sous-vide

The Best Ways to Cook Corn on the Cob

by Anne Maxfield on July 16, 2018

Accidental Locavore Corn on the CobCorn has to be one of the great foods of summer.

There’s nothing like a great ear of corn, with a smear of butter and a dash of salt.

But how do you cook it?

Used to be you just shucked it* and tossed it in a pot of boiling water, but now we have options.

Here are some of the ways I do corn:

  1. The easiest and quickest is the microwave. Cut the stem end of the corn close to the cob, peel off the outer layer or two of the husk, and microwave for 1-2 minutes an ear, depending on the size and number of ears and the strength of your microwave. To see if it’s cooked, peel back a little of the husk. It should have lost its opaque luster and the kernels should be bright and almost shiny.
  2. My favorite way to cook it? Simply to toss it on the grill, husk and all. We often just put it on when the grill is heating up and let it roast over on a corner, while grilling the rest of the meal. You’ll want to turn it occasionally, but not too often, as it’s better when it gets a little browned in spots.
  3. Recently, there were a lot of comments on Facebook about cooking it sous-vide. This method is not quick, or easy (and requires special equipment), but people were raving about how good it was, so I tried it. Not impressed, but the corn was the very first local corn so it may have been the culprit. If you want to try it, husk the corn, seal it in a bag with a pat of butter, and sous-vide it at 183° for 30 minutes. I might give it another shot later in the season, but for now it’s the grill or microwave.Accidental Locavore Corn for Sous Vide
  4. Shuck and toss in a pot of boiling water (good for a crowd, but not my favorite method), cook for 10 minutes and serve.
  5. For any of these methods, if you really want to show off, take a blow torch to the corn after it’s cooked and shucked. This is a trick I learned from my friend Kerry at Cafe Miranda. It browns the kernels, making them taste like popcorn, and will either scare or impress all of your guests!

What’s your favorite way to cook corn?

Accidental Locavore Corn*Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to shuck corn after it’s cooked? This is a not-so-subtle nudge to those who insist on shucking it before buying it, a habit I hate! Pick some good-looking ears, put them in a bag (silk ends first, so you don’t rip the bag), take them home and then you’ll have options and fresher corn when you decide to use it.

 

 

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RealEats

by Anne Maxfield on June 4, 2018

Accidental Locavore RealEats SalmonIf “cooking” a meal from Blue Apron is too much work for you, or you’re challenged for good take out or delivery, RealEats might be just what you need.

It’s a weekly meal delivery service, with a rotating menu of about 18 entrée choices. They’re all single portions, which is great if you’ve got a family that has mixed food preferences. You can feed them all something they’ll enjoy at the same time and only have one pot to deal with.

If you can boil water, you can cook everything RealEats has.

All the food is based on a sous-vide technique, or for those of us old enough to remember—boil-in bags.

You plop the vacuum sealed bags in a pot of boiling water for up to 6 minutes. Open the packets, plate them, et voilà, dinner.

All the ingredients are responsibly sourced and non-GMO.

Accidental Locavore RealEats UnpackedThey offered me my choice of 4 meals to try. Since everything on that week’s menu looked pretty good, I left it up to them to pick.

I got a cute box on my doorstep a couple of days later, with a bunch of plastic pouches nestled in an insulated pouch surrounded by ice packs. They’re very conscious about their packaging, keeping it to a minimum and everything is either recycled or recyclable.

RealEats sent us Beef Bourguignon, Honey Soy Salmon, Harissa Chicken Bowl and Farrotto. Each meal consisted of about 3 separate pouches (about a dozen pouches total) all labeled with what they were and how long they needed to cook (if at all).

I was surprised that someone hadn’t thought to color-code all the labels (think Garanimals) so you could put the ingredients for each dish together without having to read the label. And you have to have refrigerator space (which if you don’t cook, you probably would have) for all the packets.

