our family so I called and asked him how to fix it.  He said to add a hit of vinegar to kick up the flavor and it worked.  This recipe called for finishing with a little white wine vinegar but now I almost always add that to my other soup recipes.

 

 

Roasted Corn Salad

Almost everyone loves corn, especially corn on the cob.  This recipe combines roasted corn with peppers and cheese and a dressing with a little kick.  Awhile ago I bought a cast iron pizza pan (made by Lodge).  This pan makes the most awesome pizza.  It’s non stick.  It retains the heat.  And while it does a great job with pizza it’s also wonderful for roasting vegetables.

Ingredients:

5-6 ears of sweet corn

2 T olive oil

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 jalapeño pepper seeded

1 sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow)

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

juice of 1 lime

dash of smoked paprika

smidgen of cayenne pepper

salt to taste

1/2 cup diced cheese (feta, cotija or cheddar)

1/2 c of cilantro

Brush the corn with olive oil.  Roast the corn under the broiler turning once.  It would probably be even more flavorful charred on a charcoal grill.

Allow the corn to cool while you make the dressing.  Finely dice the jalapeño and the bell pepper.  Mince the garlic.  Remove cilantro from the stems and rough chop.

Dice or crumble the cheese.

Years ago one of my daughter’s friends gave me measuring spoons labeled pinch, dash, and smidgen.  Who knew how handy those would be!?  Just use your judgment if you don’t own these.

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and spices and whisk together.  Add the fresh squeezed lime juice and stir in the peppers and garlic.

Once the corn has cooled use a sharp knife to remove it from cobs.

Add the corn, cheese and cilantro and stir to combine.

Add salt to taste and refrigerate for a least an hour before serving.

I served this salad with roast pork loin, asparagus, mashed potatoes and applesauce.  Tonight I’m serving the leftover salad with fish tacos.

NOTE:  If you have extra space in your freezer the corn cobs can be frozen and used later to make a vegetable broth.

As with any recipe you can adjust the spices based on your personal taste.  Diced scallions would also be a nice addition.

Succotash Reinvented

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Succotash consists primarily of sweet corn and Lima beans.  Mostly Lima beans.  Frequently when we would visit my mother-in-law  she would say, “I made your favorite!  Lima beans.”  But Lima beans really are not a favorite at our house. We’ve been out of town for several days and I was looking in the fridge for something to make for a side dish.   I had a few ears of fresh corn from a cookout we had before we left, a poblano pepper, and some asparagus so I decided to reinvent succotash to suit our palates.

Ingredients:

4 ears of fresh corn cut off the cob

1 bunch of asparagus spears chopped

1 poblano pepper seeded and rough chopped

1/2 cup of red onion rough chopped

good drizzle of olive oil

salt and coarse black pepper to taste

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Preheat your broiler.

Toss all of the ingredients together and spread out on a baking sheet covered in foil. Drizzle with olive oil and add a generous amount of cracked pepper and salt to taste.

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Broil for 15-20 minutes stirring a couple times. Cook until you have a little char on the vegetables.

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Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Tonight we had smoked pork chops, smashed cauliflower and the succotash.

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The succotash would be good with red or orange bell peppers, fresh green beans, or, if you like, Lima beans. Enjoy.