Thursday, August 30, 2012

Week 11: Corny Corn Muffins and Vegetarian Chili

Corn on the cob? Not this summer: Both kids have braces on their teeth. But fresh corn kernels off the cob? We're using them practically everywhere.

Vegetarian chili is one of my favorite mix-and-match recipes. You can adjust the ingredients to work with whatever you have on hand. Don't like peppers? Leave them out. Got some mushrooms you need to use up? Throw them in. Your chili won't be exactly like mine, but it will still taste good, particularly if you have peak-of-the-season corn and tomatoes. I often serve the chili with rice, but  fresh corn muffins make a perfect summertime accompaniment.

Both the muffins and chili freeze well, so make an extra batch and enjoy a bit of summer long after the season is gone.

Vegetarian Chili
(Adapted from Parade Magazine. Serves 4-5.)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (red, yellow, or white)
5 medium cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or substitute 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) black beans with their liquid
1 cup chopped bell pepper (any color)
2 cups chopped summer squash (about 1 squash) or zucchini, or use a combination of both
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 to 2 ears of corn)
1 cup (packed) chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute more. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Serve with the garnishes of your choice, such as shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, or additional cilantro or onion.

Corny Corn Muffins
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe, as seen in the New York Times. Makes 12. Instead of buttermilk, I used the standard substitute of 1 Tbsp white vinegar mixed with milk to equal 1 cup.)

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup yellow cornmeal 
3 Tbsp sugar 
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute, as described in the headnote)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 Tbsp canola oil 
1 large egg 
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 to 2 ears of corn)

Fit the molds of a regular-sized muffin tin with paper liners, or grease the molds. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, oil, and egg until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula, quickly but gently stir to blend. Do not overbeat the mixture; the batter will be lumpy. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.

Bake the muffins for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden; a thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a rack and cool five minutes before removing each muffin from its mold. Serve the muffins warm, at room temperature, or toasted.

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