Accidental Locavore RealEats BeefBeef Bourguignon was tasty, flavorful but with no real taste of wine. The beef was nicely cooked and went well with the roasted Cipollini onions. The only disappointing note was the mashed cauliflower and white beans. It was a great accompaniment for soaking up the sauce from the beef and onions, but there was a flavor in there that neither of us were crazy about.

Next up was the Honey Soy Salmon. The ginger carrots that accompanied the fish and brown rice were nicely undercooked, with a little crunch to them and a lot of flavor. The salmon was cooked all the way through, which left it a little dry. I’ve gotten used to salmon being served slightly undercooked so that might just be my personal preference. The brown rice with it was flavorful, but also a bit dry.

Accidental Locavore RealEats FarrottoWe were both surprised by the Farrotto. It was one of the new vegetarian options made with farro cooked in the style of risotto with spring vegetables and topped with a mixture of Parmesan cheese with some red pepper flakes tossed in. It was by far our favorite dish, and one we would definitely order again!

The last dish was the Harissa Chicken Bowl. It was one I was hoping they would send because it sounded great—grilled chicken with harissa is always good by me. The chicken was perfectly cooked—hard with chicken breasts, but there was no spice or hint of harissa. The roasted sweet potatoes were sadly undercooked—okay for carrots but not potatoes, except for one morsel that was nice and tender. The brown rice was dry, but greens were good.

Accidental Locavore RealEats ChickenI’m thrilled to know about RealEats because it’s a great option for when you know you’ve got a tough week coming up and don’t/won’t feel like cooking. It’s also good for families where everyone eats something different, people who for whatever reason can’t cook, anyone looking for portion control, it’s a fun way to add variety and unfamiliar ingredients to your repertoire and maybe the most important? You’ll have an immediate answer to “what’s for dinner?”

 

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Food Trends 2017

by Anne Maxfield on January 2, 2017

Accidental Locavore Food Trends 2017

How hip are you?

The Accidental Locavore has been inundated with emails predicting food trends for 2017.

Let’s look at some of them.

My gift to you is that this isn’t a slide show (you can thank me in the comments).

Food Trends to resolve to do:

  • Use all food! Food waste is a huge issue and you’re going to hear a lot about it this year.
  • Buy what you’re going to use. Use it.
  • Shop your freezer, fridge, cupboards, pantry. You’ll be surprised how much you can make without ever leaving the house. I made 23 dinners with just the stuff in my freezer.

Things trending that you might ACTUALLY make:Accidental Locavore Food Trends Poke

  • Bowls-grain, rice, porridge, poke. Put a bunch of vegetables, a carb and a protein in a bowl and you’re trendy. Extra points for poké (pronounced po-kay). A good way to use up small bits of things in your fridge.
  • Hey if you haven’t given up kale yet, you could be a newbie to cauliflower. Or if you really want to be cutting edge, skip down to jackfruit below.

Or cook with:

  • Sous-vide. I’ve had mine for a few years and love it. It’s the crockpot of the 21st
  • Or maybe it’s the Instapot.

Foods you might think about and eat but come on, you’re never actually going to DIY:

  • Fermented foods (from any number of sources). Imagine if everyone in your building started fermenting stuff. Click here for unscented Febreze.
  • Whey (to get this you have to make something else, like Greek yogurt) and then figure out what to do with it. I’ve marinated chicken in it—ho hum.
  • Vegetable chips (your own, not out of a bag)
  • Empanadas, dumplings etc. All good but labor intensive and someone in a restaurant near you does it better.

