Saturday, August 15, 2020

ChezCindy: Savory Corn & Parmesan Custard Soufflé

I have been bringing home farm fresh corn on the cob from my favorite farm stand for weeks now.  Making many of my favorite recipes using fresh corn.  Or, simply eating it buttered and salted straight from the cob.  After a few weeks, I went searching for new corn recipes.  I had never made corn custards before, sometimes referred to as corn pudding.  You can compare this old-fashioned recipe to a quiche, but without the crust.  The combination of corn and Parmesan cheese makes a decadent first course or side dish served in individual ramekins.  

Corn & Parmesan Custard Soufflé 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ears fresh corn
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease eight 6-ounce ramekins with the 2 tablespoons of butter,  Set aside.

Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil.  The hot water will be poured into a large roasting pan, surrounding the filled ramekins.  This "water bath process" will result in tender, delicate custards. 

Working with a deep large bowl, cut the kernels from the corncobs.  Season the corn with the tablespoon of salt.  Seems like a lot of salt, but this is the salt for the entire custard batter.  

In a cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Transfer the corn kernels to the hot skillet, cooking the corn for about 2 minutes, stirring the continuously.  Remove the corn from the skillet, allow to cool.

In a bowl or extra-large measuring cup with a pour spout, whisk together the cream, eggs, nutmeg and cornstarch until thoroughly combined.  Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.  

Once the corn is cool, evenly divide the corn among the 8 buttered ramekins.  Carefully pour the custard mixture into the ramekins over the corn.  If the cheese has sunk to the bottom of the custard, use a large spoon to portion the cheese into each ramekin.  Using the large spoon, gently lift the corn from the bottom of the ramekin to distribute the corn and the Parmesan throughout the custard.  Place the filled ramekins into a large flat-bottomed roasting pan.  Transfer the roasting pan to the oven onto the center rack.  Fill the roasting pan with the hot water from the kettle, surrounding the ramekins with enough water to rise half-way up the sides of the ramekins.  Be careful not to get any water into the custards.  Bake the custards for 20 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees for even cooking.  Continue roasting for another 20 minutes.  

After 40 minutes of cooking time, if the tops are not brown, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Continue cooking the custards for 5-7 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan every minute or two for even browning on each custard, and the custard tops are slightly puffed.  

Remove the roasting pan from the oven.  Keep the custards in the pan with the water to cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes.  Once cool, use a clean towel to remove each ramekin from the hot water.  

Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Sunday, August 9, 2020

ChezCindy: Salty-Spice Peach Pie Bars

It's peach season.  I hope you are fortunate enough to have access to lovely fresh peaches.  Or even better, to be able to pick your own peaches from a local orchard.  My friend and I have a tradition to drive about 40 miles east of where we live to pick peaches every August.  Truthfully, it is more about the adventure than picking the peaches.  This year we dealt with just a bit of rain, but we didn't mind.  We each came home with a full peck of beautiful peaches.  Most of which I have shared with my neighbors.  A peck is a lot of peaches.

Right away when we got back from our adventure, I began a search of peach recipes.  I had forgotten how many recipes I have on this blog for peaches.  But I am making room for one more.  This simple recipe came from an internet search landing on Martha Stewart.  I have taken a basic recipe and added spice to the peach filling, using cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.  The salt is increased in the dough making it a salty shortbread, complimenting the spice added to the peaches.  None of the ingredients overpowers the other, yielding a balance of salt, spice and sweet.  The corners and the edges have a nice chewy texture, coveted in this household, with softer center pieces which are perfect served with vanilla ice cream.  

Salty-Spice Peach Pie Bars
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (extra butter for the pan)
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon - divided
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/4 pound peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.  Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.  This will help in removing the peach bars from the pan.  Butter the parchment paper.  

Working with a mixer, combine the butter and 1 cup of sugar in the mixing bowl, beating until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the salt to the butter mixture, beating to combine.  Add in the flour, combining on low speed until loosely combined, but not fully together.  Remove 2 and 1/2 cups from the mix, adding this to the prepared baking pan.  Press the dough into the bottom of the pan and 1-inch up the sides of the pan.  The "walls'" formed up the side of the pan will contain the peaches and juice once added to the dough.

Cut the peaches into 1/2 inch pieces, leaving the skin on is okay but removing the pit.  Add the cut peaches to a medium size bowl.  Add in the sugar and the fresh lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Add in the salt and the spices, stirring until well combined.  

Transfer the peaches, pouring onto the prepared crust.  Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the peaches, squeezing the dough into clumps.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top of the dough.  Place the pan into the hot oven, baking for roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes.  The top will be golden brown and the peach juice bubbling up through the top crumble crust.  Remove the pan from the oven, cooling the peach bars in the pan for 20-30 minutes.  Using the parchment paper overhang, lift the peach bars from the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.  Cut into squares and serve as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.