Yesterday we were driving back from Athens, my other favorite Georgia city, listening to an album that I haven’t heard in years (incidentally the only album released by the band Panic at the Disco–Pretty. Odd.), and thinking about the simple joys in life–good people, good music, and good food. Part of what makes these things such simple joys is that the are intimate and individual– that combination of favorite things is different for every person. And that drive is something that always brings those things into focus for me. A road so often travelled that brought me to my favorite person and my favorite place–a road that no matter which way I go it takes me home.
Now when I travel to Athens it is usually to seek culinary delights and this may have been the best yet. We managed to hit both Cinco y Diez and 5 & 10 and the Four Coursemen successor Coterie and Tie (Eleta will be doing a full report on this in a later entry). It was a gustatory wonderland. (Considering we started the weekend with dinner at Dovetail we really had a weekend to envy food-wise).
But, to the point, all this really brought into focus the need to focus on the simple, even when it comes to food. Fresh, simple, well seasoned food. It is so easy and makes you so happy when done well. Nothing can make you instantly happy like a great bite a food, and there is no better way to do that than using fresh ingredients in their time.
So, for meatless monday, I concocted a fresh corn bowl using some of the techniques we saw over the weekend with the garnishes. Easy prep, fresh flavors, delicious meal.
(For what it is worth, I listened to Cooley’s “Fool on Every Corner” while I cooked. Good folks, Good Music, Good Food.)
Corn and Cauliflower Bowl
2 ears fresh corn
1/2 Head Cauliflower
1/2 stick butter
Tsp fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
6 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
8 large okra
Handful of fresh snap green beans
2 fresh tomatoes
6 leaves basil
Olive oil, salt, pepper.
Begin by bringing a pot of water to a boil.
Shuck the corn and remove silk. Cut the corn off the cob midway through the kernel into a large bowl. Milk each ear by scraping down the ear with the back of the knife. Grate the floret part of the cauliflower with a fine cheese grater into the bowl. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Stir and set aside.
Blanch the beans in the boiling water for about 2 minute. Remove from heat into an ice bath. Let rest.
Heat a grill pan or stove top grill over medium high heat.
In a deep, heavy bottomed pan, add the butter and heat over medium heat until it bubbles and browns. Add the garlic and rosemary and reduce heat to medium low for about 3-4 minutes. Remove the rosemary. Add the corn mixture to and and stir. Raise heat to medium and cover about 10 minutes. You can add extra butter if you like. this is very much a choose your own adventure flavor wise.
In a bowl, coat the okra with olive oil and salt. Place on the grill and cook 7-8 minutes per side, until well charred and soft throughout. Add the green beans and grill until lightly charred, about 6 minutes.
Remove the stem side of the tomato, about 1/4 inch until the seed beds are exposed. Stuff 3 basil leaves into each tomato in the soft seed sections. Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and place cut side down on the grill for about 4 minutes.
Plate as seen above.
The real question with this dish is what the corm mixture is more like. It has a texture more like risotto or grits than creamed corn. The corn kernels should keep their integrity and have a slight crunch. The flavor has way more freshness than either risotto or grits, though.
The flavors really mesh well, especially the spiced corn and the aroma of the basil tomato. The sweet juice of the tomato mixing with the corn has a similar effect to a fried egg influencing and elevating to other flavors of a more savory plate.
All told, simple and delicious. In the middle of summer, all was golden.