Interesting, never-happening options:Accidental Locavore Food Trends Jackfruit

  • Octopus – got a rock to pound it on? Didn’t think so.
  • Naan pizza. Why?
  • Fry bread. Ditto. Have you ever actually eaten the stuff? Think flattened, fried zeppole and you’re pretty much there. Going to go out on a politically incorrect limb here, but the Native Americans have not given us much to work with food-wise. Indian Pudding and frybread are two prime examples.
  • Jackfruit. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to show up at your local supermarket. And when it does…

A couple of my predictions: Accidental Locavore Food Trends Coffee Cake

  • Coffeecake – oh, excuse me, breakfast cake. I’ve had my friend Alan’s mother’s coffeecake recipe on my mind lately. Time for breakfast comfort food?
  • The resurgence of junk food – look for the new White House Chef to be Colonel Saunders…

What do you think? Any food trends you’d like to add, or see the last of? Overplayed already?

 

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Accidental Locavore Pig Ornament

In lieu of the usual list of stuff the Accidental Locavore would like to play with, this year I decided to make a list of things – books, gadgets, appliances – that I have and keep going back to. As I write this, I realize that a lot of it, most of it in fact, was given to me, so in the spirit of giving back, here’s my list for you:

Appliances: Accidental Locavore Sansaire

  1. My Sansaire sous-vide machine. I really think this is the crockpot of the twenty-first century. It does a lot of what a slow cooker does, and you can always “cook’ something like a steak and finish it off later. While it’s not so good with some vegetables (stuffed squash was a disaster), it’s great with fish and meats!
  2. To go with the Sansaire, you’ll need a vacuum sealer, but you need a food sealer anyway. It’s really a miracle with anything you want to freeze and lately I’ve used it to seal granola and nuts.Accidental Locavore Canner
  3. The Ball canning machine. Granted, it needs a lot of real estate for storage, but if you can find the space, it’s totally worth it! It truly has made a canner out of me and I’ve got a shelf full of goodies, we can eat all winter. Oh yeah, in addition to space for the canner, you need a shelf for all your finished products!Accidental Locavore Scale
  4. A scale. Yes, even if you’re not a baker, a scale is a big help. I use mine for lots of things; multiplying or dividing ingredients if I’m scaling recipes. And for my copies of the Ottolenghi books, it’s invaluable as they’re UK versions and all metric!

Gadgets: Accidental Locavore GIR Products

  1. Anything GIR, but especially the big spoon, little scraper and the silicone lids. I use at least one of these every day and can’t imagine life without them. Now if they’d finally do a sponge, I’d take a dozen red ones!Accidental Locavore Speegee
  2. When I’m not using the GIR scrapers, I’ve gotten hooked on the Speegee. It was in one of my subscription boxes from Mary’s Secret Ingredients (another great gift idea). It works really well as a scraper, but because of its length, levels frosting (if you bake) or pans of granola and is a great multi-tasker.Accidental Locavore Mary's Measuring Spoons
  3. Another great gadget from Mary’s latest box – the Pourfect set of measuring spoons. While I initially scoffed at them, they’re now my go-to measuring spoons, especially the 2-tablespoon one. Not only do you have a ton of different sizes, the slick bowl of the spoon really allows whatever ingredients to slide out easily; I used them with some sticky Thai curry and it came right out.

Cookbooks: Accidental Locavore Nopi

  1. Nopi. Ottolenghi’s latest, it’s a beautiful book, that I haven’t made anything from yet, but I’m looking forward to playing with it soon (and have all the ingredients for the Vine Leaf Beef Pie).
  2. My Paris Kitchen. I’ve written about this before, but if you don’t own it, you should. This is probably the most-used cookbook I have (okay, maybe Julia still reigns) and after a year or so, there are still lots of recipes I want to try.Accidental Locavore Kerry's Book
  3. Adventures in Comfort Food. From one of our favorite restaurants in Maine, a good down-to-earth collection of interesting recipes with Kerry’s crazy takes on the classics. Besides a lot of good food, I like that most of the recipes are for 1-2 people.
  4. iPad Air 2. While not technically a cookbook, it’s what I use to store recipes and write blog posts like this one. And while I don’t yet own the Air 2, it might be time to give my iPad a retirement party…hint, hint, Santa Baby.

 

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